It's nearing the end of January, and the Senators find themselves out of a playoff spot with a record of (23-20-6). Things have not quite gone according to plan, and with each passing day it is less and less likely that they will be reaching the post-season again. Is there a chance? Of course there is. Simply because of what happened last year we can never say there is no chance.
But betting on an insane run like that to happen again would be foolish. I'll bet that the Senators won't make it, and hopefully by the trade deadline they will realize their position. I'm not trying to be gloomy or anything, it's just a fact that they aren't likely to make it. Their horrific underlying numbers also don't give me much confidence things will change, so there aren't many reasons why I should believe in this team.
If they are still out of it by a fair margin come late February, they will most likely not be trading for rental players, and instead they might trade a few players away. Let's take a look at who are candidates to leave.
Smith seems like the perfect candidate to trade before the deadline. After a dreadful 2014-15, he's rebounded this year and has been perfectly fine on the 4th line. His 9 goals obviously make him look like a very good bottom six player, and it's hard to argue that he isn't worthy of a spot on this team. His value most likely has never been higher, considering his 9 goals has lead to an 18.8% shooting percentage, which is miles higher than his career average of 8.6%.
I have never had an issue with Smith being on the team, except for when he is used in the top-six, or even on the third line. He's a fourth line player, and a good one at that. But I'm sure there is a team out there who believes he can score 15-20 goals for them, plus he is gritty and will kill penalties. He will be attractive to many teams who need depth, and Bryan Murray needs to capitalize on a players inflated value, because he never seems to do so (besides David Rundblad, I guess).
Considering Mike Fisher got a 1st round pick back, I would think that Ottawa could acquire a 2nd round pick or a B level prospect for Smith, which would help boost the farm system a bit. Players like Smith can be found easily, and it's not as if the team will be much worse with say Curtis Lazar replacing him.
What? Can't I dream? It's depressing to see that the organization still thinks he can become something, even though he hasn't shown anything at all since his rookie season. Here is what Bob McKenzie thought on the situation:
So essentially Ottawa values him the highest out of any organization in the league, which is not good. It means that even if a team sort of wants him, the Senators most likely won't give him up because of what they think he is worth. It is so strange because moving his salary would obviously be a huge boost, and it could go a long way to paying Mike Hoffman.
There must be some teams that would be interested in trading for him, because even at last years trade deadline Murray was getting calls on Cowen despite getting scratched most nights. Even if Ottawa has to retain salary, it would be worth it, although the return at this point would be essentially nothing.
In the end, I bet he stays in Ottawa at least for the rest of the season, but perhaps they move on from him in the summer. Until they say he isn't going anywhere though, I'm falsely hoping for Cowen to get traded. It's the right thing to do.
2015-16 is the last year on Neil's contract, and I'm not entirely sure Ottawa will re-sign him before July 1st. If they are smart they will let him walk, since they have always been talking about making room for younger players. To Neil's credit, he has played quite well this year. He's 5th on the team in 5 on 5 corsi, and he has held his own while he has been out there.
There's no doubt that Shane Prince has made him better, as Neil has a 60.6 CF% with him, and a 43.8 CF% without him, but he has legitimately looked like a better skater and all around player. Having said that, it's time to move on from Neil. He has been a great soldier with the Senators over the years, but he'll be 37 years old this summer, and they don't really have a need for him (especially if someone like Max McCormick will take that role). Last year there were some teams interested in trading for him, so I'm sure that there would be at least several teams calling.
As for a return, Ottawa could probably get a mid-round pick for him, which is totally acceptable. I doubt Murray would make this move because he has been a Senator for life, but it would be good business by obtaining a draft pick. And who knows, maybe Neil wants to go for one last cup run.
What, you thought this was for real? Greening isn't going anywhere.
He would be a more perfect candidate if it wasn't for this:
No timetable on Milan Michalek until it's determined whether he'll need surgery or not on the broken finger he suffered. #Sens— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) January 23, 2016
Nobody is quite sure how long Michalek will be out, but I would imagine that he will be back around the trade deadline or shortly after. He still has one year left on his deal so Ottawa won't necessarily be hasty to deal him, but they should consider it nonetheless. He only has 10 points in 32 games this year, and he certainly isn't the player that he was a few years ago. He's had too many injuries over the years, and Ottawa can find a better and cheaper option on the third line in the summer.
Personally, I would trade him, although much like Neil, I'm not sure Murray wants to. Another hurdle is the fact that Michalek has a cap hit of $4 million that expires after next year. For someone who is a shell of his former self, it may be a tough sell for the Senators if they want to get anything of value in return.
I still think there would be a team that could use him, even if it meant that Ottawa retains a portion of his salary. If they could move him, that would go a long way towards paying a few players in the summer.
I'll be honest, I actually forget about him when I was going through the lineup trying to come up with some names. He's just such a forgettable player, and he really doesn't do anything particularly well. The fact that he was the main piece in the Jason Spezza deal makes things look so much worse. I don't know if Murray wants to give up on Chiasson and admit defeat essentially, but he needs to go.
He scored his first even-strength goal a few games ago against Los Angeles, and his 3 goals and 3 assists aren't nearly good enough. There may be zero interest in him around the league, but Ottawa should at least try. Honestly if that doesn't work, I think he's worthy of a demotion. He probably isn't as bad as he's been this year, but even at his best he's a replaceable bottom-six winger.
If a team wants to take a chance on him an retain his RFA rights, then Ottawa won't be getting more than a 4th-7th round pick or a non-prospect sort of player. This shouldn't be priority number one but moving his salary saves $1 million, which they obviously love, and it opens up a spot for a better player as well.
So there are some (uninteresting) players who could be on the move. Is there anyone else that Ottawa could/should realistically trade?