Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Rumour Mill: So many defencemen...

Although secondary scoring has long been seen as a priority for the Senators, it was generally agreed that a more pressing need going into this season was for a puck-moving defenceman. Although the Senators have a few possible elite puck-movers, they're not there yet, so that need still hasn't been addressed. As it stands now, the Senators are moving into next year with the following corps of defencemen, any of whom has a decent chance to make the Sens' roster:
  1. Filip Kuba
  2. Chris Phillips
  3. Anton Volchenkov
  4. Chris Campoli
  5. Brian Lee
  6. Jason Smith
  7. Alex Picard
  8. Brendan Bell
  9. Christoph Schubert
  10. Mattias Karlsson
  11. Erik Karlsson
  12. Patrick Wiercioch
There are some notes to make here, obviously: The acquisition of Chris Campoli seems to indicate the team will move away from Filip Kuba, hopefully by trade although he may simply walk in the off-season--it seems unlikely that Bryan Murray will re-sign him at the higher salary he will likely demand. Brendan Bell is also a free agent at the end of this season, and--although his contract has been positive for the Senators--he may look to sign somewhere else if he'd get a better shot on their NHL squad. Mattias Karlsson has had an all-star season in the AHL this year, but he may not be NHL ready yet. Finally, although the hopes are high for both Erik Karlsson and Patrick Wiercioch, it's unexpected they'll make the NHL roster next season, and will likely need a year in the AHL before making the big leagues.

That leaves three virtual locks as defensive defenceman on the Sens' blue line next season--Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov, and Jason Smith--and four lesser puck-moving defencemen battling for the other three spots--Campoli, Brian Lee, Alex Picard, and Christoph Schubert. But four good puck-movers doesn't make up for the lack of one elite puck-mover.

And even with those four, trade rumours have the Sens looking to pick up more offensively-oriented middle-road defencemen. Bruce Garrioch today said that Schubert is all but traded (about time), with Edmonton and Tampa Bay both interested, and the asking price for the Oilers set at young defenceman Ladislav Smid--yet another young, mobile defencemen not expected to be a top-pairing player. And Eklund (am I actually reporting this?) said today that Vancouver is looking at Antoine Vermette still, and the Sens are asking for--you guessed it--a defenceman in return.

I expect Ottawa to take a good run at finding an elite puck-mover in the off-season, though. They've got both Martin Gerber and Kuba coming off the books for next year, offering $6.7M (before re-signing Brian Elliott) to spend on an overdue replacement. That might not be enough for someone like Jay Bouwmeester, but he sure would look good on a first pairing with Campoli, if you ask me.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin