Sunday, August 10, 2008

Chris Neil Too Valuable To Lose

We're not getting much analysis from any of the Senators regular beat-writers lately, so we have to turn to Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe whose weekly column is a must-read (plus he manages a gargantuan column full of primo stuff when there is little-to-none of any real hockey news).

His take on the pending unrestricted free-agency of Chris Neil is refreshing and, in my opinion, completely on target:

"One of the more interesting UFAs-to-be is Ottawa tough guy Chris Neil, due to hit the open market next summer. Neil, currently earning a mere $1.1 million, has a rare skill set - thumping, skating, shooting - that makes him a pleasure to watch (and a beast to play) when he's healthy and on his game. Hard to find comparables for Neil; there are so few like him. The Senators would be wise to re-sign Neil, who should at least double his salary."

-Boston Globe

Neil doesn't get a lot of love from Senators fans or bloggers lately and I'm not sure why (other than the fact that they want everyone traded at some point during the season). He's everything you'd want in a third line player and the team really missed his toughness when he was out for most of March with an injury.

The addition of Jarkko Ruutu shouldn't make Neil expendable. If anything, the team needs more guys like Neil and adding Jason Smith to the backend was another good decision by Bryan Murray.

There's a reason that Detroit added guys like Darren McCarty, Dallas Drake and Aaron Downey to complement a player like Tomas Holmstrom.

The seasons, and particularly the playoffs, are long and hard. Having a guy like Chris Neil who can do so much more than fight is an invaluable asset to any team. The Senators have had a long history of failure when they didn't have enough toughness on their roster.

Murray should do the right thing and get Neil under contract before another core player slips away from this franchise.


Unknown said...

I was agreeing for the most part until the end.



Neil, a guy who NEVER shows up on the road is overpaid if anything.

Don't get me wrong, he's a fan favourite (and I have a Neil jersey), but this guy is not a $2M player. We have multiple guys who are of his ilk on the roster. Foligno is all of Chris Neil and more.

I wouldn't mind if he sticks around, but for $2M it would be a brutal signing.

The guy has hands of stone and while he can get under the other team's skin (Pens series '07), he had a terrible year. His road game is brutal, and he often takes really bad stick penalties. After the lockout, Neil was one of the most improved players in the league in my opinion, but last year was a definite step in the wrong direction.

We'll see how he does this year.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why the Sens would need Neil, Ruutu, and Cody Bass, especially if Neil is going to keep on taking idiotic penalties almost every game.

Jeremy Milks said...

Neil is definitely worth 2 million a year. That is peanuts in todays NHL.

This myth that Neil doesn't show up on the road is just that, a myth. It gets said once on some messageboard and people relay it faithfully as gospel.

Neil had nagging injuries last year and faded a little after a strong start. That coincides with the entire team going into the tank.

If Neil hits the open market, he will get at least 2 million if not more.

Questioning why the team needs all three of Neil, Ruutu and Bass is like asking why the team needs all of Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley. You can never have enough toughness, scoring, defense etc.

If they drop one of Neil, Ruutu or Bass, it's not like the team is going to replace them with a skill player. Those come at a premium and a larger cap hit. There is nothing wrong with loading up on grit and the idea that a team only needs one guy with grit seems to be a malaise that only affects Senators fans.

Anonymous said...

You people are insane. Perhaps we should trade him for a bag full of Randy Robitailles or Martin Lapointes (who made $2.5M last year, by the way).

Fuckin fans here are so quick to dismiss our core's value.

Senators Lost Cojones said...

Neil doesn't get a lot of love from Senators fans or bloggers lately and I'm not sure why...

Hey now, I've always admitted to a bit of a man crush for Neiler. Good speed, decent but not great hands, and on most (far too many) nights last season, he was the only guy willing to go into a corner.

That said, I don't think The Bryan will keep him around unless he can cure himself of his unfortunate predilection for sucker punching people in the face in front of the refs.

Anonymous said...

You can never have enough toughness, scoring, defense etc.

You can, however, have too many third and fourth line players. Bass, Ruutu, Donovan, McAmmond, Kelly, Foligno -- that's six right there, and we don't know where Winchester is going to fit. Just with the ones I mentioned, Neil makes one extra, and I don't see much point in paying him $2 million to be a healthy scratch.

I never said the Sens only need one guy with grit. Bass, Ruutu, Donovan, Smith, Volchenkov, Phillips, Alfie, Fisher, maybe Schubert ... that's nine players I wouldn't exactly categorize as "soft."

What this team needs is a forward with some grit who can play on the top line. I realize that won't be cheap or easy to find, but they'd be far better off trying to spend Neil's salary on that player than on stacking the team with third liners, in my opinion.

Ben said...

One of the reasons why Neil seems expendable is that he had a great 2005-06 season, but hasn't been able to match his point totals from that year since.

He was also injured last year - so that works against his perceived value too.

Anonymous said...

All i know is when Neil skates up to someone on the other team who is getting pushy or shooting off their mouth, they generally go and sit down. Not many want to drop them with Neil and that is worth something, especially to our more finesse players.