Sens Thoughts – Feb 13th, 2016

1. All this tank talk is nonsense. The Ottawa Senators are too good a team to tank. With top forwards in Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, Bobby Ryan, a strong goalie in Craig Anderson, and a soon to be third time Norris winner Erik Karlsson, the team simply has too much talent to find themselves at the bottom of the standings. If you truly wanted to tank, you would have to move some of those pieces, and that’s not happening.

2. That being said, the Sens are going to miss the playoffs. Courtesy of @IneffectiveMath, the Sens only have a 3% chance of making the playoffs as of February 12th. I think it’s a bit much to expect back to back miracle runs.

3. Now are the Sens buyers or sellers? Why not both? Sell the players that have no part in the future of the team if there’s a buyer. The obvious candidates off the bat are Alex Chiasson and Chris Neil. You could also look at moving Mark Borowiecki, Patrick Wiercioch, or Chris Wideman. On the flip side, the team shouldn’t be afraid to buy at the right price a player that could improve the team moving forward. The obvious answer to that is Jonathan Drouin. The team can’t be afraid to move players with questionable ceilings like Cody Ceci or Curtis Lazar if it can land you such a high pedigree player. Targeting any available defencemen with either multi-year or expiring contracts wouldn’t be terrible either, but only if the price is right. There’s still plenty of room to improve on D.

4. Speaking of Alex Chiasson, what an awful year he is having. 5 on 5 he’s rocking a CF% of 41.5. That’s terrible. In fact, if you look at his WOWY (with or without you) numbers, every single player he has played with for over 50 minutes has a better 5V5 CF% away from him, save for one player, David Dziurzynski. I guess making the worst forward to play this season better is something.

5. I think one of the nice surprises this season has come recently in the Smith-Pageau-Stone line which has had some pretty good possession success. Who would have had those three players meshing together. Now, whether that can be maintained over the longer term is still to be seen. However, if they can, that bolds well for making a pretty good looking top 9. Just imagine with Clarke MacArthur healthy:

6. The Dion Phaneuf trade has polarized Sens fans who aren’t really sure what to make of it. It’s a really hard trade to judge. Short term it’s great. You have finally added a competent top four defenceman while at the same time dumping salary in Colin Greening and Jared Cowen. I love Milan Michalek, but his legs are shot after numerous injuries and surgeries combined with age. He’s no longer the player he once was, and moving him was huge for the forward corps. Because of his veteran status he was always going to get top 9 and powerplay time. Moving him has opened space for a player like Shane Prince to finally move into the top 9, and also opens up another spot on the roster to give players like Ryan Dzingel an opportunity.

I didn’t like having to part with Tobias Lindberg who I was quite high on, and a 2nd round pick isn’t nothing either. As a budget team that was never going to buy out players though, that’s the cost of moving out salary. Luckily Phaneuf’s contract was front loaded, so salary wise it works out nicely for the Sens, in that they pay less for a larger cap hit. Still, his contract isn’t small, and it’s certainly fair to question whether having that contract will prevent the team from making moves in the near future. There’s also the concern if Phaneuf hits a wall in the later years of the contract. Although, to play devil’s advocate, Marc Methot is the same age as Phaneuf and only has a year less on his own contract.

7. Despite the lack of success this season, I still think the Sens (when fully healthy) have a very nice core moving forward. I still stand by my belief that given that core, the Sens best window to compete is within the next 1-3 years. You have several older players in Ryan, Methot, MacArthur, Phaneuf, and Anderson who only have a couple years left before they likely fall off. You got to take advantage of it now. Of course, another window could open after that depending on what happens with the roster, but short term, this team is close to competing with some additional moves.

8. If the Sens can move a forward, I’d love to see Cole Schneider given an opportunity. He leads the Binghamton Senators in points and Binghamton fans have raved about him. That’s enough to peak my curiosity. In a year where you’re going to miss the playoffs, there’s no better time to evaluate these types of players in the NHL instead of playing known quantities.

9. Given current performances and in my perfect world, with a healthy roster, my ideal lineup would be:
I really do think that’s a roster I could get behind watching day in day out. Even shuffling any of those forwards, I can’t see many bad combinations.

10. I can’t stress enough how much of a must read this article of how the Dion Phaneuf trade went down by Shannon Proudfoot is. It’s one of the few articles that really gives you an inside look at everything that goes on behind the scenes with the Sens employees you may have never heard of.