It doesn’t take a genius to assess Ottawa’s blue line and realize that it lacks proven NHL talent. Gene can yammer on all he wants about loving the team's depth, but having a slew of warm bodies means nothing unless this depth can be effective players at the game's highest level.
Beyond the four veterans, we enter a world where Mark Borowiecki, Patrick Wiercioch and Andre Benoit have a combined 18 games of NHL experience under their collective belts.
It seems like just yesterday when one of the strengths of this team was its wealth of defensive riches. With a group that featured Zdeno Chara, Phillips, Anton Volchenkov, Wade Redden, Andrej Meszaros, Filip Novak and Brian Pothier. Okay, so it wasn’t yesterday. It was 2005-06 and yeah, maybe one of those names doesn’t belong either.
Some have stated that one of the benefits of a lockout (puke!) is the fact that a number of the young players or veteran AHL fodder will have a leg up on the competition in the early going because they’re already in game mode and should have their instincts and reactions in mid-season mode. I hope so because if these three players can hold their own, it will prevent Bryan Murray from sifting the scrapheap.
Wait, what’s that you say Mr. Garrioch?
"The Sens have looked at the free agent market to see what’s available. It’s believed they’ve held talks with the likes of Chris Campoli and Milan Jurcina."
As nice as it is to hear Chris Campoli can actually remain civil when dealing with NHL management and ownership types, I'm just not sure we need a sequel here.
I mean, when Campoli’s biggest contribution to the organization is that he and a seventh rounder miraculously netted the organization a 2011 second round pick (that was subsequently flipped to Detroit at the NHL Draft so that Ottawa could move up to select Matt Puempel in the first round) and Ryan Potulny from Chicago. It almost takes the sting out of the Senators acquiring for a late first rounder in 2009.
Oh, and there is always this…
Wait, there’s more you say?
However, the club doesn’t want to make any commitments for the time being.
Oh thank goodness. Those guys are terrible.
Campoli has never been anything more than a third pairing/second power play unit guy who plays soft minutes against weak competition. Despite these advantages, his puck-moving has never really thrived.
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Jurcina is a different breed entirely.
He's the guy who the Isles replaced with Matt Carkner. Let that sink in for a second before I mention that last season, he had the worst +/- in the entire NHL with a resound -34. That's like Darren Rumble bad.
Although his Hockey Reference page lists him at 6'4" and 253 lbs,the 2012/13 Hockey Prospectus Annual describes him as a mild mannered player. Uh oh. Danger. Danger. It's that Filip Kuba redux. By the end of the 2013 season, we'd all be joking that Jurcina's Czech name loosely translates to "the bane of Brennan".
Looking at his advanced peripherals, the low PDO reflects some bad luck or perhaps more appropriately, it's the result of some egregiously bad Islanders goaltending last season. Now with that being said, he has never been more than a bottom pairing guy who plays against relatively soft competition.
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There's a good reason why these guys are still available in free agency; soon to be joined by former Senator Wade Redden. Fortunately, we don't have to hold out hope for a reunion.
For all those asking, Wade Redden isn't coming to OTT. Sens asked him to waive his no move clause his final year. They don't want him back.— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) January 15, 2013
With the remainder of the UFA crop resembling an island of misfit toys, Bryan Murray has never been one to be shy about supplementing his roster with a deal. As much as I don't want to get ahead of myself and get my hopes up that Ottawa could land one of the few worthwhile defenders available come July, one look at this summer's crop of free agents, reaffirms that it's probably in the Senators' best interests to work the trade market for a quality defenseman. I suppose the real worry here is that the organization would/will move future assets and potentially net a player who is just a short-term fix.
In this sense, it's understandable to let the Benoits/Wierciochs/Borowieckis have their run before reaching for the best plug in free agency.
I figure our apparent scramble for bodies on D is more for potential injuries than actually making a contender out of the team right now. Murray has said in the past you can never have enough NHL ready defensemen, so I assume he will try and bolster it without spending too much money/prospects.
Niklas Hjalmarsson signed an offer sheet with San Jose that Chicago was forced to match despite being close to the cap. That pissed off Baby Bowman. He's trade bait, albeit at a too-high asking price now. They need a goalie and will obviously want Lehner, but that's not happening. They also need a centre. I suspect that a combination of Zach Smith and Ben Bishop will fit the bill if value reality sets in. It's expensive, but Ottawa is heavy at centre and he's a really good big young shutdown D.
@slavitch Good for Ottawa but.. good shut down D's are getting up to 3-4m per, so his contract isn't really out of line. Looking at their depth chart, Hjarllasfd;f is their good defensive guy outside of their top pairing. Since Chicago has more depth in their farm system and big club on the wings, I would expect them to deal from that strength before lightening their back end.
@sensuries With the signing of Johnny Oduya they can and probably will move him as cap issues come into play.
I really dont see the need for redden or any of the other FAs. It doesnt even make sense in the short term. If you just stick weircoch into the lineup right now, he has a much higher ceiling as a player in the first 2 months of the season and after that than any of the FAs availible. You put in Jurcina or Campoli, and they are a good stopgap for a while (unlikely) and then you scrape into the playoffs with Benoit and (insert crappy FA here). What does that do for the organization? Maybe with Weircoch or Boro playing for 2 months in the nhl you actually end up with a servicible 4th or 5th defenseman by the time the playoffs role around and a relatively stable blueline.
Why all the hate for Redden? As a stop gap solution earning league minimum, he would be a worthwhile risk. He's certainly a better option than Campoli, and he doesn't cost us an asset in a trade. Apparently he played quite well in the AHL.
@Dennis_Prouse Like MacLean said, I'd prefer to see the organization give the kids an opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them than turn to some retread like Redden. The team is still in their rebuild/development stage, I'd rather see the kids learn on the spot than have their spot taken by the shell of a man who once played for this franchise.
@Nichols6thSens @Dennis_Prouse I think the decision to play some of the Bingo boys also reflects the organization going forward. Karlsson/Methot/Cowen are locks for the next 3 years in our D. They need to know now, how much they actually need to go out and fill from the market to be a contender. If Weircioch (whom Maclean has noted as easily being the best of the 3 D in Bingo) can fill in that spot in the top 4 this year , and assuming Boro in the organization is to fill Phillips stop in the bottom pair PK, the Sens may only need to add a depth defencman going forward for the 5-6 slot. If Weirioch plays adaquately /mediocre in the top 4 role, the Murrays are likely to go in free agency/trade for next season.
I assume Benoit is a 6-7D at best like Carkner was.
@Sensfan90 @Nichols6thSens @Dennis_Prouse You forgot to put Ceci in there somewhere. And 3 years down the road when Methot's contract is up, the Murray's are going to have a choice to make for Karlsson's D partner, they could keep Methot or switch to a pairing with either Cowen or Ceci. Meaning that 4 years down the road I think we see something like this develop
I personally like that blueline quite alot, and that isn't even mentioning that there will be 4 drafts between now and then and the cupboard will look VERY different by then.
I think sens need to leave one D spot open for a rotation of young'uns to grow and show what they they can do. Right now, borocop seems to be this most natural fit as a stay at home player with grit. Should any good d come available through amnesty, it will be interesting to see how Ottawa fares as a FA destination in competition with many other contenders who have depleted back ends. The heightened trade value of defenseman could make Gonchar an asset that brings back picks in a strong 2013 draft or better yet, some youth with better shutdown qualities.