Thursday, October 2, 2008

More unhappy forwards: SputNik and Isbister

Just a few days after Christoph Schubert expressed tremendous disappointment at being moved up to forward instead of playing minimal ice time at defence, two more Senators players appear disappointed with their roles in the system.

Alexander Nikulin recently posted an article on his blog (translated here on HFBoards) entitled "Goodbye, Ottawa" where he was disappointed at his reception for training camp, and has apparently asked for a trade or the option to go back to Russia. Bryan Murray agreed to try and trade him, and has been looking around, but if he can't find one within two weeks SputNik said he's off to CSKA Moscow. He cites the disappointment the Sens expressed to his conditioning--which was better than last year, just not as improved as the Sens wanted--and that he wasn't even given a chance to play in the pre-season. He is of the mind that a year in the minors would be a "waste", rather than an opportunity to improve. Worrying is his implication that Ilya Zubov, who improved greatly in the off-season--may also be disgruntled at the demotion to the AHL. I don't think either party is wrong here. Ottawa had every right to express their feelings to Nikulin, and to demote him if they felt it was granted. And Nikulin has every right to ask for a trade if he feels he can get better shake somewhere else. He's on contract, though; walking out on a contract and heading to Russia is a different can of beans. Time will tell.

Third disgruntled forward is Brad Isbister, who recently signed a two-way contract. According to Michael Sharp of the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin, Isbister isn't happy with that second way his contract could go--assignment to the AHL--so he's looking to Europe. No big deal, according to head of hockey operations Brent Flahr (as quoted on Sharp's blog): "I think you look around, we've got right now, just in practice, we have five lines, guys competing. Guys like Ryan Shannon, and Denis, and Josh Hennessy, and Zack Smith, who you haven't seen a lot of yet but is a real good player. Danny Bois has come in ... he looks like a different player this year. You know, you have Zubov, Nikulin, other guys. So ... I think we have very good depth at forward. We're not concerned. At the same time, we don't want anybody down here around young prospects who doesn't want to be here."

So, expect a few moves to make sure all of our players want to be here. Not sure about Schubert and whether or not he'll stick around, but neither Nikulin nor Isbister will be with Ottawa this year. Which is fine, because it's better to have happy middling players than unhappy middling players. And Binghamton had extra forwards, anyway.
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