Yesterday's announcement that Mike Fisher has been traded for a 1st round pick and a conditional pick has inspired a lot of Tweets and emails. So instead of responding to each individually, I'm going to blatantly rip off the Tao of Stieb's novel idea of a Tweet Bag and mix it up with some emails. Here are some comments and questions sent in by our readers:
If Nashville doesn't win a playoff round, do we not get a 2nd round pick at all? ~ Isaac
The short answer is no. Whether or not Ottawa receives a 2012 3rd round pick (Nashville has to win 1 round) or a 2012 2nd round pick (Nashville has to win 2 or more rounds) is completely dependent upon Nashville's playoff success this year. If you're worried about the prospective return, just keep in mind that concerns that this conditional pick may never come to fruition will be less worrisome if Bryan Murray can parlay Nashville's first rounder into a better draft pick, prospect or asset.
So this morning was the FIRST time I've ever heard the fan 590 concern themselves with the battle of Ontario. Their caller question was, "Are you afraid that the Ottawa Senators are going to fall to the bottom this year and zoom right past the Leafs in the rebuild race?"
The overwhelming response from callers was that the Leafs are in much better shape than the Senators. The radio guys were more on the fence and didn't really pick a side.
I know your blog isn't a battle of Ontario soapbox but maybe you could see what your readers think...Who is going to be better, quicker? ~ Trevor, Toronto
Leafs fans have reason to worry. Bryan Murray acquired a 1st rounder that is projected to be in the vicinity of where a prospect like Jake Gardiner was drafted (17th overall) and he didn't have to eat a bad contract (Lupul) to do it. For an non-playoff team that is looking to cut some costs, I don't know if you can emphasize how important it was to shed a third line center's $4.2 million cap hit enough.
There are some parallels between Toronto and Ottawa. In retrospect, both organizations opted for the quick fix band-aid solutions when they should have eschewed some of the past-their-prime veteran free agent signings (ie. Beauchemin, Komisarek, Gonchar, Kovalev).
What Ottawa has going for it is that they've publically acknowledged that they're rebuilding. With the luxury of time, there's no onus on management to expediate the process provided that they do it properly. Assuming that they can refrain from those Phil Kessel'esque type trades that are inspired by stupidity and false bravado, I'd give Ottawa the benefit of the doubt right now.
One of the adages in the NHL is that goaltenders and defencemen develop more slowly than forwards and Ottawa has done a reasonably good job accumulating prospects from the net out. The hope is that after a season or two, by the time Ottawa augments their current prospect group with some top six forward talent, we'll have a melting pot of awesomeness on our hands. (Note: Akin to the way the Blackhawks team was constructed.)
What FA's in 2011 do you think will want to come into a rebuild? ~ @Wham_City
Great, a question that involves some actual research. Fuck. Alright, if I must...
It's worth mentioning that for anyone who ever wants to peruse the list of names available in FA, check out capgeek.com. Now that that's out of the way, I think you have to look at Ottawa's roster and identify the holes that some of their current prospects are unlikely to fill.
With Leclaire (UFA) and Elliott (RFA) headed towards free agency, I would let both players go. The decision to let Leclaire go is a no-brainer and Elliott has played in a large enough sample of games to understand that it's unlikely that he will ever develop into a number one goaltender. And if Robin Lehner is going to play in the NHL next season, Elliott has to go.
To help groom Lehner, you need a reliable veteran and judging by the market, there are many to be had. I would probably refrain from signing Tomas Vokoun, even if he is markedly more talented than anyone else featured on the list. As a 34-year old netminder who is earning $5.7-million, this will likely be his last big payday and you have to imagine that this weak free agent class will cause some inane GM to overpay in money and term. Or maybe all those years of losing in Florida will prompt Vokoun to sign on with a contender and forego a massive payout.
From Ottawa's perspective, it's counter-intuitive to invest a ton of money into Vokoun if they believe that Lehner will command 50-percent or more of the starts within the next one to three seasons. On a rebuilding team, a good goaltender's effect is negated anyways and it's probably better for the Senators to accrue lower draft picks. So why not save the extra dough and pursue a cheap, short-term alternative - Dwayne Roloson, Craig Anderson, Mathieu Garon - than get stuck with an expensive contract that they'll have difficulty moving down the road?
What we already know about Ottawa's blueline is that it will feature Jared Cowen, David Rundblad and Erik Karlsson. Despite the rumours that some teams may be willing to take on Filip Kuba or Sergei Gonchar, whether they return next season is inconsequential because neither can be entrusted to eat up the valuable minutes. Toss in the likes of Matt Carkner, Chris Campoli (RFA) and Brian Lee and the roster has a slew of defencemen under team control, but not a lot of defensively inclined blueliners. Detroit's Jonathan Ericsson is a young and enticing player that Ottawa could to look to or if they're looking for a shot-blocking defensive-blueliner, Jan Hejda could be a cost-effective option.
Now that Alex Semin has re-upped with Washington, aside from Brad Richards, the names available on the list read like a concert bill for a local county fair. There are a lot of recognizble "where are they now" sorts to be had. Shying away from these past these prime guys, maybe management will decide to replace Mike Fisher's spot with a younger version of himself in Brooks Laich. Is that a smart move to make considering that Fisher was never accepted by the fans as a legitimate second line center? Probably not but it's the kind of prodigal "he never should have left the organization in the first place" kind of move that fans here would eat up.
Getting picks is one thing. Do you have any confidence that this team can make proper use of them? ~ @TaoofStieb
Unless you hated seeing Murray parlay those second rounders last season for the Cullen and Sutton rentals, one of the few things that you have to concede Bryan Murray's regime has been able to do of late is maximize the value of their draft picks that they keep or flip for other young assets (ie. Rundblad). So in that respect, yes I have some faith in their amateur scouting.
Recently, we've seen the big club recall the likes of Bobby Butler, Jim O'Brien and Robin Lehner to compensate for the loss of some veteran talent to injury, trades or general shittiness. Over the next few weeks, we'll see more of the same as we approach the NHL Trade Deadline and it's of concern that management could foreseeably call up more talent from Bingo to replace the veterans who are headed out that door.
Although it's important to reward some prospects with a cup of coffee, I feel like it's equally important for these same prospects to grow and play together and a cultivate that coveted winning attitude down on the farm with a team that appears destined for the postseason.