A lot has happened the past few weeks. It all started with the Ottawa Senators sucking. And sucking...and sucking even more. It became more and more apparent that this is a lost season. Time for the rebuild, the rebuild fans have been clamouring for about three years now. And here you go fans, the real rebuild has started. And it's started with a bang.
First, the Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly, and Jarkko Ruutu trades. Obviously, two players that just a short time ago seemed to be on their way to becoming Career Senators. Obviously the Mike Fisher trade was hard to digest. A guy who did so much for the franchise, now heading to Nashville. He was dealt for a a solid return, a 1st round pick that will likely end up in the 20th-25th range and a conditional pick that could be in the 3rd round, 2nd round, or no round at all. It's been stated much, but classy move by the organization to send him where he preferred to be sent to. It's been well noted a team like the LA Kings may have had a better offer for Fish, but for Bryan Murray to trade away an important player like Mike, he had to do him some favours. Whether this player-friendly mode for Bryan translates into more players wanting to come to Ottawa, I have no clue.
However, I personally cried when I woke up this morning to find out Chris Kelly had been traded to Boston. Kelly was one of the guys I thought we had to keep. Heart, hustle, soul, everything you could want from a third-line player. He was the future captain of this team, in my opinion. Unfortunately, the writing was on the wall when Fish left town. This is a rebuild, you have to make these gut-wrenching decisions if you really want to build from the ground up. Chris will be a great addition for the Bru, who I think may make a run for Lord Stanley. I always thought his salary was just for the type of player he was, contrary to popular belief. It's just too bad he couldn't end his tenure in Ottawa without the Cup held over his head.
Jarkko Ruutu's trade was inevitable though. UFA at season's end, a bit too much money for a player like him but a team with needs in Jarks' skill-set could get him easily. And Anaheim did. I always thought the return for his type would be a 4th or 5th round pick, obviously the market may have not been much. A 6th-round pick can turn into gold, or waste, a good gamble as Bryan at least gets something in return for Ruutu's services. He was at times a good player for Ottawa, and his antics really pissed of other teams (see Adam Mair). A successful team needs to have that. Now that the famed line of last season, Ruutu-Kelly-Neil only has one member remaining, it shows how down this team really has gone.
So, what now? Alex Kovalev's re-surgent play as of late has lead me to think he's going somewhere. I was of the opinion that no team wanted part of him in the long run, but he might fit well with the right line-mates and his playoff numbers are just staggering. His salary may keep some teams off, although. The only real contenders I can see making a move for Kovy are Columbus, St.Louis, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, and Los Angeles. If I were Mr.Bryan Murray, I would vary my options on a return for Alex, but for me a mid-level prospect or a 3rd round pick should be good enough. I'd like a prospect, because draft picks aren't always the solution. The team that makes perfect sense are the Kings, who sit 8th in the muddled Western Conference, however 2 points away from 3rd I believe. They need an offensive spark, and have the salary cap room to accomodate Kovalev. And Alex surely will waive his NMC to join the Kings. I mean, who wouldn't want hot babes on the beach? What's the worst that can happen? Oh yeah, he goes on a 15-game pointless streak. But psshhh, don't say that to Dean Lombardi.
Chris Phillips is an interesting situation. Personally, if he stays or gets traded, iehter one would be fine by me. I'd like to see him stay and mentor the young defensemen coming up in the system, especially Jared Cowen. I'm in the belief that this horrendus season of his is an abberation, likely caused by the fact he's had to switch defensive partners every 2 games, and play alongside mainly offensive guys such, e.g. Sergei Gonchar, Erik Karlsson, Chris Campoli, Filip Kuba. Perfect player for a Western Conference team however, and for me Dallas makes the most sense. Except for Calgary and Columbus, they have allowed the most goals for Western team in the tight playoff race, and out of those teams have the most lee-way in terms of cap room. The only potential stumbling block is their ownership issue, but I don't think it's too huge to de-rail any kind of trade. With the recent Beauchemin trade a previous rental defenseman trades, I think a 2nd-round pick + a prospect is fair value in return.
Then there's the middle guys, some days regarded as potential trade value some days regarded is immovables. They are Chris Neil, Milan Michalek, Chris Campoli, and Sergei Gonchar. Neil for me should stay, without a doubt. They've already lost a plugger in Ruutu and leadership value in Fisher and Kelly, no need to trade Neil as well. He'd be good to keep around a rebuild. Michalek, meh. I wouldn't be shocked if he's traded, but I'd like to see him stay. And his salary and term may be too high for some teams. Sergei Gonchar should be kept. He's had a less-than-decent year, but I think he can still rebound next season. No point for that, but once again no team will be able to afford him unless salary is coming back. And Eugene Melnyk has made it clear he doesn't want that. Camper will be traded IMO. A team would like him for insurance on the blue-line, and he could be a good asset on the PP. You would think Vancouver since Chris may be a cheap option for them, but I think they'd like a bit more defensive stability. Rangers actually make perfect sense. They have been abysmal this year on the Power Play, and Campoli could provide some hel on that front a cheap cost and impending UFA.
We shall see how things go, but it's clear to Sens fans one thing; Fasten Your Seat-Belts. Cause it's gonna be one long ride.
Thankfully David Rundblad is here to save us all. And Jared Cowen. And, oh yeah, Erik Karlsson.
Don't forget about Robin Lehner. Or he'll shove you down.