Now that Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza are both done for the season, there’s a lot of people who think the Ottawa Senators should tank. Or make panic trades to fix the holes left by injuries. It seems to be one side or the other.
They’re asking for Craig Anderson to be traded. Rookies to play. Call-ups from the farm team. Or big trades.
To all those Sens fans, I have this to say to you: Relax.
This happens to a team every year. Last year, it was Montreal (Andrei Markov, Brian Gionta, Jaroslav Spacek, etc.). This year, it’s Ottawa.
The key thing for the Sens to do now is wait a couple of weeks. See how the current roster adjusts without their superstar players. Then make a decision.
Sometimes, teams rally when the stars are injured. I’m sure Sens fans remember the year Mats Sundin missed the playoffs series against the Sens, and all of a sudden, Alyn Mccauley became the second coming of Doug Gilmour. At least for a little while.
So give this group a little bit of time to see what they have. Then the team can decide what to do. But they need two weeks at a minimum to figure out what they have. And that’s the absolute minimum. They probably need closer to a month at the very least.
But here are some things to keep in mind.
If you think the team should tank and trade Craig Anderson, you won’t get a fair return for him. Forget his numbers. Forget his winning percentage. Think about it this way: How many teams right now would need a top goalie? Four? There’s the Flames, the Islanders, the Capitals and the BlueJackets, and that’s about it (other teams, such as the Blues and Sabres, have #1 goalies, so they’re not in the market for one). Calgary still has Kiprusoff, so that’s a team that probably won’t trade. The Islanders are doing all right with Nabokov in nets. Washington is starting to turn it around.
So that really only leaves the BlueJackets. You know what type of market value that will bring? None.
Throw in the fact teams don’t generally like trading for goalies during a season, and it brings down the value some more. And finally, think of what #1 goalies do bring on the market. After an amazing regular season and playoffs, Jaroslav Halak was traded for Lars Eller and Ian Schultz. A third line centre and a prospect who will never make it to the NHL.
Don’t kid yourselves into thinking you’re going to get a great return for Anderson. You won’t. There’s not enough of a market for him.
Besides, if you think the Sens should tank and trade Anderson, what’s the next step? Robin Lehner has been playing great in the AHL. If he continues that play in the NHL, then that’s not tanking. You’re just switching out goalies.
Now, if you believe the Sens should make a deal to stay competitive, then what are the options? Ryan O’Reilly looks to be on his way out of Colorado. But the Avalanche are asking for a top prospect and a top roster player. Can the Sens really afford to give that? Probably not.
And there’s not much else on the market. So help from trades probably isn’t happening. The Habs tried the stopgap measure of trades last year, and look what it got them. Tomas Kaberle and Rene Bourque.
One last thing to remember: If the Sens do tank, whether intentionally or not, the biggest decision revolves around Daniel Alfredsson. He came back this year, citing how much fun it was to play last year. That was because the team was winning. Two years ago, I doubt he was having much fun.
So if the team does take a downturn (I saw one prediction that the Sens would win only seven more games with the roster they have, which is equivalent to the expansion-era Senators), what does the team do with Alfie? Do they trade him for a chance to win the Cup? Or do he retire as a Sen?
For example, could Alfie be dealt to the Sens, to play on the second powerplay unit, kill penalties and take the occasional shift on Sidney Crosby’s wing instead of Tyler Kennedy? Does that make too much sense?
Again, this is only if the team struggles. Why have Alfie go through a bad season, and retire without a chance to win a Cup for the last time? He’s be like Ray Bourque. No one would look down on him or the team for doing so.
These are the questions the Sens management need to ask themselves. But they need a few weeks first. Let them see who steps up, what rookies deserve to see the ice more and who can benefit from more powerplay time.
In the meantime, Sens fans, just relax.