Despite the repeated efforts of management and ownership to shoot down any prospective trade talks that would see the organization give up some significant future assets, be it draft picks or prospects, in some short-sighted deal that wouldn't benefit the team's long term interests, during the first intermission of last night's Senators game, Sportsnet's Hockey Central panel elaborated on a number of players that could pique the interest of the Ottawa Senators.
After the affable Jeff Marek kicked things off by stating that Senators fans must be disappointed in the news that Carolina's Tuomo Ruutu has been taken off the market after sustaining an upper body injury during the first period of their Monday, February 13th game against Montreal, a few other alternatives were suggested like Dustin Penner, Ales Hemsky and Mike Knuble. (As an aside, are there actually morons out there who are actually disappointed Ruutu's injury will prevent the Senators from meeting the Hurricanes asking price of a first round pick and a prospect?)
Considering that Ales Hemsky will inevitably be moved for a package that will inevitably be better (maybe I’m giving Steve Tambellini too much credit here) than what Jim Rutherford would have received for Ruutu, any realistic Senators fan can scratch him off of the list.
Looking at Mike Knuble’s season on paper, saying that he’s had an off year doesn’t do it justice. Like the rest of his teammates, he has seen his offensive prowess drop from five consecutive years of 24+ goals to just 3 goals and 11 points through 53 games. For comparison’s sake, Knuble has less goals than Jared Cowen, Filip Kuba, Bobby Butler and the same number as Zenon Konopka, Kaspars Daugavins and the forgotten Stephane Da Costa. While Knuble’s power play net front presence qualities may be better than say Chris Neil’s – last season Knuble had 7 goals and 12 points on the power play – I’m not sure that they’re enough to overweigh the cost of acquiring him or lining him up in anything more than a fourth line capacity.
Although I suppose some could make the argument that Knuble has suffered from the bland defensive preachings of Dale Hunter, it’s not like he’s the only one to have his production affected. The Washington offence has had systemic problems generating or sustaining puck possession since Boudreau was given a pink slip. Nevertheless, even in looking at Knuble’s power play totals this season -- he has zero goals and two assists while averaging 1:24 in PP TOI/G – and that’s cause for concern. (Note: Last season he averaged 2:19 in PP TOI/G.) Compounding matters is that Washington is still lingering in the Eastern Conference playoff picture and they may not even be considering moving the veteran.
Finally, the case of Dustin Penner is an interesting one. Having signed Penner out of the University of Maine back in 2004, Senators GM Bryan Murray does have some history and familiarity with the player. When Dany Heatley requested a trade in the summer of 2008, Murray had arranged a trade (with or without permission depending on who you ask) that would send Heatley in exchange for Ladislav Smid, Andrew Cogliano and Penner. Ultimately, the effing All-Star vetoed the trade so that he could facilitate a trade to a San Jose – a city in which he could proverbially screw the pooch in relative obscurity.
Getting back to Penner though, he does bring many of the same characteristics to the table that Knuble does: poor skater; offensive flair; a liability at even strength; impending UFA; and et cetera.
The obvious question regarding either of Penner or Knuble is: what would Murray be willing to give up to acquire either player?
In consideration of what Bobby Butler has done of late – six points since being moved from the press box to the team’s first line – maybe it might be more prudent to see what kind of value he can accrue before packaging him as part of a larger trade in the offseason.
Why Isn't Tonight's Game Televised?
Thanks to TSN's exclusive Wednesday night coverage of the NHL, Sportsnet is unable to broadcast tonight's game. Instead, fans will have to capitalize on the opportunity to watch the Florida Panther's scoreboard feed of tonight's game through the Center Ice Package. I have a feeling that this is going to be reminiscent of the old CHRO broadcasts from the early '90's. All that will be missing is commentary from Dean Brown and Greg Millen.