Okay, so truth be told, Senators assistant general manager Pierre Dorion didn’t talk about whether Hawaiian shirts are fashionable to anyone under the age of 70 (they’re not), but hey, clickbait!
He did however appear on TSN 1200‘s ‘The Drive’ with Ian Mendes and Steve Lloyd yesterday for ten minutes to discuss the news that the Senators had extended goaltender Craig Anderson for three years at an average annual value of $4.2 million.
To listen to the full interview, you may do so by clicking here or by using the embedded audio at the bottom of the post.
As always, my thoughts are in bold.
On what point did the organization make the point to commit to Anderson long-term…
“Well, it’s something that we talked internally about over the course of this past season. We just felt that having two goalies that can go in any game and win a game for us was something that would be beneficial to our team in us moving forward. So we just felt that after we got Robin Lehner done that one of the next projects moving forward as a group was to try and sign Craig Anderson.”
Looking at Hockey-Reference‘s numbers, Anderson will need 66 wins over the next four years to surpass Patrick Lalime and become the franchise leader. Barring a trade or a ridiculously reduced workload, it feels like a safe bet.
On whether there was ever any intention of picking one or the other and going in that direction…
“No, no. Obviously for us, it’s better having two great goalies than one great goalie. I think sometimes injuries can happen and at times, one of the two can hit a little lull. So for us, it’s going to be very simple. I know I had the chance to talk to Bryan Murray earlier today just before we had a conference call and I asked Bryan, ‘(The media) is going to ask who’s going to be the number one.’ He just said, ‘Pierre, tell them that whoever wins the game gets in the net.’ It’s not for Bryan or myself or Randy (Lee) to decide these types of things. It’s always in the coach’s hands and Paul has done a great job of managing that.”
Not going to lie, wins are a terrible valuation of a goaltender’s ability. Forget the win and you’re in philosophy of how to use your goaltenders, ride the guy who does a more effective job of stopping pucks regardless of the outcome of a game.
On filling in any details if there is a no-movement clause within his contract…
“No, he does not have a no-move clause. It’s pretty much just a trade standard contract. It’s a declining contract, so I don’t want to bore your fans with too many details, but it has to be within the 35-percent rule – which is the reason for those numbers. So he does not have a no-trade clause and neither does Robin Lehner. It’s something that we felt was important during our negotiation. We’re not looking to trade either one of them, but for us, it’s just, I don’t think you can say flexibility, but it just gives us options. If one of the two ever wins 50 games in a row, maybe we can think about trading the other guy.”
For those unaware, the 35-percent rule simply refers to a clause within the NHL’s CBA designed to reduce the variance in the year-to-year real dollar values of contracts. Teams creatively used to tack on inexpensive years at the end of a player’s contract to drive down a player’s average annual cap hit and circumvent the spirit of the constitution. Under the current CBA, real salary variance cannot exceed 35-percent year-over-year and no year can exceed 50-percent of the contract’s highest real dollar value.
On the status of the Bobby Ryan negotiations…
“Obviously on… sometimes you’ve got to be careful, every word can be construed in a certain manner or way in answering these types of questions. But in general terms, both Bryan and myself talked to Don Meehan and Mark Guy as early as this morning. We’re pleased with the progress of these negotiations. They’re constructive. Bryan alluded, I think, when he talked to the media on the Clarke MacArthur (conference) call that getting a deal for Bobby won’t get done until we have a chance to meet with him face-to-face here in Ottawa. I know Bobby’s coming in in the next few weeks. So not that I want to tell our fans to be patient, but these types of deals, they can’t get done overnight. I know I’ve repeated this from day one, we’d like all our deals to be done on July 1st at 5:00 pm so we wouldn’t have to do much in the summer. But, I think agents want to make it tough on managers and assistant general managers to make us work through the whole summer. So it’s constructive. We’re moving along. We have an inkling or we feel that Bobby wants to sign here, so on that part of it, if our fans want to be patient I think down the road, we will be able to sign him. As far as Marc Methot, we’re still talking. I had the chance to talk to Larry Kelly late last week. I think he was more mad that I challenged him to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge more than anything, but we still had a chance to talk last week. And again, I think Marc wants to stay here and we want to keep him as one of our core veterans, but as I’ve said in the past, it has to make sense for both sides.”
Wait, who are these people who construe every word of these types of interviews?
*Looks down guiltily at my keyboard…
On whether Methot’s negotiations are more difficult because it’s tough to determine value for a defenceman who doesn’t put up a ton of points…
“In some ways it is. I think you have to find, whatever the comparables are on your end and whatever the comparables are on Marc’s end, you have to find somewhat of a common ground. Both Larry and ourselves here have kind of like found decent comparables on both sides. We seem to agree with some of them and we seem to agree not with them. We’re trying to work to get Marc signed, so is it tougher? I personally thought and not that it should be my intentions here or the team’s intentions that this was probably going to be the easiest one, but this might be the hardest one.”
Inferring from Dorion’s comments, it sounds like Methot is stubbornly set on a higher average annual cap hit than the Senators are comfortable paying. Keeping in mind that Mr. Melnyk played up the fact that the Senators “have eight defencemen right now and Marc is a great player, but you’ve got to be realistic of what we can do,” it sounds like the Senators are firm on their position as well. They want a deal that makes sense for them as well, but considering the open market value of top four defencemen — I mean, look at the ridiculous figure attached to the contract that Brooks Orpik received — and I can’t really blame Methot for wanting to hold out for a higher sum. Should he hit UFA, he’ll get paid. Unfortunately for the Senators, they can play up its defensive depth, but most of their defencemen project as bottom pairing guys. Players like Chris Phillips, Mark Borowiecki, Eric Gryba are complementary depth guys at this point in their careers. It’s possible that Patrick Wiercioch, Jared Cowen and Cody Ceci can become those types, but the coaching staff jerked Wiercioch around last season, Cowen was dreadful and Ceci’s still incredibly young. Suffice it to say, Methot’s still lot better than this lot and barring some improvement from Cowen and Wiercioch that earns the trust of the coaching staff, there simply isn’t an in-house alternative who can replace Methot’s minutes. In essence, it gives him a ton of leverage. It’s possible that the Senators could use the bulk of the season to evaluate Cowen and Wiercioch to see where they’re at. Depending on their play, maybe the leverage shifts in the Senators’ favour and gives them more flexibility when it comes to retaining Methot… or maybe they stink up the joint and Methot can write his own cheque.
On whether Dorion feels like he can go back to Ryan and Methot and say, ‘Look, MacArthur and Anderson took hometown discounts to stay…”
“No, I think that’s a good question. I don’t know if they took a hometown discount. I think they were both fair deals. Both Clarke and Craig wanted to be here. But in signing those guys, in signing all the guys that we’ve signed this summer: starting with Gryba a few days before the draft; getting Milan on July 1st; and getting Mark Borowiecki, buying a year of UFA with Mark. I think it shows maybe the players on this group or the impending UFAs that we’ve made a commitment here not just for the short-term but for the long-term. If you’re a good player and you produce here, we’re going to try and keep you here. So I think that can be a message sent to them. I don’t think we’re going to overpay, but we think we should pay the players fair value and the players know that. In just saying that, as long as everyone here is on the same page – players, management, coaches – I think we’re going to have success.”
This was the second instance in the day in which Dorion alluded to sending messages to its players about management getting commitments from its players to show them that the team is serious about its commitment in the short and long-term. That’s great and all, but as I wrote yesterday, you cannot gloss over the fact that significant veteran players have also packed up their bags and moved on. The organization simply cannot bank on the continued growth of its prospects to overcompensate for the diminished returns of its veteran players, the Senators have to keep augmenting the roster to raise the team’s talent level.
On a deal or deals being in the offing and whether those discussions continue…
“Yes, they have, but it’s the same type of answer that I gave you earlier in the offseason, I apologize about that. But, people aren’t in a rush to make trades at this point in time in the summer. Maybe trades come after the season is done or around July 1st, but now everyone is looking at what they have – their depth charts. A lot teams feel that their kids or their younger prospects or their prospects that are at maturation are ready to step in. So yeah, we’re still talking with a few teams. Is there something imminent about to come? I doubt it, but I still think that we’ve got a few irons in the fire.”
With eight defencemen and a plethora of forwards on the roster as well as prospects like Derek Grant, Curtis Lazar and Jean-Gabriel Pageau being on the cusp of becoming regular NHLers, the Senators unquestionably have a ton depth. Up front, they are being boxed out thanks to the team’s relatively expensive bottom six veteran forwards, but on defence, the underlying fear is that the team could move Patrick Wiercioch to make room for lesser talented defencemen like Borowiecki, Phillips and Cowen.
On Bryan Murray’s desire to add a harder forward who can play in the team’s top six and whether that’s still the target…
“The target is to always improve the team. Sorry about my political answer. I think hardness can come from a group also. I think if everyone plays ten to fifteen percent harder, it will make us a harder team. So obviously we always want to improve our team, but at this point in time, if we feel that we got a deal that we can improve the team, we’ll go ahead and do it. But, we won’t just go and get someone who we feel falls in that category.”
I like the political answer, but I won’t like it if the solution turns out to be an overpay for Chris Stewart.
Other News and Notes:
– Toronto Maple Leafs assistant general manager Kyle Dubas grew up a Senators fan:
Dubas “my whole entire family are Wings fans. Wanting to be different, I jumped onto the Senators bandwagon in the early 90s”
— Hope_Smoke (@Hope_Smoke) August 26, 2014
– The Oshawa Generals announced that Senators draft pick Tobias Lindberg had signed on and will play with them in the upcoming 2014/15 season. Since Lindberg was drafted by the Generals in the first round of the 2014 CHL import draft — after he was selected in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL draft — Lindberg is AHL eligible. In other words, he will not be prevented from joining the B-Sens down the road until his CHL eligibility is done. For what it is worth, Lindberg is the lone remaining piece remaining from the deal that sent Ben Bishop to the Tampa Bay Lightning.