The answer - not bad enough.
From most angles that one looks at it, the upcoming departure of Jason Spezza is a sombre event marked on the calendar for the offseason. The value being already diminished by the contract, injury history and lack of defensive prowress, is now projected to be even lower with the competition on the sellers market and our own GM (unless he's playing some interesting trick) thinks the return will be underwhelming. For the best centre this franchise has ever known, it is a sorry sight to see the diminished return he will bring - but it should still best the compensation received for the face of the franchise's departure.
In fact, there's definitely many more positives to be uncovered once this trade is considered from a larger set of perspectives. The return, unlikely to help us now, should help restock our farm system that has been hit by graduations and trades (we're currently rate at 19th overall).
There's the possibility that either the prospect or the pick in the trade become better than expected players. But, in my opinion, the best part about the trade is the timing. If there's one year to suck, it's heading into what should be one of the deepest drafts of this century, the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The top-ten of the draft features forwards expected to be elite (80 + points) 1st line players, and the defence men all look to be top two guys, if not franchise ones.
Can we compete with Buffalo/Calgary for the teams wanting to get that last place finish next year? I guess this is a sad thought for many Sens fans, but the truth is one finish in the bottom-five in a year with a good draft is necessary develop a Stanley Cup winner. LA. needed it to get Doughty in a good top-end draft (Stamkos/Doughty/Karlsson). Chicago needed it to get Toews/Kane. I'm not talking about continually lurking at the bottom for years like Edmonton or Florida to an extent. I'm talking about one year of playing very bad, and then investing the money (cough, Melnyk, cough) in UFA to help us get better.
In my opinion, a one year "rebuild" is much better long-term than a first round playoff exit. Assuming the trade returns something the likes of Berglund + Rattie + 2014 1st, our roster would have one legitimate top-six line, one top-pairing on defence (and a bunch of bottom pairing guys) and a solid goaltending duo.
Without signing any UFA's, I'd put my money on Ottawa finishing bottom ten in the league, if not bottom five. This is why I say - aim lower, in case you overachieve. Ask for high potential futures from the trade (ex: Rakell + 10th + Vatanen/Theodore/Karlsson). Rakell helps our RW depth, but can also play C. He seems like a guy with pretty high potential, and he should be much better than Bonino. The 10th overall let's us get a guy like Ehlers or Kapanen or some other elite winger. One of their d-men or William Karlsson will help our D/C depth in terms of elite talent. Apart from helping our prospect pool in at least two regions, it also gives us a line-up like this next season:
MacArthur - Turris - Ryan
Hoffman - Zibanejad - Stone
Prince - Pageau/Lazar - Rakell
Greening - Smith - Condra/Neil
Personally, I see three bottom-six lines in that line-up. It's not as bad as Buffalo and Calgary and arguably Florida, but it offers potential for a low finish.
Looking towards the future, I'd say the biggest needs to become a contender are a stud #1 Center (odd that we're trading one away, but in truth Spezza's window doesn't match the window for the rest of the team), and a #2 defenseman (assuming Ceci turns into a top-3/4 guy, and one of Cowen/Wiercioch/Claesson can become top-4 worthy). We can easily address one of these with a top-5 selection the draft. I'm sure Travis Konecny rings a bell with those living in Ottawa. In case you've never heard of him, he just won rookie of the year playing with the Ottawa 67's and going over a point per game throughout the season with very good consistency. He's been compared to Datsyuk with his puck skills and although he's on the smaller side, he's expected to fill out. He's also got a good release, good skating, and is very competitive (hits, battles on the the boards, drives to the net, not a floater).
Another name that intrigues me is Oliver Kylington. He's Swedish, a LHD, smooth-skating and elite two-way defenseman who's been compared to OEL or even a Karlsson-lite. He sounds like the perfect partner for Karlsson (don't tell me that Karlsson clone skating on a pairing with Karlsson himself doesn't sound amazing) and would certainly give us one of the best defensive corps in the league if two of Ceci/Cowen/Wiercioch turn into #3/4 guys.
We have a good supporting cast already in place or coming up (guys like MacArthur/Ryan/Smith right now, and players like Stone/Hoffman/Prince/Puempel/Lazar could fill out the top-9 on top of Turris/Zbad, and prospects from Spezza return)
Looking into the future (let's say two years from now, so season 2016-17), assuming we draft Kylington (I think it's more likely considering our center situation is better than our defines situation), and get a Rakell + 10th + Kerdiles/Karlsson return for Spezza: (These are if the players reach their potential)
MacArthur (22-20) - Turris (28-35)- Ryan (30 goal sniper/power forward)
Puempel (25 goal sniper) - Zibanejad (55 point power forward) - Stone/Rakell (45 point guys, good for 20-25)
Hoffman (speed + PP guy, 18-20) - Lazar (45 points) - Stone/Rakell/winger draft with 10th OA
Prince (30 points) - Smith (20 points) - Condra/Pageau/Dzingel
Kylington/Methot - Karlsson
Cowen/Methot - Ceci
Wiercioch - Gryba
If we could add one more good forward to play the role of Sharp/Carter/Gaborik/Lucic (not elite but plays similar role on his team) via UFA or trading some young guys for them (package of Stone/Prince/Wiercioch when they all have more value), I think this could be a contender down the road, and at least making the second round of the playoffs.
What do you guys think - is a one year "rebuild" a smart option to take us out of mediocrity heading into the season that determines the picks in the 2015 NHL Draft?
(This is assuming Melnyk would be willing to spend money to stay within upper half of teams cap-wise when it is needed to resign all of these players)