Alfie As 2nd Most Coveted Rental Player?

Craig Custance has a list up on E$PN Insider of top 20 potential rental players for this year’s NHL Trade Deadline.

He prefaced his rankings by acknowledging that the congested NHL standings means a greater likelihood that there will be less trade activity this season.

From an Ottawa Senators perspective, two players made the cut – Daniel Alfredsson and Sergei Gonchar.

Alfredsson was the second-highest ranked player on the list trailing only Corey Perry. Custance rated him more highly than notable players like David Clarkson, Jarome Iginla, Mike Ribeiro, Mike Smith and Jaromir Jagr.

On Alfredsson, Custance wrote:

First of all, at this point there aren't many people who think Alfredsson is going to get traded. The Senators would have to fall out of contention and Paul MacLean has Ottawa competing at a high level nearly every single night. "He's not going anywhere," said an NHL source. Complicating it further is that, if the Senators do decide to trade him, they're not going to ship him just anywhere. The Bruins and Penguins would be on the short list and maybe Detroit because of the heavy Swedish influence in their organization.

Reasonable asking price: First-round pick, B-level prospect and conditional draft pick based on playoff success.

Based on Alfie’s ranking and the expected kind of return that he could bring in a trade, I’m thinking that Custance is basing the ranking and estimated trade return on Alfie’s reputation more than anything.

The offensive struggles of last season’s second line (comprised of Turris and Alfie) have been well documented. Turris, more than anyone, is under the gun of the late but the captain only has two goals in his past 13 games as well. I have documented the positive effect that Alfie has on Turris’ game since the center arrived in Ottawa, writing:

If you have been a regular visitor of this site, you will recognize that I have been a proponent of Turris for quite some time. Despite his limited ice-time and the fact that he did not play regularly with Phoenix’s better offensive players, I took a liking to Turris’ modest puck possession skills and production rate per 60 minutes of ice-time which indicated the potential for future offensive growth. With the right situation, the right coach, the right linemates and some physical growth and maturation, he could develop into something resembling the player that scouts envisioned when he was selected third overall in 2007.

Paired with Daniel Alfredsson on the team’s second line, Paul MacLean utilized this tandem against the opposition’s best players; exploiting the strength of their puck possession skills to keep the puck off the sticks of the opposition.

It’s no secret that Alfie’s time in a Senators jersey is drawing to an end and given his imminent departure, I’ve looked at Turris’ numbers last year to examine the impact that Alfie has had on him.

                            
    TOI    
  CF  
  CF/20  
  CA  
  CA/20  
  CF%  
 Turris + Alfie 
524:12
561
21.4
450
17.2
.555
Turris – Alfie
260:02
292
22.5
264
20.3
.525
Alfie – Turris
514:44
524
20.4
413
16.0
.559
 
From the numbers, you can see that Alfredsson had a more positive effect on Turris than Turris did on Alfie. (Albeit, part of this can be explained by the fact that whenever Alfie was moved from Turris’ line, it was usually to play on the first line with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek.)

In the event that Alfie moves on, I’m not entirely convinced that Turris is best suited to shutting down the opposition’s best forwards, so that is why the continued growth and development of Derek Grant is significant. It would represent an opportunity for the organization to create matchup problems for the opposition by keeping its best two offensive centers – Turris and Spezza – away from the other team’s biggest offensive threats.

We can blame their struggles on Spezza’s absence and the playing against the team’s forwards and best defensive pairings. Some may even chalk it up to a captain that did not play during the lockout and has at times, looked his age.

If the latter point carries any weight, there’s still hope that Alfie can take his game to the next level now that we’re at the midway point of this shortened season. They’re going to need him to if Ottawa’s going to secure a playoff position; leaving all this talk about a prospective trade behind us.

Sergei Gonchar comes in as the fifteenth-ranked player on Custance’s list and of the two Senators mentioned, he’s far-and-away the leading candidate to be dealt by the club – even if the Senators are still vying for a playoff spot. For what it’s worth, Bryan Murray did tell Le Droit’s Sylvain St-Laurent in an interview that his philosophy is to hold onto players to give his team’s players the best chance to win.

On Gonchar:  

If the Senators get into sell mode before the deadline they'll move Gonchar, their veteran defenseman. He has nine points in 21 games this season (one off Erik Karlsson for the team lead) and still logs 24:05 of icetime per game, a number that might be best scaled down a little for a Stanley Cup contender. He'll provide defensive depth and can run a power play, valuable components for a contender such as Pittsburgh or the Rangers.

Reasonable asking price: Second-round pick. Maybe more if there are a couple teams interested.

If/when Bishop gets traded you'd hope he'd return at least the 2nd he was dealt for. But if a player or prospect comes back instead, moving Gonch would seem to be the most likely avenue to replenish that asset. March would probably have to be a pretty bleak month in Ottawa for that to happen though.

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