I only recently realized that with the prospect series taking up most of my writing time, I haven't provided an update for what the other 29 teams are doing, and with the trade deadline coming up, that information can be very relevant and important. Thus, I'll briefly highlight and discuss some of the news, rumours, and speculation below surrounding the Senators closest rivals for the future - the teams in their division - heading into the trade deadline.
One of the reasons I decided to do this is because the Habs just made a trade today to send Jiri Sekac to the Anaheim Ducks for Devante Smith-Pelly. What's really interesting here is the Senators connection, as the team was supposedly a finalist for signing Sekac last season and Murray's been very interested in Devante Smith-Pelly - a strong, power forward type for quite some time. This deal has had mixed reviews on both sides, as the two players have elicited similar reactions - doing okay but should've been performing better - from either fanbase. The main difference here is that Sekac didn't cost an asset to acquire in the first place, whereas Smith-Pelly was a 2nd round pick in 2010. The hope is that both forwards find their game in their new homes.
Other than that, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin may look to shore up his defensive depth with both Alexei Emelin and former Senator Sergei Gonchar on the IR. There's also been news that the Habs may look for a veteran centre after they've started to experiment with young star Alex Galchenyuk on right-wing.
It hasn't been fun times for the Boston Bruins this season, but I still think it's asinine to consider firing either Pete Chiarelli or Claude Julien if the Bruins potentially miss the playoffs. The Bruins currently hold the second wild-card spot with 67 points, with the Panthers and Flyers at 64 and 63 points respectively. If the Bruins do add, it's likely moves to shore up their depth forwards or depth defensemen. If they do decide to sell, they have a number of pieces that could be shipped out for picks - this does not include Captain Zdeno Chara. Potential UFAs Dan Paille and Gregory Campbell on forward, and Adam McQuaid on D may be attractive targets for some Western teams especially.
It's interesting to see the former Sens connections so far eh? Former players and management both feature for Boston and Montreal, and the connection with Buffalo is obvious - Bryan Murray's nephew. After making a shrewd hockey deal by trading for Evander Kane, Tim Murray has gone on record saying that he'd love to trade for Ryan O'Reilly, but perhaps may not have the pieces to interest the Avalanche with Tyler Myers in Winnipeg. Other than that, Tim would love to trade Chris Stewart and/or Andrej Meszaros (more Sens links!) for picks, but it remains to be seen if they will interest any potential teams, especially because Stewart's name has been out there for....ever.
The Red Wings sit comfortably at 3rd place in the Atlantic - three points behind second-place Tampa Bay and ten (!) points ahead of Boston, who's in fourth. The Wings are a funny team because of their mix between really old and really young players. I remember a few years ago when Lidstrom retired and everyone thought the Wings were going to rebuild. Well, they haven't missed the playoffs but still manage to inject their team with quality young talent like Nyquist, Tatar, DeKeyser, and next in line, Teemu Pulkkinen. Pulkkinen had a fantastic world juniors a couple years ago, is an undersized forward but has a lethal shot, and wait for it... was a late round pick. Due to the aforementioned blend of young and old, I really have no idea what the Red Wings are going to do at the deadline other than stand pat. They don't have many expiring UFAs - but do have many RFAs - and thus, may look to trade some of their young forwards for say, an established top-four defenseman. Other than that though, most of their players are locked down with either term or salary.
The Panthers are in a strange situation. As a young team with a strong core in place, the Panthers can accept if they don't make the playoffs this year and get one more top-15 draft pick to add to the group already in place. However, when you're only three points out of a playoff birth with Roberto Luongo and Brian Campbell - two older players in key roles - I can see why Tallon and co. want to try and sneak in to surprise people. To that end, this week will be key for the Panthers. A great possession player, Sean Bergenheim, may be on the way out as he's a UFA that Florida doesn't see as a fit, but will the Panthers trade him to an Eastern team that they may end up competing against? Tomas Kopecky and Scottie Upshall are two players, albeit less productive, in a similar situation.
The cream of the crop, the Tampa Bay Lightning have completed their rebuild and are now in their phase as a contending team with Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and the line of Kucherov - Johnson - Palat capable of doing serious damage to any team in the league. With Matt Carle and Radko Gudas out, Yzerman will be looking to shore up his D and own two first round picks (one from the Martin St. Louis trade) to use. They're in fantastic shape and I can't wait to see how far they will go. An interesting storyline with the Lightning may actually be in goal, with former Sens tender Ben Bishop not having as great a year as last year and the best young goaltender in the game, Andrei Vasilevskiy, ready for a bigger role.
The most similar team to the Senators are their arch-rivals down the 401, who have entered a "full rebuild" (let's just ignore the last 10 years) and will be looking to shop practically anyone and everyone - including Phil Kessel. Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak, mainstays in T.O., may be on their way out, along with Captain Dion Phaneuf. The Leafs are ready to rebuild through the draft and it'll potentially be scary if they end up with a number of talented players in what looks to be a really deep first round.
- The Senators have only played once this weekend, defeating the Florida Panthers in a fun game. [Silver Seven, Rank the Performances, WTYKY, Ottawa Citizen, SensChirp, SenShot]
- This week though looks tough for the Sens, with a California road trip against teams on the rise, including the LA Kings on a back-to-back situation. [Silver Seven - Week Ahead, Bonk's Mullet, Ottawa Citizen]
- A couple of roster notes for the road trip, including Colin Greening joining the team along with Craig Anderson. Chris Phillips won't be travelling with the team on this road trip as he continues his mystical (?) absence. Jared Cowen's suspension also may lead to another call-up on D. Amelia has more here. [Silver Seven, 6th Sens, SensChirp, SenShot, Ottawa Citizen]
- The most buzz surrounding the Sens this week has been around this Jeffrey Simpson article in the Globe & Mail. Here's the article, and a couple of different perspectives on it. [The Globe & Mail, WTYKY, 6th Sens]
- Jack has a really good retrospective look at the Sens activity for the past five trade deadlines. [SenShot]
- Nichols looks at an ESPN Insider piece and a Randy Lee interview to state that the Senators look like "skeptics" regarding analytics.. [6th Sens]
- A SenShot feature on Mark Stone, who some can argue is the Senators best forward. [SenShot]
- Richard with a great FanPost that looks at the odds regarding playoffs and the draft. [Silver Seven]
- Your Monday prospect update from Ian - always a great read. [Silver Seven - Prospect Update]
- Your two BSens game recaps from Jeff. [SenShot - v. Hershey, SenShot - v. Syracuse]
- Travis discusses a topic that was all the buzz back in October. Should Curtis Lazar have been sent down? [SenShot]
- Amelia has your Ups and Downs report for Week 20. Almost done! (yay? nay?) [Silver Seven]
- Your honourable and dishonourable mentions of the week from Trevor! [SenShot]/