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Country Love

Posted By Mika Oehling On Feb 10 2011 @ 4:32 pm In Ottawa Senators | 2 Comments

Mike Fisher won’t be singing sad country songs in Nashville as he joins his wife Carrie Underwood in a trade deal with the Preds. All the Yoko Ono jokes aside, this is a good move for Ottawa, because it helps the team rebuild through the draft by getting a second first round pick in 2011- and they better not waste it.

Ottawa is a basement team in the NHL right now which is in serious need of repair. And like any renovation project, things are going to get torn apart. Fisher’s a career Senator and has been with the team since he was drafted back in 1998, but this is not the time to get sentimental. Fisher plays a gritty game, but he hasn’t been rewarded for his efforts with great numbers, like many on the Ottawa team and a change of scene may be just what he needs. As for Nashville, they needed to fill in a serious gap for a top centreman and they are sure to get it in Fisher.

The draft has been a hard place for Ottawa as of late. While it was unforgiveable that they traded away their spot in last year’s first round of the draft, the team will have to make sure that they don’t make that same mistake again as they seriously rebuild their core. Gabriel Landeskog should be priority one for the Senators and they should concentrate on manoeuvering their way closer to the top spot so that they can claim him. A natural successor for Alfredsson, Landeskog should be the key piece around which Ottawa will rebuild.

Rounding out the Swedish elite league in Ottawa will be defenseman Erik Karlsson and goaltender Robin Lehner. While Karlsson is already an All-Star who will only get better with time, he needs to work harder at defense. We all know that he can score. Hopefully Jared Cowen can help him out and lend his big body presence to the ice next season. His performance in the last World Juniors for Team Canada was impressive and showed how far his game has come. He looks about ready. 

Robin Lehner, on the other hand, should wait awhile before joining this roster on a full-time basis. The goaltending crisis situation in Ottawa is not a good spot for Lehner and is compromising his development. He needs quality time in the AHL to become the star of the future, not a stop gap for Ottawa’s current sinking ship. A natural back up for Elliott at this time would be Mike Brodeur, who’s been solid in his NHL starts and who can provide some support for what is left of this paltry season ahead. It will be experience for him and breathing room for Elliott. But Lehner can’t be used this way- he’s too valuable to our future to be used in the present.

It’s not hopeful that Ottawa will be able to snag another top five pick, but if they did have one, Adam Larsson or Sean Couturier would fit the bill nicely. Both of them look ready for the NHL and their performances at the World Juniors showcased them both as contenders. Nashville’s pick is going to land low on the first round, but the opportunity to pick a decent future forward should be there.

Next on the renovation list, Phillips, Ruutu and Kovalev should all be up for trades. It’s unlikely that many people will accept Kovalev based on his sour reputation alone and teams that already have agitators won’t need Ruutu. Phillips is still a good bargaining chip, though, since his size and experience make him an asset for a playoff bound team that may be lacking in those areas. There was a talk of Montreal being a natural buyer, but I’m not convinced that they’ll come a’ knocking.

A dream trade in this situation? Tukka Rask from Boston for all three players. This is not likely to happen because Boston will not want to let go of Rask- but then consider this: Chara and Phillips had a good relationship back in Ottawa and they may be a good reunion. Boston doesn’t really have someone to chirp it up for them and Ruutu’s an agitator in the Avery class of this group. If Kovalev’s diva attitude scares off the humble Boston faithful, then let them have Neil or Kelly.

The fact of the matter is, Ottawa needs a goaltending solution and Tukka Rask is definitely up to the task of taking on a number one spot somewhere in the NHL- playing second best to a very good Tim Thomas will only slow down his development and let’s face it, this kind of goalie dream tandem in Boston is just plain greedy. That’s like being married to Gisele Bunchen and Halle Berry at the same time.

The Fisher trade is a good place to start in this rebuild. Ottawa fans are hungry for one. And for those who are crying their eyes out, calling Carrie Yoko, I have only this to say: she aint Yoko and the Sens aint the Beatles. Break it up and make it interesting.

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