Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Rumour Mill: How valuable is Andrej Meszaros?

Although it might not seem important at first, the Jay Bouwmeester signing in Florida might prove to be consequential for the Ottawa Senators. First off, it lowers the bar on restricted free agent Andrej Meszaros' contract salary demands, because no one in their right mind would say Meszaros is even close to as important to the Sens' success as Bouwmeester (whose salary will be $4.8M, according to NHLScap.com) is to the Panthers'. And secondly, it removes one huge name from the pool of eligible defencemen, making Meszaros' trade value higher than it was previously.

Various sources have pegged Meszaros' salary demands around $4M per year, which seemed like the market share until Bouwmeester signed for $4.8M; Mesz, although a good player, isn't even 80% the player Bouwmeester is. Despite rumours to the contrary, Meszaros' value doesn't seem that high; Lee Versage made a good point on Team 1200 this morning in stating that if he was highly sought after, someone would have thrown an offer sheet his way. He remains a young, puck-moving defenceman, however, and there are many teams who would be interested in acquiring him if they could sign him to a long-term deal.

Something playing into Meszaros' favour is the rumour (take it for what it's worth), spread by Sens Chirp, that he's got a contract offer with a KHL team for next year that he'll run to if the Sens don't meet his expectations. Even if he does, Bryan Murray doesn't seem like the kind of man who takes very kindly to threats, but I do hope that the Sens don't lose Mesz for nothing.

A smooth-skating, puck-moving defenceman who can get the puck out of the defensive zone is arguably the Sens' most pressing need, and--despite the odd giveaway or mistake--Meszaros fits that bill. Brian Lee might do that in the future, or even in this upcoming season, but we have no way of knowing how he'll respond to a full 82-game NHL season--plus playoffs. There are options via trade, but only Murray really knows Meszaros' value, and which defencemen are truly available.

What do you think; is Meszaros in the Sens' future? Should he be, or shouldn't he?
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