This is the second of a two-part series. Click here to see the first part, where I look for the holes in the Senators' roster.
In yesterday's post, I noted that while the Senators were full on the blueline, they could use another second or third line forward to shore up their offense. The Senators are also in need of a backup goalie for Craig Anderson. With that in mind, who's available?
Backup Goalies, aka the Battle of the Former Senators
At the same time as Pascal Leclaire and Curtis McEllhinney join the long list of former Senators goaltenders, a lengthy list of former Ottawa keepers will hit the market: Brian Elliott, Ray Emery, Patrick Lalime, Martin Gerber, and Alex Auld are all free agents on July 1st.
Unlikely: Emery, Gerber, and Elliott were all in the doghouse with Senators fans when they left Ottawa, so it's unlikely that any of them would return. Lalime's play has deteriorated as he's aged, so I don't foresee his return. Budaj and Anderson had a miserable year together last year, so I doubt the Senators want to reunite that duo.
Possible: Marty Turco is intriguing, if only because he's an Ontario guy who could add some age and experience to a very young Ottawa Senators team. However, his play has declined and his salary demands might be too high simply because of his name. Conklin might be a good buy-low candidate, as his poor numbers last year (3.32 GAA, .881 GGA) are out of place with his preceding three seasons.
Darren's pick: Alex Auld. He was a very solid backup with Ottawa, posting a .911 save percentage in 43 games when he was forced into a starter role because of Gerber's struggles. He had another good year this past season with Montreal, posting a .914 save percentage behind Carey Price. Of course, this all depends on how Auld feels about a return to Ottawa, where he was traded a year into his two-year contract.
Adnan's pick: Given the comments by Bryan Murray that the backup goalie will remain a backup should Craig Anderson be injured, i.e. Robin Lehner will be called up as a temporary starter, this rules out some candidates such as Ray Emery or a Marty Turco. I too would go with Alex Auld, as he is likely not to command too much money and would accept a backup role and provide decent performance.
Mark's pick: Since my primary choice of Pascal Leclaire is beyond unrealistic, I'd go with Marty Turco. Given that Murray said we'd have a 5-seed team last year, and that he'd be drafting an NHL-ready player, I feel like his comments must be taken with a grain of salt. I'd take Turco, who in my opinion is the most talented option, and then sort out the situation as the season progresses. There's no need to paint ourselves into a corner just because we're high on Lehner and Anderson at the moment.
Peter's pick: I'm going with Johan Hedberg. He's a backup, but he's a good one, and at 38 years old, he won't be looking for a lot of money or a lot of term. But he's still got some good hockey left in him: Last season, Hedberg had a career-low 2.38 GAA and a very respectable .912 save percentage.
Some of the more talked about names in the forward free agent crop are Brad Richards, Simon Gagne, Tim Connolly, Michael Ryder, Tomas Fleischmann, Ville Leino, and Jussi Jokinen. But there are also some other players who the Senators might be interested in, such as Scottie Upshall, Eric Belanger, Brendan Morrison, Jamie Langenbrunner, Tyler Kennedy, Anthony Stewart, Matt D'Agostini, Erik Cole, Steve Sullivan, Sergei Samsonov, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Antti Miettinen. Also available are former Senators Alex Kovalev and Mike Comrie. Heh.
Unlikely: Pretty much all of the names in the first group, particularly Richards. If the price was right on Jokinen or Fleischmann, I'm sure the Senators would be interested, but given Brooks Laich's recent contract, I have a feeling that teams will have to pony up a lot of cash to get any of the bigger names. Even though the Senators have the cap space for any of these players, the team is in the middle of a rebuild and are trying to run a tight budget.
Possible: The Senators probably are interested in Kennedy (who always seems to score against the Sens), D'Agostini, and Stewart, but all three are young players who probably want long term contracts based on career years, which is a pretty big gamble. Miettinen, Belanger and Morrison will all get long looks because they are consistent 40-point guys, but all three of them have done so playing with better linemates than they are likely to see in Ottawa. Finally, there's a guy like Steve Sullivan, who is old enough that he'd probably only be looking for a relatively cheap one, maybe two year deal.
Darren's pick: I'm hesitant to sign anyone given the absurd contracts being handed out, but the Senators are really weak up front. In order to not get hamstrung with a terrible contract, if I need to pick one it'd likely be Eric Belanger. He's a centreman who is good for 35 points or so during a season, and while that doesn't sound impressive, it's better than most Senators managed last season. He also shouldn't come at too high of a price (unlike most others listed), which is something Murray should be looking for.
Adnan's pick: No one. The players available are either too expensive or not a significant improvement on the current options. In my mind, our top six at least at the start of training camp will be Jason Spezza, Nikita Filatov, Milan Michalek, Daniel Alfredsson, Bobby Butler and one of Peter Regin, Mika Zibanejad or Stephane da Costa. If the new signing isn't a great improvement, I would rather find out if Regin can bounce back and give him a chance to succeed. With so few options, and with so many teams having cap room, getting a free agent might prove expensive.
Mark's pick: Also no one. I don't expect the team to contend for the playoffs this year, so I'd rather take our lumps finding out if we already have a second-line center on our roster--and even if we find out Zibanejad is just a year away, adding a free agent just takes up a roster spot we won't need filled in a year's time. Now, if we're making an RFA offer to Stamkos...
Peter's pick: I'mma go right off the board and suggest we pick up Brendan Morrison. He's an older guy (35 years old) but he's still putting up points, scoring 43P in 66GP last season for a very impressive 0.65PPG average. Similar to Hedberg, he can still play good hockey, but he won't likely be costly in either term or dollars. He only made $725k last season, for crying out loud; that's less than Jesse Winchester.
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