Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Point: Trading Ray Emery could make the team better

Ray Emery is not what the Senators need right now. I don't see the Senators' future goaltending situation being all Emery, all the time; he just doesn't strike me as a full-time stopper. I don't think Martin Gerber is a long-term solution, either, but they are about equal at this point, so why not deal the guy with the higher market value?

Even though we're basing this entire discussion on the musings of a writer whose predictions seldom if ever come true. It is worth discussing. If a package of Emery, Patrick Eaves, and a prospect (apparently Josh Hennessy being the most likely) in exchange for a new, cheaper backup and a top-six forward, awesome. I would actually be most concerned about Eaves, playing he best hockey of his career, than I would be about Emery.

Don't get me wrong, last year Emery was awesome in the playoffs. He was certainly one of the Senators' best players along the run. And he could be awesome again, but there are serious concerns with his ability to take criticism or accept demotion. And let's keep in mind that even Jim Carey won the Vezina Trophy once. Last year, Gerber was the perfect backup, accepting Emery's promotion for the best of the team. He spent the off-season working on his skills, preparing to come back at the top of his game and win back the number one spot—something he accomplished.

Emery, on the other hand, is rumoured to be just pissed off, and it's affecting his play. If it starts affecting the team, then it's not worth it. He's been reported leaving practice early and is refusing to speak with the media. If he wants to play, he's going to have to play better than he did against Atlanta or Washington. Although he played alright against the Caps for the start, he let it go at the end with a few weak goals. Plus, while I'm not privy to the entire story, and I'm not so ridiculous as to suggest players should never play sports aside from hockey, his most recent baseball-related injury might reflect a carelessness that would not benefit this team.

The rumours we're hearing are the three aforementioned Senators being sent to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Jason LaBarbera and a forward, one of Dustin Brown, Alexander Frolov, Michael Handzus, or Patrick O'Sullivan. Frolov, because of his offensive abilities and his contract situation (this year and two more, averaging $3.5M each) is the most appealing to me, but also the least likely because of his value to the Kings and GM Bryan Murray's affinity for North American players over European ones. Frolov does, however, have a relationship with Sens d-man Anton Volchenkov and could make the introduction of prospects Ilya Zubov and Alexander Nikulin easier if and when those two join the big team. Brown is signed for six years, averaging $3.175M per year, which is a bit of a gamble. He's got 12 points in 16 games so far, though, so if it works, it would be great. That contract leads me to believe that LA has earmarked him as a significant part of the team's core for a while, so he wouldn't likely be moved. O'Sullivan only has six points this year, and is an RFA afterwards, so that wouldn't work long-term for the Sens. And Handzus, well… he's big, but he's old, not producing, and is making too much money. No deal.

If the deal were Emery, Eaves, and Hennessy for LaBarbera and either Brown, Frolov, or Mike Cammalleri (but don't count on Cammaleri), then I'd say take it. Even if it's for LaBarbera and O'Sullivan it might give the Sens the cap space needed to sign Peter Forsberg, if Foppa isn't calling it a career.

Check back in the next little while to see Ben's Counterpoint, where he'll try to explain why the Sens can't trade Emery.
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