Senators News & Notes

It’s always interesting to me to see what drives people to this site.  I haven’t posted in… almost three weeks?  But with the Dion Phaneuf trade there was a sudden flood of people looking for Tobias Lindberg information–it’s gratifying to know there’s a slice of the fandom that appreciates the work I do on prospects.

dion phaneuf

What do I think of the trade?  It’s typical of Bryan Murray–trade away the future for the now (the usual 2nd round pick along with a prospect, the aforementioned Lindberg) for an aging player in Phaneuf.  Nichols has already explored the limited savings the deal accomplishes in jettisoning the useless Jared CowenColin Greening, and Milan Michalek, as well as how shortsighted the move is, but it’s exactly what you’d expect from the organisation at this stage.  Is Phaneuf the best player in the deal?  Sure he is.  Does acquiring him help the Sens moving forward?  No.  Not unless maybe getting crushed in the first round is your goal.

As for the assorted confetti Toronto threw in with the blueliner, it’s a smorgasbord of minor league garbage.  28-year old NCAA free agent bust Matt Frattin leads the crowd (he can play minutes in Binghamton), followed by another NCAA free agent in Casey Bailey (probably a bust, but at 24 you can’t be absolutely sure), QMJHL free agent Cody Donaghey, and sixth-round pick (6-157/12) Ryan Rupert (who may or may not have AHL-chops).  Frattin and Bailey are off the books at the end of the season, while Rupert is signed through next year and Donaghey through 2017-18.  Maybe Donaghey is a diamond in the rough, but CHL FA success stories are extremely rare so the odds are he’ll spend a few years in the AHL or ECHL and then disappear into the night.  This is basically the Leafs clearing a bunch of dead weight.

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I’ve seen a lot of dumb things written about Lindberg by Binghamton fans this year–along with even dumber things from the coaching staff–but he was the only prospect of any note in the minors for Ottawa and now he’s gone.  The talented Swede may or may not be able to develop into an NHL regular (for my part I believe he’ll play, it’s just a question of where his ceiling is–third or fourth line), but the organisation’s inability to do anything with skilled players continues to hamper their ability to assess players or develop them.  Even “good in the corners” Jeff Ulmer noted the BSens were 1-14 without him in the lineup and while the team won’t have a .066 winning percentage with him gone those who think those numbers are a coincidence just haven’t been paying attention to what he brings to game (possession play, basically).  He’s a great pick-up for the Leafs and the trade is ultimate better for them in the long term (with both Lindberg and the pick).

wikstrand

It’s now old news, but speaking of talented Swedes, one of the dumber episodes in Sens history came to a close when the Sens loaned Mikael Wikstrand back to Farjestad.  Did they bow to public pressure?  Murray’s press release indicated he released Wikstrand  because he wasn’t interested in playing in North America, but that’s something we knew a long time ago.  It’s difficult to see any other reason for the curmudgeonly Murray to give up on his policy other than pressure (public and private), especially after all the ridiculous rhetoric about Wikstrand.  I’m happy the Swede is free to play for his team, but you have to wonder what the Senators thought they were accomplishing with their nonsensical approach.  By loaning Wikstrand they’ve denuded their previous refusal of any and all meaning–now it appears to be nothing more than a petty temper tantrum from management which has achieved absolutely nothing.  The door remains open for Wikstrand to play somewhere in the future, but it won’t be for Ottawa.  Tying this to moving Lindberg along and I can now sadly agree with Nichols long held opinion that there’s almost nothing in Ottawa’s cupboard anymore.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

 

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6 Comments

  1. Love your posts, usually..but this one is dead wrong.

    What’s the alternative to what Murray did? Let the defense continue as a complete clusterf*ck? Let Ceci continue to struggle due to lack of a veteran support? Hold on to Cowen and Greening and then buy them out in the offseason, for a net loss of several million with nothing to show for it? Keep Michalek around, as a diminishing return, because he’s a solid veteran? Sign some veteran LD in the offseason, who miraculously will choose Ottawa and not require to be overpaid for it? To hold on to yet another “3rd/4th liner” in Lindberg? Murray gave up a second round pick in 2017…big deal. Few teams hit on as many players in the draft as Ottawa does. Since 2008, Ottawa and Anaheim have had the most players play at least 100 games in the NHL. They’ve shown that they can get value out of the later rounds, where other teams can’t.

    Scorched earth approach, which seems to be what you are suggesting (moar prospects!), is not a feasable solution, especially where this team is in it’s development cycle. This is a young fringe playoff team working within a pretty strict budget. To expect more in this NHL, is frankly unrealistic. 17 teams are 8 points apart. That’s a whole lot of parity.

    You want to make arguments about how budget teams can’t win? I 100% agree. But given the current state of the team and their situation, it’s making the best of what’s available, and frankly I think Murray did an excellent job given the circumstances. How many LD were available? How many were available without overpayment? How many were available who would take all your bad contracts?Murray has made some mistakes with contracts, and he cleaned almost all of them up with the Phaneuf trade.

    • I appreciate the lengthy feedback. From what I can see we basically disagree on where the team is and what it can or can’t do. If the goal is to win *now*, then sure, acquiring Phaneuf improves the team (even if–when looking at his underlying numbers–you see that Dion is in the midst of a long, slow decline, propped up this season by playing with Jake Gardiner). Long term though? This deal doesn’t benefit Ottawa at all. They lose an early 2nd round pick (which is actually quite valuable) along with one of the few interesting prospects still in their system (and just because players like Mark Borowiecki have played a lot of NHL games doesn’t make him a good asset, by the bye). You *are* echoing management’s thoughts, I believe, but management operates under a gross overvaluation of their existing talent–Ottawa is not going to truly compete without going through an actual rebuild–it’s just not possible–and the unending bandaids Murray has tried since he took over the team just keep them mediocre enough to not truly benefit from first round picks. For those supporting conspiracy theories that Melnyk is dictating the win-at-all-costs approach, I mean, if that makes them happy? At Murray’s age he doesn’t have to follow the whims of his owner–he could retire at any time–so this move strikes me as yet another last gasp effort to make a miracle run at the increasing cost of the team’s future. I *am* glad, of course, that they moved all those bad contracts, but Murray signed them all when he should have been aware they were bad moves (all the savvy bloggers knew), so he created his own mess and for me hasn’t actually strengthened the franchise. Toronto (finally) has good minds when it comes to asset acquisition and don’t kid yourself that they asked for Lindberg (or the pick) on a whim.

      • You’re right in the sense I think the biggest difference between our opinions is where the team is in its development cycle. You think they require a full teardown, where as I think they are a bit further along than that. I also think that recently the only team with the full teardown that has worked successfully has been Chicago. The Kings, for all their high end picks, only drafted 1 impact player from tanking: Doughty. The rest have come through solid player development and some shrewd trades once the team was close. Tanking for a few years doesn’t guarantee anything. I look at a team like Edmonton and I shudder to think how long it would take Ottawa to come back to respectability. It also doesn’t help when you can’t attract top free agents, due to budget and location. I don’t agree with every move that Murray has made, but until Phaneuf is blocking a better player from joining the team due to roster space, budget or performance I don’t think it’s a big issue. We’ll see if it happens before Phaneuf’s contract is up.

        Thanks for the great discussion and keep up the great work.

      • I agree that it matters who is responsible for the rebuild, although I don’t think you’d find many who’d agree with you that LA’s tanking didn’t help them significantly. Hell, even the Oilers, who could have drafted better with a monkey in charge, *still* have an admirable collection of top-end forwards that will help them as that mess slowly gets worked out (their problems were every pick after the first one). If you look around the league I don’t think there’s a single Stanley Cup contender that doesn’t have a top-five pick and a past where they went through a rebuild and that’s not a coincidence.
        More specifically on Phaneuf, I just don’t see what he does for the team. Sure, a bad defencecorps is now…mediocre? That’s not going to get them over the hump and he’s a declining asset. I think you *could* argue that improving the team is impossible under Murray–that’s certainly my feeling–but in that case I’d prefer the team stockpile prospects and picks until a good GM comes along. It’s astonishing that with almost nothing in the cupboard he’s traded away the best prospect in Binghamton and alienated the only other talent under contract (Wikstrand). Self-inflicted wounds abound.
        I’m happy to discuss–I always appreciate feedback!

  2. What would be your plan for the Sens? You are definitely not happy with the current team and where its going int he future. So what would be your plan?

    Tank for the best prospects? The new draft changes doesn’t guarantee the worst team the best prospect.

    Lure the best free agents? We don’t have the budget to compete with most the teams in the league and Ottawa isn’t on the top of most players teams to play for list.

    Trade for better players? Trades are so hard to come by now in the NHL and to get value, you have to give up value.

    Can you put on your GM hat and tell us your plan to fix the current Sens team now and in the future?

    • First you fire the GM, the coach, most of the staff and put quality people in those positions (none of which is going to happen, but we’re going into fantasy land). There isn’t the budget for free agents, but the best thing FA’s can do is fill holes in a team’s depth. The Sens are fortunate that they already have an elite defenseman and you want to do something with him before he starts declining, but what to do? I like the forward group–Turris isn’t an elite #1 center, but barring getting lucky at the draft he’s about as good as it’s going to get. The team has 5 top-six forwards (Turris, Stone, Hoffman, Ryan, and Zibanejad), so you have to decide if a prospect can be #6 or find a FA who can slot in. The depth forwards are a mess, so you jettison Smith, Neil, & Chiasson while not putting McCormick, Dziurzynski, or Puempel in the lineup. I’d trade Lazar–trade him while he still has more value than he deserves. As for the blueline, you dump Borowiecki, don’t use Claesson, trade Ceci for someone better (I’m not sold on him). You’re left with Karlsson, Methot, Phaneuf (even in a fantasy that contract is never getting moved), Wiercioch, and Wideman. You trade Anderson while he still has value and off you go. You basically can’t have a fire sale b/c you aren’t going to get enough value going back, but I’d gut the awful prospect pool, spend some money on scouting, and get bonafide early picks. None of this will happen of course and the fanbase would object to the idea b/c the org has told them they’ve already done a rebuild, but that’s where I’d start.


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