Sens at the Deadline

The Senators strong play of late has made the possibility of making the playoffs morph from a vague dream to a distinct possibility.

With this, much speculation is being made as to the actions of management at the trade deadline, which is set for the 27th of February.

Coming into the season, the general consensus was that Ottawa would be sellers at the deadline, already being decidedly out of the playoff race. Much like last year, the Sens would send veterans on their way in order to stockpile picks and prospects.

On Tuesday, at 9:19am, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) tweeted the following:

“Spoke with Sens GM Bryan Murray this a.m., says if his team can continue what it’s doing, he’ll be looking to add come the trade deadline… Overall, Murray was clear in saying the overall plan hasn’t changed, this is still about the Sens building a foundation through its youth”

Now, Murray and the Sens brass have to question what is more valuable; keeping a guy like Filip Kuba to assist in a playoff push, or the 2nd round pick (maybe more?) that could be had by trading him.

Of course, we have to remember that there is still a month and a half of hockey to play before the deadline, and given the Sens streaky nature so far this season, they could be anywhere from 4th to 12th by the deadline.

But, if the team can hold their place inside the 8, the Sens would be wise to keep Kuba around. He fills an important role inside the defensive core and has seemingly recovered from the suckage of 2010-11. He’s logging the large minutes that can’t be absorbed by the remaining defensemen, including Brian Lee, Matt Carkner and an AHL call up.

That said, it is imperative that Murray not mortgage the future for rentals specifically brought in for the playoffs and the playoffs alone.

Murray’s past deadline deals have been, for the most part, useless. Comrie and Campoli for a first, Matt Cullen for a 2nd, Commodore and Stillman for Corvo and Eaves. Luckily, the players the Sens have traded away have never gone on to be stars or do anything great, but the players brought in did not help the Senators get out of the first round and contributed to the emptying of the prospect cupboard.

This year management appears to have a different attitude. If the Sens do make a deal you expect it to be for someone who can also contribute now and in the future. Trades akin to the Turris deal, where future assets were given up, but also received.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Murray could attempt to land one of the big names that may be available come the trade deadline. It would not be wise to give up any valuable future pieces for a Zach Parise or Shea Weber, who are without a contracts for next year.  However, if a trade is possible for someone like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry or Rick Nash, signed long term, then you would have to consider it.

To get such player, the return that teams would be looking for would be steep, maybe similar to what Philly received for Mike Richards; a blue chip prospect, a solid roster player and a pick with some value. Would you give up a package of Zibanejad, Foligno and a first rounder for Getzlaf, Perry or Nash? It’s a tough call.

It would be risky to mess with the chemistry the Sens have showed thus far. The former Bingo players have brought the winning attitude from their Calder Cup win. Veterans like Michalek, Spezza and Alfie are enjoying good health, compared to last year at least. Neil, Kuba and Gonchar have regained form within a team with a winning culture and Karlsson’s play speaks for itself.

Overall, making the playoffs is still a bonus at this point, and missing them won’t be considered underachieving by those with reasonable expectations.