There will be fireworks in Ottawa today, but they won’t be for blockbuster deals. The Senators decided to forego big names on the first day of NHL’s free agency with a couple of small deals and an abrupt stop to the rumour mill, as hopes for Nash and Parise were dashed.
Perhaps it’s the aura of fiscal responsibility in Ottawa which has caught on to the Senators team. Ottawa’s deals for Lundin, Latendresse and Methot were all modest deals for modest players. On the flip side, a few of their character guys disappeared with Konopka, Carkner, Kuba and Foligno all finding their ways to new teams. Ottawa chose reasonable, reliable, non-flashy players to help some of their mainstays in Spezza, Michalek and Norris-winner Karlsson.
Mike Lundin and Marc Methot will help fill the gap on the blue line left behind by Kuba, Carkner and Konopka. Ottawa loses some character players with the gritty Carkner and always feisty Konopka out of their lineup, while Kuba’s inconsistent play wavered between smart defensive moves and avoidable errors. Carkner’s ice time may have been minimal, but his impact on the team could be a difference-maker in important games. He made the opposition think twice whenever he was on the ice and nobody will forget how he settled Boyle in the series against the Rangers anytime soon. He will be hard to replace.
Ottawa fans will probably cry foul not on the defensive end of today’s deals, but on the offensive. Nick Foligno was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Marc Methot. Nick Foligno has put up good numbers for the team and just came off his best season with the Sens. While his numbers may not have been what the team hoped for, his effort level was always there, day in and day out. While he was a candidate for trade bait coming into this free agency period, it was hoped that Ottawa would get a solid contributor in return. Methot is a defenseman and is expected to be alright, but the gap at forward was then filled with Guillaume Latendresse.
It would be a stretch to say that there are Ottawa fans who honestly believe that Latendresse can fill the forward gap any better than Foligno did for the team last season. Latendresse missed most of last season with a concussion, and his one year deal with Ottawa is relatively low risk for the franchise, all while providing him with an opportunity to make a comeback in his career. No matter how much Ottawa fans may like a feel-good, second chance story, it’s anyone’s guess how this one will end- and most of us aren’t holding our breath with the thought that it will end well.
Ottawa has already re-signed an injury-laden forward to its roster for next season with a 2 year deal for Regin, who can produce- if he just stays healthy enough. With two wild cards in the deck, Ottawa may need more call-ups.
There is one Senator who has yet to put all his cards on the table and that’s reigning Captain Daniel Alfredsson. Alfredsson has not said if he’ll come back for one more year, which means that the C for Ottawa may still be up for grabs. It may go to Spezza, who has been more or less promised the keys to the kingdom if he stays on track. It may also go to Chris Phillips for all his years as a veteran and a leader on this team.
What we are sure about, for now, is that the C will not be worn by Parise or Nash, who will likely head to a team with cap space like Detroit. But given today’s trades and the looks of Ottawa’s team as it stands, Sens fans hope more than ever that Alfie has one more year to go.
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.