Editor's note: User Buz Killington steps away from our fantasies of adding every possible high-end player to our team for Kuba and some used diapers to take a more realistic look at what Ottawa's roster might look like next year with no major splashes by Bryan Murray.
Presumably some of you have seen or made use of the tremendous Cap Calculator application over on the CapGeek.com website. Those who haven't should certainly check it out. It allows users to fill in the missing links for the rosters of NHL teams by adding players and assigning cap hits for them.
When you look at the contracts on the books for the Sens in 2011-12, certain truths become evident. Barring trades or buyouts, our lineup is largely already set. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of trades by any means, especially with the draft approaching and the unique circumstances surrounding this particular draft year for the Senators.
But it is a fool's game to try and predict what players, if any, will be removed from the roster before the season starts. With that in mind, this is my conservative outlook for next years roster. By conservative, I mean that I have not jettisoned any current contracts (somehow I overcame the urge to buy out Kuba), and I have not made any opulent UFA signings.
Below you will find my mockup of next years team, and my reasoning behind the roster moves. I'm sure there will be much disagreement over my choices and I encourage everyone to head to GapGeek and have their own go at the Cap Calculator. You can publish your roster there after you've made it and post the link in the comments. My roster can be found here: http://bit.ly/kVrXYM and my explanation follows below the jump.
Let's start with the basics:
We have 17 players (10 forwards, 6 defencemen, 1 goalie) under one-way contracts for next season.
So first off, we need a backup goalie. I chose Johan Hedberg, but it could easily be any one of Curtis McElhinney, Alex Auld, Josh Harding, Ty Conklin, Brian Boucher, or Mathieu Garon, all of whom are UFA's and would likely cost $1-1.5M. One of the best parts of the Cap Calculator is you can sort UFA's and RFA's by position and by previous cap hit, so you can quickly identify what free agents can fill your team's needs. Signed: Hedberg (~1.1M)
Next, the defence. 6 are already under contract and unless my dreams come true and Kuba is traded or bought out, none of them are going anywhere. I suppose Brian Lee could be moved but it seems unlikely at this point. That leaves 1 open spot for our two young stud D-men. It goes to Runblad. He is older, has been playing against men for 3 years, was the best defencemen in the SEL last year, and is Hockey Futures prospect of the year. I don't think he is coming across the pond to play in the A. And keep in mind that he is the same age as Karlsson. Added: Runblad (1.5M)
Jared Cowen, on the other hand, will probably benefit from some more time in the AHL, as has been suggested by Coach KK himself. And until we can move Kuba or B. Lee, that is where he will be.
Now for the forwards. This is most interesting part of the exercise. However we already have 10 under one-way contracts. Bobby Butler is most certainly going to play for the Sens next year. He is an RFA, and his expiring contract was worth .9M. I gave him a raise up to 1.2M. It could be a little more, but it shouldn't be much more and the exact amount is not that important. Also, although he is an UFA, I resigned Ryan Shannon, giving him a modest raise from 625,000 to 925,000. He may very well get more than that on the open market, but again the exact price isn't really that important since I am not going to be pushing the cap ceiling here.
That brings us up to 12 forwards, and 21 players in total. That leaves two roster spots remaining. I believe the Senators usually carry 14 forwards if I'm not mistaken, with two forwards and one d-man in the press box every night. So we have room for two more forwards and 10M in cap space.
Two things BMurr has said are relevant here. The first is that he will be making a UFA signing. The second is that they had planned to draft a forward who will play in the NHL next year.
As the roster is currently composed, our most glaring weakness among several is (as it traditionally is) at 2nd line centre. Right now, that duty would have to fall to either Regin or Da Costa.
I think if we were still drafting in the top 5, that role could be filled by Coutourier or Hurburdeau. However, I am not convinced that our 6th overall pick (Strome?, Zibanejad?) could step into that role. For this reason I have chosen to add a UFA C.
It is really interesting to look at the UFA forwards on CapGeek. This year's crop is low on elite players but there are tons of serviceable NHLs available, mostly older veterans, many more than I realized.
Ultimately I chose to sign Tim Connolly, because if I was GM I would be looking for somebody with scoring ability rather than grit to fill the 2nd line C spot. Now I know he is about the most unreliable player imaginable because of his injury history, but he is also a bonafide producer when healthy and could be a great complement for Alfie. I do not think his new salary will match the 4.5M he was making before and I think for 3.5-4M this is a gamble I would make.
Alternatively, here are some of the players that might interest the Sens: Simon Gagne, Michael Ryder, Erik Cole, Tomas Fleischmann, Scottie Upshall, Brooks Laich, Jussi Jokinen, Alex Tanguay, Tomas Kopecky, or Chris Higgins.
I think Tanguay could be an interesting option if he came cheaply. I am putting the focus on somebody who can produce some offence in tandem with Alfredsson, as I believe we have enough checkers.
You could also choose just to try to slot in our 6th overall pick or play Regin or Da Costa in that spot. With the pick, there is the possibility the player could be a Skinner and step in as an 18-year-old. Or he could be more like Kadri and need time in the AHL or even more time in junior. Given that the draft is considered weak I am going to leave the pick off the NHL club for this year. With one spot remaining that will likely be a healthy scratch I would bring up Condra, who can rotate in and out of the lineup with Winchester, Greening, and possibly Zach Smith.
Signed: Butler (1.2M), Shannon (.925M), Connolly (3.5M), Condra (.8M)
And there you have it. The finished product:
|Milan Michalek ($4,333,333)||Jason Spezza ($7,000,000)||Bobby Butler ($1,200,000)|
|Nick Foligno ($1,200,000)||Tim Connolly ($3,500,000)||Daniel Alfredsson ($4,875,000)|
|Peter Regin ($1,000,000)||Stephane Da Costa ($1,325,000)||Ryan Shannon ($925,000)|
|Colin Greening ($816,667)||Zack Smith ($700,000)||Chris Neil ($2,000,000)|
|Erik Condra ($800,000)||Jesse Winchester ($750,000)|
|Sergei Gonchar ($5,500,000)||David Rundblad ($1,500,000)|
|Chris Phillips ($3,083,333)||Erik Karlsson ($1,300,000)|
|Filip Kuba ($3,700,000)||Matt Carkner ($700,000)|
|Brian Lee ($875,000)|
|Craig Anderson ($3,187,500)|
|Johan Hedberg ($1,200,000)|
|Jonathan Cheechoo ($1,166,667)|
|Daniel Alfredsson ($700,000)|
|Ray Emery ($562,500)|
|SUMMARY (totals compiled without the bonus cushion)|
Dont worry too much about the line combinations and defense pairings.
Now let's see what you all come up with.