Buyer or Seller?
Depends on the time of day you ask. So precarious and unknowable is the team’s final standing this year that the Senators were considered sellers, and out of the playoff picture, following last Thursday’s 6-1 pounding by the Detroit Red Wings, and then became instant buyers following Sunday’s 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in the Heritage Classic. A win or loss Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers could tip the scales on whether the team is seen as a buyer or seller.
If buying, Ottawa has needed someone who can play with centre Jason Spezza for far too long. Winger Matt Moulson of fire-sale Buffalo Sabres – now run by Ottawa GM Bryan Murray’s nephew Tim – has long been admired. A lesser Buffalo player that might attract interest would be newly-acquired (in the goaltender Ryan Miller trade to St. Louis Blues) forward Chris Stewart. Recent disappointment in young defenceman Jared Cowen might have the Senators keen on a strong, stay-at-home defenceman. If a seller, Senators could be chasing a first-round draft pick, as they gave their 2014 selection up in the summer deal that brought Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks. If a buyer, Senators have good young prospects at both NHL and AHL levels that might attract interest – but losing more high draft picks is not really an option.
On the Block
Significant trade possibilities include long-time defence stalwart Chris Phillips, 35 years old and due to be a UFA this summer. Phillips has always been a player who ups his game in the playoffs and is barely a $3-million cap hit. No. 1 goaltender Craig Anderson, along with defenceman Erik Karlsson the team’s main reason for respectability the past few seasons, will enter the last year of his contract next season and back-up Robin Lehner is considered NHL-ready, despite a weak outing against Detroit. There should be great interest in both Anderson and Phillips.
Jason Spezza. Hard to imagine the team’s new captain and most-gifted centre might be considered trade-able, but Spezza has his share of detractors in Ottawa who believe his back troubles have reduced his long-term value. An equal number would argue he has had no one to play with since he centred Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley on the NHL’s most-feared line. Spezza is 30 and has one year remaining ($7-million cap hit) on his contract. Dealing him would be high, high risk for GM Bryan Murray, but Murray is no stranger to daring.