The Ottawa Senators didn’t need to be as active on the trade deadline this season and it’s a good thing, too. Last year’s fire sale of the team probably caused more stress in the locker room and media than an actual fire- franchise names disappeared from the roster overnight and the thought of a long rebuild made the Sens Army collective shoulders sag. But with the surprising play of this year’s young team and their ability to win despite the odds has made Ottawa the Cinderella story of the NHL and there wasn’t much that Murray had to do.
The best thing that Murray did was prior to the deadline day when he picked up Bishop from St. Louis, a very big goaltending prospect in more ways than one; the new netminder is a whopping 6 foot 7- that’s right, 6 foot 7- and has impressed in the AHL. After a strange off-ice injury sidelined Craig Anderson, who has been a rock all season long, Murray could see that he couldn’t afford to leave goaltending to chance. Anderson is clearly still the number one on this team, but having two younger prospects in the wings is good for their development and for the team.
Lehner has been called up from the AHL to help out while Anderson is out of commission, but he still needs time to develop his game style and his attitude. A friendly competition from the prospects has paid dividends in the locker room this season; let’s hope that it can be the same for the guys in net. And who knows? Sending Elliott to St. Louis upped his game- maybe getting Bishop from St. Louis can do the same. If that’s the case, Murray would have to be given credit for management genius. If not, well, Ottawa may still be known as the place where goaltenders go to die.
The only trade deadline move for Ottawa was Brian Lee for Matt Gilroy. Like most of the trades on the day, it was anticlimatic and wholly uninteresting. The D-men trades of the day were comparable trades- very similar D-men, in size and stats alike, were sent back and forth between teams and the biggest fish in the sea ended up back home in his very little pond. All in all, the deadline was a bit boring- nothing that the boys on TSN could do anything about, but they may want to consider not giving trade day its own version of a national holiday.
Lee, like Rundblad, was probably not developing fast enough or gelling with the core in Ottawa. He’s not a bad player all around, and he can bring some upside to a team with his alert play. He does have problems with his physical game, which either disappears completely or ends up in bad hits and dumb penalties. Gilroy is comparable to Lee on paper, which technically makes this a fair trade. Nobody’s getting a size advantage or better game time stats.
It’s hoped that Gilroy can be another fast puck-moving defenseman, and he’ll either get time with Phillips or Kuba. Defense has been a bit touch and go this season, with Ottawa more than making up for it in offense with Spezza, Michalek and Karlsson, while Alfredsson continues to perform miracles on ice. The major D problem for Ottawa has often been lack of communication- the lines get crossed and they look as disorganized as Timbit players at times. Karlsson has been racking up points like nobody’s business, but the defensemen have to remember to play defense.
A boring trade day is welcome news in Ottawa as it fights for its playoff spot over the next month. The team’s been playing well and Murray didn’t need to become a travelling salesman this time around. He didn’t give up much for the little that he got and at worst, Gilroy and Bishop will be helping hands, at best, they’ll be solid prospects for the future. Not bad.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.