While everyone is looking forward to tomorrow's Senators/Flames game, some interesting speculation in the Metro News, of all places, that has me looking ahead to this offseason instead. According to The Hockey News' Ken Campbell contributed to the Metro by stating that Anton Volchenkov's contract demands may be less than what has been speculated on the Interwebs...
So, can the Senators re-sign Volchenkov? They should be able to if Volchenkov wants to stay. Going into next season, the Senators have $46.7 million committed to nine forwards, five defencemen and two goalies, which would leave them a shade over $10 million to spend providing the cap stays in the neighbourhood of the $56.8 million it is this season. That’s also assuming they’re willing to continue to take the hit on Cheechoo’s salary and keep him in the minors next season.
With that cap space, the Senators would have to basically sign Volchenkov, plus restricted free agents Nick Foligno, Peter Regin, Jesse Winchester and Chris Campoli if they choose to keep them. Assuming Andy Sutton, Matt Cullen are rentals and Shean Donovan will be set free after this season, they’d also have to find replacements for those players.
Clearly Volchenkov and Foligno are the two most important of that group. Defensive defencemen are valuable, but the Senators know that teams are rarely willing to overpay for them.
The thinking is Volchenkov would get between $3.5 million and $3.75 million on a long-term deal if he stays in Ottawa and might get slightly more than $4 million on the open market.
On a day in which Bruce Garrioch is reporting that Volchenkov's agent, Jay Grossman, rejected a 5-year contract extension before the Olympic break, it is encouraging to hear Campbell use these reasonable terms. However, I can't help but think that it's a bit naive to assume that because teams are rarely willing to overpay defensive defenceman that someone won't. (Ed. note: I'll never forget the state of shock that I was in when Glen Sather inked Wade Redden to his current 6-year $39 million pact.)
The words frugality and unrestricted free agency are hardly ever strung together in the same sentence. Especially in a lame duck profession in which overpriced contracts and trades are inherited by future regimes. Like the Edmonton Oilers players who frequented Osteria de Medici, a swank Calgary restaurant, it's all about passing the buck. The key for Bryan Murray here should be to get Volchenkov under wraps before the July 1st deadline for fiscal sanity goes out the window.