If you've been wondering where the Senators organization stands in contract negotiations with Anton Volchenkov, Bryan Murray was on this afternoon's Healthy Scratches program on Team 1200 and here is a transcript of his conversation with co-host Steve Lloyd (Ed. note: Murray's dialogue is in bold. Here is the Facebook link to listen to the full conversation.):
"Where are you with Anton Volchenkov?"
(Murray interjects...) "No, not really. I've tried really hard. We've talked to him. I did talk to the agent again today. But...uh...the response that I'm getting is not what I like, really. So I don't know what we can do there at this point in time."
"Is there any way that you would consider moving him if you can't make a deal?"
"You have to consider everything. I don't think that there's any question that...uh...I'm bringing in a couple of unrestricted guys...so I'm paying a price to do that to give our team our best chance at a playoff run. It's not what I want to do but we'll see what the market comes to bear in the next couple of days."
I don't want to read too much into it, but I can't help but notice the tone and candor of Bryan Murray. Listen to it. He sounds defeated. Like Volchenkov's camp is asking for too much. It's quite the unenviable predicament for Bryan Murray: How does he balance potential playoff fortune against losing Volchenkov to unrestricted free agency?
I'm not entirely convinced that they can. And I don't think that he's convinced himself that he can either. From the tone of his voice, he sounded frustrated and disappointed. Like the Volchenkov camp was asking for too much. As a General Manager who inherited the problems left by his predecessor's ability to let defencemen leave the organization without netting any assets in return, Bryan Murray has first hand experience of how debilitating it can be for an organization to hold onto assets and lose them for nothing. Are the Ottawa Senators a good enough team to take such a calculated risk?
I'm not convinced. This isn't like the Toronto Raptors decision not to trade Chris Bosh and assuredly lose him to free agency. Unlike the NBA's Eastern Conference, the NHL's version is filled with inherently flawed teams. Picking a winner out of this group is like picking your favorite member of the Osmond family. Regardless of who you select, you know you're getting damaged goods.
Although, Murray could adopt the approach that Randy Sexton and the Florida Panthers used when they decided against moving Jay Bouwmeester at last year's deadline and instead trade Anton's rights before the July 1st unrestricted free agent deadline. However, the underlying problem with this situation is not unlike what the Toronto Blue Jays encountered with Roy Halladay last year. If you deal the asset at the conclusion of the playoffs, the net return will inevitably be smaller.
Personally, if it's up to me and he IS asking for too much, I would trade him if the right package was offered in return.
What would you do?