directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Players For Sale: Ottawa Senators

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Players For Sale: Ottawa Senators

Although it appears the likelihood of a near term trade has cooled I wanted to keep taking a look at the teams rumored to be in talks with the Jackets.

Its all about laying a foundation and remember all it takes is a phone call.

So up next are the Ottawa Senators.

To start things off here is a juicy quote from Sens GM Bryan Murray:

Murray confirmed he is considering waiving a couple of players to see if they get claimed so he can get them off the payroll. League executives say Murray has been shopping Antoine Vermette and Christoph Schubert.

Murray has been working the phones, trying to acquire a puck-moving defenceman.

"I'm trying," he said. "I can make a deal, but it's on the condition that I take a larger contract that ties is up.

"We've got some young kids that we hope are at least close to coming next year. I don't want to tie up the money to the point that we can't afford to sign our own players.

"We're going to try to do something. I don't know whether I am going to be successful."

No doubt he has spoken to Columbus and I may even venture a bit further and say that when her refers to taking on a "larger contract" could that contract be a guy like Backman as part of a bigger deal?

Maybe that is why Backman continues to get playing time so scouts can watch this guy play.

Theories aside lets take a look at whom the Jackets may be interested in:

Jason Spezza
Age: 25
Position: Center
Contract: Signed for next 4 years at 8 mil per
ASSETS: Has a wealth of playmaking talent. Uses his size and reach very well in the offensive zone. Displays all the tools to dominate at the center position.
FLAWS: His skating ability, play without the puck and physical toughness are all average, at best. Can be guilty of overhandling the puck at times.
CAREER POTENTIAL: First line center.
Trade Value: at minimum 1st round pick + blue chip prospect + plus good roster player or more picks

Antoine Vermette
Age: 26
Position: Center
Contract: Signed for 1 more year at 3 mil will then be UFA
ASSETS: Has excellent offensive instincts, on-ice vision and soft hands. Is dedicated to the game and displays loads of perseverance. Can play any position up front, and any role on a hockey team.
FLAWS: Will need to fill out his 6-1 frame to thrive at the NHL level. Does he have enough upside to make an offensive impact in the big league?
CAREER POTENTIAL: Top six forward.
Trade Value: Good young roster player or late first to early 2nd round pick

Chris Kelly
Age: 28
Position: Center
Contract: Signed for 3 more years at 2 mil per
ASSETS: Works very hard every time he steps onto the ice. Doesn't shy away from physical contact. Is sound at both ends of the ice.
FLAWS: Doesn't have enough skill to play a top-six role at the NHL level. Is somewhat slender and could use more meat on his bones.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Fourth line center.
Trade Value: Mid round draft pick or bottom line roster player

There are some other names being tossed around like wing/defensemen Christoph Schubert but similar to a guy like Backman he would be a toss in to equal things out versus the centerpiece of any deal.

Out of those 3 players I've listed I think without question the main target is Antoine Vermette. Now Spezza is the sexy splashy name that would make headlines but Howson isn't after headlines -- we don't need more Fedorovs...he wants players the will fit the mold of this team on the ice and in his salary structure off it.

Spezza could certainly help this lineup but 1. the price to get him is to much 2. the Jackets cannot afford to tie up 8 mil in this guy for the next 4 seasons and keep the players they want and 3. there are lots of rumbles out there that Spezza is a handful in the dressing room. I don't think the Jacket touch this guy.

Vermette makes a lot of sense. Yes he's having a tough year with only 3g, 7a for 10p and a -14 in 38 games played. However the same could be said for just about every player on that struggling Ottawa team right now.

What Vermette has going for him is his age at 26. He plays center. He's put up 53, 39 and 33 points the previous 3 seasons. He's signed for 1 more year at a reasonable 3 million in salary. He's great on the PK and is top 5 in faceoff percentage. He's dedicated and versitile. He would fit the mold of this team like a glove and become part of its nucleus.

Ottawa fans themselves have said they think this guy has a lot more to offer and some has gone as far as to say he's been "misused". He's been buried behind Spezza, Alfredson and Healty for prime PP time. He's 3rd on the center depth chart behind Spezza and Fisher. He hasn't gotten a lot of playing time on the top two lines with Ottawa's better players. The thought would be here in Columbus its a new start and he would immediately slot in the top two lines playing with the likes of Nash, Huselius, Modin, Umberger, Brassard, Voracek, Filatov etc.

Of course he won't come for free. The biggest rumor out there is Vermette for Kris Russell. That is fair value but I cringe at the thought of moving Russ. He's our only true puck moving d-man and we need more players like him, not less. If he were to move a trade for a legit PP d-man must come otherwise we are robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Still though you have to give to get. I would prefer a 2nd rounder plus a guy like Mayorov than to take away form this roster...especially a guy with Russell's puck-moving - albeit still developing - skillset.

Ottawa needs a shakeup...and there are lots of rumors swirling that the shakeup might start with the front office and behind the bench. If that happens don't expect much out of Ottawa on the trade front anytime soon as certainly the new management team will be given a long leash to evaluate exactly what they've inherited. If Murray keeps the GM hat then he and Howson could dance.... I think there are enough pieces on both sides to get a deal done here. All that's left is the pressure...which may not come until closer to the fire up the band.



chunx said...


i say do it... even though RUSSELL is the only guy on our back end who can skate the puck...

BZArcher said...

Just curious - I know he's hurt, but do you think Murray would consider something like our 2nd + Jon Sigalet?

Sigalet was leading the Crunch in scoring before he went down, and once he is healthy, he could easily be that puck mover that Ottawa wants...

Rick said...

I still have to repeat myself here...Do Not Trade RUSSELL! I'm pretty sure we have what they might be looking for in the Crunch system. Pick + Crunch player(s)?

Russell is already way better than last year. Imagine him with another year or two of seasoning.

chunx said...

i agree i dont want to give up russ either but if thats the offer you accept and say thank you...

we dont have another year or two to wait on seasoning for him...

id be quite happy giving a pick and a crunch player ( if theres any left )