Waiting for the Offseason

 

Ah, the glorious hockey offseason: a time when Claude Giroux races against horses and many hockey fans who aren’t emotionally invested in either of the Stanley Cup finalists are already looking forward to its conclusion so that we can move on to next unofficial start of the NHL offseason.

Trades. The draft. Free agent signings.

We all want each of these processes to start so that we can carry on dissecting, analyzing, praising or ridiculing the decision-making capacities of the league’s thirty front offices.

 

In the meantime, we’ll just have to exploit the innumerable suggested trade scenarios and signings that our favorite teams should or shouldn’t make and use them as a launching point of discussion to expand upon.

Bruce Garrioch’s news reports are like the gifts that just keep giving. From his initial report that indicated that Bryan Murray had inquired on Rick Nash’s trade pricetag, to me publishing why now is not the time for the Senators to go ‘all-in’, to Welcome to Your Karlsson Yearsexcellent follow up that expanded upon and reminded us about the dangers in overvaluing prospects, the discussion and debate carries on.

Poaching from another Garrioch piece that looks at the five players – Nick Foligno, Sergei Gonchar, Robin Lehner, Zack Smith, and Bobby Butler — who he believes the organization would be willing to listen to offers on, rather quickly, here my thoughts on these players:

Foligno: a tantalizing second line/third line hybrid player who teases you with potential in a way that reminds me of Mike Fisher. Although his underlying numbers support the argument that there’s more potential to tap into, it is this potential that tempt other organizations into offering more for his services.

Gonchar: speaking of poaching Garrioch notions, I hope the Flyers do the same when they see The Gonch be mentioned as a potential replacement for Chris Pronger. With Pronger’s career in doubt, I suppose anyone can technically be viewed as a replacement for a guy who spent the bulk of the season on the LTIR, but at this point in his career, Gonchar’s regressing into a soft minute, bottom pairing guy. Unfortunately, the only realistic way for Ottawa to rid itself of Gonchar’s contract is to move it for another team’s cap problem. With only one year left on his deal and with an obvious weakness on the blue line, it’s probably better at this point to suck it up and just let his contract expire after the 2012/13 season.

Smith: Combined with Garrioch’s ‘Top 5 free agents for the Sens to target’ article, this is the second time that he has broached the topic of bringing Chris Kelly back into the fold. Hopefully this isn’t an instance in which where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Butler: Admittedly, I’m pretty ambivalent towards Butler. He’s a pretty low-cost and low-risk player. Rather than cut bait completely and buy him out, I’d afford him the opportunity to win a job in training camp and hopefully permit the organization to avoid rushing one or two of its forward prospects. In the event that he loses his spot on the roster, I would expose him on waivers for the purpose of sending him down to Binghamton. In the event that he goes unclaimed, he’s still relatively inexpensive and could provide some veteran presence down on the farm and hopefully make that team more competitive as well.

Lehner: The most intriguing name on the list because Ottawa’s newfound depth at the goaltending position. Despite concerns about Lehner’s moxie, maturity or whatever unsubstantiated fear there is in how he’ll handle another demotion to Binghamton, given the volatility of the goaltending position, I’d be more than hesitant to rid the organization of the player with highest ceiling.

I left Lehner last because the suggestion to parlay some youth at a position of depth isn’t a concept that I necessarily disagree with. However with that being said, I’d argue that it’s probably Lehner’s fellow countryman, Mika Zibanejad or any of Ottawa’s other high-profile wingers, who could be moved in a trade.

Hate reading too much into this but even Pierre Dorion conceded that the Senators may have had a defenceman, probably Dougie Hamilton, ranked ahead of Zibanejad when they drafted the forward with the sixth overall selection last summer.

“What we try and do is obviously try and take the best available player. Last year, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that maybe we passed on a defenceman that we thought in the overall scheme of things, might be better. But with the depth on defence that we thought we had before we made the Rundblad for Turris trade, it changes things in perspective. Maybe it was a lesson learned but I still think we’re very happy with who we took with our first three rounders. But at times, most of the time I’ll say 99-percent of the time, it’s always best player available.” ~ Dorion, interviewed on the Team 1200’s The Healthy Scratches on May 7th, 2012.  

In a weird twist of irony, the Senators could now use a defenceman who projects as a top four guy. It’s funny how quickly circumstances can change.

Thanks to the acquisition of Kyle Turris and the emergence of wingers like Silfverberg, Stone, Noesen and Puempel, projections that profile eZibanejad’s as more of a winger make me wonder whether he could be packaged in a trade much like David Rundblad was last season. Frankly, any of these aforementioned prospects could be moved but I’d have to imagine that Zibanejad would probably fetch the best return for the Senators.

Other News of Pithy Importance:

- TSN ‘s Scott Cullen has penned his Off-Season Game Plan for the Ottawa Senators and said that the team should look at Mikael Samuelsson, Andrei Kostitsyn and PA Parenteau up front while looking at Brad Stuart, Barret Jackman, Jason Garrison or Bryan Allen as a top four defenceman. He also mentions Matt Finn, Olli Maata, Pontus Aberg and Sebastian Collberg as names to keep an eye on at the draft.

- With Niklas Lidstrom reportedly set to retire at a press conference, you can fully expect the number of parallels between his decision and Alfie’s uncertain future to increase exponentially… starting now.

- Just another reminder for you readers, Corey Pronman, a contributor for Hockey Prospectus and ESPN will be joining a live chat that’s been hosted here at The 6th Sens  tonight at 7pm Eastern Time. If you have any questions about Ottawa’s prospects or the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, show up to the chat and fire away.

- Stephan Cooper from Habs Eyes on the Prize looked at AHL to NHL shot translations and what it means for a prospect like Louis Leblanc – ultimately drawing statistical parallels between Leblanc and players like Carl Hagelin, Vinny Prospal, Derek Stepan and Sam Gagner. For anyone who has some kind of vested interest in the talent that’s being assembled in Binghamton and how they can project how some of the prospect’s may fare in the NHL, it’s well worth a read. For what it’s worth, with 166 shots in 60 games played, Andre Petersson averaged 2.76 shots per game (or 1.55 NHL shots per game). These kind of numbers put him in the same conversation as prospects like Nazem Kadri, Magnus Paajarvi and Tomas Tatar.

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