Monday, February 4, 2008

The Rumour Mill: The Hockey News weighs in

Now, it's true that I've given my fair share of criticisms to The Hockey News, but the most recent issue (Vol. 61, No. 18, Feb. 12, 2008) has explored the possibilities of the upcoming trade deadline, and I'm going to go ahead and explore them because they involve Ottawa acquiring Marian Hossa and Darcy Tucker, two players who could be valuable additions to a playoff run.

Let's start with the biggest name: Hossa. THN has Antoine Vermette and Patrick Eaves going to Atlanta in this deal, but I think that might be a pretty high price for someone who will likely only be a rent-a-player due to cap restrictions. Perhaps one of those names in combination with a higher-round draft pick or a key prospect, such as Alexander Nikulin, it's a possibility. The prospect of complementing our already stacked offence (at least when we're not riddled with injury) makes me seriously consider Vermette and Eaves, though. I think Hossa would fit nicely alongside Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley, and a second line could include either Vermette or Eaves--whoever isn't involved in the deal--with Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher.

That takes us to the Tucker acquisition. Most Sens fans hate the Mother Tucker, but I've come around a bit. I hate Gary Roberts waaaaay more, although that may have something to do with the Pittsburgh series last year. Going towards the Leafs would be Ilya Zubov, which seems like a reasonable price to pay. Tucker would be a nice complement to a third line with Chris Neil and possibly Dean McAmmond, a speedy line with grit and some offensive upside. The only possible problem is that Tucker has three more years at $3M each, which might be tough for GM Bryan Murray to swallow.

And some of the trades that other teams are rumoured to be taking part in.

The biggest deal of the deadline: Mats Sundin to Vancouver for Ryan Kesler, Alex Edler, and a conditional first-round pick. Which seems like a price the Sens could match, if the interest is there--which it has to be, considering Sundin's value. One of Vermette, Eaves, or Chris Kelly plus Brian Lee and a conditional first-round pick. An established player, a better-than-average defensive prospect, and a first-rounder if we make it to the finals. Plus Kelly is a Toronto native, so there you go. It seems like a high price, and if Sundin is just going to sign back in T.O. afterwards it might be, but if the Sens can talk him into a three-year, $12M deal to play with Alfie--a pipe dream, I know--then it might be worth it.

On defence, there's L.A.'s Rob Blake going to San Jose in exchange for Lukas Kaspar. Kaspar is a decently sized left-wing prospect, but this deal seems like a steal for the Sharks. If the last few games are any indication, the Sens need defensive help. Desperately. While I may be biased, I think Sens LW prospect Nick Foligno is a stronger asset that Kaspar, and could command a pretty penny if the team were to trade him--but I don't want to. Instead, the idea of trading Josh Hennessy and possibly another asset, such as C Igor Mirnov or LW Shawn Weller, the possibility of having a top-four D corps of Anton Volchenkov, Chris Phillips, Andrej Meszaros, and Rob Blake with Joe Corvo and Wade Redden as powerplay specialists makes me drool.

And while goaltending is probably a section of the roster that will stay as it is for this season, one thing seems certain for 2008-09: Either Ray Emery or Martin Gerber will no longer play for the Ottawa Senators. Both parties have requested the starter's position, or to be traded. Which means this team will likely need a backup for next season. And why not pick one up now, in case the injury bug gets to the Sens' crease. Apparently--according to THN, of course--Dan Ellis of the Predators is only worth a second-round pick, and that seems a pretty reasonable price to pay for a solid backup who won't raise a stink if he doesn't get a chance at starting.

But let's be realistic. This article was fun to write, and I hope it was fun to read (and comment on; let us know who you think the Sens need), it's completely speculative. And probably completely unrealistic. But it's better than writing about another Sens loss or another fight in practice.
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