Five Thoughts For Friday

I bring you into the long weekend (at least in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Nova Scotia, and PEI) with five thoughts about the week that was.

You may feel like you've already overdosed on my writing this week, but if not, read on and see what I'm thinking about the week that passed.

1. To tank or not to tank

First off, I use the word "tank" here loosely. There's no way the Senators are going to pass the Sabres, Oilers, Hurricanes, or Coyotes for bottom of the league. Can you really call it a tank if at least four teams are doing it better than you? But anyway, in my head it makes sense that it's not in Ottawa's interest to win. The higher the draft pick, especially in such a deep draft, the better.

Logically, that makes sense. But what fun is it to cheer for losing? Last night's game where Ottawa came back from 3-0 and 4-2 down to take the Penguins to a shootout ended up being a lot of fun to watch. It was a lot more fun than watching the game end 3-0. And besides, I don't want to watch the Penguins win. Or the Habs, or the Maple Leafs. I'm glad Ottawa beat the lowly Sabres. And I don't want to see this team lose to the pathetic Oilers. So suddenly I find myself wanting Ottawa to finish bottom of the league but not to lose any games. My head and my heart just keep fighting it out. I really respect those of you who've decided which side of the fence you sit on.

2. The Marc Methot contract debates

I've already written about Methot this week, but Bob MacKenzie said some stuff yesterday, and when Bobby Mac speaks, people listen. Pretty much, he said that the contract discussions have started up and look promising, but the Sens basically have a week in which to negotiate a contract before they need to start shopping him. To me, that doesn't look like a good window for negotiation. Both sides say they want to work this out, but I have a hard time seeing everything ironed out in seven days.

As Nichols points out in the above link, the two sides are off by about $500k a year and one year. Considering how much they were willing to shovel out for Milan Michalek or David Legwand, and how much they continue to pay for nostalgia in Chris Phillips and Chris Neil, this seems ridiculous. Methot is one of two top-four defencemen currently on the team, and that's worth more than any of the aforementioned guys.

3. What's up with Clarke MacArthur?

When yesterday's lines were announced, I had a very hard time believing MacA was on the fourth line with Curtis Lazar and Alex Chiasson. But sure enough, he only played 14:44. His 12:29 at even strength was ahead of only four forwards on the team. Against Buffalo on Tuesday, he only played 14:47. Both of these are well below his season average of 17:12. It wasn't that long ago that he was put on the first line with Mika Zibanejad and Bobby Ryan, and it seemed to re-energize them all. To fall from first line to third/fourth line in a week is a pretty big drop. Granted, he has gone six games without a point, and hasn't scored a goal in a month plus a day. But he's also too good for this to last. It might be a good idea to reunite him with Kyle Turris to see if they can get back some of their chemistry and confidence.

4. Rebuilding

It has come out that Brendan Shanahan has been given permission to blow up the Leafs' roster to build a contender. It's long overdue, but better late than never. Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel are listed among the players likely to be moved, which seems like a pretty big deal. The Leafs should be able to get some good prospects and picks to rebuild around out of those two key pieces.

It got me thinking about if I'd want this Sens team to completely rebuild. The three-year rebuild hasn't worked, I think it's fair to say. The playoffs aren't going to happen this year, even though it was supposed to be the first year of competitiveness. There are some great parts and some deadweight in place right now.

I'd say I don't want a re-rebuild. A big reason is because I'm selfish and impatient, and I don't want to put off competitiveness for another three-to-five years. A bigger reason though is that I don't think it will work for Ottawa. You can't trade guys like Erik Karlsson and Kyle Turris, because these are the best pieces to build around. You can't trade a guy like Bobby Ryan before his seven-year extension even kicks in. It would be a bad idea to trade promising youngsters, but Ottawa doesn't really have any vets who'd bring much of a return. Methot is probably the only guy you could trade for a second-round pick and an OK player. After that, you've got guys like Michalek, Legwand, and Neil who might get you a bit of a return but nothing you could build around. Even if I wanted the team to tear it all down and start again, I don't think it could work.

5. The Evander Kane trade

I know this doesn't really relate to the Sens, but it was a huge trade three weeks before the trade deadline, and I'd be remiss to not mention it at all. Pretty much, I like what Tim Murray did here. He brought in a great, young player to build around who doesn't jeopardize the tank this year. If you accept the Tyler Myers for Zach Bogosian part of the deal as a lateral move (which I do), then he basically traded a late first-rounder and a couple good prospects for a potential top-line winger.

At the same time, I can't help but think this works out for Winnipeg too. Lots of people said they thought the Jets would make a move to address their immediate needs. In a sense Drew Stafford does that, because he can play the third-line minutes Kane would've played if he hadn't been injured. What I think is impressive is that Winnipeg got a little better in the short-term, and a lot better long-term. To me that sounds like a win. Maybe HorseVacation is a little smarter than we all give him credit for.

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