After five seasons and 304 games in a Senators uniform, the lovable local Marc Methot has moved on to another team—whether that will be Vegas or elsewhere due to a trade remains to be seen.
His presence in the community and his insightful interviews made him easily one of the most likeable players on the team since the 2012-13 season, and I’m sure there are plenty of people in the city of Ottawa that are extremely sad to see him go.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that hockey players aren’t just faceless names that have no personality. They get connected with the city they are in, and I feel terrible that him, his family, his teammates, and his fans have to deal with this.
Seeing tweets like this about Marc do not surprise me at all:
From my experience, he's easily the most interactive player with the fans on our team. I've seen him greet many fans by their names even.— Kevin Lee (@BringBackLee) June 21, 2017
He sounds like an all-around great guy, and I am sad to see him leave.
And while I liked what he brought to the table on the ice as well, the Senators can survive without him. No doubt losing Methot weakens their depth, but I’m not so sure their defense will be much worse in the near future for a few reasons.
Firstly, before even taking his on-ice impact into consideration, it is impossible to not think about the financial aspect with all of this. Methot had two years left on his contract with a $4.9 million cap hit, which is quite substantial for a budget team. As much as Ottawa didn’t want Vegas to select him, I’m sure they are at least happy that some money is off the books.
As of now with Methot gone, Ottawa has just under $15M in cap space. They still need to re-sign RFA’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Ryan Dzingel, as well as a few UFA’s like Mike Condon, Viktor Stalberg, and Tom Pyatt if they choose to do so. If they re-sign Pageau, Dzingel, Condon, and Pyatt (which is my guess as to what they do), that will leave them with an estimated $8 million in cap space.
That may be at about the limit that the team can spend, meaning they won’t be going after a bigger name in free agency. However, if Methot had stayed, Ottawa most likely would have had to move a bigger contract anyway, so at least they save money one way. Make no mistake: losing Methot’s contract gives the team some needed breathing room.
But let’s talk about the on-ice reality of losing Methot.
Honestly, Ottawa can weather the storm quite easily. First of all, the emergence of Fredrik Claesson makes me much more confident than I would have been last year. Freddy played in only 33 regular season games and 14 playoff games, but he made the most of it.
His +5.3 corsi relative was 3rd on the team, and I think most Senators fans would agree that he passed the eye test as well. He was steady in his own zone like Methot, but he could even move the puck better than I ever thought he could.
By looking at HERO charts, Claesson grades out very well in comparison too.
The top two graphs measure the past two seasons, and the only category that Methot grades better in is ice time. Each category is ranked out of 10, and they include goals, primary assists, shot generation and shot suppression. It doesn’t include everything in a player, but those are four of the more important numbers to look at.
The number that stands out to me the most is Claesson’s shot suppression which ranks as a 7, compared to Methot’s 5. If Ottawa needs Freddy to be a shutdown defenseman alongside Erik Karlsson, I think he’s up for it.
I will concede that Claesson doesn’t have the longest track record, and it’s possible that he isn’t ready for a full-time role on the first pairing. However, his results were about as good as you can ask for, and I don’t see why he can’t be at least close to what Methot was.
And if Claesson hasn’t convinced you that he is worthy of playing top-4 or even top-2 minutes, then perhaps you should take a look at Thomas Chabot.
I’m not going to expect Chabot to be a world-beater right away next season, but he’s clearly the class of the QMJHL and I can see him having a positive impact on the Senators in 2017-18.
No one really knows how good he can be right away, but we’ve seen many young defensemen recently such as Shayne Gostisbehere, Colton Parayko, Hampus Lindholm, Zach Werenski, Josh Manson, etc. thrive the minute they arrive. It’s not as if Chabot is being rushed either, as he’ll be 20 years old and two years removed from being drafted.
We all know that Cody Ceci was “rushed”, but a.) that doesn’t mean he was going to be good if he wasn’t rushed, and b.) not every prospect develops the same way. Just because Ceci has not turned out well does not mean the next player to come in as a 20 or 21 year old will struggle.
Even if he isn’t the kind of defenseman he will become in his prime, I highly doubt he can’t be at least a contributing third pairing defenseman alongside Chris Wideman. He was so dominant in Junior and the World Junior Championships that I’m excited to see him play, and hopeful that he could be a very impactful player right away.
If Claesson and Chabot are in the lineup for most of the season, I don’t think the Senators will notice the loss of Methot. If anything, I’m optimistic that Chabot can make the defense corps even better. Again, I’ll have to temper my expectations, but I can see it happening.
Ultimately, Methot is getting up there in age at 32 years old and has a sizeable cap hit. Over the next five years, I don’t think the Senators will suffer too much. Hell, even for this season they have the in-house candidates to get the job done on the left side. It may not replicate what Methot brought on the ice and in the dressing room, but it will at least be close.
I know many of you will miss Marc (myself included), but it’s time to say goodbye and move forward. To finish it off, here’s the best gif of him as a Senator:
Throwback to when Sens clinched a playoff spot in 2013... pic.twitter.com/QPsRKYEx57— Kevin Lee (@BringBackLee) June 21, 2017
Farewell, sweet prince.