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Today in Low Hanging Fruit: Kovalev Back in Ottawa

"And the fact I am criticized … There are different journalists. My opinion of Ottawa journalists is that they don 't watch hockey at all. When they fly with the team and go through the [metal detector] at an airport, their bags are filled with beer. You realize right away what these people do when they write about the NHL." ~ Alexei Kovalev, scapegoat – August 8th, 2011

Considering the technological advancements that have allowed the professional scouting to refine their craft, coupled with the commonly held belief that Alexei Kovalev was washed up years ago, when Kovy was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 24, 2011, everyone was certain he was on the fast track out of the NHL.

I never would have believed almost two years later, that Kovalev would return to the NHL after spending a season in the KHL (and after tallying a paltry one goal and five assists in 22 games played). For that matter, who could have envisioned him returning to Ottawa on an opening night in which free beer vouchers night at ScotiaBank Place. This script writes itself.

So what better time than to dust off the ol’ Men Who Stare At Scapegoats Photoshop?

*Although I must say, since being introduced last week to the "obligatory AK27 troll doll video" via @katiebakes, I'm finding it very hard to get a hate on for the man.

Senators Are in 13.33% of Friedman’s Thoughts

Elliotte Friedman's latest 30 Thoughts had a good deal to say about Ottawa.

14. If Game 1 for the Ottawa Senators was any indication, Marc Methot is going to be a perfect partner for Norris Trophy defenceman Erik Karlsson. Just like Filip Kuba, Methot understands he's there to do the dirty work. There were a few occasions Saturday against Winnipeg when Methot made sure he was the guy who chased the puck against a heavy forecheck, allowing Karlsson to avoid punishment.

The one thing that really stood out about Methot’s game was his foot speed. I don’t want to understate Kuba’s skating ability or presence out on the ice, but relatively speaking, Methot’s maximized effort style makes Kuba's efforts look glacial by comparison.

15. Senators head coach Paul MacLean doesn't want Daniel Alfredsson to play all 48 regular-season games. Said Senators GM Bryan Murray: "I'd like to hear that conversation."

Dear Paul MacLean,

Instead of asking Alfie to play less, please ask him to play more; play more seasons that is.

Thank you,

Sens Army

16. Murray on Washington Capitals rookie head coach Adam Oates: "I told George McPhee, 'We couldn't beat you guys before, now we're really in trouble.' Adam will know how to relate to all of his players. He won't yell and scream. He'll approach everyone the right way because he'll appreciate what everybody is."

I concur. From a competitive standpoint, watching Dale Hunter’s style reduce Alex Ovechkin to a dump and chase winger was some exceptional work. I don’t think anyone besides Caps fans miss the days when that offence was high-flying.

18. I was reminded of that Hrudey quote after hearing the Senators were keeping all of their goalies — Craig Anderson, Ben Bishop, Robin Lehner — to start the year (I spoke to Murray before this decision was announced). Undoubtedly, he's getting calls about them, but it sounds like he'll keep all three in the organization in case of injury — unless he gets a ridiculous offer.

Which makes perfect sense and Creech and I discussed this on the podcast. There isn't a GM in the league who at this point is going to move the top four defenceman that Ottawa covets for a 26-year-old goaltender with 23 games of NHL experience. Right now, the benchmark for Bishop has to be a 2013 second rounder that the Senators gave up to get him. Maybe the organization could move Bishop for an impending UFA to be a la Ladislav Smid, a player who Bryan Murray targeted in the Dany Heatley vetoed deal with Edmonton. (Although if you’re Murray, would you not want someone back who’s under team control?) Or perhaps the organization looks to move Bishop for a young prospect who is on the cusp of playing in the NHL…hello Tim Erixon?

For all intents and purposes, moving Craig Anderson now does not make any sense because it puts too many eggs in the Robin Lehner basket; especially at a time in which the Senators’ defensive situation is thin. Should the team falter in front of him, you risk exposing Lehner to a poor development situation, potentially ruining whatever confidence he has built up to this point.

As it currently stands, the best course of action is the one that Friedman touches upon. By standing pat and awaiting an injury – to another team or to their own – the Senators will hope that the market develops and allows them to maximize the value for one of their guys.

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