More Monday News: Friedman on Spezza Situation, Curran Talks Spezza’s List, ESPN Grades

Elliotte Friedman was on the Fan 590’s ‘Brady and Walker’ program this morning and he commented on how the Senators have handled Jason Spezza’s trade request.

When asked why the Senators would bother to solicit offers from Nashville and even come to an agreement on a deal with a team that was on Spezza’s list of teams that he could not be moved to, Friedman said it was an attempt to protect the team’s image.

“I think that’s all PR. Like to me, that’s what that is. You have a player who wants to leave and I think what the Ottawa Senators are simply doing are covering themselves a little bit and saying, ‘Look, we’re trying.’”

It’s a fair comment and akin to how the Senators handled the Dany Heatley situation. Knowing full well that teams like the San Jose Sharks were unprepared to offer the Senators full value for Heatley since Heatley had essentially handpicked San Jose as his preferred destination of choice, the Senators reached an agreement with Edmonton to create leverage where none otherwise existed.

It is precisely why the Senators reportedly agreed in principle to a deal with Nashville, they simply need other offers to improve.

“To me, Ottawa went into the draft knowing that this was going to be a very hard trade to make. For one thing, I understand the offers weren’t as good as they were hoping. I think one of the reasons is that Spezza only has one-year remaining on his contract. And secondly, I think they knew they were pretty limited on some of the places that he could go. To me really guys, (no-trade clauses) have almost become not worth the paper they’re printed on. If you look at Scott Hartnell, he had a no-trade and Philadelphia called him up and said, ‘We have a deal with Columbus and by the way, you’re done here.’ Columbus did the prep work on Scott Hartnell. Jody Shelley called him and he said, ‘Okay, I’ll go there.’ Now Spezza’s playing a little harder and I don’t really have a problem with that, but I will say that in this business, if teams want to make life uncomfortable for someone, even if they have a no-trade clause, they’re going to.”

In leaking the Nashville negotiations, it’s clear that the Senators are trying to put some pressure on Spezza to expand his market and encourage other teams to improve their offers.

The gloves are off.

http://pmd.fan590.com/podcasts/brady_walker/bw_20140630_100014–Brady-and-Walker—June-30—8-AM.mp3

Rick Curran Comments on Spezza No-Trade List

There’s an interesting quote over at ESPN within a Craig Custance article in which Spezza’s agent, Rick Curran, comments on whether it’s necessary for Spezza to expand his list of teams that he’d be willing to accept a trade to so that his agent could get moved by the Ottawa Senators.

“I don’t think it necessarily has to [expand],” said Curran, his agent who hasn’t made any tweaks to the no-trade list. “It’s been the same list it’s always been.

“I’d like to think there’s a deal to be made,” Curran said.
This doesn’t bode well…

Former Senator Waived

This afternoon, the New Jersey Devils waived defenceman Anton Volchenkov for the purpose of buying him out.

The physical, shot blocking rearguard has a lot of mileage on that body, so before anyone asks, no, the Senators should avoid bringing him back.

Salary Cap Parameters

Neglected to mention this earlier, but the NHL unveiled its salary cap thresholds for the upcoming 2014/15 season.

The league established a $69 million cap ceiling and a floor of $51 million. In other words, if the Senators are going to continue to be a mid-cap team, they’ll need to spend upwards of $60 million. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch has repeatedly stated that the Senators are expected to spend between $56 to $57 million on their payroll, so it seems as though the team’s days of being a mid-cap team are over.

ESPN Reviews the Senators’ Draft

Corey Pronman and former NHL executive Frank Provenzano assessed Ottawa’s draft selections and process for ESPN Insider (note: paywall) and the results were a rather mixed bag.

Pronman summarized Ottawa’s selections by giving their draft a ‘C+’ grading, only the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils had lower grades. Of course, their lack of a first round pick prevented the team from acquiring the kind of upside that would have led to a more favorable grading.

“Englund is a player trending well, and may be able to fast track with how well he’s shown in pro hockey. Getting him and Gendron were important for Ottawa’s system that was light on defensive talent. They didn’t get a ton, but they did enough with limited picks.”

Provenzano penned a more scathing criticism of the Senators in his organization assessment, grading the team with an ‘F’.

“The Senators could probably use a player like Nick Ritchie, but he is now an Anaheim Duck courtesy of last summer’s Bobby Ryan trade. This team looks like it is heading for another retool, and getting a big return for Jason Spezza will be critical in terms of stopping Ottawa’s slide toward the lower end of the NHL standings.”

This indictment is certainly a broader opinion of the Senators’ philosophy than it is of their actual draft strategy, but if the Senators cannot keep Jason Spezza or fetch a fair return for him in a trade, it certainly puts the organization’s decision to acquire Bobby Ryan under the microscope since it lends itself to the kind of short-term decision making that has plagued this team of late.

As part of the review, Pronman did have some positive things to say about a few of the prospects Ottawa selected.

On Andreas Englund…

“Englund is physically intriguing at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, especially when considering he uses his body well. He’s certainly a quality penalty killer who can make stops, and at even strength his sense allows him to check tougher players. While his puck-moving is decent, he’ll never be confused for a puck wizard.”

On Miles Gendron…

“Gendron has the early burst and overall top gear to be a dangerous puck rusher. He has good upside, but is also a risky prospect. He still has a ways to go in learning the position, in terms of reads and improving his physical play. He has decent size (6-foot-2, 172 pounds), but could stand to bulk up more.”

On Shane Eiserman…

“Eiserman is a pretty good skater who plays with physicality, and works hard. At times with the USNTDP and with Dubuque, he would show signs of above-average offensive ability, but that hasn’t been a consistent part of his game.”

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