We're in the dog days of summer, and there isn't much news surrounding the Senators or the NHL. However, there have been a few things to discuss, and luckily there's just enough for me to get my five thoughts across for this Friday. Let's start it off.
Martin Havlat on a PTO
Yesterday Bruce Garrioch reported that the Senators are interested in possibly bringing Martin Havlat to camp on a PTO (professional tryout). It was a bit of a shock, but there are always plenty of veteran players around the league that get one last shot with a team.
While I think it would be cool to bring Havlat back, let's be realistic here. He used to be a great player in his prime, but he's 34 years old now and put up 14 points in 40 games with the New Jersey Devils last year. He could be a fine option on the fourth line, but I don't see a point to that. They already have a logjam at forward, and that would just take away minutes from Shane Prince and Matt Puempel.
Sorry Havlat fans, don't get too optimistic.
Mikael Wikstrand and a Confusing Scenario
For a while now, it has looked like Wikstrand was finally going to head over to the AHL from the SHL. He's turning 22 year old, and he's a highly regarded Senators prospect. But the feeling was the he needed to play in North America first before the team could properly evaluate him as a potential NHL player.
Now news has come out that Wikstrand is being loaned to Farjestad of the SHL for a Champions Hockey League tournament at the end of August, but it will end before Senators camp on September 11th. So he will be back in Sweden for a few weeks, but it does look like he will ultimately stay in North America.
Still though, it has been a confusing saga. He has wanted to stay in Sweden for as long as possible, and that's no secret. Even just a month ago he was leaning towards playing in Sweden.
So who knows how he feels right now. However, I will say this: if he wants any shot at being an NHL player next year, he needs to play in America. There's zero chance he will come straight from the SHL to Ottawa's top-six, as they have lots of players as it is.
Hopefully this year goes smoothly, but I wouldn't be surprised if he begins to get homesick.
Matt O'Connor Not a Sure Thing
One question I received on twitter was about Matt O'Connor and how he is a risk. I think people need to realize that just because he was a solid goalie in College for the past couple seasons doesn't mean he's a blue-chip prospect that will be the Senators next starter. I am optimistic about him like most people, but we can't just pencil him in as a backup or starter for next season.
After all, he was ranked as the 22nd best goalie prospect in the league by In Goal magazine. Those aren't the be-all end-all rankings, but it isn't encouraging to see his name so low. He is a risky prospect, although it was still the right move to sign him for just an entry-level deal. He shouldn't be treated as an NHL goalie, instead he should be seen as another lottery ticket that could help the team.
If he has a solid year in Binghamton as the starter, then opinions may change about him. But for now he hasn't proved anything, and he isn't nearly the same kind of prospect that Robin Lehner was when he was younger.
Ottawa's Avoided Truly Terrible Contracts
I saw an interesting discussion on twitter today, and it started with this tweet from our old friend Peter Raaymakers. It got many people thinking (myself included), and it made me feel good about the organization for once.
People always talk about how Ottawa has done poorly in the free agent market, but compared to other teams they haven't been that bad. They haven't given anybody a massive deal that looks horrendous, as even their worst ones were only for a few years.
We complain about the deals for David Legwand, Chris Phillips, Chris Neil, Colin Greening, etc. but those aren't long-term deals. On a team with a bigger budget those aren't very significant.
Two of the Senators bigger UFA deals were Alexei Kovalev and Sergei Gonchar. Kovalev didn't live up to the hype, but with a cap hit of $5 million for a season and a half it hardly damaged the team that much.
Gonchar could have been better, although he was a key part of the 2012-13 team that had an endless amount of injuries. $5.5 million was a steep price, but they weren't locked into his contract for a long time. Jared Cowen's deal looks awful right now, but I still think some team could take him in a trade, and if not then there's only two seasons left for him.
Bobby Ryan's contract is already expensive at $7.25 million, and there's a strong chance that in a couple years the team will be regretting that. But still, we can't jump to conclusions. The fact is that Ottawa hasn't had many huge misses on the free agent market that have cost the team a lot. It's true that lots of smaller deals do add up, but they haven't had a spectacular fail a la Ville Leino.
Let's hope that Ryan doesn't become the next untradeable contract in a few seasons.
Hammond's New Mask
Andrew Hammond released his new mask recently, and it had rave reviews.
The new mask looks pretty cool already with the Alfred E. Neuman Hamburglar, but it's even better when you see the back with the initials "JP" and a butterfly to represent the butterfly child Jonathan Pitre. It's a classy move by Hammond, and I'm sure Pitre is absolutely thrilled to see that on his mask.
I hope we get to see more of him next season.
Thanks for reading!