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Nichols: I was right on Sens needing to acquire Turris…

 

… And the ‘experts’ were wrong

OTTAWA – Many of you have never seen my face before. It helps that I’ve never been featured prominently on the back of an OC Transpo Ottawa Sun sports section advertisement, so I may or may not be as stupid as I look.

Nevertheless, I appear to be smarter than most, if not all of the hockey “experts.”

I can’t find anyone else who fervently encouraged the Senators to acquire Kyle Turris.

But I did.

Google it… or search through The 6th Sens archives to drive up our pageviews. (Thanks in advance.)

See, I’m somewhat of a clairvoyant person. Last year, I won the SenatorsExtra.com prediction panel. Alas, I only wish that this distinction meant that I get to carry around the WWE-style championship belt like Rasheed Wallace.

Since that time, I’ve been on a roll. When the dust finally settled, the Senators were the team to trade for Kyle Turris.

Why?

Well, it’s no secret that I like to go against the flow, but I also truly believed the Senators needed to acquire the center for at least seven reasons:

1. Paul MacLean

I was also the first to write that Turris would excel in Ottawa because unlike Dave Tippett, the head coach would have no reservations about giving a player under 36 years of age an opportunity to play consistently and develop at the NHL level.

Despite some limited minutes playing with third and fourth line talent, I recognized that he led the Coyotes is 5v5 points per 60 minutes last season. Coupled with his performance in last year’s Western Conference quarterfinals series versus Paul MacLean’s Detroit Red Wings, I knew that Turris had some unfulfilled promise. All he needed was an opportunity.

Under the watch of MacLean, a former 10-year player who, because of his experience would command respect in the dressing room, I figured Turris would work hard, skate MacLean’s 200’ and earn the respect of his new coach.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t think MacLean would willingly match Turris’ line against the opposition’s top lines, but I did think he would be smart enough to play him with the right linemates and maximize Ottawa’s return. I was right.

2. Craig Anderson

I thought management corrected their biggest weakness when they traded for Anderson, a goalie they had long coveted, last February. After years of trading for rentals or being burned by the likes of Kovalev in free agency, in acquiring Anderson, the organization bought low and exploited the opportunity to grab a player who was in a difficult situation elsewhere.

Keeping with this practice, management acknowledged that as a rebuilding team that had its three year plan. With this philosophy, the Sens could afford to take calculated gambles and hopefully reap the rewards and repress any memories of the Nikita Filatov experiment. I was right.

3. Daniel Alfredsson

If you have watched the man closely for 15 seasons as I have, you knew that it was futile to write the man off. And knowing of his leadership qualities, you also believed that his presence and work ethic would raise the play of those around him. Rather than front-load Ottawa’s top line with Michalek and Spezza, I was pretty sure that a more balanced even strength attack would make Ottawa a more difficult team to play against. Considering Ottawa’s 26-16-6 record (.604) after the trade, I was right.

4. Stephane Da Costa

The guy could be a great player; possibly the second coming of Adam Oates. He’s still a very young player who needs to: a) get stronger; b) play in as many games as possible; and c) refine the defensive aspects of his game. His time isn’t here yet. At least that’s what I thought. I was right.

5. Lack of Offensive Center Depth

Entering his first NHL season, many fans knew what to expect from the hulking 6’5″ 225lb Jared Cowen: a defensive acumen and a willingness to use his size and reach to his advantage. Thanks to this defensive aptitude, by comparison, his skating, puck moving abilities and willingness to join the rush were understated.

Combined with the Erik Karlsson’s development into one of the game’s most dynamic offensive talents, management could afford to parlay David Rundblad into a skilled center who was only one year his senior. They needed a center with his offensive ceiling in the system. With Mika Zibanejad looking like he’s better suited to play the wing and with no guarantee that Da Costa will ever be capable of fulfilling the second line center void, the Senators needed some kind of insulation for Jason Spezza. Much like the acquisition of Ben Bishop, this is a case of not putting all the eggs in the basket of one of their top prospects. I was right.

6. Living in the Age of Information

Thanks to social media and the rate and speed at which information flows in the online realm, fans, bloggers and media-types are privy to a wide array of content. This kind of environment creates an environment in which people formulate their own opinion of a player’s character or attitude based on what they’ve read on the internet without putting it into context.

When Turris was mired in contract negotiations last offseason, there were a staggering number of personalities who could not see his outlandish salary demands for what they were – a tactic employed to facilitate what Turris really wanted, a trade out of Phoenix. Without knowing the player or the reasons why he actually wanted a fresh start, people portrayed him as a greedy malcontent whose attitude problems weren’t worth the risk of poisoning a young and impressionable Senators roster; selling the Senators’ leadership core short in the process. I was right.

7. Bryan Murray

The Senators GM and his staff had taken plenty of heat for the team’s fall. But I knew he was a smart hockey man and that he had a strong staff in assistant GM Tim Murray and director of scouting Pierre Dorion. I was certain they knew what they were doing. As outlined on this site many times, through their hording of draft picks and shrewd amateur scouting, they’ve managed to cultivate a system that is not without quantity and quality. With such a rich system, the team could afford to trade some of that quantity for talent that has or have higher ceilings than the players that make up this current version of the Senators. I was right.

Now, I’m no genius. I’m not even an “expert.” See, I thought that with the team languishing in some early stretches of the season, that it would be rational to consider moving Jason Spezza. Boy, was I wrong. But, as for the rest of it, well, you have to agree now that I’m not as stupid as I look. I’m just some self-congratulating blowhard who avoids wearing hawaiian shirts 24/7.

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