SensNation Hotstove – February 20th

Follow the panel on Twitter: @DefenseMinister, @Fffeisty, @IneffectiveMath, @Senturion. Be sure to chime in with your answers and feedback below in the comment section and on Twitter. Enjoy!!

Q1: As Sens GM, would you have made “the” trade?

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@DefenseMinister:

In a vaccuum, where I had other financial means of getting out from under these 2016-17 contracts, I’d have waited for other options to fulfil my Top 4 need, but given what we know about the Sens unwillingness to buy their way out of their mistakes, this deal is acceptable to me. There very clearly has been a “no-buyout” policy put in place sometime in the last few years (I’m not going to name names but let’s use the pseudnym Roobeen Smelldick to protect the innocent). Additionally, there does not appear to be any increase to the Sens existing payroll budget forthcoming until new revenue streams (*cough* downtown arena) come to pass.

So with those factors in place, it was imperative for the Sens to find takers for Cowen, Greening and Michalek or they’d have to drag that combined $11.7M payroll commitment into next season. At some point recently, Murray finally woke up to the fact that there was no internal Top 4 solution coming any time soon so the only way to address these 2 issues was to find a Top 4 D with a bad contract in order to offload his own bad contracts.

I do think they made out relatively well in not giving up much in the way of futures. Lindberg could be a decent player but he’s a scoring winger, which is one of the easier commodities to find within hockey compared to say a Top 4 D or Top 2 C.

@Fffeisty:

Well getting rid of Cowen and Greening in the same trade is great. Jared Cowen in a Leafs jersey is just delicious. So I guess I can live with Phaneuf in the short term. I definitely like the audacity of such a jaw-dropping trade. But I can see myself hating this trade next season. For now, I’ve decided to give it a pass. Getting a viable defenceman in exchange for nothing out of our roster was something I thought was basically impossible.

@IneffectiveMath:

I think probably not unless I had some specific future deals in mind that absolutely necessitated it, like a Hoffman extension, perhaps. The total amount of dead money taken on is a lot more than that shipped out, even if there is a short-term savings. On the whole it’s probably a small mistake but a mistake all the same.

@Senturion:

This question is almost unfair as we have no way of knowing what internal pressures Murray is under. However, instead of whining, I’ll say that I absolutely would not have made it. Sure we lose two albatross contracts (Greening, Cowen) but we gain an even bigger one in Phaneuf. Taking off our collective Sens-coloured glasses: if another team acquires Phaneuf, what is our reaction the next morning? Most likely we would be laughing at the team that acquired him, and dumbfounded that the Leafs were able to get out from under that contract.

Q2: What does the trade tell you, if anything, about the direction of the franchise?

@Senturion:

This trade tells me that the team has no direction. They are in pure day-to-day firefighting mode. There is a lot of talk about “tanking” on Twitter and I think it’s a straw man that masks the real problem. No one is asking the team to intentionally lose or to trade valuable assets. But at a certain point you have to either commit to winning now or commit to winning later. The “winning” in this equation isn’t referring to barely scraping into the playoffs but winning a Stanley Cup. Either this team takes a step back and recognizes that a rethink the strategy, personnel and management is in order *or* it invests in the team to win the Cup, not the 8th seed, now. A rational look at the team’s situation would suggest that option 2 is highly unlikely.

@DefenseMinister:

It tells me that they understand that they have a window for contention with their higher end talent and that they can’t be ripping things down while that’s the case. At the same time, they’re restrained by their own money issues which makes it much more difficult to augment their core with the right players. And they seem to be content with just getting to the playoffs and hoping for the best which is not necessarily the ideal longterm strategy.

@Fffeisty:

In some ways it feels like this is the Sens attempt at “going for it”, so it strikes me as somewhat sad that Phaneuf is the best they could get in terms of return. Like, if Phaneuf was the 3rd defenceman on the St Louis Blues, does this trade make the news outside of Ottawa? Not really. After begging for the Sens to upgrade their D, Phaneuf wasn’t quite what I had in mind, but I guess it’s a step in the right direction if management finally decided that maybe the defence isn’t good enough. But it is a little disappointing that there was no long-term thinking with respect to trading for Phaneuf.

@IneffectiveMath:

Most obviously it’s the team moving on from two players–first Greening, then Cowen–given far too much rope with which to fail than they deserved. It probably also means that Ottawa’s defence will be an unusually offence-centric one for years to come; that will require a particular coaching attitude that is uncommon.

Q3: Is James Gordon’s assessment correct when analogizes Phaneuf to Ottawa with Redden signs in New York? See here.

@IneffectiveMath:

The comparison doesn’t seem inapt; the two players are similar ages and had similar roles with their old clubs. There was always the suggestion with Redden that age alone might not be wholly responsible for the decline in his on-ice results and such suggestions don’t seem to have swirled themselves around Phaneuf. As a plausible worst-case scenario, it doesn’t seem too far out of line.

@Senturion:

See my comments above re: if Phaneuf had gone to a different team. Absolutely James is right, we are on the other side of this deal. So we’re the Rangers fans thinking they got Redden circa 2005. Can Phaneuf make the Sens defence better immediately? Maybe, but what does that really get us? An outside shot at a first round playoff loss? This is a team spinning its wheels.

@DefenseMinister:

Redden was on the way to playing himself out of hockey and Phaneuf is still a valuable Top 4 D who just shouldn’t be relied on to be the top minute eater on his team anymore. I think that’s a pretty significant difference. It should also be noted that Leaf fans are happy Phaneuf is gone not because they thought he was awful, but more because he was a 30 year old with a long term big money deal playing on a team that is in a full-on rebuild. Important distinction.

@Fffeisty:

In the sense of “aging veteran”, sure. But I find it a slightly odd comparison. Redden left voluntarily and was signed as a free agent. Phaneuf was obtained by a trade, with a locked in contract. I just find the circumstances so completely different.

Q4: As Sens coach, what would you do with the D pairings now and why?

@Fffeisty:

Helping that family push their car out of a ditch, might just be the most useful thing Boro has done for Ottawa this season. I say let him run for city council. Leave the hockeying to the professionals. I’d like to give the 65-2, 5-3, 45-46 d corps a chance to develop.

@IneffectiveMath:

I would play EK/MM, DP/PW, CC/other, where other was mostly Wideman but sometimes Claesson. I would do it knowing that the strength of my top four was in offence and I would make it clear that shot generation was more important than suppression as a path to success.

@Senturion:

65-3, 5-2, 45-46, 49

@DefenseMinister:

I’d try out the Phaneuf-Ceci pairing to see if there’s a way they complement each other but I also wouldn’t be afraid to mix up the pairings and even see occasionally what a Phaneuf-EK combo looks like. I’m sure I’m not alone here in saying that the Sens should not be giving Boro the automatic lineup spot he appears to have acquired. And since it just doesn’t appear that Patrick Wiercioch is ever going to be a thing here, I’d end his misery soon and call up Claesson to rotate into the bottom pair.

Q5: Lebreton Re-imagined OR Illumination Lebreton?

@IneffectiveMath:

As an out-of-towner I prefer whichever one leads to a larger payroll for players. I’m not sure which one that is, to be honest.

@Senturion:

I wrote a little something for James Gordon’s new site. You can check it out here. My gut is leaning towards the Sens bid mainly because I find the DCDLS bid too be a little too theme park for the location. The Sens bid is more of a community. That said, we have two great options and I’d be happy with either so long as the Sens franchise gets to play there…which is a big concern.

@DefenseMinister:

Whatever gets Melnyk to sell the team. [Editor’s Note: I’m calling this a vote for DCDLS]

@Fffeisty:

Illumination obvs. I want my downtown arena and I want it now and I want it to be the centrepiece. If I wanted a theme park, I’ll go to Disney. If anyone other than EM was leading the Rendezvous bid, they would win in a landslide. I don’t trust the lown people, although I do appreciate their deep, deep pockets.

Q6: Say something nice about Jared Cowen.

@DefenseMinister:

Did you know he’s 6’5?

@Fffeisty:

I……………….can’t do it.

@IneffectiveMath:c

Many of the best defenders share a number of physical characteristics with Jared Cowen. He was nearly a point-per-game player as a 19-year-old with Spokane.

@Senturion:

He is a Toronto Maple Leaf.

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