Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, we can all see much of the activity Bryan Murray was going to do preparing for the Senate Reform. He was given a mantra to clear salary off the Ottawa Senators books, and bring in draft picks; there's no doubt he's done that. Gone are Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly, Jarkko Ruutu, Brian Elliott, Alex Kovalev, and Chris Campoli; incoming are a bunch of draft picks (one first, two seconds, a sixth, and a seventh) along with Craig Anderson, Curtis McElhinney, Marek Svatos, and Ryan Potulny.
It's pretty clear that much of the groundwork for the rebuild was laid over the last three weeks. With that in mind, a few of the editors here at Silver Seven decided to take a look back at what's happened so far, and give our thoughts on the best and worst moves so far in the Senate Reform, as well as an overall grade for Murray for his rebuild. Here goes:
1. What has been the best move Murray has made so far in the Senate Reform?
Darren: Campoli for Potulny/2nd: I didn't want Campoli to be traded, but it was a necessity given Phillips' extension and the logjam on D presented by the bad contracts and incoming prospects. A second round pick alone would be good value for Campoli, and getting a solid depth player in Potulny so that Ottawa can send a player back to Binghamton is icing on the cake.
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Ryan: Campoli to Chicago. Murray was never going to get for Campoli what he initially paid for him, but after re-signing Phillips and striking out on selling Kuba, a roster space needed to be cleared. Campoli was the guy who could (a) be moved most easily, and (b) get the best value in return. The second-round pick is great, and if Ryan Potulny works out and is retained, it's a pretty big win.
Mark: Short term I think it's clearly the swap of Brian Elliott for Craig Anderson. That's looking like a massive upgrade. Of course, if Anderson isn't retained, it's all for naught. So thinking long term, my answer is the Mike Fisher trade. We have a lot of draft selections in our quiver now, and none are going to have more value than Nashville's first rounder. I was concerned with that trade initially because I didn't feel we'd necessarily get a player of Fisher's caliber with the pick(s) we got in return. Now I feel we have the ammunition to move in the draft, and the player we pick as a result of those moves will have a much better chance of long-term impact.
Peter: I think it's got to be Fisher for a first in 2011 and the conditional pick in 2012. Don't get me wrong, Fisher was great, but even if he wasn't dealt, his contract was up in two seasons--two seasons which, in all likelihood, will be struggles for Ottawa anyway. After that, who knows if he'd re-sign in Ottawa? What Murray did by dealing Fisher now was trading while the value was high, and he got some good value out of it. He also assured that if this year's first rounder is too high in the draft, we'll still get good value by earning that conditional pick for 2012 (which is based on how the Nashville Predators do in the playoffs).
2. What has been the worst move for Murray so far during the rebuild?
Ryan: Brian Elliott for Craig Anderson. Let me make this clear: if this were any other season, I'd be planning a parade to celebrate this trade. Anderson has a chip on his shoulder and has played lights out, delivering arguably the single-greatest goaltending performance by a Senator in team history in his very first game. My problem with this is that it's sabotaging the tank. Andy has been too good, while Brian Elliott has been helping Colorado tumble down the standings. I want my lottery pick to be as high as possible.
Mark: I think it's the waiver claim of Curtis McElhinney. I don't see how it helps Robin Lehner's development to sit behind Barry Brust in the AHL.
Peter: I have a hard time choosing a bad one, to be honest. There were players I didn't want to see dealt (Fisher, Kelly, and Campoli being the foremost), but the return on those three makes the deals palatable to me. Since I have to choose one, I'll say the Svatos pick-up; he hasn't looked comfortable, and there were other players available off waivers to fill out the roster.
Darren: Kovalev for a 7th. I recognize that there was value in getting rid of Kovalev's salary for the rest of the season, but I have to think that a team would have gotten desperate close to the deadline and offered more for him.
3. How would you grade Murray's work over the past few weeks?
Mark: B. I think he did a good job of getting value for his players. He has set the next GM -- even if it's himself -- up with a ton of cap space and draft picks, which are the building blocks of Senate Reform. Still, we wouldn't be having this roundtable if he had done a better job with his previous trades and signings, so there's that. All in all, he picked up a mess made by both John Muckler and himself, and I think that's pretty admirable.
Peter: A-. He's done remarkably well; some have said it's the best core blow-up they've seen in recent history. Still, he wasn't able to move Filip Kuba or Sergei Gonchar, and although I think those two can bounce back next season, they won't be around when the team needs them. If they aren't moved in the off-season, they'll just be stealing roster spots that would be better occupied on a rebuilding team by young players. Although in his defence, selling either of Kuba or Gonchar at this point would be selling at their ultimate low, in all likelihood.
Darren: B+. Murray had a job to ship out salary and build up picks for the future, and he did a good job of that, and got good value for most of the pieces he moved.
Ryan: B+. Loved that he managed to dump salary at an alarming rate while bringing in a bucketload of picks in return. Didn't like that he couldn't pull off a minor miracle and get rid of players like Filip Kuba (this alone would have boosted him to at least an A-). I'm not a fan of Marek Svatos, even if he's just a warm body to finish the season with. I don't think he got enough for Kovalev, but Murray didn't hold all the cards on that one. He cut ties on lifetime players, and that takes guts in a city like Ottawa.