Sunday, November 2, 2008
There is no doubt about the fact that Mike Fisher is and has been one of the all-time favourite Ottawa Senators players. He plays a style people like to watch, works hard, and goes to church. He's wholesome, and most women think he's gorgeous (I think he's alright).
Just as certain, however, is the fact that Fisher is being paid an average of $4.2M in this season and three following to be a second-line scoring centre, and has no points this year. In fact, although he has played his style very well, he has never consistently been a scoring player. He's scored 22, 22, and 23 goals in his last three seasons respectively, and many wonder if he's really got that much more room to grow as an offensive threat. I've said, and heard others say, that Fisher is in the difficult situation of being an overskilled third-liner but an underskilled second-liner.
So does that make him expendable?
According to Allen Panzeri of the National Post (and Ottawa Citizen, I've just linked to the Post story), he might be the most expendable roster player. Panzeri said that GM Bryan Murray is going to have to decide "whether Fisher, 28, is worth keeping or whether it is time to cash in the investment as the down payment on a defenceman." It's not an easy questions to answer.
Obviously, Fisher will need to produce. And it's not like his lack of production is due to a lack of effort; he has had many chances in the past few games, he's just had problems converting them (or even hitting the net with his shots). Goals and points will obviously come, and history has shown that when the first one comes, a bunch will likely follow. But even if Fisher scores around 50 points this year, is it worth $4.2M? Especially considering the money that is already committed to Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, and Dany Heatley, and the lack of a number one defenceman or goaltender?
It's important to remember that Fisher has a no-movement clause this season, next season, and in 2010-11, which turns into a limited no-trade clause (whatever 'limits' that entails) for 2011-12 and 2012-13. So even if Murray decides that a trade is necessary, he's going to have to demonstrate to Fisher that it's in his best interest, as well--something that, given Fisher's interest in the community and established local connections, won't be easy to do.
Personally, I'd love nothing more than to keep Fisher in a Sens uniform, high price tag or not. But sometimes difficult decisions are made in the new NHL.