When you are bringing up the rear of the NHL standings, few players can feel safe in their jobs. And as the latest transaction has proven, even franchise favorites are not safe.
Moving Mike Fisher raised many an eyebrow; not because it was a poor trade but because of the message it sent to the Senators dressing room and to the league. Getting a first round pick and not taking back any salary has to be a positive for a team who is going into a rebuilding mode.
At this point a top five pick seems like a foregone conclusion. Getting Jason Spezza back will make this team stronger. But missing players, be it through injury or trades, will balance out any impact Spezza will have.
If the Sens can get their hands on one of Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog or Sean Couturier then an average forward prospect pool will become stronger. Now if the team deems Adam Larsson, a defenseman, the best player at their draft position then they will take him. But defense isn’t an area that is lacking when you consider David Rundblad, Jared Cowen and Patrick Wiercioch make up the Sens systems strongest youth position. Ideally the Senators would like a forward and these things work themselves out.
The Sens have a few players who will attract attention at the trade deadline. Chris Philips, who has played over 900 games in the league (all with the Senators) will need to lift his no-trade clause to be waived. He should get at least a second round pick. While he hasn’t played his best hockey this year, Philips brings a skill set much in demand come playoff time. He can make the first pass, can hit and will not shy away from the physical play.
Alex Kovalev hasn’t had the strongest season, but has been a point a game player over the last six games and will also be moved. A month ago Sens management would have been happy to get a couple of Tim Hortons give cards for him; now he could command a third. And if GM’s around the league get desperate who knows. Earlier today, the Maple Leafs moved Kris Versteeg to the Flyers for a first and a third round pick, which bodes well for Ottawa.
Jarkko Ruutu will also be moved but his price will be a fourth, or a third if Ottawa gets lucky. He is a penalty killer and can go in the dirty areas, but he doesn’t provide much in the way of offense. Pascal Leclaire is still injured, and will not be traded. Which is not good for him, as he needs to show teams he can stay healthy and play.
That’s not to say those with contracts or pending RFA’s are safe either. Sens GM Bryan Murray has shown that he can and will make moves in the best interests of the organization going forward. And for Ottawa fans, that’s all you can really ask for.