There are some completely differing topics in Five Thoughts this week, which should make for an interesting debate in the comments. Let me know what you guys think! Here are the five for this week:
Both Sides To Blame In Wikstrand Scenario
It was revealed recently that the reason why Mikael Wikstrand went back to Sweden last month was because his brother has leukemia. This whole time it just seemed like he wanted to play where he was comfortable, but I think a lot of peoples minds are changed with this new information. I think that both sides are to blame in this, but I am mostly on Wikstrand's side.
On the one hand, he has to be more clear to the team. The Senators had no idea he was leaving, and he never told them why until just now apparently. He did give an apology in the article:
It was a bad decision. I'm really sorry about that. I should have brought it up in a more professional way and told them why I wanted to play back home. But I'm a guy who likes to keep things to myself, keep them in the family. Not even my agent knew.
That still doesn't mean he couldn't have gone about this in a better way. Having said that, I really hope Bryan Murray and the Senators change their opinion in this situation.
Yes, Wisktrand could have handled this better, but the only way he will play this year is if he is in Sweden. It's understandable to want to be near your own brother as he has a serious health issue, and Ottawa more than any other team should know that, given that the late Mark Reeds went through that in the Spring, and Murray himself has prostate cancer.
I can't imagine any scenario where he plays in Binghamton this year, and it would be a waste of a year to simply suspend him while he stays in Sweden. There wasn't anything wrong with how they handled it before this news came out, but now that they have all the facts, it would be apathetic to not let him play in his home country while his brother is in poor health.
Moving Lazar In a Trade Package?
I had a thought the other day about Curtis Lazar, and whether or not he could be moved as part of a trade package:
Looking at Lazar's trajectory, would anyone be opposed to him being part of a trade package? Not much upside; destined to be a 3rd line guy— Trevor Shackles (@ShackTS) October 28, 2015
At the age of 20, and being a former first round pick, he certainly has trade value around the league. I would bet that if Ottawa had gotten into trade talks in the off-season, most teams would have asked for him in return. For example, if the Senators want to go out and acquire a top pairing or second pairing defenceman, they will probably have to give him up, along with a pick and/or a prospect.
Let's take a look at someone like Nick Leddy. With the New York Islanders, he's shown he's at worst a fringe first pairing guy, and all it took was Ville Pokka, Anders Nilsson, and TJ Brennan to acquire him. If Ottawa had to give up something like Lazar, a 2nd, and an average prospect, I would be all over that. Even if it was a trade involving a top-six forward, I would still pull the trigger. I know this sounds like blasphemy considering how loved he is by the fans, players, coaches, and management, but let's be realistic: he probably isn't going to evolve into a superstar point producer.
I think he can be a solid player in the NHL for a long time, but I just don't see his offensive ability being able to translate to any more than around 40-45 points. He only had 61 points in 72 games in his draft year, which does not stand out too much. He has time to turn it around as he's still young, but I just can't see it happening (at least, offensively). Obviously he brings more than that with his solid defensive play and other unquantifiable characteristics, but what I'm trying to say is that he shouldn't be an untouchable piece.
He won't be as important of a player like Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman, and if his value is high, it may be smart to use him as a piece in a defenceman trade. Yes, he looks like he is always having the time of his life out there and it is great to cheer for him, but let's be honest: he's not a star player.
Ryan On The First Line
Last night during the third period, Bobby Ryan was playing on the top line with Kyle Turris and Mark Stone. Yesterday at practice, the lines were back to normal but it was interesting to see him in that spot, and unsurprisingly he thrived in the short amount of time he had. It got me thinking about the line combinations, and I don't think it's such a bad idea to keep him up there for now.
It does make one of Stone or Ryan play on their off-wing, but that's of little concern if it makes Ryan a consistent producer. For now, I would keep him up there and see how Zibanejad plays with Shane Prince and Matt Puempel. Zibanejad and Ryan probably need a break from each other, because they clearly have not played well together this year, mainly because Hoffman and Clarke MacArthur are not there.
It's worth giving it a shot, and when Hoffman and MacArthur come back, Ryan can either stay on that line or have a solid line-mate back on his left wing. Having said that, it seems Dave Cameron has other ideas for now.
New General Manager
On EPSN.com on Wednesday, there was a list of the most impressive people in hockey (non-players) under 40. It was an article for Insider subscribers, so I could not read the whole thing, although I was able to see this blurb:
The most impressive people in hockey (non-player edition) 40 years & younger: https://t.co/RwoCrtbMWt [In] pic.twitter.com/u4BM1I18P3— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) October 28, 2015
Julien BriseBois' name has come up a lot in the past year or two when people are talking about future General Managers, and he seems to be extremely well-regarded. With Bryan Murray most likely stepping down after this year, there will be a vacancy. My thought is that Pierre Dorion will simply take over, but I would much rather have someone new like BriseBois to come in and breathe some life into this organization. He has worked with the Tampa Bay Lightning since 2010, and was with the Montreal Canadiens before that.
He was already director of hockey operations in Montreal at the prime age of 26...He has also played a key role in the youth movement in Tampa Bay, and the Lightning have one of the scariest group of players in the East right now. At the age of 38 now, it would be great to add someone young, and I think he would be a no-brainer hire. The only issue is, there may be competition for his services.
Defining "Success" This Season
Despite having a soft schedule to begin the year, Ottawa's record sits at a modest 4-3-2. After starting 3-1-0, things were looking good, but since then it has begun to look like the same old same old. It got me thinking about where the Senators are as an organization, and what the future will hold.
Since their cup run in 2007, Ottawa has only one playoff series win in 2013, and has lost in the first round 4/5 times. They have not come close to living up to their glory days from the early 2000's until 2007, and sadly the organization has been stagnant for years now. With that in mind, what would a "successful" season look like this year? At my old blog Senshot I mentioned that the team needs to take a step forward or else it will be a disappointment.
I still stand by that, because if there is no progress now, then when will there ever be? There is a great young core, and with a few more pieces Ottawa could legitimately be a good team. I don't think simply making the playoffs is good enough anymore, and even that is not a guarantee this year. We all have our different expectations for the team, but it's getting insanely frustrating watching an organization that cannot (or refuses to) take the next step forward. It's about time we saw a winning team in Ottawa, especially in an era where the best defenceman in the league is on the team.
Thanks for reading!