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Silver Nuggets: The Senators search for a tough-minutes centre

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What happens to this dynamic duo if the Senators trade for a top-six centre?
What happens to this dynamic duo if the Senators trade for a top-six centre?
Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Wayne Scanlan has produced some great content for the Citizen this week, and was the first to mention that Murray and co. are looking at scenarios where the team could trade two of their assistant captains. One other thing was mentioned in Scanlan's piece that I want to explore is this comment from Murray below:

Murray continues to search for a "top six or a top three" forward to play on a line with winger Bobby Ryan. While Murray said he would love to acquire Ryan O’Reilly of the Colorado Avalanche, he believes the Avs might be looking elsewhere if they move O’Reilly.

Murray seeks a player in the kind of situation Ryan was in with the Anaheim Ducks a couple of years ago, needing to move because the club was squeezed by the salary cap.

...

While Murray sees the forward position as his team’s greatest need, he also could be seeking a top four defenceman, if he’s unable to sign Methot, a pending unrestricted free agent.

There was a lot of reaction on the Ryan O'Reilly name drop, but many, including myself, don't understand *why* the Senators feel that they need another top-six forward. Clarke MacArthur and Kyle Turris have cemented their role for quite some time now, with Mark Stone the best option on that line despite Alex Chiasson's spot duty. I could buy an argument where management wants to bring in a top flight right winger to play with MacArthur and Turris in order move Stone down for depth, but the quote above indicates that Murray wants a forward to play with Bobby Ryan. Taken with the O'Reilly mention, that hints to me that the team is looking for another top-six centre. I also have a hunch that O'Reilly was also mentioned because the team is looking for a tough minutes centre, and if this is true, it may help clarify the Senators tireless search for a forward. My reason for this hunch is two-fold. First, this comment from Dave Cameron on the Hoffman - Zibanejad - Ryan line:

"They play well with the puck, just want to continue to push them to play well without the puck. It's a 200-ft game and as the game gets tighter down through the stretch, not only that line but all our guys, need to continue to play well without the puck as we do with it."

Second, David Legwand. I think it's clear that the rationale for bringing in David Legwand was to provide depth for Mika Zibanejad in case the young Swede struggled, which I understand, especially given that Legwand is usually good for 40-50 points and the team was losing an experienced centreman in Jason Spezza. However, I think the team may have envisioned Legwand as a tough-minutes centre for a bit until it became clear very quickly that he wasn't, with a spell in the year where Turris and Zibanejad were given defensive zone starts showing Paul MacLean tinkering with the usage of his lineup. As you can see below, Legwand still gets the worst zone starts on the team, but is performing poorly in his role (big red bubble) - thus, O'Reilly as a tough minutes centre would fill that gap.

PUC Jan 23

[Usage chart from Some Kind of Ninja]

Assuming, given what I've stated above, that the Senators are looking for a top-six tough minutes centre, why are they looking to pair him with Bobby Ryan? On the chart above, you can see Ryan to the far right, given a lot of offensive zone starts against average competition but still putting up poor possession numbers. In addition, Ryan has the worst shot suppression numbers on the Senators this year (61.7 CA/60) and has historically had poor shots against numbers throughout his career. O'Reilly plays a 200-ft game that coaches love and the rationale for him to play with Ryan is that he'd help "cover" for any of Ryan's defensive mishaps.

Is that the best use of the Senators resources, especially with Mika Zibanejad playing well and producing with his new linemates? What does that mean for Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Curtis Lazar, both of which are known as very solid two-way centres? These are a few of the questions that still remain, but I think I understand the type of player Murray is looking for at the moment.

Sens Links

  • The Senators played two games since the last Nuggets, picking up points in both (yay? nay?). Here are the recaps from their OT loss against the Rangers. [Silver SevenOttawa CitizenSensChirpSenShot]
  • Next, the recaps from their exciting win against the Leafs. [Silver SevenRank the PerformancesOttawa CitizenSensChirpSenShot]
  • Regarding the Sens and Leafs, Kevin Lee (of Bonk's Mullet fame) wrote a fanpost to talk about how the Senators can bring more local fans to games against their Ontarian-rival. [Silver Seven Fanpost]
  • Next up is the All-Star break! Sheer_Craziness and Amelia teamed up to go through the pros and cons of the All-Star game, with both suggesting improvements to the current format. [Silver Seven]
  • Wondering what an invite to the All-Star game looks like? Let Bonk + Joe show you. [Bonk's Mullet]
  • The trade deadline is coming up soon, and teams usually evaluate where they are at the All-Star break, with most being locked into "playoff" and "non-playoff" spots. The likelihood of changing categories is slim after the break. For what the Sens may be up to, here's Darren Dreger's report (all CDN teams), and two pieces from Nichols and Jack on Murray's comments and some rumours around Robin Lehner. Given Murray's comments on Anderson, which basically state that there's no other NHL goaltender in the system, I doubt Lehner gets moved. [TSN, 6th Sens - Murray6th Sens - LehnerSenShot - Greening/AndersonSenShot - Lehner]
  • A feature on Colin Greening, who's road to the NHL has been eventful after making it as a 7th round draft pick by John Muckler's staff. We'll see where he ends up after the all-star break. [Ottawa Citizen]
  • Wayne Scanlan wrote two fantastic pieces this week. The first was expanded on earlier, but the second is even more stunning. Your must-read of the week on Bryan Murray's health and future with the organization. Nichols and Chirp offer their thoughts on the news. Murray is a brave, brave person and we can all learn something from his hard work, faith, and persistence. Check out the Ken Campbell piece at the end on how Murray's fight has helped raise awareness in the community. [Ottawa Citizen6th SensSensChirpThe Hockey News]
  • Melnyk and the Senators may be in a bit of financial trouble with the falling Canadian dollar and being unable to access the NHL's helpful line of credit. One note here was that Melnyk may be paying $15M a year in interest fees, instead of that going to the team (and cap ceiling). [The Globe & Mail6th SensOttawa Citizen]
  • After that heavy news, bounce back with Episode 3 of Capital Gains' fantastic series, Comedy Sentral. [Bonk's Mullet]
  • I don't even need to post recaps at the top of the Nuggets anyone because Varada is going to take you through how the rest of the season will play out. [WTYKY]
  • Sheer_Craziness and NKB did a mini-series on whether the Senators should trade Craig Anderson. [Silver Seven - Against Trading AndersonFor Trading Anderson]
  • Alex Chiasson is in a bit of a goal scoring drought, but still has decent depth production with 7 goals and 10 assists on the year. Here's a column which showcases Chiasson going to video to learn what he can do to get back his scoring touch. (Ary's tip: drive the net and shoot more!) [Ottawa Citizen]
  • Jeff has his second quarter grades for the BSens. [SenShot - OffenseSenShot - Defense]
  • Some well-deserved good news for Shane Prince, who was rewarded for his strong season by being added to the AHL All-Star game roster, joining teammate Chris Wideman. [SenShot]
  • A fanpost from 'thedalytimes' which talks about reasons for the Senators to 'tank' this year. [Silver Seven]
  • End your Friday reading with cool audio from Episode 10 of the Sens Callups podcast! [Sens Callups]
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Thanks for reading!