It was the week that hockey fans have been waiting for, in the off season anyway. This week marked the beginning of NHL Free Agency, which got off to a very busy start and gave hockey fans some exciting news to talk about. Sens fans were certainly not left out in this. From Spezza's departure to wild trade rumours, here are five things that were on my mind this week.
1) Spezza Trade
After months of speculation, it (finally?) happened. Jason Spezza was traded to the Dallas Stars for Alex Chiasson, Alexander Guptill, Nick Paul and a 2015 second-round draft pick. Some fans got what they wanted, some fans mourned the departure of the second Senators captain in as many years, and a lot of fans voiced their displeasure for the return.
This trade was certainly more about quantity than quality. These players don't fill the void that remains now that Spezza is gone. But it may have been the best deal the team could get. With Spezza's contract ending next year, and increasing pressure from the fans, Bryan Murray's hands were tied. He didn't want to wait for a better trade and end up settling for a deal just because it was there (see Dany Heatley). Learning from his mistakes, Murray took a deal while it was hot, or at least lukewarm.
Personally, I was always a fan of Spezza, and I think he was unfairly treated at times. I am one of the fans who are sad to see him go. Here's hoping he is more respected in Dallas than he was here.
2) Re-signing Michalek
Fear not Sens fans! Shortly after the Spezza trade, Brent Wallace indicated that the Sens were not done for the day. There was more to come.
Then they re-signed Milan Michalek! (Insert cricket sounds here)
It wasn't exactly the splash Sens fans were hoping for. Many were upset that the term and money Michalek received (3 years/$12 million) wasn't offered to Ales Hemsky. Was it wise to sign a player who has struggled with injury for the past few seasons? Probably not. But if Michalek can stay healthy, this isn't a bad deal. Murray is likely going to add a first- or second-line centre before the season starts. Give him someone to play with, and Michalek could make this deal worth it. Only time will tell.
3) What's next?
With Spezza gone, lots of players left to re-sign and even more cap room to fill, the Sens are far from finished their off-season changes. So, what's next?
Trade rumours have been running wild all week, the most recent one involving Vincent Lecavalier. Opinions on this one seem to be all over the map. Some fans think he would be a good fit; making Kyle Turris the second-line centre gives the team depth, and putting Mika Zibanejad on the third line gives him more time to develop. Others think it's a terrible idea because, well, it's Vincent Lecavalier! He's hardly lived up to hype or money that surrounds him in recent years. The Sens would essentially be replacing a highly criticized centre for an even more highly criticized centre.
One thing is for sure, this team needs a top-six forward before the season starts.
4) Chasing players away
When Murray traded Spezza on Tuesday, it officially marked two years in a row where the Senators have parted ways with a captain. Spezza is not the first big-name player to request a trade or leave on bad terms. Why do the Sens burn bridges with star players?
From Alexei Yashin to Dany Heatley to Daniel Alfredsson, a number of players have made their disdain for the organization known on their way out. As a fan, I think this is getting old. I can get over star players leaving town, but why do they have to leave with a bad taste in their mouths? The Senators are starting to get a reputation as a team that chases players out of town.
Right now, most fans suspect management is the reason for these departures. Whatever the reason may be, let's hope they get it figured out soon. How is the team supposed to attract players with the stars of the league dragging the Senators' name through the mud?
5) Where is the rebuild?
The Senators development camp is well underway in Ottawa, which got me thinking about the future of this team. Since the 2010-2011 kickoff of Senate Reform, the Sens have gone through a surprising chain of events. They started, what sounded like, a long and painful rebuild, then made the playoffs two years in a row. After Alfie left town, the Sens assigned a new captain, and began a new era of the organization. Then they failed to make the playoffs and that captain was traded. With this constant state of fluctuation, what is the status of the rebuild?
Is the team still on the right track? Were those two seasons just the result of low expectations? Or has the team taken a step back? I want your thoughts on the status of this rebuild!