July 1st has always been a day of dual importance for the people of Ottawa. Traditionally, the enactment of the Constitution Act of 1867 is celebrated by the masses through the enjoyment in pre-drinking copious amounts of liquor before we can enjoy that evening’s fireworks display. Over time, thanks to the emergence and presence of technology, for hockey fans, July 1st has almost become just as synonymous with the first day of NHL free agency as it has celebrating Canada as a nation.
Fortunately, regardless of where you are on that day – whether it’s a backyard BBQ, a bar or a cottage – there is always that one guy who is completely glued and in tune with what’s going down after the clock strikes 12:00 p.m. I can’t even begin recall the number of conversations that started because some stranger happened to walk by in a bar and said, “Holy S&@*! (Player A) signed with (insert team name here) for (insert term/money here)!!!”
Despite doing our earnest to identify and target particular players in the days and weeks leading up to July 1st, we’re always blown away by some of the contract offers that are agreed upon on that day.
It’s a great day for Schadenfreude.
Hell, Calgary’s Jay Feaster just got a head start on the rest of his colleagues by moving a fifth round pick and Jordan Henry to the Washington Capitals for the negotiating rights to impending UFA Dennis Wideman. The Calgary Flames then proceeded to ink the offensive defenceman to an offensive contract worth $26.25 million. The five-year pact carries an average annual value of $5.25 million and immediately should make everyone empathetic to Flames fans who will have to endure whatever else the Feaster management era will hold. The sign-and-trade led to me joking on Twitter that other hockey fans should unofficially anoint today – Wednesday, June 27th – as Thank God Jay Feaster Isn't Managing My Favorite Sports Franchise Day.
Getting back to Ottawa however, I feel like there is a realistic sense of self-awareness as we approach the opening of the free agent market – there isn’t this misconception that Ottawa should or will be in on free agents like Zach Parise or a Ryan Suter. Instead, fans are more well-read and look at the current state of the franchise and understand or appreciate what constitutes value in the salary cap era. (Hell, if you even want to look at the SenatorsExtra.com poll which asks fans whether or not they’d want the organization to pursue in a ‘big name’ talent like Rick Nash, the fan base is pretty evenly split.)
Which leads to the discussion of names like PA Parenteau…
As Rob Vollman explained in one of his tweets, Parenteau joins Jagr, Whitney, Doan, Hudler, Sullivan, Parise and Rolston as one of the few unrestricted free agent forwards with top 6 QoC, 50%+ ZoneStart and CorsiRatio that is in the black. In sabermetric jargon, it essentially means that Combined with his 18 goals and 67 points last season, he also drives puck possession and tilts the ice in his team’s favor against some difficult competition.
The Senators interest in Parenteau hasn't exactly been a secret, Tim Murray drafted the player for one (although this fact now appears to be in dispute).. Nevertheless Pierre Dorion reiterated today in response to a fans question - that the Senators would have interest in Parenteau, he prefaced by stating that it would have to be at the right price (note Allan Walsh is his agent, so good luck on that).
Puempel Demands Trade And is Dealt to the Rangers…
… the Rangers from Kitchener that is.
According to the Peterborough Examiner, the Senators prospect was dealt to the Kitchener Rangers for forward Zach Lorenz and two second-round draft picks. More importantly, Puempel’s family used his agent, Pat Morris, as an intermediary to send a letter to the Petes organization demanding a trade. Since Puempel has a no-trade clause in his contract (they have such things?), he was able to explicitly request that he be dealt to Kitchener. To emphasize how much he didn’t want to return to their struggling organization, Puempel went so far as to say that he would not report to their training camp or team until his demands were met. He joins Ryan Spooner and Austin Watson as another highly-touted prospect to leave the Petes in recent years.
I have to assume that all of those fans out there who are sickened by the manner in which Justin Schultz handled his contract situation with the Anaheim Ducks and see this as some kind of indictment of the prospect’s character will use this opportunity to express their displeasure with Puempel, right?
For additional information on the Puempel trade, Yahoo! Sports' Neate Sager, a regular podcast guest for us, has penned a great piece that goes above and beyond what was provided in the initial Examiner report. Within its contents, Neate draws an interesting parallel between Puempel and Tampa's Brett Connolly. He also assesses the Senators' prospects U-20 Canadian World Junior team chances.
Carkner Turns Down Contract Offer
Unless there is a change of heart, I expect Matt Carkner will test the UFA market. Has turned down a one year deal. #Sens— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) June 27, 2012
Coming off two injury-plagued years that clearly affected his play, you cannot blame GM Bryan Murray for wanting to avoid a multi-year contract with Carkner. And conversely, you cannot blame the player for wanting to get some security – in term and in monetary value – in what could be one of last times that Carkner will be able to maximize his earning power on the open market.
As fans, you can understand the disappointment that comes with seeing one of the league’s top heavyweight fighters move on, especially in the wake of what happened in game two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Carkner filling in Boyle’s face was one of the greatest non-goal moments in Senators playoff history. (An aside, it wasn’t quite at an Alfie boarding Darcy Tucker level but it’s a notch below.)
Nevertheless, at this stage of his career and with the uncertainty surrounding his health, Carkner’s a six or seventh defenceman who should be making close to the league minimum. I can’t blame the organization for the position they've staked. Besides, for what it’s worth, Chris Neil also tested the open market before re-signing with the Senators to his current $8.0 million/4-year pact. So with that being said, it’s still completely plausible that Carkner could return.
Schultz Meets Team Contingents…
It was expected that teams sending contingents to meet with impending UFA defenceman Justin Schultz would be meeting with him and his representatives today. The throngs of executive management types for the Oilers, Canucks and Leafs were eventually publicized on Twitter but for the Senators, an organization that admittedly believed itself to be one of the three to five teams that would have a shot at Schultz, did not send any representatives (at least not yet) to Toronto to meet with Schultz and his Newport Sports representation.
As reported by the Team 1200’s Steve Lloyd, both Tim Murray and Bryan Murray were in town watching this afternoon’s development camp on-ice workout.
But wait, there’s good news!
The UFA defenceman and his agents will over the next two days meet in Toronto with a small group of teams he has on his shortlist.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 28, 2012
Ottawa may not be out of it yet!
Rookie Tournament Cancelled
This afternoon, Senators President Cyril Leeder held court with the media and addressed a number of topics. Of note, the season ticket base is currently at 11,300 and the organization hopes to reach the magical 13,000 mark. Given the league's labour uncertainty, the Senators may have some extra time to hit that threshold before the start of the season.
Speaking of this potential work stoppage, the threat is apparently serious enough to the cancellation of the annual rookie tournament that showcases the organization’s top prospects.
More Rick Nash Fodder
For those of you who consider yourselves to be proponents for the Senators acquiring Rick Nash, I highly encourage you all to read an article written by Corey S. of Shutdownline fame for NHLnumbers.com.