Covering tonight’s Colorado Avalanche tilt in Florida, the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater (@adater) tweeted out a Sulia link (note: don’t ask, Sulia is stupid) to point out number and affiliation of scouts who are in attendance to watch the game.
“Chicago Blackhawks (four, including GM Stan Bowman), Columbus Blue Jackets (two), New York Rangers, Winnipeg Jets, Pittsburgh Penguins (two), Ottawa Senators (three) and Los Angeles Kings.
There was a NHL meeting in Florida the other day, so that probably explains something like the Hawks having four people here.”
The kneejerk reaction is to obviously spitball the names of players who the Senators could be interested in. Ottawa has been linked to guys like Dmitry Kulikov and Ryan O’Reilly before.
It is worth mentioning that O’Reilly cannot be traded until late in February because that will mark the one-year anniversary in which he signed a free agent offer sheet with the Calgary Flames and had it matched by the Avalanche. In matching the offer sheet, the league CBA prevents Colorado from trading O’Reilly for one calendar year.
O’Reilly is obviously a highly coveted player. He has that unique blend of talent, hustle and brawn that appeals to a wide variety of fans. With that being said, he’s also due for a new contract at the conclusion of the season and in signing an expensive offer sheet with Calgary, to qualify him as an RFA, an NHL team will have to send him a qualifying offer of $6.5 million. Mind you, a team could always negotiate a contract that pays him less.
However, odds are we are getting ahead of ourselves here. As Bruce Garrioch wrote about for the Ottawa Sun, the Senators just concluded their own scouting meetings in Fort Lauderdale this week in which they created their lists for the NHL Draft and the NHL trade deadline.
So yeah, maybe there’s some interest in a player or players there, but it’s probably just an opportunity or convenience thing more than anything.
Marc Methot made waves this afternoon in a post-practice interview in which he expressed obvious frustration with being paired with Joe Corvo during practice – a clear indication that he could be scratched from tomorrow night’s game versus the Lightning.
“I was a little bit caught off (guard),” he said, rather tersely, following Wednesday’s workout here in preparation for Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. “I felt really good in the morning and it was their decision and I have to deal with that.”
Methot feels that he’s ready to play and after being bag skated at the direction of the coaching staff, he firmly believes that they know he’s ready to come back into the lineup after missing Tuesday’s game in Washington with an injury.
Even before Mark Stone injured himself at practice on Monday, the Senators were reportedly in the market for a top six forward who could complement their current group and give the Senators a chance to compete during this ballyhooed two-year window that ownership, perhaps unrealistically, thinks the team can contend for a Cup in.
In an article for ESPN, Pierre Lebrun indicated that the Buffalo Sabres’ Matt Moulson is a player that the Senators like with a caveat.
The Senators have to first decide if they’re buyers or not. The next slate of games over the next few weeks will help shape that decision.
If they string together wins, then GM Bryan Murray likely will feel more comfortable being a buyer, and he’s on record stating he’d like to add a top-six forward.
But if the Sens go through a rough patch and lose touch with a wild-card spot, then perhaps he holds off.
Lebrun even reiterated Ottawa’s interest in Moulson during last night’s edition of TSN’s ‘Insider Trading’.
“Matt Moulson, I think Darren, will get a lot of attention between now and March 5th. Obviously a UFA at the end of the season – your prototypical rental player and a guy that fits in well salary-wise. And he’s a good player by the way. So we know the LA Kings, he’s a guy that they’re targeting among their UFA rentals. The Ottawa Senators also view Matt Moulson as a great fit if they stay in the playoff race and if the price is right, they would like Matt Moulson to come to their team as well.”
Given the obvious connections and relationship new Buffalo GM Tim Murray has with the Senators organization, you can understand why Ottawa would be linked to a Sabres player who fits a need.
But, in a situation in which the market for Moulson’s services would be sizeable, especially with true Cup contenders loading up for a run and being more likely to give up future assets, how could the Senators possibly match up as a trade partner when the team already lacks its 2014 first rounder?
Given the projected talent and depth of the 2015 draft class, it would be foolhardy on Ottawa’s part to move a prospective lottery ticket in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes when they have not demonstrated over the past two and a half seasons that they’re anything more than a playoff bubble team.
Furthermore, Tim Murray is in a situation in which he has not made his first trade. Like any new GM, he will assuredly be trying to hit a home run and in Moulson, he has one of the league’s most easily marketable commodities.
Per Capgeek, Moulson’s earning $3.9 million with a cap hit of $3,133,000. It’s a paltry sum for a player at the deadline who can easily slide in amongst a team’s top six forwards.
His suitors will line up and to beat the asking price that will undoubtedly include first round pick, Bryan Murray will probably have to package the team’s 2014 second rounder and a young player and/or prospect to entice his nephew into pulling the trigger.
But it begs the question, why would a small market organization borrow a page out of John Muckler’s playbook and expend its young assets on player who wouldn’t be under team control?
Moreover, there’s a great case to be made that Jason Spezza could or should be player management should consider moving at some point before his contract expires at the conclusion of the 2014/15 season. So with that in mind, why would the organization pay a premium on a guy like Moulson, when Spezza might not be a guy that the organization wants to build around moving forward?
For a team in a bubble situation, it probably makes more sense to make a more asset-efficient trade by acquiring a less touted player like Ales Hemsky.
One day after Bryan Murray and Eugene Melnyk were spotted entering the NHL’s head offices in New York City, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman conveniently made an appearance on TSN 1200’s ‘The Drive’ to talk about the health of the league and not the circumstances pertaining to why Melnyk and Murray met with him yesterday.
Under normal circumstances, I would have transcribed the entire interview, but luckily, the Ottawa Citizen’s James Gordon beat me to it. Rather than lift all of the transcribed text to supplement this piece, go read it in its entirety yourself. Go read it. Like now!
You can also listen to it by accessing the interview here or by streaming the embedded audio towards the bottom of this post.
The beginning of the interview proceeded in Gary Bettman's infamous style. When asked to comment directly on what yesterday’s meeting between the league and Ottawa’s front office pertained to, the Commissioner skirted the question.
“I don’t make it a practice of disclosing what took place in a meeting that I have with a club or club ownership and since anybody who has written wasn’t at the meeting and doesn’t know what transpired, it’s pure speculation – and by the way, I did see an article that said Don Fehr was at that meeting and he wasn’t. Interestingly enough, and I guess this is what happens when the media stakes out your offices, and they did that to see Tortorella, Don Fehr was in my office also. All the meetings I had yesterday were unrelated, so to the extent that people are suggesting things did or didn’t happen, they didn’t know, and as I said, when I’m conducting league business and having business meetings, I don’t make it a practice of telling the world what I’m doing on a moment-by-moment basis.”
Not surprisingly, he used the Fehr sighting and non-presence to essentially cast doubt on all of yesterday’s speculation for why the parties met. Even though a number of outlets reported that Fehr actually was not present at the meetings.
Eventually, it would be confirmed during tonight’s Insider Trading on TSN broadcast by Bob McKenzie that Melnyk did, in fact, present a detailed medical report on the Karlsson/Cooke incident yesterday afternoon.
Although nothing reportedly will come of Melnyk’s finding(s), it was Bettman’s answers on the health of the game that circled back to the Ottawa Senators’ financial situation that raised some eyebrows.
“It’s always important that a sports league has the right economic system so that teams can be competitive, that they can be economically stable so that we can have franchises in a variety of markets that are not only just big markets, so Ottawa can be competitive and be in this league, which is important to us.”
Bettman would then comment on the strength of Ottawa’s ownership situation, in light of the organization claiming that the hockey team has lost $110 million over the past ten years.
“We think it’s important to have a franchise in the nation’s capital and therefore we have to make sure that there’s good strong ownership, which there is, and that there’s a system that makes sense.”
Ottawa has such strong ownership that Bettman felt compelled to mention that “Ottawa is blessed with that fact that Eugene Melnyk owns the building that was privately built.”
It’s odd. Bettman’s conveying the message that Ottawa’s financially stable on one hand, but on the other, he’s also telling us that we should be counting our blessings that Melnyk owns the building. An arena that I presume, like Capital Tickets, generates enough revenues to help offset whatever losses the Senators hockey club are reporting.
On one hand, Bettman is painting a rosy picture of Ottawa’s situation, meanwhile Melnyk has been lobbying Ottawa City Council for favours because of the financial hardships that the Ottawa Senators hockey club is facing.
So which is it?
Without looking at the books, it’s hard to know.
NHL financials are well guarded and third party evaluations like the ones Forbes does annually are often panned in NHL circles. Moreover, it’s usually in the team’s or owner’s best interests to keep the books closed, especially since its business often involves obscuring its financial details when appealing to the various levels of government for a favour – like Melnyk’s appeals to Ottawa City Council not to sole source the Ottawa Casino bid – or help their subsidize their business and help the team’s bottom line.
You certainly can’t blame Senators fans for being sensitive when it comes to money.
We’re essentially half-way through the season and we’re already sick of hearing that Ottawa’s a budget team that is limited by its strict adherence to ownership’s self-imposed cap.
Making matters worse, we’re coming off of a work stoppage and the sport is still growing. Furthermore, it’s difficult not to look at the additional revenue that will be generated by the league’s Canadian national broadcast rights agreement with Rogers and Ottawa’s own regional broadcast rights for television and radio should help the Senators line their pockets further. Hell, ownership has even gone on record saying that this franchise is making more revenue off of ticket sales than it has in the past.
So we’re left with a situation in which the truth is muddied and the owner is exhausting the equity that he built up with this fan base when he bought the team. For many, it’s already gone.
What once seemed like a stable franchise now sends out mixed messages and signals more often than Paul MacLean juggles his lines. That’s just the reality of the situation and Melnyk has no one to blame for it but himself.
Darren Dreger Talks About Melnyk’s Cooke/Karlsson Report on TSN 1050’s ‘The Drive’
Darren Dreger appeared on Toronto’s TSN 1050’s ‘The Drive’ and as the headline states, he talked about Melnyk’s report that he delivered to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Here is a transcript of what was said:
On what he makes of news that Melnyk and Murray appeared at the NHL’s head offices yesterday…
Dreger: “Bizarre. Anybody who knows Eugene Melnyk, or at least his history, isn’t surprised. I’m sure that there are some around the Ottawa Senators (organization) who are going, ‘Really? We’re investing resource dollars into this when we could be, perhaps, beefing up our budget to add a player or two?’ I mean, that’s being a little sensationalistic in terms of the money that is being spent, but who among us actually believes that there’s a case to be made here? And that’s the bigger issue. There were some who thought that the Players Association, because Don Fehr stopped at the NHL head offices yesterday to pay a visit to Gary Bettman who was part of that group in that discussion, and (Fehr) was not. You know, (Melnyk’s) an owner in the National Hockey League and Gary Bettman works for Eugene Melnyk to some degree; if he wants an audience and wants to plead his case in this regard, then he is free to do that, but I doubt very much it will get anywhere.”
On whether anyone has gone on the record over their meeting yesterday…
Dreger: “No. No. No. Skate Gate.”
On whether this will get advanced…
Dreger: “(Laughter) Well, it is in the mind of Eugene Melnyk. But again, what’s the end conclusion? Is he going to find or create the forensic evidence to prove (that Matt Cooke hurt Erik Karlsson intentionally)?”
On whether he’s asking the NHL to conduct further investigation, the NHL has to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’…
Dreger: “Well, there wasn’t an answer provided as bluntly as that yesterday.”
Dave Naylor: “I’m guessing the NHL would just like this whole thing to go away like everybody else. (Laughter)”
In somewhat of a surprise, given that his streak of eight straight appearances without a regulation loss ended on Saturday, Craig Anderson will be back in nets tomorrow night for Ottawa’s game in Washington.
Talked to Robin Lehner. He does not think he's starting vs Wash. Tuesday. So, Anderson again. #sens
A big part of coaching is finding the right roles for your players to play in to maximize their effectiveness. Being a free-flowing game where each team has four forward lines and three defense pairings, hockey is a sport that is big on player roles. Therefore, when analyzing players' talent, we should always take into consideration how they are used.
With the help of the wonderful new website ExtraSkater.com, I'm going to take a closer look at how MacLean deploys his players. To start, we'll look at how he distributes time on ice.
The main stat I will be using here is TotTM%, which is simply what % of a team’s ice-time that a player is on for. For example, if a player plays 18 minutes in a 60 minute game, his TotTM% would be 30% ((18/60)*100).
Now, let’s take a look at the each player’s TotTM% this season:
- Kyle Turris, who has been without a doubt the team’s most improved player this season leads the team in TotTM%, with Spezza coming in 2nd place, making it even more clear who's this team’s 1st line center.
- Matt Kassian does not get much ice-time. Dang.
- Bobby Ryan sits just 5th in TotTM%, behind Michalek and Spezza who have been nowhere as good. This may make an easy case to critize Paul MacLean for not giving more minutes to the team’s best goal scorer. Although by breaking down his deployment we may be able to learn a bit about this by breaking down the forward’s ice-time by even-strength, power-play and penalty kill.
If you’ve been reading this blog fairly regularly over the past while – whether it’s a couple of months or say all the way back to 2011 -- you will have assuredly noticed my concerns with when Jason Spezza’s contract will draw to a close and the risks associated with re-signing a player of his age, his checkered health (now two major back surgeries), who was not exactly renowned for being driving puck possession or his defensive acumen are quite sizable, especially in light of historical NHL evidence reflecting that offensive production begins to drastically decline after the age of 32 – the age that Jason conveniently be when he hits UFA at the conclusion of the 2014/15 season.
Granted, it is much easier to rehash Spezza’s shortcomings when he’s enduring one of his worst NHL seasons in recent memory.
Via Behind the Net, here’s a look at Spezza’s even strength production per 60 minutes of ice-time:
(Note: ‘A1’ refers to a first assist and ‘A2’ a second assist.)
If you’re wondering why I excluded the 2012/13 lockout shortened season, it’s because he only played in five games.
As you can see by Spezza’s numbers, despite his point production being the smallest of his career with the exception of that dreadful 2008-09 campaign, his points per 60 rate is actually propped up by an inflated second assist rate.