When the NHL All-Star weekend wraps up Sunday night at Scotiabank Place, the Ottawa Senators will be facing the last 30 games of their season. They currently sit sixth in the Eastern Conference with 60 points. Toronto, Florida and New Jersey are all five points back of the Sens. However, Florida and Jersey have four games in hand and Toronto has three.
The moral of the story is the Sens are a serious bubble team at this point. This has many fans almost giddy that a team that experts picked to be in the basement has a fighting chance of making the playoffs, but it creates quite the situation for Bryan Murray and the rest of management come February 27th.
If the Sens are one of the eight teams coming out of the East, do they have enough to compete with the Rangers or Bruins? Should management alter the "rebuilding" plan they put in place this time last year? Should they be content to get one round of playoff experience for their young team and keep the current line up? Should they move forward with last year's plan and move players that are vital to making the playoffs such as Filip Kuba?
Most fans hope for some sort of middle ground. To acquire a player that isn't an old, UFA rental for a prospect or a pick. Instead, many fans are hoping that Bryan Murray can swing a deal for a relatively young, productive player that has a reasonable contract without mortgaging the future.
Essentially, we want a miracle. Not only are very few players such as the one described above available, but the players that ARE will be sought after by 29 teams in the league, driving up the price.
We have also heard the price for these players (Gagner excluded): Mika Zibanejad, First round pick, etc, etc. This scares fans. However, to get in this league, you have to give, and sometimes gambles are needed.
Last night however, Darren Dreger put another name out there; Jeff Carter. Recently acquired by Columbus only to have a nightmare season, Jeff Carter is apparently being shopped around the league. My suggestion is that he would be a player VERY worth looking at as a possible player to put the Sens in a position to succeed down the stretch.
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Jeff Carter was the Flyers 11th overall pick in that legendary 2003 draft class. He is a three-time 30 goal scorer, and had a career high 46 in 08-09. He can play centre, but many of his more productive seasons have been on the wing. Does he have a long contract? Yes. Have there been some off-ice issues? Double yes. However, the fact is there is a hole in Ottawa's top six forward group. Currently the Sens ice one of two combinations:
Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Bobby Butler
Milan Michalek - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
The weak points are obviously Butler and Condra. Both are good players, neither has played in such a way that they ought to be in the top six. This creates a scenario where both the Spezza line and the Turris line NEED Michalek, and yet, we only have one Milo.
As stated above, this team has needs: A bottom pairing d-man better than Carkner and Lee, a back up goalie, and most importantly, a scoring top six guy. Carter is available, 27 years old, capable and under contract. It is a long contract, but 5.7 million for a team with oodles of cap room is not the end of the world for a top line player.
Columbus gave a first rounder (seventh overall), third rounder and Jakob Voracek. Would a package of Foligno, the Sens first rounder (hopefully ~18-22 or so) and a fourth do it? In my opinion, worth a look from Bryan Murray.
What are your thoughts? Should the Sens stay away? Should they go after Carter? Should they go after another player?