SensNation Hotstove – Feb. 24th

Week 3 of the SensNation Hotstove.  Make sure to follow the panel:  @DefenseMinister, @Fffeisty, @IneffectiveMath, @Senturion.  Be sure to chime in with your answers and feedback below in the comment section.  Enjoy!!

Q1: Neil, Smith, Phillips, Anderson & Lehner have all been mentioned in trade rumours… with the trade deadline fast approaching they are all injured.  Coincidence or conspiracy?

@DefenseMinister:  I’m not a big conspiracy theory guy so I’ll guess I’ll go with unfortunate coincidence. The Phillips one is the only really mysterious ailment which the team has helpfully more or less classified as “he’s old, what are you gonna do?”. In any case, this is shaping up to be a very disappointing and uneventful trade deadline for the Sens.

@Fffeisty:  I thought the Neil, Smith and Phillips injuries were all evidence that the hockey gods were finally on our side. The Sens always seem to find away to turn things around, when the chips are down and you think all hope is lost. We are into classic Sens rainbow and unicorn territory. Therefore, I don’t think we’ll see any deadline deals of consequence. The Cali trip is also a good opportunity to see if The Hamburgler can be a viable backup. No one contemplated that before but if he is decent, it gives the Sens the chance to roll the dice on an off-season goalie trade.

@IneffectiveMath:  Now, superstition is the sign of a dark age, and Lehner and Neil’s injuries are obviously genuine enough. But Phillips “wear and tear” that somehow doesn’t heal in weeks, as well as Anderson’s mysteriously lingering trouble is enough to raise an eyebrow. Phillips in particular I think might be being kept out for trade reasons.

@Senturion:  Apropos. Murphy’s Law. Typical. From trading for a UFA goaltender who leads the team out of a lottery pick to letting the face of the franchise leave over an ego fight…Sens Gon Sens. I never underestimate this team’s ability to actively battle against it’s own self-interest.

Q2: What Sens prospects have you most excited, if any?

@IneffectiveMath:  Mark Stone is the standout for me. His ability to strip the puck is an incredible asset and he relentlessly confuses opponents in the offensive zone. Plenty to like in Mike Hoffman too.

@Senturion:  It’s really hard to know what I’m supposed to be excited about. Lazar is projecting as a 3C, which is apropos because most of the Sens “depth” is bottom 6/bottom pairing bound. It’s one thing to applaud the Senators franchise ability to turn out NHL players, but the last real star from the farm system is Karlsson. Of course this all speaks to the Sens tendency to be just mediocre enough to not get high draft picks.

@Fffeisty:  I want to see Wideman and Claesson at the NHL level. I would also like to see Buddy Robinson – he could be BM’s elusive “hard forward”. Anyone who gets in the lineup who isn’t named Neil, Smith or Legwand excites and interests me at this point.

@DefenseMinister:  This is probably more of an indictment of the existing prospect pool than anything but I still really am excited to see JG Pageau as an honest to god everyday player. I am under no illusion that he’s going to be a big scorer on this team but I love the idea of him buzzing around on the 3rd line with a couple decent linemates causing havoc, creating chances and being an elite PKer. I also love fast players so he’s always tops in my books.

Q3: The Senators group (Rendez Vous Lebreton Group) has been shortlisted in the bid process to develop the remaining land at Lebreton Flats.  Are you in favour of a new downtown arena or do you think it’s unnecessary in light of the current arena and other potential developments?


Photo courtesy of the Ottawa Citizen… and by courtesy I mean that I took it and will take it down if they want.  But, then we can’t be friends anymore.

@Fffeisty:  The only thing more far-fetched than the Sens winning the Cup to me right now is a downtown arena. I don’t know who I have less faith in – the business acumen of the Euge, or the “vision” of the NCC. We’re talking the future of our city and leaving it in the hands of a bunch of people who don’t even live here. My overall position is this: I am not anti-LeBreton, but I am also not anti-Kanata. I’ve had season tickets pre-Palladium and have renewed again for next year. Obviously I am unperturbed by the distance of the arena (and I live downtown).

@Senturion:  On one hand, I think a new arena at LeBreton Flats is probably the best thing that could happen to this franchise since 1992. On the other hand, I’m highly skeptical that it will happen. The location is ideal, the issue is that my confidence in Melnyk’s ability to play nice with the NCC is very low.  This is a delicate negotiation politically and a complex deal financially, Melnyk will have to tone down his penchant for running to the media when he’s not happy, and go all-in with the idea of taking on a partner (as it is rumoured he has with John Ruddy of OSEG). This is a chance to put the team on solid ground for 50 years, don’t screw it up.

@DefenseMinister:  I live in the west end so I don’t whine like many fans do about the arena location but I definitely see the attraction of an arena being downtown-adjacent (Lebreton Flats isn’t downtown, it’s in the middle of a bunch of artery roads that lead to downtown). If it happens, it will be fun but I also don’t think the travel-time or atmosphere issues many fans think will magically be solved here will go away. I’m not entirely sure how the team drives more revenue than they do now without raising ticket prices so that’s always something fun to look forward to.

@IneffectiveMath:  As a non-Ottawa fan my opinion is not especially relevant, but closer to downtown almost surely makes it easier for most fans.

Q4: The Sens re-signed Marc Methot to a solid deal, thus locking up the core of a back to back non-playoff team… what / who do the Sens actually need to target to get back in the playoffs? Or are they doomed for the foreseeable future?

@Senturion:   Doomed. Oh wait, I have to expend right? Here’s the thing, Methot is great, he works well with Karlsson and I’m glad we kept him. The bad news is that keeping existing players only ensures the team doesn’t get worse, it does nothing to improve upon a roster that is trending in the mid-20s in the NHL over the past few seasons. The Sens lack of funds, plus Murray’s penchant for giving those limited funds to veterans of limited usefulness and young players who have proven nothing, means that retaining talent is like treading water.

@DefenseMinister:  I don’t believe the Sens are that far off from being a playoff team (actual contender is a different story) and if Methot is healthy and paired with EK on Day 1 of the season, they’re most likely battling for a spot as we speak. If you’re looking for the next piece to get over the hump, it’s an established Top 4 D-man and it’s not even close. The fact that we’re going on 3 seasons now that management is inexplicably hanging its hat on the same group of guys on the backend doesn’t give me a lot of hope though. Good luck with that Top-6-forward-that-we-don’t-really-need hunt this summer though fellas.

@IneffectiveMath:  I think the Senators are still the bubble team they’ve been for two seasons, and signing Methot maintains that. I don’t see doom ahead, exactly, but unless the team decides to spend substantially more than recently, they don’t have the money to waste on underperforming players like Neil, Phillips, and even Legwand and Michalek. If they clean house in the off-season and sign a decent UFA defenceman or two, they could up their odds to fall on the other side of the bubble.

@Fffeisty:  The Sens need more than 2 NHL calibre defencemen. As I said last week, the failure of hockey ops to address this last summer should be a firing offence. The forward group is pretty reasonable. The goaltending is solid. We have an elite QB defenceman who is healthy and entering his prime. The team should not have been left so vulnerable on the blueline to start the season. Methot’s injury was unfortunate, but basically it torched the first half of the season for the Sens. Imagine if EK got hurt at any point between Oct-Jan. Watching the group of late, one wonders what might have been earlier this year had Methot not been hurt and/or had Mac been fired sooner. What if, indeed…..