It was reported almost two weeks ago that contract extension talks between the Ottawa Senators and Ales Hemsky had broken off and thanks to TSN‘s Bob McKenzie, we now know why.
Looks like Ales Hemsky going to UFA. OTT offered 3 yrs for about $10M. Rejected. Sens prepared to trade his UFA rights for pick. #TSN
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 16, 2014
If close to the $10 million aggregate sum, we’re talking about an average annual cap hit of $3.33 and a massive reduction in pay for a player who earned $5.5 million in the last year of his two-year deal that carried an average annual cap hit of $5.0 million.
Why even bother to offer Hemsky a comical low-ball offer in the first place?
As I joked on Twitter, maybe they thought the Edmonton Oilers could still pick up the difference in salary. The Senators’ offer is like an average Joe walking up to Kate Upton and hitting on her. Even if you already know the attempt is going to fail miserably, at least you can say that you tried.
Regardless of what you think of Hemsky’s playing style or how much you think those shitty Edmonton Oilers teams should have depreciated his value, Hemsky’s jump in production (four goals and 17 points in 20 games following his March 5th trade to Ottawa) following his March 5th trade and his impending UFA status essentially gave the player all the leverage in the contract negotiations.
It’s a hilariously ironic twist of fate, the Senators sold the move at the time as an opportunity to make a last ditch attempt at the postseason and use the opportunity to allow the player and the team to feel each other out and ideally reach an agreement on a contract extension that is favourable for both parties. Instead, that won’t happen now because Ales Hemsky’s play and production with Jason Spezza and the Senators helped price him out of the market.
Previous reports suggest that Hemsky is looking for a deal in excess of $5.5 million per deal, so I can imagine there will be some fans praising the Senators’ fiscal restraint when negotiating with Hemsky.
As one Twitter follower tweeted:
@6thSens. Budget teams cant make mistakes. Anything over this offer would have too much risk. He is a half a point a game player.
— Awsumness Reigns (@AwsumnessReigns) June 16, 2014
Maybe there is a large degree of risk in paying Hemsky the kind of money that he’s looking for so that he stays in the fold, but the reality of Ottawa’s situation is that they are a budget team that ranks amongst the league’s bottom five teams in payroll. Can the Senators consistently be competitive and keep vying a playoff spot on such a limited payroll?
There is such a fine margin of error and with the Ottawa Senators of late, they’re making far too many personnel mistakes given the circumstances that operate their team under.
Here’s what I wrote at the time when it was first reported that Hemsky’s talks had broken off:
It would easy to praise the Senators’ fiscal restraint here if Hemsky asking for top six money as a legitimate top six forward was not realistic, especially when the cap is expected to keep rising thereby making Hemsky’s demands look more reasonable by the season. Oh, there’s also the fact that the salaries the Senators are inexplicably paying to two of its most redundant and easily replaceable players in Chris Phillips and Colin Greening accounts for 93.6 percent of what Hemsky is asking for.
Extending Phillips and Greening, the organization’s evaluation of Cory Conacher, their unwillingness to sell high on veteran players when the process of an extensive rebuild had been sold to fans.
The question should be: can the Senators expect to compete and vie for a playoff spot without ever undergoing a lengthy rebuild that sees the team net a high draft selection or two (and hopefully more elite talent)?
Or should the organization even be throwing away draft picks on a fleeting chance at reaching of the postseason?
Again, here is what I wrote about the price paid to acquire Hemsky:
I have seen a number of people pan the price — a 2014 fifth round pick and 2015 third round pick –stating that the risk was nominal. On the surface, these individuals are right. I would however like to point out that since Bryan Murray’s first NHL Draft in 2008 when he had a larger scouting staff and his own personnel in place, the Senators’ strength has been its amateur scouting.
Their draft record speaks for itself. By my count:
- 28 of 44 draft selections have played professionally at the AHL or NHL level (63.6%)
- 14 of 44 draft selections have played at least one game in the NHL (31.8%)
These numbers will only continue to improve as prospects from the 2012 and 2013 drafts graduate to the North American professional ranks.
Fortunately, McKenzie mentioned in his tweet that the Senators are diligently exploring the trade market for Hemsky’s negotiation rights, so there is some glimmer of hope that they will be able to recoup a future asset.
Da Costa Bound for the KHL?
OTT wasn’t prepared to give Stephane Da Costa a one-way contract so it looks as if he’ll likely be in the KHL next season. #TSN
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 16, 2014
Rumours on the KHL’s interest in Da Costa dates back to assistant general manager Pierre Dorion interview on TSN 1200.
When asked whether or not the organization was trying to re-sign Da Costa, Dorion responded with the following:
“For sure we’re looking to sign him. We think (he’s) a part of our future. He showed in spurts that he’s a good NHL player, so we’d like to keep him. It has to make sense for both parties. It’s no secret that the KHL is offering him big money and it’s going to be up to (him) if he wants to pursue his NHL dream or not. I think we’ve made a very fair offer. Bryan feels that way and I feel that way. I think his agent feels that it’s a fair offer and we’ll just see where we go from there.”
The enticement of money right away and the Senators’ depth at the center position seems like it may have weighed heavily on the decision and for that, I certainly can’t blame the player for leaving. Now with that being said, I don’t blame the Senators for hesitating to give Da Costa a one-way deal either.
To this point, he simply hasn’t proven that he can be an effective every day NHL player and with guys like Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad already slotted in at the first and second line center spots and then Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau or even a Derek Grant expected to play in bottom six roles, there was simply too much depth for Da Costa to stick around.
There’s still time for the Senators to re-sign Da Costa and Dorion had expressed optimism that the Senators would be able to re-sign all of its four restricted free agents (RFAs).
Should Da Costa leave, it’s a disappointing end to his tenure in Ottawa.
Signed out of Merrimack College as an undrafted free agent, the Senators were mired in mediocrity and presented an opportunity for Da Costa to establish himself as a NHL player.
Despite numerous chances spread out over the course of four seasons, Da Costa was never able to grab roster spot and hold onto it. Even when he infamously beat Mika Zibanejad out of a job on the strength of his training camp performance, he played in only four games before being returned to the Binghamton Senators.
Da Costa went on to register three goals and four points in 12 games for the Senators last season.
For what it’s worth, should Da Costa sign with a KHL team, expect the Senators to qualify Da Costa’s as a RFA so that they maintain his rights.
As an aside, former Senators prospect Andre Petersson will also be heading to the KHL. Reports suggest that he has signed a deal with Sochinskiye Leopardy.
Senators Prospect Tournament Returns
Penguins, Ottawa, Toronto and Chicago will participate in a prospects tournament Sept. 13-16 in London, Ontario.
— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPG) June 16, 2014
I have no idea which organization would be considered the favourite in this tournament, but fortunately for Ottawa, Curtis Lazar does has a history of winning tournaments in London, Ontario.