The dog days of summer – a time when our hockey appetites cannot be wetted by news that Cody Bass has moved on or that Chris Neil has been appointed as the new honorary chair of Roger’s House or that Mike McKenna is taking pictures with ugly Senators garb at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Sure, I can laugh hysterically at Stan Fischler referring to the newest Maple Leaf, Tim Connolly, as Syracuse’s gift to the NHL but even that doesn’t last for long.
It’s times like this when the mind starts to wander and think of hockey inanities. For example, just this morning I was wondering whether or not the employees of Rogers Sportsnet and HNIC ever fuck with Doug MacLean or Mike Milbury at the office.
Do these employees go into work each day hoping that they'll be able to trade food like a couple of kids on the playground to test these failed GMs' negotiation skills?
I could envision the conversations going something along these lines:
“Hey Milbury, I'll give you cup of yogurt for that Fruit Rollup, Sprite and that can of peaches. Sorry? No, my thumb isn't strategically placed over the expiration date.
No I won’t let you see it!
What? You’ll still do the deal? Great!”
Fortunately, there was this afternoon's announcement that Mika Zibanejad had inked a 3-year entry-level contract with the organization. A 1.9M$ annual caphit (bonuses included) per Sweden's Aftonbladet.No wonder Mika's been dancing.
As discussed yesterday, under the parameters of the NHL's CBA, by signing Mika before Friday's 5:00 pm deadline, Ottawa avoided paying a $100,000 negotiation fee to Djurgarden.
While signing an ELC is a precursor for playing in the NHL next season, I don't know if I want to read too much into it and immediately assume that management has made plans to have Zibanejad remain in Ottawa next season. Simply put, signing him now not only saves the organization some coin, it permits the organization to bring him into the fold for training camp and allow him to demonstrate that he's ready to play at the next level.
Looking at the signing from a player personnel standpoint, with the number of one-way deals that currently on the books, if Zibanejad is ready, it's going to create quite the logjam at the center position. While it's a nice problem to have, the Konopka signing and the team's depth affords the organization the opportunity to be patient with its forward prospects.
I sure as hell hope so. I know I'd much prefer to see the organization return Zibanejad and Silfverberg to Sweden for just one more season.
From my personal viewpoint, there should be no rush. As an organization that on paper looks to be one of the five to ten worst teams in the league, it seems illogical to go against the expressed wishes of Silfverberg or burn a year off of Mika's ELC to have them play on what will assuredly will be a bad team.
As Scott (@Wham_City), another one of The 6th Sens contributors, put it, there's no sense in wasting the competitive advantage of ELC's on players who are going to play small minutes or sit on the bench.
He makes a great point, and it's one that Tyler Dellow harps on quite regularly when critiquing the Oilers rebuild. Especially since they have the veteran stopgap (cough, cough, Konopka, cough, cough) talent to accomodate the team for this season. It makes much more sense to let them spend one more season in the SEL, develop on another team's dime and retain them as controllable assets when the two of these Swedish prospects and the Senators will be better.
Bryan Murray and the rest of Ottawa's management team need not look for lessons learned. Having acquired a rushed prospect in Nikita Filatov and having seen how well David Rundblad flourished this past season in the SEL, these two examples should provide all of the motivation the organization needs to make their decision.
Looking at Ottawa's pipeline, I know there's talent coming through the system. I'm not insecure enough with my faith in this organization to demand to see it all at once and I believe there's some importance in staggering the number of rookies who come into the fold.
Jared Cowen and the aforementioned Rundblad should make an appearance at some point this season, that's enough for me. There's no reason to shell shock Ottawa's best prospects all at once. It would probably be in everyone's best interests to let Mika go back to where he left off in the second half of the SEL and take the experiences of development/training camp back with him. Give him the opportunity to play in the IIHF World Juniors and come back to training camp next season with a fervor and confidence.
Like Silfverberg said, this would afford them the time to ensure that they come to Ottawa with confidence in their own play. Tim made a point recently saying, if the team's winning record isnt going to provide them the assurance that they're playing well, you might as well lose with vets. Are Mika or Jakob going to make the difference makers in their first year? Probably not. So why bother?
*** At the request of Twitter follower Brochenski (@Brochenski), I've posted a depth chart on how I feel the Senators NHL/AHL lineups should look below. Take a look... (Note: Created the chart before Derek Smith signed a two-way contract with the Calgary Flames.)