Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sens sign Jason Smith, grittiness goes through the roof

Well, it might not be what the Sens need the most (a puck-moving d-man and some secondary scoring), but GM Bryan Murray signed Jason "Philchenkov" Smith to a two-year, $5.2M contract.

He definitely brings some qualities that Ottawa will need, though, and for that I give this signing half of a Sens Army stamp of approval (the Peter half; Ben will let everyone know if he'll complete the stamp). Smith is the epitome of the 'good guys' that Murray said he's trying to bring in, and although he's not going to score many points (168 points in 945 career games) or wow you with his speed, he'll bring his best effort every game and sacrifice his body (see photo at right) for the team.

I've taken the liberty of assigning Smith the nickname Philchenkov not only because his salary falls between those of Anton Volchenkov ($2.5M per year) and Chris Phillips ($3.5M a year), but also because his playing style is a bit of a synthesis of the two. He can make open-ice hits and block shots like Volchie, but he's also a staunch defender in the way Phillips is.

Say what you will about allowing Mike Commodore to walk for $3.75M a week ago, in my opinion Smith is a better player (if not quite as entertaining off the ice) and he comes at a much cheaper price tag.

This likely means that , even if Luke Richardson isn't ready to retire, he's not going to find a spot with the Senators. With Phillips, Volchenkov, and Philchenkov playing the gritty, stay-at-home style, the final three of the Sens' top six will likely be faster-skating puck-movers (I'm talking about Brian Lee, Larry Nycholat, and maybe Andrej Meszaros, or someone acquired through trade).
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