According to his agent Wade Arnott (via SenatorsExtra), Ottawa has signed RFA Stephane Da Costa to a one-year contract leaving defenceman Jared Cowen as their lone remaining unsigned player.
Terms of the deal have yet to be released publicly, nor have they been revealed on the essential Capgeek, but it stands to reason that Da Costa will have inked a two-way contract.
The once highly sought after collegiate product arrived in the Senators organization with a lot of fanfare. The combination of: 1) an Ottawa system that hadn’t really peaked in terms of developing NHL-ready prospects; 2) a management group that had a strong track record for finding late-developing UFA collegiate prospects (especially from their time in Anaheim); and 3) the widespread NHL interest in acquiring Da Costa’s rights, created a situation in which expectations for the center were higher than they probably should have been.
Bryan Murray has been around this game long enough to understand how to approach and diffuse a situation, and in consideration of the public flack the Senators have received in the wake of Eugene Melnyk’s comments to the Ottawa Citizen, it shouldn't be surprising to see the organisation try to get ahead of the curve prior to Daniel Alfredsson speaking with the local media on Thursday.
Speaking with Arpon Basu of NHL.com, the Senators’ GM did his best to deflect attention away from the owner’s comments which flatly stated that the organization could not afford to absorb the salaries of both Bobby Ryan and Daniel Alfredsson - this was a binary choice, one or the other. (Which, you know, many thought conflicted with Murray’s previous statement that he tried to entice Alfie by mentioning that he thought he could bring Ryan into the fold.)
"I think Eugene's being a little hard on himself in that scenario. We had talked about a way of doing Alfie's contract and still making the trade for Bobby Ryan, both financially and in terms of player return for [the Anaheim Ducks]."
Now the immediate kneejerk reaction for some will be to claim bullshit, but Murray isn’t necessarily avoiding the truth here.
Late Friday, James Gordon had a story wherein Eugene Melnyk stated the Senators could not have added Bobby Ryan had they re-signed Alfie.
“To come up with the kind of money they were talking about and being fiscally responsible and ensuring the ongoing success of the organization, we knew we needed to add a Bobby Ryan-type player. And at the end, when I said blank cheque, that would have meant we would not have gotten the (Bobby Ryan-type player). Couldn’t afford it. Just couldn’t do it.”
This isn’t about the player, the organization or its fans having to move on.
From a hockey perspective, letting Alfie go to pursue a better player in Ryan is completely defensible and on some level, it’s encouraging to see management make a difficult and potentially unpopular decision. At times in the past, it wasn’t always like this. Good PR was always part of the equation.
But ultimately, this Alfie decision is important because it will make fans more critically aware of the internal budget and the limitations it has.
Melnyk also expressed his level of comfort with the way that things turned out.
“I’m definitely OK with the way things happened. You can’t turn back the clock. Look, we play as a team, and no one single player supersedes the betterment of the whole team.”
But if this organization struggles to retain its current talent or cannot supplement its roster to give the players their best chance to contend moving forward, the fans are eventually going to feel cheated. Hell, it’s already annoying enough to repeatedly listen to or read the conflicting statements between Melnyk and management.
With reports indicating that former captain Daniel Alfredsson is back in town skating at the Sensplex, it was a good time for Jason Spezza to make a radio appearance.
SPEZ FOR CAPTAIN IN 2013/14 WHOOO!
Fortunately, with the emerging popularity of bloggers transcribing radio interviews, it means one thing: Spezza speaks, Lund translates and I can pillage most of the content while adding in my own commentary.
If you want to listen to the interview itself, you can check do so here, or stream at the bottom of the post.
As always, my thoughts in bold.
On Alfie's departure...
“Alfie called me the day before free agency and we talked, we had a good talk. I was really surprised — I think as anybody was — to hear that he was going to move on. I respect his decision as a player and I think he wants to have a chance to win and he wanted to go somewhere else and kind of see what was out there. I really respected him calling me and explaining his reasoning and I wish him nothing but the best. There will be no ill will held towards Alfie. He's taught me a lot and he's done great things for our team and the community but we'll move on and I think we have a real good club too.”
With these popcorn answers, Spezza could find a second career as a politician. Fluff up the exiting vet? Check. Acknowledge and respect the vet’s rationale? Check. Prop up your own team because you’re not going to say anything otherwise, even if it weren’t true? Check.
It’s been approximately one month since Daniel Alfredsson made the decision to bolt the Ottawa Senators for the division rival Red Wings and in these four weeks, Sens fans have invested a lot of time and energy into figuring out why their beloved captain packed up and left for a better opportunity to win a Stanley Cup.
During this time, there’s been ample opportunity to come to terms with Alfie’s decision and heal our proverbial wounds, but with one Szymon Szerberg tweet that depicts a colour coordinated Alfie working out at a Frölunda Göteborg gym in preparation for his first NHL season outside of Ottawa – working out in front of an Erik Karlsson jersey nonetheless – that went out the window. The photo was a swiftly delivered kick to our Swedish meatballs.
I have tried to rationalize his decision to move on by convincing myself that no one should be bigger than the crest on the jersey, not even Alfie.
But like many, I cannot seem to let go of it. Something just doesn’t sit right.
Fresh off the latest offseason signings of Patrick Wiercioch, Erik Condra, Corey Cowick, and Joe Corvo @creecher1200 and I jumped into the studio to rap on the latest Senators news that has caught our attention.
So put your headphones on, get inked with that decorative navel tattoo you've always wanted, and savour the auditory goodness.
In this episode we spoke to Pass It To Bulis and Puck Daddy editor Harrison Mooney (@HarrisonMooney) about the quickly approaching Ottawa-Vancouver Heritage Classic. And no, even though much has been made about Ottawa's thrifty internal budget, just because this is a throwback matchup, in no way, shape or form does this mean that the Sens will borrow a page out of the Dawson City Nuggets playbook and cost efficiently dogsled to the coast.
Also joining us on the show was Rob Vollman (@robvollmanNHL) proprietor of HockeyAbstract.com and contributor to Hockey Prospectus and ESPN Insider. Fresh off the release of his inaugural Hockey Abstract book (available on PDF or paperback via Amazon), Rob joins us to talk about his intriguing forecast that projects the Senators to have the best odds of winning the 2013/14 President's Trophy. Even if you're not the most statistically inclined hockey enthusiast, it's a worthwhile read that could spurn some debate or simply introduce you to a new way of looking at the sport.
As a forewarning, Creech and I had recorded an outro, but for whatever reason, the audio got cut off after three to four minutes, so I just decided to scrap it altogether. My apologies for the abrupt nature of the podcast's conclusion, but this episode will end at the conclusion of the Rob Vollman interview.
You can subscribe//stream the episode or entire catalogue of episodes from iTunes. Or you can download the file by right-clicking and saving this file. Or you can simply stream the episode below.
If you have any questions or comments about the podcast, please leave us some feedback in the comment thread below. Thanks for listening, we hope you enjoy the show.
Here is the tracklist: China Rats She Never; Mystery Jets Someone Purer; The Plastic Traps Corridor; The Plimsouls Magic Touch; and Said the Whale I Love You.
Three years at an AAV of 2M$ for a defenceman that can score and move the puck efficiently is a fine deal indeed.
From Wiercioch's perspective he gets a secured roster spot in Ottawa, something I imagine he pegged as far from a certainty only a few months ago. Not to mention the third year pays 2.7M$, a boon when it comes time to be qualified.
Seems a pretty fair deal for both sides.
When looking at comparables over the length of an entry-level contract, Alex Goligoski matches real well based on games played and production:
The salary cap is 7.5M$ higher than it was in 2009/10, so Wiercioch's contract is reasonably a little richer despite playing fewer minutes, most of the difference can be chalked up to power-play time anyway.
To my eye Wiercioch had an excellent rookie season, opening day in Winnipeg I thought he and Benoit were for much of the game the Senators best pairing. The flashes of his skill and hockey sense on the power-play were evident early, and later we saw his patented stretch pass and total cannon. His shot per game rate of 1.92 is very strong for a first year player...or a veteran for that matter. Next to Alfredsson and Karlsson, Wiercioch had the best even-strength scoring chance differential on the team at +32. I'm also of the mind whatever defensive deficiencies he might have are overblown, and easily outweighed by what he brings elsewhere.
According to its inaugural addition, Rob Vollman’s Hockey Abstract projects the Ottawa Senators to have a 32.2-percent chance of winning the President’s Trophy for the upcoming 2013/14 season – the highest projected odds in the NHL.
When Eugene Melnyk told Bryan Murray to do whatever it takes at the eleventh hour to bring Alfie back into the fold, perhaps Murray should have asked Vollman to make a pitch to the former captain instead.
As much as I would love to use this opportunity to crack on Alfredsson’s decision to join the Red Wings because himself a better chance to win the Stanley Cup (you know, assuming you took Alfie’s reasoning at face value), but Detroit actually finished second behind the Senators in Abstract’s projected standings.
As an aside, I’ll be writing a full fleshed out review in the coming weeks but, this is just going to be a cursory post about a section of Vollman’s work that Senators fans should be made aware of.
If you’re a hockey fan who even has a remote interest in some hockey numbers and the emerging sabermetric developments taking place in the game, go buy the book. It’s well worth your time. And even if you’re not numbers-oriented, I’d still recommend it because it explains the metrics and how statistics can be misapplied and should never be applied wholly used to explicate a situation or a player. Context is massive part of the evaluation process in hockey and it does explain how statistics should never be the be-all and end-all.
What Vollman does well is provide great statistical backstory and compelling points of discussion while sparing readers from the condescending tone that non-statheads loathe. At its best, this book helps bridge the gap between the statgeeks and traditional hockey fans and creates an enlightening experience which hopefully leads to more engaging hockey conversations and debate.
Totally missed this from a few weeks ago, but in seeing Hockey Prospectus’ Corey Pronman update each NHL team’s top ten prospects, I looked back and noticed this organizational ranking for all 30 NHL teams had already been posted.
Whenever some third party evaluator grades and ranks the teams within the NHL, it creates a hotbed of discussion that usually culminates with a sect of each team’s fan base asking the question, “Why do you hate the (insert your favorite team name here)?”
So brace yourselves Ottawa because your beloved Senators and their much ballyhooed farm system has dropped from being the 5th ranked system at this time last year to the 18th best in the NHL.
The Senators lost Mika Zibanejad and Patrick Wiercioch to graduation, along with Jakob Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen to trade, but Ottawa still has good depth and a number of players to like. They have quality prospects at all positions, including an elite goalie prospect in Robin Lehner. Defenseman Mikael Wikstrand was a great riser this year, but first round pick Cody Ceci was up and down.
Looking back at Pronman’s assessment of Ottawa’s top ten prospects from August 2012, the loss or graduation of Zibanejad (1st), Silfverberg (3rd), Noesen (7th) and Wiercioch (8th) justifies a falling ranking, and that’s without even mentioning that once highly regarded prospects like Stephane Da Costa (6th) or Andre Petersson (10th) have been surpassed in the organizational depth charts and no longer look like candidates to crack the Senators’ lineup anytime soon.