Prior to today’s NHL Draft, Senators management took care of some business and none of it should be surprising.
Awaiting confirmation Daniel Alfredsson will return for an eighteenth NHL season, the Senators sent qualifying offers to regulars Erik Condra and Patrick Wiercioch and a number of prospects who spent the bulk of the season on the farm like Stephane Da Costa, Mark Borowiecki, Mike Hoffman, Corey Cowick and David Dziurzynski.
By qualifying these restricted free agents an offer, the Senators organization ensures that these players remain under team control and could not walk away without compensation. Had they otherwise not been tendered an offer, like they did with Louis Caporusso - Ottawa’s third round pick from 2007 - these players would then become unrestricted free agents when the market opens on July 5th.
Bruce Garrioch wrote that neither side is in the same ballpark on numbers at this juncture, but often times that's just the nature of negotiations. As Murray noted, he hopes to get both players signed and realizes it might just take a little extra time.
Although I’m a fan of both players, neither Wiercioch or Condra have had the kind of role, production or experience to break the bank and put a significant dent in Ottawa’s internal budget. Yes, that same internal budget fans have so acrimoniously harped on. I’ll come back to this later in a separate blog post.
Rightfully so, Ottawa’s focus is on today’s Draft and with the Senators still positioned at seventeen, Bryan Murray is exhausting all avenues in an effort to make a deal that isn’t too cost prohibitive (ie. Kyle Turris and the team’s seventeenth overall selection).
Even in the event that the Senators can’t move up or one of their preferred prospects is not available to them at seventeen, there is still the possibility that they slide back a few spots in the first round.
Tim Murray says they would entertain moving down 3 or 4 spots to land a 2nd round pick. #Sens— AJ Jakubec (@AJonSports) June 29, 2013
As an organization that repetitiously tells its amateur scouting staff to prepare for any scenario, it certainly sounds like the Senators have solidified their game plan and have contingency plans in place should the guy they want not be available to them.
The Murray regime will be thorough in its due diligence, but that won’t stop me from pretending to have an informed opinion of whomever the Sens select.
Rumours, Scuttlebutt and Conjecture
Compliance buyouts are the latest craze and with Tampa’s decision to buyout the remainder of Vinny Lecavalier’s massive contract, his free agent status will certainly create more fan interest when the market opens on July 5th.
TSN and Sportsnet should graciously pick up some of the tab for whatever ratings boost Vinny provides. Despite this renewed fan interest for the opening of free agency, the Senators will not be players for Lecavalier. The closest he’s ever come to donning a Senators jersey will remain that time that Ottawa put a package including Radek Bonk and Sami Salo together.
Bryan Murray says he hasn't put any feelers out for Vincent Lecavalier. #Sens— AJ Jakubec (@AJonSports) June 29, 2013
Alas, apparently Lecavalier is settled on going to one of two cities: Calgary or Detroit. As I joked on Twitter, the only reason I can understand why Vinny wants to go to the Flames is because he wants a second contract from Jay Feaster that results in another compliance buyout.
Bruins and Alfie
In case you’ve missed it over the course of the season, a lot of mainstream types can’t help but bring up how Daniel Alfredsson would be such a natural fit for the Bruins.
The biggest offender is Kevin Paul Dumont, but with news that Bryan Murray hasn’t started contract negotiations with Alfie, there is the possibility that Alfie could hit the open market on July 5th.
Bryan Murray says he hasn't started contract talks with JP Barry on a contract for Daniel Alfredsson. #Sens— AJ Jakubec (@AJonSports) June 29, 2013
I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that Alfie spurns Ottawa and goes elsewhere, but it’s pretty entertaining to watch others sincerely believe that Alfie is a viable option who can be swayed to leave Ottawa.
ESPN and Hockey Prospectus’ Mock Drafts
For ESPN Insider, Grant Sonier did a mock of the first round and had Kerby Rychel winding up with the Senators at the seventeenth overall selection, writing:
This is one staff that covets grit and determination, and they could use this quality of player to complement a skilled forward corps. Their back end is young and full of promise led by Erik Karlsson. GM Bryan Murray at one time hung his hat in Detroit and witnessed the value of Tomas Holmstrom, a player Rychel reminds me of, with added toughness and a willingness to fight. His hands are underrated, and besides scoring dirty goals around the crease, he has good one-on-one skills and can really shoot the puck.
Kerby, of course, is the son of former NHL tough guy Warren Rychel and conveniently, he was also one of the four prospects invited to work out for the Senators earlier this month. To Ottawa’s credit, they’ve managed to keep the specifics of their participants under wraps. To this point, thanks to a tweet by Adam Erne, we know that wingers Rychel and Erne were two of the four that skated in front of Sens brass. Other rumoured participants include center Bo Horvat, Anthony Mantha and defenceman Samuel Morin.
In a mock draft for Hockey Prospectus, Morin is Corey Pronman’s choice for the Ottawa Senators.
Morin has been the hot name over the past few weeks, as he has progressed from a mid-second rounder at midseason to a top-20 player on some teams' boards. Exactly where he will slot is unknown, but Ottawa is a possibility based on how this mock has played out. As with Buffalo, Horvat or Rychel could go here, and Adam Erne is another name to watch at this slot.
Redrafting the 2008 NHL Draft
Speaking of ESPN, Corey Pronman looked back in retrospect at the 2008 NHL Draft in which Erik Karlsson was drafted and shuffled the selection of picks based on his evaluations of the players on a value basis and not taking into account team need at the time or now. (Note: again, this piece is for ESPN Insider, so it is behind a paywall.)
Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty still went first and second, but Pronman conceded that there were arguments to be made that Karlsson and Alex Pietrangelo should have been the second overall selection.
Karlsson's skating and ability with the puck are elite, and the pure offensive upside he brings from the back end is second to none in the NHL. He's a tad small and won't be a high-end defender, but he's progressed well in his own end to where he can effectively log tough minutes and still be a force as one of the league's best defensemen.
As Don Cherry noted on Twitter today, the 2008 draft class was absurdly filled with a number of high-quality defencemen. The debate for which one emerges as the best of the class will go on for years.