With the trade deadline perilously close, Sens fans may want to start preparing their goodbyes for some of the organization’s prospects.
Despite the fact Ottawa pulled off the first real trade of the season in sending Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves to Carolina for Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore, things are just getting rolling.
And the Sens, for their part, still have work to do.
Is Ray Emery the No. 1 goaltender? Because if he isn’t – and if the team has even the slightest doubt he can be – this is the week to acquire someone else, either to be the team’s undisputed starter, or to replace Emery’s distractions.
Of course, options are limited. Teams with pending unrestricted free agent goalies such as Montreal (Cristobal Huet) and Washington (Olaf Kolzig) are deep in the playoff race and wouldn’t want to sabotage their own chances.
That leaves the bottom-feeders.
Tampa has an intriguing netminder in Johan Holmqvist, who would take any Emery drama out of the dressing room, but wouldn’t be a skill upgrade on the ice. The jackpot situation would be prying Nikolai Khabibulin away from Chicago, but he would not be cheap, both in terms of salary cap hit (he’s due to make $6.75 million this season and next) and bargaining chips.
The Sens could also use an offensive defenseman to replace Corvo. Yes, this seems backwards, but Corvo wasn’t happy in town and you can never have too much defense in the playoffs. Plus, the Ottawa power play has stalled since the Carolina trade.
So what can Ottawa fans expect to give up before the deadline?
If the team was to go for a blockbuster name – Mats Sundin, Marian Hossa or Brian Campbell – a roster player will be lost. Antoine Vermette or Chris Kelly may sound like a harsh price, but this is for short-term gain, remember.
As for prospects, Ottawa has a pretty good cadre of them in Binghamton of the American League. Brian Lee is a promising defenseman with offensive skills and Ilya Zubov is an intriguing center who has had spot duty with the big club.
But in goal is where the Sens have some aces. Brian Elliott performed admirably as an emergency call-up at the beginning of the season, while Jeff Glass put up ridiculously good numbers in Binghamton before tailing off a bit recently.
It may not be painless, but if the Senators truly want to be the best come springtime, a little loss will result in big gains.
This column also appears in the Ottawa Metro newspaper.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his features, The Hot List and Year of the Ram, appears Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.
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