Sens Could Retool As Quick As The Flyers

How the mighty have fallen. Finalists 2 years ago, the Ottawa Senators are now among the league’s worst teams. Its hard to believe that considering the talent this team still has. But clearly what they have is not enough whatsoever to contend.

Therefore it might be prudent for the Sens to start over, retool, reload and think next year. It worked for the Philadephia Flyers a couple of years ago who were loaded with veterans but failed miserably, fell all the way to a 2nd overall pick but made a few key moves that brought them back from the dead.

Ottawa can accomplish this but before that can happen, change must be made at the top. Its time for Bryan Murray to move on and for someone new and fresh to reshape this franchise. He has failed and it would serve zero purpose to allow him to mold the Sens future.

The long problem with Ottawa has been arrogance that has seemingly bit back at them. It starts high up as people like Murray and John Muckler steadfastly refused to believe their team and players werent good enough and thus made mistakes along the way. The team is paying for misevaluating talent.

It filtered into the dressing room where ego led to those chemistry and locker room issues last year. Leadership is questionable, the team lacks an identity and with so many players with big, long term contracts, a sense of entitlement has crept into the Sens team like a plague.

Once they make change at the top, the roster and perhaps even the coaching staff can be adjusted accordingly.

So how will Ottawa be able to accomplish this? Many say they need to rip apart their big 3 and trade one of Alfredsson, Heatley or Spezza for a monster return. Instead the team should shed salary moving their expensive role players like Fisher, Kelly, Vermette, Phillips, let Kuba, Gerber and other free agents leave and build around their top 3 guys.

Would these players, who are struggling badly, bring much in return? Maybe not as much as fans and management would think, but they would gain quite a bit in terms of changing the makeup of the team, restructuring the dressing room, gaining cap space and as bad as they may be playing, gain some young assets in return. Poor play or not, Fisher, Vermette, even Phillips who is -21 could help out a contender.

Their first goal is to restock their organization. Once the envy of the league, the Sens are not the overly deep team they once were. At one time they could field captain Daniel Alfredsson on one line with Marian Hossa and Martin Havlat as other Right Wingers behind him. They had Zdeno Chara anchor one defence pair, Wade Redden another. Now they have zero offence beyond 3 players and one of the league’s weakest defence corps.

The Sens need more high end young players to integrate into the lineup. Part of the downfall was due to the Sens not having the kind of youth to step in and replace all those quality players who departed. Right now, only defenceman Erik Karlsson, who was the voted the best defenceman at the recent World Jrs, is considered an impact player.

Former first rounders like Brian Lee, Nick Foligno and Jim O’Brien are decent prospects but not considered top line stars. Players like Cody Bass and Jesse Winchester are more suited as role players while players with high hopes like Ilya Zubov have shown little. The Sens and their fans must stop kidding themselves. This is not an embarassment of riches.

The team has been so focused on shedding their soft label that they’ve seemingly neglected skill and more skill which were a trademark of their teams in the early part of this decade.

The Sens have 2 first rounders in the upcoming draft and it would serve them well to maybe pick up a few more top 50 picks and strengthen their once great farm system. If they continue to lose that may solidify their spot in the top 5 in the draft where they can pick up a big impact player either up front or on the backend. Help is needed everywhere.

Another key focus for the team is goaltending. They need to solidify this position for any chance at success. They wasted a couple years staunchly believing Patrick Lalime was one of the league’s best goalies. They foolishly rewarded hansomely Ray Emery who proved nothing and in a year bought him out. They grossly overestimated Martin Gerber who is at best a below average goalie best suited as a backup. Their desperation for someone between the pipes led them to journeyman Alex Auld.

What they need is a guy who can be their rock in goal for the next few years and leave the team with no questions about their goaltending. That was something the Flyers quietly did when they picked up Biron who was so good for them in their playoff run last year.

There are goalies available. Players like Vesa Toskala, Pascal Leclaire, Kari Lehtonen, Tomas Vokoun are available via the trade route. Others like Nic Backstrom, Nik Khabibulin, Tim Thomas are due to be UFAs at seasons end. The team needs a true number one and one of these players could fit that bill. If the team fails to get someone along these lines, the futilty will continue for this team.

Skill on the backend is also severely lacking. The Sens need a big time defenceman who can log a ton of minutes, can move the puck and simply produce offensively and fire up the offence from the defence. It would be shocking to see the Sens not take a run at someone like Jay Bouwmeester if he is still a free agent in July. The team screwed up not keeping Chara but bringing in an impact guy like a Bouwmeester would go a long way.

Once they shore up in goal and on defence, everything else will likely take care of itself. They do need more support scoring up front but its more likely that the offence will emerge when there is someone able to jumpstart the rush from their own end. And there would probably less stick squeezing if there was a goalie not letting in deflating soft goals once or twice a game.

Its not unreasonable to suggest that the Sens can rebound next season and be back among the best in the East. If they humble themselves, think more outside the box and regain the focus that made them a top organization for years, there is a good chance the Sens will be dangerous again.


23 Responses to Sens Could Retool As Quick As The Flyers

  1. muckies says:

    Muckler was probably the Sens greatest GM, he was excellent at relating to the players, challenging them to be great, keeping them motivated  and making them beleive they were a a great team, but he sucked at 

    1. the trade deadline – never got the sens what they needed
    2. Drafting – a horrible GM at the draft
    ..and that's why he was fired.  Muckler rebuild the teams Defence with Corvo, Redden, meszaros and Preissing into one of the leagues best puck moving groups. But Murray got into Melnyk's ear and got Muckler fired.
    Murray is a crap GM, but he better at drafting players, and that;s it. He sucks at keeping them motivated (emery, Corvo, Scheffer, Redden) he sucks at making them realize their potential (Vermette, Kelly, Phillips)
    I think the real answer is a new set of eyes for the team, a new GM to come in and refocus this team and get the players head space back into the rght place. Murray is way to soft a GM, Ottawa hasn't had a GM make this many mistakes ever in their histroy, and he has made really bad decision in everything from contracts, to benching calling out players, the corvo trade, wrong coaches, dealing with the prospects, he sucks and is an old man now in a yong man's game. THE PROOF IS IN THESE 2 SHITTY OTTAWA TEAMS HE HAS PUT TOGETHER – WHAT HAPPENED TO MY OTTAWA SENATORS.
    But the real deal with this team is they got absolutely destroyed by Anaheim in the finals when they thought they would win. And that is really what is wrong with this team. They got tought a hard lesson about how hard t is to win, and they see their team, know in their hearts it is not good enough and so they aren't going to kill themsleves for nothing. THEY KNOW HOW HARD IT IS T WIN, HOW FOCUSED YOU HAVE TO BE, HOW MUCH PHYSICAL SACRIFICE IT TAKES, HOW MANY GOOD PLAYERS YOU NEED, AND THEY AREN'T WILING TO DO IT – besides Fisher, Alfie and Volchenkov  ALL THE OTHER PLAYERS are not ready to make that commitment to win. it is really that simple.
  2. muckies says:

    Murray = JFJ = Crappy Team = Desperate Trades (Raycroft, Toskala, Corvo) & BAD CONTRACTS WITH NO TRADE CLAUSES IN THEM (Spezza, Heatley, Fisher, Phillips)  = Can't make Moves = setting team back 1-2 years with each bad trade = 3 years behind schedule = Blow it Up = Have to Spend Huge to get a proven Winner = FIRE MURRAY RIGHT NOW.

    Murray has build 2 really bad Ottawa teams, and he has never had a very god team anywhere he has been a GM, this BS about him building the Ducks, Neidermayer, Pronger, Selanne and Beauchemin were the back bone of that team and Burke got them all. And Burke traded Fedorov and that brutal contract that Murray Gave Fedorov before he left.
    Murray has to go, he's old and he's gotten soft – wants everybody to like him and he's to much of a smart ass to admit that he sucks, AND HE'LL F-UP THE DEADLINE TRADES.
  3. Jenkinstein says:

    Good article overall, but I think the team is way ahead of you.  They realized last year that the cap hit of Gerber would not go away, and are in the process of letting Muckler's last bonehead contract die.  Your assessment of the d-corps is also quite legit, though this is not so much an ego issue as it is confidence.  Schubert has had a terrible year when two years ago he was the anchor of our 2nd PP, and Phillips our top shutdown guy before this year, but their confidence is shot and their play is reflecting it.  And the cupboard is not as bare as you make it sound.  Players like Zach Smith, Peter Regin, the Karlsson brothers (Erik's brother is in Bingo), Jim O'Brien, and the future seems pretty decent (most of our best prospects aren't even in the AHL yet).  The best thing to do is try to keep the morale of returning players high and foist all the blame on the departing free agents (it was ALL Chirs Neil and Dean Mcammond's fault we sucked this year!!) and let them start from scratch with a new, confident group.  This should be what the Sens should do heading into this offseason:
    1. TANK HARD!!! Get the top 5 pick and draft the best player possible (hopefully Tavares or Ryan Ellis will still be available) and pray SJ tumbles and we draft in the mid teens to get someone like Evander Kane.
    2. Trade Kuba and Smith at the trade deadline to anyone who will take them. Try a late first for Kuba and Smith (who has not been great since signing here) for a 4th liner like Zach Stortini from EDM.  This sheds 5.6 mil from the cap.
    3. Allow the following players to walk at free agency: Neil, Gerber, Mcammond, Bell.  Buy out Ruutu and trade Auld. Saves another 2 mill. (13.5 mil saved to spend)
    4. Target aggressively the following players with roughly 17 million they will have available (assuming the cap rises 1 mil):
    Mike Grier (2.2/3yrs)
    Tim Thomas (4.0/3yrs)
    Matt Walker (1.2/2 yrs)
    Jay Bouwmeester (6.0/3 yrs)
    Brian Gionta or Andy Macdonald (5.1/3yrs)

    Not a bad lineup at the end of it:
    Heatley-Spezza-Gionta
    Vermette-Fisher-Alfredsson
    Kelly-Vermette-Winchester
    Grier-Bass-Donovan
    Ex:Zubov, Smith, Stortini

    Bouwmeester-Picard
    Phillips-Volchenkov
    Schubert-Walker
    Ex: Lee, the Karlsson brothers

    Thomas
    Elliot

    Cap Hit: 57.13/57.7 mil
    Just under the cap and an amazing team to boot

  4. Jenkinstein says:

    whoops, on the second line replace Vermette with Foligno

  5. tacitus says:

    I would attempt to retool a different way… Its now no secret that Jason Spezza is way to soft and should be moved even if you bring less talent back.. One team might just take Spezza and pay well for it, the Columbus Blue Jackets… CBJ, need a star to play with Nash, and not only that but to lure other people to give that organization a chance…People are not gonna flock to it cuz of Leclaire or Brassard but to watch Nash and Spezza that could attract some Free Agents this summer… Try and give Spezza and Gerber for Leclaire and Brassard,. Sure you aint getting anybody close to Spezza’s talent but your getting a guy who looks to be a 70 pts guy with a goalie with huge potential and upside..Brassard keeps some talent at center and with a bit of luck you have a goalie for 10 years, Essentially its one all star for 2 young guys with huge upside…Normally i wouldnt think CBJ would do it but considering they want to make the playoffs for the first time in the teams history they might be just desparete enough to do it…..Spezza will not lead them to the cup but with Nash, and Huselius he can definitly help with a playoff push

  6. lukeleim says:

    Nik Antropov and Pavel Kubina to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Jakub Voracek, Christian Backman and the Blue Jackets' 2nd and 3rd round draft picks of 2009.

  7. DandoEagle says:

    I think Spezza is as good or gooder then say Patrick Kane and do you think that the Blackhawks would send Kane away for two prospetcs in return? ho ho ho I think they wouldn't either.

    Spezza to the Jackets for Voracek,Leclaire and a 1st Round pick.

  8. wec69 says:

    on the topic of the flyers….is briere going anywhere and if so where would be a possible destination…lets hear your trade offers….how about to montreal for a deal possibly involving halak and higgins?  thoughts??????

  9. pezzz says:

    euhhh it would be for Voracek straight up.

    Leclaire and a 1rst seems enough.

  10. i_know_hockey says:

    The flyers were able to get a quick turn around b/c they all ready had their developing young talent in place: Richards and Carter who turned in break out years.  They fleeced Atl and got Coburn

    And then they took adv of great FA markets by grabbing Timonen, J. Smith (since gone), Briere, Hartnell.  Then sprinkle in Gagne and Knuble… got a pretty good team…

    I dont think Ottawa has this ability.  Do they have the cap rooom like Phi?  Do they have the current young assets like Philly?  And is Ottawa a desirable market for a player to sign in… thats a real quesiton IMO.

  11. muckies says:

    Ottawa is a great place to play hockey, te players that come ere love it, it gives them the best of all worlds, huge fan support and lots of media, but not an intrusive fan base like in Montreal or Vancouver, and they usually have a good team except since Murray took over, so a solid chance to win every year. they don't have any money, but were abel to lock up Alfie, Spezza, Heater and Fisher longterm so that is huge for them. 

    but you are right, they don't have a ton of young talent like Philly did coming out of the lock out, but they have a semi-decent goalie prospect, 2 very very solid D prospects and some good solid pluggers and Pk guys, but no true top line players at cheap rookie rates to get them over the hump.
  12. TradeMaster66 says:

    I could actually see Briere going to Columbus, a team desperate for a centre for Nash and they also have the cap space to obsorb his contract.

    Maybe Briere for their 1st and LeClaire?

  13. mitchamac says:

    To Ottawa : Kaberle
    To Toronto : OTT 1st (2009) tampa 1st (2009)

  14. muckies says:

    Ha, that's a laugh. Maybe the Sj 1st, but maybe the top pick in the draft is totally out of the question.

  15. DandoEagle says:

    Does anyone think that San Jose first pick might be enough to get Vokoun out of Florida into the Sens?

  16. leafmeister says:

    In all likelihood the cap will go down this year.

    If Fisher and Vermette have proven anything this year is that they are not legit 2nd liners. Tim Thomas will be looking for a Huet like contract. You have the order of Kane and Ellis mixed up, Kane is a top 10, Ellis is a mid 1st due to his size, and their is very little chance the SJ pick falls past 25. Other than that looks good.

  17. TradeMaster66 says:

    hey dumbass tampa still has their first. They traded sj 1st

  18. LEAFSLEAFSLEAFS1967 says:

    To say that Spezza is better than Kane is a little bit overrating the guy. I would rather have Kane on my team, this guy is going to go down as the greatest american born player to play the game hands-down by the time his career is over. Spezza is great but I don't think Spezza will ever be getting an honor that is near as good as that. And I don't know about that trade. Maybe Voracek and Leclaire, since Leclaire is going to need a new place to push for a starting spot, and it's more likely in Ottawa with the way Steve Mason is playing in Columbus. The 1st is too much, Spezza is overrated IMO, but he would help the jackets push for a playoff spot more than Leclaire will.

  19. LEAFSLEAFSLEAFS1967 says:

    Columbus gets ripped off with that one for sure. Voracek is a great prospect, maybe Voracek and a 2nd or 3rd but not both. I'm not sure if the trade would work at all though because of the salary cap.

  20. mitchamac says:

    Hey Faggot everyone knew what i ment

  21. LEAFSLEAFSLEAFS1967 says:

    I don't know, try Gerber and ottawa's 2nd rounder? It will be almost as valuable as SJ 1st rounder anyways where Ottawa will end up.

  22. pezzz says:

    Gerber, San Jose's 1rst rounder and a 3rd or 4th rounder

  23. LEAFSLEAFSLEAFS1967 says:

    Vokoun has looked to be having a more rough year than you usually see from him. So I would say Ottawa's second round pick (which looks like it will only be about 5 picks later.) and third round pick plus Gerber would be fair.

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