Now that the Senators are toiling away with the NHL’s worst record, it’s difficult not to scoreboard watch or indulge in some serious prospect porn.
Nashville keeps losing games and dropping in the standings? Nails! We could use a higher mid-round pick. Now if only Columbus could you pull up its socks and pass the Predators already. The Gabriel Landeskog Appreciation Tour arrived in the nation’s capital yesterday? Fantastic! Ottawa has a good track record of drafting players who share first names with girls - Marian, Robin and Gabriel(le). Let's just give this kid a jersey already and start the Gabriel’s Pizza marketing campaigns and anoint this kid as a future cornerstone of the franchise. (H/t to Twitter follower @isavji.)
Forgive me for being facetious but I just think it's surreal to see how many people are gravitating towards the young Swede. Take one our Twitter followers named @Senturion for example:
gotta get the Skog, it's fate. Fav player Alfie, fav team #Sens, draft year 11, #92 in 20th anniversary 1992. Swede w/ NA attitude
you cant ignore fate like that, the guy is an Iginla/Alfie hybrid. Future 'C', heir apparent.
More following the jump...
Or you could ignore “fate” and just chalk it up to the fact that fans love a sentimental tale about a young Swedish player who became a Senators fan after meeting Alfredsson and Arvedsson at the Bell Capital Cup. Frankly, if I wanted a good story, I’d prefer to watch a looped video of this. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Landeskog isn't the best player available, I just simply haven't seen enough of him to comment fairly. I mean, how often do most people get a chance to watch the top prospects play regularly? Rather than strictly rely upon some subjective prospect list or treat what some anonymous forum's user wrote as gospel, at the risk of sounding redundant, I'll throw out the cliché that the Senators should draft the best talent available and ignore the current positional needs of the organization.
If Adam Larsson is considered that best player and Ottawa has the first pick, the should draft him and worry about the consequences later. Or at the very least, maximize his value by using the leverage of the first pick to squeeze a good return out of Edmonton – a team that desperately needs to draft a defenceman.
Another Thought on the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
With absolutely no guarantee on where they’ll be drafting in the first few selections of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, it’s completely within the realm of possibility that the Senators could wind up with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Listed at 6’0” 164lbs, there’s no question that one of the knocks on Hopkins is that he hasn’t filled out physically and lacks the size necessary to handle the daily rigors of the NHL. So it’s worth addressing: in light of comments made by management over the past few weeks that this year’s lottery pick would play in the NHL this season, is it not foolish to be so definitive with these public statements?
I realize that player development isn’t an exact science and that each player is unique but fans have endured the Alexandre Daigle era and watched players like Tyler Seguin or Josh Bailey struggle during their rookie campaigns elsewhere. For an organization that isn't expected to be a contender any time soon, what exactly is the rush? Or is this part of a marketing and PR initiative to sell the fan base on an exciting youth movement and help preserve ticket sales during the spring and summer months when the team is out of the playoff picture and limelight?
One Last Thought On Chris Phillips
As I was driving earlier this morning, I was thinking a little bit more about the Chris Phillips extension and and I thought of something that I wanted to mention before moving on.
One of the subplots of the 2009-10 season were the contract negotiations with Anton Volchenkov. As an impending unrestricted free agent, the A-Train played a large role in helping the Senators draw back into the playoff fold. Looking back at the negotiations, Murray could have signed Anton – a younger player than Phillips – to a deal similar to the one that Jersey offered but ultimately the hockey operations brain-trust balked at the term citing Volchenkov’s mileage and style of play as deterring factors that could contribute to injury.
I find it bizarre that we haven't heard the same concerns about Phillips’ new extension, especially when you consider that Anton signed a 6-year deal with the Devils that will expire when he’s 34 – exactly one year younger than the age Phillips will be when his extension ends. (Albeit, Phillips deal will end earlier than Anton’s.)
But please don't mistake this for some revisionist bullshit. If you're familiar with this website's history or have listened to the podcasts, you'll know that that we understood and agreed with the logic for letting Volchenkov go. And granted, I realize that the organization’s plans deviated slightly because of the team’s poor performance this season, but it’s worth wondering how a playoff team that was willing to bite the bullet and let go of Volchenkov, would feel so compelled to re-up an older and less effective player one season later because of his intangibles.
The latest media scrum tweets from this morning’s practice indicate that Milan Michalek has a broken bone in his foot and will be out for 4 weeks. Peter Regin had surgery to repair a separated shoulder and he will be out for 4 to 6 months. And Matt Carkner is having his knee scoped today and will out for the next 2 to 4 weeks.
You know what other players share the traits that Landeskog is lauded for? Jarome Iginla, Jonathon Toews, Mike Richards, Milan Lucic and Ryan Kesler. Landeskog may never be a 50 goal scorer or a 100 point player...but he can certainly be a 30 goal 60+ plus player. Some may say that's not good enough for a first line forward. I think guys Toews, Richards and Lucic would take offense to that. Of those 3, only Richards has had 80 points. None of them have ever had over 35 goals. But I would bet you'd take any of them, as well as Iginla or Kesler, on your team. In fact, most people would say that each of these players is their team's MVP; Their heart and soul. NOT drafting Landeskog would be a big mistake. Larsson may turn out to be one leagues best defensemen, and Couturier and Nugent Hopkins may become point a game centers....but none of them will bring the same combination of scoring ability, grit, leadership and heart that Landeskog does.
@GelatinousMutantCoconut Maybe he is a 30 goal, 60 point guy. Maybe he isn't. What he is is a winger and 3 of the guys that you mentioned above are considered three of the best two-way centers in the league.
Maybe it might be a little bit more prudent to compare him to other young power right-wingers like Neal or Stewart?
@Nichols6thSens @GelatinousMutantCoconut Yeah, Neal and Stewart would be good comparables as well. It's true that most of the guys I listed are centres, so direct comparison is impossible. But they compare in terms of the intangibles they bring. So obviously the best comparable would be a cross between Jarome Iginla and Daniel Alfredsson.
Nobody with any injury worse than needing a band-aid is going to get any ice time for the rest of the season.
When it comes to this Phillips signing, I think there are really two questions: 1) Does it matter if we have Phillips for the next three years? and 2) Could we have gotten better value out of trading him?
As for the first question, I would say, by and large, that it doesn't. We aren't going to be competitive and we aren't going to spend to the salary cap. So his salary really doesn't impede us from adding free agents, or signing other players. As long as he's a professional and a decent player, he'll be a good role model for the young defencemen coming in. If his play deteriorates, he'll sit in the press box, be sent to the minors or retire.
As for the second question, that's an unknown. I have to think that if Murray was able to pry a first-rounder from anyone for Phillips, he would be gone. If was able to trade him for a second-rounder, you're talking about a mixed bag of potential, and one could easily argue that having Phillips in the lineup for three years is more likely to have a positive impact than whomever they might have drafted.
@Mothballsuitor I think the Phillips situation comes down to one of the following:
1) Murray wouldn't budge off of his price.
2) The market for Phillips was overstated.
3) Phillips wouldn't waive.
Unfortunately we won't know the answer until the contract looks bad, the team can't move him and Phillips gets thrown under the bus.
@Nichols6thSens @Mothballsuitor How did Phillips manage a NMC? Was the Bryan in a position of weakness? Like did he need to sign him that badly that he gave him everything he wanted? Intangibles all you want, the guy only really elevates his play in the playoffs and the Sens won't be there anytime soon. What is he going to teach them? How to tip at Jask in the Centrum? As for the prospects. Completely agree that the Sens have to take the best player available. Gabriel is sitting at a mediocre 62 pts in 48 gp. I know points are not the be all end all but the Sens need a top tier talent, not another Mike Fisher. With no clear cut #1 fans will be divided over who to choose. The scouts will probably be divided. Bottom line: This draft is the biggest since Daigle and the next 10 years are dependent on it. Please BM, don't fuck it up.