Friday, August 29, 2008

Assessing the Meszaros trade

As Ben reported earlier, has confirmed that the Senators have traded Andrej Meszaros to the Tampa Bay Lightning for defencemen Filip Kuba and Alex Picard as well as a first-round draft pick (originally the San Jose Sharks') for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Does this make the Senators a better team?

The Sens get more defensive depth, including a few more offensive defencemen. Kuba, a nine-year NHL veteran, has 207 points (55G, 152A) in 531 games, plus 13 playoff points in 24 playoff games. He put up similar numbers to Meszaros, but was a -8 while Meszaros was a +5. He may break into the Senators' top-four, but I think it's more likely he'll be playing in the bottom pairing.

Picard is much younger, but has scored a decent 28 points (6G, 22A) in 92 NHL games. He will probably battle with Lawrence Nycholat, Brendan Bell, and Matt Carkner for the Sens' sixth D-spot, unless Christoph Schubert is slated to play defence.

In terms of salary cap, Kuba is on the final year of a contract that will pay him $3M, which is about the amount the Sens were looking to pay Meszaros. As an added benefit, his contract situation will allow Bryan Murray to assess the situations of defensive prospects Brian Lee, Mattias Karlsson, Ben Blood, Tomas Kudelka, and Erik Karlsson for the 2009-10 season. Picard has two years left on an entry-level deal a deal he signed in June (thanks for the correction, Morgan), and is making $750K this season and $850k next year. In essence, if Meszaros signs the $4-5M contract that's been rumoured, the Sens will be saving cap space by acquiring extra defensive depth, which may allow for further defensive help, or another forward.

If I were to choose between a Senators' roster with Meszaros or one with Kuba/Picard on the blue line, I would certainly pick one with Meszaros. But sometimes the salary cap forces your hand. While I'm not unhappy with the trade, I will be happier if the cap space saved is used to hire some more offensive help.

ADDENDUM: I would also like to take a moment in unabashed self-congratulation to point you to my prediction from November 2007 that Meszaros would be gone this off-season.
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