Mike Fisher was my favorite player, so I'm especially heartbroken that he was traded. Still, we were told the team would be rebuilding, even if that word wasn't used, and there's nothing more valuable to a rebuilding team than picks and prospects. You can't get those without giving up something in return, and Mike Fisher was one of the few Ottawa Senators players with some trade value. Let's try to take an objective look at the trade and see what we can learn.
- Nashville is getting a really good player. There has been debate in Ottawa for years whether Fisher is a third-line or second-line player, whether he has been overpaid on his last contract, and whether or not he could lead the team. These debates often leave out his intangibles. He's a clutch player in overtime, a Selke Trophy finalist, and a solid teammate. He also is one of the most genuinely good people you'll ever meet. The city of Nashville is getting a major boost off the ice as well. This story really sums up Mike Fisher to me. I don't know who has a bigger look of joy on their faces - Mike or Elgin.
- Bryan Murray hedged his bets fairly well. If Nashville bombs out, the value of the first round pick goes up. If they go deep, the value loss is augmented by the inclusion of another pick. The worst case scenario for Ottawa is a first round loss for the Preds, which leaves them with only a pick in the 20s to show for their player.
- Fisher is not a player a team rebuilds around. He's 30 this year, and his style of play tends to wear on his body. At this point in his career, he's a piece of a playoff team. That's not Ottawa. His value was probably highest this year, so if the team was going to move towards younger players, it was smart to get as much as they could for him.
The Senators are gambling with this draft pick. Darren swiped this info from HF Boards but it bears repeating:
From the 1996-2005 NHL draft players picked 15-30 who became better than a scrub:
10 Drafts and 150 picks
2003 – Had six franchise prospects (Parise, Getzlaf, Burns, Kesler, Richards, Perry)
The other nine drafts – combined for six (Briere, Morrow, Gagne, Havlat, Ward, Green, Rask)
39 other players better then scrub value (2nd-3rd liners, 2nd-3rd pair D)
Including the 03 draft have a 8% chance of grabbing a great prospect
excluding the 03 draft have a 4.4% chance of grabbing a great prospect
26% chance the player turns into a 2nd-3rd line or D pair
This is, of course, subjective, but it gives us a rough idea of what to expect.
The Senators now have two first round picks and almost $19M in salary cap space next year. The cap space assessment is assuming no unrestricted free agents are re-signed. It's highly possible they might use Nashville's pick to maneuver in the draft. Boston GM Peter Chiarelli's recent comments about being open to moving the first round pick they received from Toronto in the Phil Kessel trade lets us at least hope Ottawa has the ammunition to pursue that pick.
The team doesn't necessarily have to have a top five pick to draft a good player. Just two years ago, the team moved up from 18th to 15th (trading with Nashville, natch) to draft Erik Karlsson. 15th is probably not high enough to get a player such as Joel Armia, but the team could land another promising player like, Brandon Saad, Ty Rattie, or Nicklas Jensen.
The team's highest pick will most likely be Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Sean Couturier. This trade has left the team little depth at center behind Jason Spezza. Though Gabriel Landeskog may be the preference of fans (such as myself) there's suddenly a more critical need in the middle.
This is a painful move for Senators fans, but as Peter wrote yesterday, a true rebuild will probably be painful. This is a trade made for the future of the franchise, and it's a future that's a little brighter with the flexibility the move has brought the team.