There has been a lot of handwringing and nail-biting over the contract situations of Marc Methot and Bobby Ryan (Nichols goes through the Sens bungled handling of the latter). I’m less concerned about the now-injured Methot, who as a complimentary player is always going to be easier to replace (internally or externally), than I am with a legitimate top winger, but is anyone surprised at this point that the Melnyk/Murray combination has stumbled? I’ve generally been kind to Murray as GM, especially given that his hands have been tied for a while, but the team is beginning to become a circus. I didn’t have much faith that Ryan would stay long-term after he was acquired and if he walks (or the team is forced to trade him), it will make trading for him nothing short of a disaster. All that being said, it’s early in the process and if the Sens struggle this season (as I expect) the org might throw everything (including the kitchen sink) to sign him as a good-will gesture to jaded fans. It will be interesting to watch as the season unfolds.
Bryan Murray has told anybody and everybody that he’d like to add a top-nine forward. Irrespective of whether the Sens need such a player, it’s a pretty firm slap in the face to the organisation’s much vaunted depth. Personally I don’t think it’s something worth addressing–this isn’t a team that’s going to compete for a Cup this season so there’s no need to add that kind of player. I’d rather see various young players tried out in that position, although I’m not sure Paul MacLean can be weaned off the Smith-Greening-Neil (and/or Legwand) Koolaid long enough to give anyone else those kinds of minutes.
The Sens have an even record in the pre-season (2-2); the games aren’t the relevant other than for player-evaluation, but I’ve found Paul MacLean’s opinions increasingly inscrutable so we’ll have to wait and see what comes out of it.
Speaking of MacLean, Rob Vollman takes a look at who used their players effectively in the 2013-14 season (Ottawa is the 21st slide and, as expected, is all over the place in who was and wasn’t used correctly (all the names you would expect in the bad column are there).
Ottawa has reduced their bloated training camp roster by returning Ben Harpur, Nick Paul, and invitee Matt Murray to junior (no surprises here, although there was a certain amount of hype behind Paul). Most of the rest of the players expected for Binghamton have been siphoned off into their own group, with the exception of Fredrik Claesson, Matt Puempel, David Dziurzynski, Buddy Robinson, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (the latter of whom is nursing a minor injury).
Jeff Ulmer takes an early look at Binghamton’s projected forward group (I’m not as certain as he is that Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman are locks to be on Ottawa’s roster), although he doesn’t include potential lineups. Jeff has a lot more faith in Chris Driedger as a goaltender than I do at the moment; hopefully he’ll be ready for backup duty in Binghamton, but I don’t think he’s a lock by any stretch of the imagination.
As training camp rolls on I thought I’d take a quick “where are they now” from last season (both the Sens and BSens):
The blueline and goaltending has lost no one since the end of this past season, but a few forwards have moved:
Jason Spezza – traded to Dallas
Ales Hemsky – signed in Dallas as UFA
Matt Kassian – is on a tryout with Phoenix [now released]
Stephane Da Costa – signed with CSKA Moscow in the KHL
Ludwig Karlsson – included with Spezza in the Dallas trade
Jim O’Brien – signed with Metallurg Novokuznetsk in the KHL
Nathan Lawson – UFA is searching for a team (he may be on a PTO, but if so I haven’t seen it)
Ben Blood – released after his ELC he remains a free agent (as above)
Tyler Eckford – remains a UFA (as above)
Corey Cowick – still a UFA (as above)
Wacey Hamilton – UFA (as above)
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)