Monday, November 17, 2008

The Rumour Mill: Who should Bryan Murray try to trade?

You may notice a new poll in our left sidebar featuring a very simple question: Who should Bryan Murray try to trade? On a team that has only scored four goals during a four-game losing streak there is no shortage of candidates, but the names we've listed are some of the front-runners. If you've got your own ideas of who should be on their way out, post the name (and some reasoning, if you're so inclined) in the 'comments' section. Without further adieu, here is a breakdown of what we think are the leading candidates, in no particular order, with their contract status in terms of cap hit (including this season).
  1. Christoph Schubert, D/W, two years at $0.9M
    Schubert wsan't happy going into this season at the prospect of playing another year of forward instead of his natural position at defence. In training camp he was given every opportunity to prove he could do it, but didn't prove it to anyone. It wasn't until both Brian Lee and Luke Richardson played themselves out of the lineup that Schubert got a chance, and he hasn't looked great. He's often caught out of position, doesn't work on the powerplay, is weak on the penalty kill, and his one real asset--his hard shot--rarely hits the net. Although his contract is reasonable, a more reliable sixth defenceman can be had for less.
  2. Jason Smith, D, two years at $2.6M
    Smith started out strong, but has faded in recent games. It doesn't help playing with a different partner every night, but he often seems to be caught out of position, and is very vulnerable to faster players and the back-door play. Smith has let his physical play fade away, and needs to get that back to prove his worth. Once Smith realizes his limitations and focuses on his positional play, he could be valuable. One question: If the Sens aren't able to make the playoffs (perish the thought), is there any reason to have a playoff warrior?
  3. Mike Fisher, C, five years at $4.2M
    After a very slow start, Fisher has finally passed Shean Donovan to become the Senators' fifth-highest scorer. He's still only got six points in 15 games, on pace for 26 points on the season. Not good enough, considering his salary. Fisher does have some intangibles, however, and the possibility may still exist for him to become that second-line centre the Sens pay him to be. If not, it would be difficult to deal him anyway, since he's got a no-movement clause and his trade value is probably as low as it's ever been.
  4. Antoine Vermette, C/W, two years at $2.763M
    Vermette isn't producing so far this season. But not many players are. Still, he can no longer say he wasn't given an opportunity to play as a top-six forward, and he didn't produce in that role. It may simply be that he needs a different opportunity, or that he isn't as good as the flashes of brilliance he teases us with might indicate. Given his relatively low cap hit and his potential, and the fact that Florida and Vancouver are both rumoured to be interested, might make him the Sens' top trade bait right now.
  5. Chris Neil, RW, this year at $1.1M
    I was all over Neil last season, and for good reason--he was terrible. This year, so far at least, Neil appears to have gone back to what was working for him (fighting), and is proving that he does still have some value to a team. The writing seemed to be on the wall when Jarkko Ruutu was signed, but the two of them have been an effective duo at getting under the opposition's skin (see: Adam Mair). Still, if there is no intention of re-signing Neil with the likes of Cody Bass and Chaz Johnson (and Jeremy Yablonski!) in Binghamton, then there is likely a market for Neil. If he wants to re-up for a little less than he's making right now, and proves he can get back to 10-15 goals this year, it might be good to keep him around.
  6. Alex Picard, D, two years ay $0.8M
    Picard was a necessary return for Murray in the Andrej Meszaros trade, largely because of his purported potential. Unfortunately, he has struggled mightily at times, and that has made the times when he's looked good a little less memorable. It seems unlikely that the Senators would give up on a project player like Picard after so little time, but if a trade involving him would improve the team, then I'm certain Murray would take it.
  7. Chris Kelly, C, four years at $2.125M
    Kelly is the fourth player on this list that Murray re-signed last season; it's not a good sign. Kelly's value is as a third-line defensive centre and penalty-killing specialist, but those can likely be had for less than his cap hit. Which is why it might be difficult for the Sens to find a trading partner for Kelly. He has played well given offensive opportunities, however, so he might be a flexible opportunity should the Senators need a more offensive centreman to step up.
  8. Other
    Who else do you think is likely to be traded? I'm sure I'll see Jason Spezza in the comments; why do you think he's so expendable?
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