Thursday, July 31, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Although he'll have a chance to make the NHL squad in training camp, Hennessy will likely re-join the Binghamton Senators for the third season in a row, with a few mid-season call-ups if the big team runs into injuries. In 152 AHL games over the last two seasons, Hennessy has scored 49G and 59A for 108P total.
The signing retains the services of one asset we received in the Martin Havlat trade, along with 2008 second-round pick Patrick Wiercoch and I think Michal Barinka is still technically a Sens prospect.
The Sens also re-signed goaltending prospect Jeff Glass to a one-year, two-way deal earlier in the week. It is, according to NHLScap, worth $550k.
Various sources have pegged Meszaros' salary demands around $4M per year, which seemed like the market share until Bouwmeester signed for $4.8M; Mesz, although a good player, isn't even 80% the player Bouwmeester is. Despite rumours to the contrary, Meszaros' value doesn't seem that high; Lee Versage made a good point on Team 1200 this morning in stating that if he was highly sought after, someone would have thrown an offer sheet his way. He remains a young, puck-moving defenceman, however, and there are many teams who would be interested in acquiring him if they could sign him to a long-term deal.
Something playing into Meszaros' favour is the rumour (take it for what it's worth), spread by Sens Chirp, that he's got a contract offer with a KHL team for next year that he'll run to if the Sens don't meet his expectations. Even if he does, Bryan Murray doesn't seem like the kind of man who takes very kindly to threats, but I do hope that the Sens don't lose Mesz for nothing.
A smooth-skating, puck-moving defenceman who can get the puck out of the defensive zone is arguably the Sens' most pressing need, and--despite the odd giveaway or mistake--Meszaros fits that bill. Brian Lee might do that in the future, or even in this upcoming season, but we have no way of knowing how he'll respond to a full 82-game NHL season--plus playoffs. There are options via trade, but only Murray really knows Meszaros' value, and which defencemen are truly available.
What do you think; is Meszaros in the Sens' future? Should he be, or shouldn't he?
Monday, July 28, 2008
On paper, there isn't really much of a comparison. Bouchard has scored 179 regular-season points over the last three seasons, while Vermette has only put up 125. While Bouchard has less playoff points (7, compared to 8 for Vermette) he has only played 16 playoff games, while Vermette's played 38. There is really no comparison in terms of offensive output, and Bouchard is undoubtedly a more important component of the Wild than Vermette is of the Sens.
Bouchard, however, was given more opportunities to produce offensively than Vermette. He averaged more than one minute more per game than the Verminator (18:50 compared to 17:34), including more than twice as much powerplay time per game (3:35 compared to 1:28). And Vermette had a lot more penalty-killing time (3:39 per game, while Bouchard averaged 0:02 per game); as we all know, his speed makes him a solid penalty killer, so Vermette's value is defensive, as well.
According to newspaper reports, Vermette has been asking for a long-term contract in the range of $4M per year, just like Bouchard's. He might be worth that to another team, but he hasn't proven the Senators that he can justify that kind of dough with consistent, timely offensive production.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I don't know the whole story about Murray's career, but the guy had 28 goals in 2006-07 and 92 points in 2002-03! This (now much older) man screams secondary scoring. I recommend that the other Murray, Bryan, make a freaking decision about Meszaros and Vermette and start putting the Sens on the right track immediately, or yet another opportunity may pass the team by.
PS: Haven't the Bruins taken enough players from the Sens?
Martin Gerber can probably breathe a little easier with Alex Auld and not Ray Emery waiting in the wings to be the Ottawa Senators' No. 1 goalie.When Alex Auld is so obviously challenging for the #1 goaltending spot on your team... it's not a good thing. And doesn't this paragraph implicitly reveal that HWSNBN is/was a much better goalie than Auld? Isn't it true?
I still cannot understand the Ottawa media's support for Martin Gerber. Patrick Lalime was run out of town for much less (and he won more than zero playoff series, and more than 2 playoff games - often in the same series. Okay, calm down Ben, this isn't about Lalime).
"In my career, when I've been on the bench, I've probably been the other goalie's biggest fan and supporter, and you hope for the same when you're in net, too."Screw that! Take the #1 spot. I would be much happier to support an overachiever than an overpaid underachiever. (2007 Stanley Cup playoffs ring any bells?)
"I see both of us as No. 1 goalies"Sadly, on this team, that will be the case.
Only 342 days until Gerber's contract ends!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
People are talkin', talkin' about signings,
I hear them whisper, you won't believe it,
They think Williams is now a Senator.
I just ignore it, but they keep sayin'
We trade Vermette for Kesler
We trade Meszaros for Bouwmeester
We trade Neil for Cam Barker
Maybe they're seeing something we don't, Murray
Please give me something to blog about
Murray, give me something to blog about
Let's give fans something to read about
How 'bout a traaaaaaade?
I feel so foolish, I never noticed,
You'd act so nervous, what are you hiding, Murray?
It took a rumour to make me wonder.
Now I'm convinced something's going down.
Thinking 'bout signings every day,
Dreaming 'bout trades every night.
Hoping that you feel the same way.
Now that we know it, let's make a signing, Murray!
Let's give them something to talk about,
A little contract to figure out!
Let's give them something to talk about,
How about a free... agent... sign... -ing?
Please give something to blog about.
Let's give them something to figure out.
Let's give them something to read about,
How about a trade, trade, trade, trade?
Listen up, Murray!
A little signing won't hurt!
How 'bout a second line winger?
A defenceman, a goalie?
Friday, July 18, 2008
When signing a young player for 5, 7, or 11 years, many teams feel that they are paying for the potential that a player will likely realize. To the player in question, I'm sure, that's A-OK with him. In the case of Vermette, the Ottawa Senators are posing the question: What is Antoine's potential? Where will be in 3 or 6 years?
The Edmonton Oilers recently re-signed a player with similar stats to Vermette, Shawn Horcoff, to a 6-year contract worth $33-million. Is Vermette worth this kind of money? Well, that depends on his potential, and as Ray Emery learned just last year, potential is about more than talent.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Rememer the days of the Euro Sens, back when the team was almost half Europeans, and half North Americans? I do. The 1995-96 season was the last time the Senators missed the playoffs, and began the Jacques Martin era--a time of a lot of lesser-known European players performing beyond expectations in a defensive style which made Don Beaupre, Ron Tugnutt, and Damian Rhodes look like NHL All-Stars.
The poster above commemorates the Senators' European experiment, which has been largely abandoned by current GM Bryan Murray in favour of North American flavour to the team. Three players hailing from the relatively small Czech Republic played big minutes for the Senators that year: Martin Straka, Radek Bonk, and Stanislav Neckar.
Although Straka would be traded during that year to the New York Islanders (in the deal that brought Wade Redden to Ottawa), he would manage to score nine goals and 16 assists in his 43 games in the Ottawa uniform.
Bonk would have a much ore illustrious (or at least longer) career with the Senators, and is one of only three players from that 1995-96 team still active in the NHL (along with Pavol Demitra and Daniel Alfredsson; Straka remains unsigned). Bonkers would score 35 points (16G, 19A) in 76 games in '95-96. He played with the Sens until the great collapse of 2003-04, which coincidentally was the season that marked the end of the Martin era in Ottawa. In 689 career games, Bonk had 152G, 247A, 399P, 401PM and in the playoffs scored 9G and 15A in 61GP.
Neckar played his first five seasons in Ottawa, scoring 6G and 16A in 198 games, but was traded in 1998-99 for playoff rental (and bust) Bill Berg. He finished his career going through four more teams, playing another 312 NHL games (510 total, scoring 53 points in his career).
One short chapter in Senators history.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The outsider - It's comming!!!
Sens Chirp - Getting close
(Do trade rumours make these guys reach orgasm, or what?)
These same blogs have also stated that Meszaros and Bryan Murray are still far from reaching a deal ($1.5M gap), a rumour reinforced by the Sun article.
I don't think acquiring Nikolai Khabibulin (and his incredible salary) would be an improvement over Gerber in terms of talent, but perhaps worth the trouble if it means acquiring a solid young forward like Anze Kopitar or Alexander Frolov in some kind of three-way deal. Cam Barker is also rumoured to be the Sens #1 target off the Blackhawks roster.
And just let me say, if Vermette does get moved... I CALLED IT! (Dec 2007) (Including re-signing Kelly prediction - booyah)
Update: I must add that many bloggers are correct - there is no way that LA would move Kopitar.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The Sens have needed another top-six forward for the last two seasons. The firepower of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, and Dany Heatley is nothing to scoff at, but if a team is able to shut that line down--as has happened (most notably in the the 2007 Stanly Cup Final against Anaheim), there is no fall back plan. Mike Fisher is intense, but he can't be counted on for offensive production. Antoine Vermette has gotten his opportunities, but failed to make them count. After them, there's really no option, unless prospects like Jesse Winchester, Ilya Zubov, or Alexander Nikulin surprise a lot of people. The Sens have acquired the likes of Mike Comrie and Cory Stillman to try and fill the void, but for various reasons they didn't work out as long-term solutions.
If the Sens fail to acquire more scoring depth, the onus once again falls entirely on Spezzalfredheat. And the team, more likely than not, remains as vulnerable to a good shut-down defensive tandem as they have been in past years. We'd heard that Jason Williams was (apparently) close to becoming a Senator, but that proved incorrect. There aren't many offensive forwards remaining on the free agent market, so the only avenue the Sens really have is through a trade, and, with 13 NHL-calibre forwards plus several potential prospects, there are tradeable assets on the team right now.
In the past three seasons, the Sens have lost Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden, Joe Corvo, Tom Preissing, Brian Pothier, and Mike Commodore, and the only new faces are Lawrence Nycholat, Brian Lee, and Jason Smith (and possibly Mattias Karlsson). There is an obvious problem with this picture. As good as Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov are, they can't do everything. Andrej Meszaros isn't even signed yet, but if he is signed most don't think he's ready to be the Sens go-to guy on the powerplay. The Sens desperately need some help on the blue line.
All sorts of names have been mentioned. The Sens were apparently in the Dan Boyle and Brian Campbell sweepstakes, but couldn't match market offers. Trade rumours have included the likes of Jay Bouwmeester (fat chance) and Cam Barker, but those are just rumours and are probably built on blind hope. Ottawa's goaltending tandem of Martin Gerber and Alex Auld makes the defensive needs more evident; although both are capable NHL goaltenders, neither is good enough to regularly steal games.
Man, this is a tough choice. Both are pressing needs, but if I had to choose one or another, I'd say that a top-four defenceman is more important at this point. What do you think?
Monday, July 14, 2008
I'm lifting my personal ban on HWSNBN-related posts to pose a question to the Ottawa Senators community. If you could ask HWSNBN one question, what would it be?
For me: Do you think you're more talented than Martin Gerber?
Michael Landsberg will probably ask something stupid like: If Dominik Hasek were an ice cream, what flavour would he be AND WOULD YOU DO AN IMPRESSION OF HIM RIGHT NOW?!
Now let's never speak of Michael Landsberg again.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Of all people, Bruce Garrioch is dousing the flame with a cool bucket of reality check:
They held one brief conversation with Williams and decided to go in another direction. The Senators simply can't afford to sign anybody to a contract at the moment. They could set themselves up for a Group II offer on Andrej Meszaros. Yes, the Senators still need a top six forward, but unless Ottawa has a change of heart they won't be signing Williams. His agent, Wade Arnott, sent a note late Saturday saying that Williams won't be signing with Ottawa.As mentioned on Friday, the possible signing of Williams is putting Antoine Vermette, Chris Neil, and Andre Meszaros on the trade front. Rumoured destinations include Chicago. Other possibilities include the deal pending a physical, or pending a trade of one of the above players.
That is all reliant on Williams signing. Which, apparently, is far from finalized.
Friday, July 11, 2008
The Senators have signed former Leaf (ewww) and 67 (yay?) Brendan Bell. I don't think he'll see regular time on the big club.
There's also word on the interwebs that the Sens are close to signing former Red Wing Jason Williams. This is coming from some bloggers who have sources, so take it for what it's worth. I'm waiting for the TSN alert to make my pocket vibrate. Mmmmmmm.... I'm keeping a close eye on the ottawasun.com for them to post some breaking news. I'll be sure to update this info if/when that does happen.
This could also mean that the club is shopping Chris Neil and Antoinne Vermette. Now that's some quality speculation!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Even though Erik Karlsson is probably staying in Sweden another couple of years, there could still be a Karlsson in the Sens lineup this year. Defenceman Mattias Karlsson spent the 2006-2007 season with Bofors of the Swedish second-tier league, racking up 32 points (11+21) in 44 games. (Profile)
At the end of the season, the Stora native signed an entry-level deal with the Sens with the intention to play with the Binghamton Senators. However, while preparing for camp back home in Sweden, he and a teammate hit the ice. The other player fell and the blade of his skate tore the tendom in Karlsson’s knee so bad that he couldn’t do much good at camp. Karlsson was sent to Bingo, but struggled with his knee and only suited up for two games before he went home to Bofors.
His solid play in Sweden’s second league then earned him a promotion to Bofors’ affiliate, Farjestads BK, arguably the most successful team in Sweden over the last decade. He was brought in late in the season to help Farjestad in their playoff run, and only played 13 regular season games, but still managed to score a couple of goals with a plus/minus of +10.
In the playoffs, Mattias Karlsson was one of their best players, leading the team in ice time. Despite Karlssons’ strong performance, his team was eliminated by the runner-up Linkoping.
Karlsson has told Farjestad that he’s going overseas to attend training camp and hopefully make the roster. If he doesn’t, he’ll return to Sweden for another season in the SEL. But the real question is, what could the larger one (6”3, 215 pounds) of our Karlssons bring to the Sens roster? Well, despite his size he has pretty good mobility; he does not pass with countryman Nick Lidstrom’s precision, although he can make a good first pass. Karlsson's also got a decent shot from the point, even though he will never become a big point-producer at the highest level.
He plays very simple, making a quick pass to get out of his own end quick to start the attack. If I had to compare him to anyone on the current Sens roster, I would say he is a poor man’s Chris Phillips. I can without a doubt see this guy playing in the NHL already, but his unwillingness to adjust in Binghamton might be a problem. I hope Murray, Hartsburg and the rest of the guys give this guy a long look during training camp because this could be the cheapest and best solution for the Sens' defensive gap.
Binghamton, AHL, 2 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PIM
Bofors, Swe-2, 24 GP, 7 G, 10 A, 17 P, 60 PIM
Farjestad, Swe, 13 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 4 PIM
*Farjestad, Swe, 12 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 20 PIM
I’m Kent Dahlberg, your Sens voice from across the pond
Anyone else annoyed that any Russia-related NHL article plays on some kind of "To Russia with Love" pun? That seems like something that sports writers like...
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
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).
Monday, July 7, 2008
When the Ottawa Senators traded Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves to the Carolina Hurricanes in February of this year, the deal seemed like a good one. The Sens got rid of an unhappy defenceman and an injury-prone forward while acquiring Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore; both tough players with Stanley Cup experience.
Now, it appears, the once appealing trade has gone sour. Stillman left Ottawa and signed a contract for $3.5 million with the Florida Panthers. Commodore went to the Columbus Blue Jackets. So how does one rate the deal now? Not very well.
The irony metre has been cranked up yet again in Canada's capital as Bryan Murray is now on the market for a "cheap" puck-moving defenceman. Someone who can put some points on the board; someone to anchor the powerplay; someone with a contract in the area of $2.5 million per season. Mr. Murray, you are looking for someone named Joe Corvo.
Corvo signed a four-year contract with Ottawa in 2006 to be an offensive defenceman, and, I suspect, a complement to, or replacement for, Wade Redden. Now, Redden is gone, and so is his backup.
A name being heard around Sens circles is Frantisek Kaberle. Let me fill you in on this guy: the 34 year-old native of Kladno, Czech Republic will earn $2.2 million for the next 2 seasons. He had 22 points last year and 44 in 2005-06 playing 80 and 77 games in those seasons(missing 55 games in 06-07 due to shoulder surgery). Corvo had 48 and 37 in his past two seasons.
In summary, he is older and doesn't score as much as Joey C.
Another possible acquisition is San Jose's Kyle McLaren. He had only 11 points last year and will become a UFA at the end of the upcoming season after a season at $2.5 million.
I guess the Corvo trade couldn't be seen as a salary dump, since the Sens are now want to acquire similar (or worse) players at a similar salary.
My verdict: You screwed the pooch on this one Murray. The Corvo deal depended on you retaining either Stillman or Commodore for the upcoming season (at least). Failure to do so has left the Sens spinning their wheels in this offseason searching for the pucking-moving defender that was on the roster less than 6 months ago.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
You know what? I'm just going to go ahead and do it. I know that Sens GM Bryan Murray is far from finished, and this lineup will likely be changed--possibly significantly--when the regular season opens across the pond in Sweden, but I figure that since I've got nothing better to do on this beautiful afternoon but sit in my danky basement and burn my retinas, I'm going to assemble a Sens' depth chart:
There could maybe be a bit more scoring in there, but forward lines look a lot like they did last year. Defense, though...
(Some information from HockeysFuture.com. Let me know if I missed someone... )
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Surprising, considering that the camps appeared to have some fundamental differences over how much She-Do (that name won't stick) is worth. I guess it's a good sign considering how much the Sens have already lost this year.
Remember this guy from round one? He's an ass. With only 16 points last season, I don't think his offence is the most heralded part of his game.
I wrote a little while ago about what other signings, such as the Matt Carle contract in San Jose, meant for the Senators and Meszaros. The recent Mike Green signing, a four-year deal worth $21M, does not make things easier for the Senators, either. The numbers Meszaros are rumoured to be looking for, around $3.5M a year, don't seem unreasonable given the market. He hasn't played as well in the last two seasons as he did in his rookie season, but he's still a good player and he'll be in the league a long time. And, as shallow as this team looks on D right now, it would be a lot worse without Meszaros.
One distinct possibility, should the Sens not sign Meszaros soon, is that he'll get an offer sheet from one of the teams who've lost out on the Redden or Brian Campbell sweepstakes. The Senators should be able to match an offer of $3.5M or so a year, but if they elected not to the compensation would be a 1st and 3rd round draft pick for the 2009 entry draft. A richer contract, such as an 8-year, $40M deal (sounds crazy, but Kevin Lowe has done crazier things) would get the Sens a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick for the 2009 entry draft. Which is alright, but that does nothing to help the Sens' current situation.
There's also the trade route, and Meszaros' value has got to be pretty high right now. But the Sens' biggest need right now is for top-flite defence, so unless another team wanted to go D-for-D, then the deal wouldn't make sense for Murray.
I wonder if he'll sign 20 minutes after I post this... I kind of hope so.
Sure, everybody loves Wade's charitable causes (such as buying a suite for charity at each Sens game) and he played heroically in the playoffs after his mom died, but this guy's career fizzled over the past two years and he left no question in the "Who should the Sens sign: Redden or Zdeno Chara?" debate from a couple years ago.
Not only that, Reds refused to waive his no trade clause at the trade deadline last year though he knew that he wouldn't be returning to Ottawa. Even my attempts to divorce him from the team couldn't get him to go.
And to the Rangers and their incredible $6.5 million per year contract: Quite a risk... at least you get a suite out of it.
Murray made one roster move of note yesterday between buck-a-beers and singing 15-second renditions of Tommy Tutone's classic "Jenny". That would be signing career backup goaltender Alex Auld to a two-year contract.
This leaves the Sens with a fierce tandem of backup goalies and no hope of consistency in the crease this upcoming season. No one really expected the Sens to be big players in the high-priced goaltender market, but I'm not sure what this move signals to Martin Gerber and the Senators future #1 goaltender (if such a savior exists outside of my wildest dreams).
The fact that it's a two-year contract means that Auld will likely be the transition goaltender should one of the Bingo goalies (Likely Brian Elliot; less likely, Jeff Glass) be given a shot at the Big League next season. (And yes, I am presuming Gerber will not re-sign with the Sens - and don't pretend like anyone has thought differently since the end of Year 1 of this three-year curse of a contract).
But long-term thinking aside, I would have preferred Olaf Kolzig. In 2002-03, this goaltender had 2 playoff wins - unheard of on the current Sens roster.
But give credit to Auld, he will likely challenge Gerber for starts this season. In fact, Don Brennan peered into his crystal ball and stated the depression reality of the situation:
"I'm predicting he'll be the team's No. 1 goalie by Christmas."Sad but true.