Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Leclaire Worth Sacrificing Vermette

It's all over but the crying as the Senators have made their last moves until the trade freeze is lifted after the Stanley Cup final (which the Senators will be watching 2 months into their summer vacations).

Of course the big move was getting young goalie Pascal Leclaire for underachieving forward Antoine Vermette but the biggest mindblow was seeing Martin Gerber being picked up by Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are coming into Ottawa on Monday, ostensibly with Gerber in the nets.

That game will be the last one worth fighting for. There is no way anyone wants to see Gerber muster up a brilliant game which he is capable of once every two or three years and slam the door on his old team.

But after that surreal night, what's left to ponder?

Like I said in my previous post, I like the Vermette - Leclaire deal.

A lot.

At just under 4 million, Leclaire is the right goalie at the right price. Bryan Murray could have gotten into a bidding war this summer for either Manny Fernandez or Nikolai Khabibulin but he would have had to pay upwards of 6 million or more for either goaltender and neither of those players have as high an upside as Leclaire does.

The only risk here is Leclaire's injury woes but fans should realize that there was no perfect solution out there for the goaltending position. Nobody is going to give up an elite goalie if they have one so Murray had to take one with a little bit of baggage.

Leclaire has already proven himself as a top tier goalie with 9 shutouts last season and winning a Silver Medal with Canada at last year's World Championships.

And all Murray had to give up was Vermette.

Some have already complained that Vermette should have fetched more but the fact is that Vermette is a career second or third liner with a limited ability to score goals. He is basically a penalty-kill and faceoff specialist and those players aren't half as important as a true number one goalie.

Plus, Vermette is going to be an unrestricted free-agent after next season while Leclaire is signed for the next two in a much more crucial slot.

If you add that valuable second round pick included in the deal, I say Murray walked away the clear winner in this trade. Columbus is desperate to make the playoffs and Vermette helps them do that right now while Steve Mason capably handles the netminding duties. It works for both sides but long term, Ottawa gets the longer straw.


Thankfully, Chris Neil is still a Senator and this ups his chances of re-signing a contract before July 1st.

As we saw last night against a tougher Calgary squad, players like Neil are missed when they are out of the lineup.

It was inspiring to see a player like Jason Spezza step up and fight Dion Phaneuf after Dany Heatley was run over, but you would rather have guys like Neil take care of that stuff.

As a friend said to me today, maybe Murray made a smart move by threatening to trade Neil and then balking at the last minute. Then he can go to Neil's agent and say that Neil isn't as sought after as once thought and maybe he should think about accepting that 1.8 million that is rumoured to be the Senators offer.

Either way, Murray should get Neil under contract before this stretches into silly season.


Anonymous said...

Essentially .. He want's one last shot with the line-up close to the one that made it to the final. He is one defenseman away .

SoCalSensFan said...

Jeremy, I hope you're right about Pascal. Vermette wasn't a huge price to pay for him & a 2nd, but I'm not convinced that he's our savior. For sure he had a great year last year and would have been an incredible fantasy league pickup, but jeez, when he's seen action this year he's been bad.

Anyway, for better or worse we've taken some significant steps today. There's a lot of work left though... bring on draft day!

Anonymous said...

After the moves today, I feel less optimistic about a Sens turnaround next season.

We have a high first round pick to look forward to, but that's about it.

Adding a high profile UFA is a possibility, but we will probably have to dump an established player to fit a new contract under the cap.

If Leclaire ends up being a stud, maybe a turnaround is on the horizon. But, I think the Sens are selling false hope.

Leclaire has been playing in a low-pressure hockey market. On top of that, the players around him have been coached to play a tight checking defensive system.

I think this move was pretty risky.

mickey said...

Did you think they were going to win the stanley cup?

canucnik said...

Chris Neil as I projected is going to get 1.6M; 1.75M; 1.9M I just didn't realize it was with Brian Murray's Senators. Bad deal he's worth a million tops and the rest of the League knows this.

Chris Neil is not allowed to fight Dion Phaneuf...the "Code". #25 is no longer a player he's a "Goon" with goon like numbers.

Neiler lost a step last year and I project it goes to a step and a half next year...Here is the kicker, it will hurt his explosiveness in a scrap, this will not be fun to watch he will turn into a punching bag!!

In summary, I don't think the Murrays have fully discarded the "Older players with toughness theory". This has been proven to be a failed theory, over and over again.

There are mistakes and there are super mistakes. Keeping Kuba will prove out to be a "spectacular error" cutting any chance of getting the Messiah! Insuring that we have the oldest, slowest, most expensive (based on age and ability) top 4 in the league.

Anonymous said...

We gave up a #1 for Campoli. Only Jokinen fetched a #1 today. The standard was a #2 or later.

The fact that Kuba was retained suggests that no one was offering a #1 or something of similar value. Makes you wonder why we had to give up our #1.

The next move by the Sens will be by Melnyk.

My bet is that Murray will be canned shortly after the season, and a new GM will be in place by the draft.

Anonymous said...

vermette - no loss. consistently underachieved. i would've taken just the #2 pick for him.

kuba - not a great signing but not a bad one either. sens are not deep on d and trying to sign one july 1st means overpaying (see finger, redden, commodore, meszaros, streit, etc)

Anonymous said...

ESPN and Fan590 are reporting that Kuba's deal includes a no movement clause. I did not hear anything about a NMC from any local media sources. Does anyone know if this is indeed the case?

I thought we learned our lessons with the NMC.

At the very least, with a NMC, Kuba should have been signed for even less.

Anonymous said...

Spezza's days are numbered. If Ottawa wants to re-tool, he is the only moveable piece of value.

Alfie, Heatley, Fisher, Phillips, and Kuba now all have NTC or NMC clauses.

Murray has created a scenario that will squeeze Spezza out.

Anonymous said...

big deal. he already had a NTC and was open to waiving it.

Canucnik said...


Kuba's "NTC" was a factor, in rejecting early TDD offers, showing GM/BM he wanted to stay and squeezing that last 1/4M a year out of old Brian. Big signing??? Kuba had this all planned; the man has the first cent he ever made and is way to smart for our guys.

It seems like everyone is putting the squeeze to Murray this season...the Zebras,the other GMs,his own players, his coaches new and old... the fall back position is not to turtle!!

Oman said...

You forgot the so-called fans Canucnik, especially the Anonymous chorus of "Fire Murray". If only being GM were as simple as so many seem to think it is.

The value of any trade or no-trade is measured in the future. Will Leclare get and stay healthy and live up to his potential? Will Comrie sign for a couple years around $3 mil? Will Neil walk or sign for around $1.5? Will Campoli and Kuba solve our offensive defense issues? Will the 2nd rounder for Vermette develop into a good NHL player? Will Gerber shut out the Sens in a Leaf jersey?

Time will tell. So far, on the surface, Murray seems to be systematically addressing his needs. He hasn't pulled off any miracles, but neither has he shit the bed. Lets see, after the draft and the free agent deadline, how this all comes together next season. This season in shot, so we must wait and see how it all pans out.

Panic and irrational impatience is poison.

Canucnik said...

OMAN: Some very good points!!

BUT, this is not the team that challenged for the Stanley Cup 2 years ago. This is an old collection of 28th place losers who are eating their goalies and distroying their young defencive propects.

For Mr. Murray not to move #25; #17;#5; is inexplicable and inexcusable. This is not irrational impatience man, this fuckin' common sense ya gotta create some holes for the new guys!! Life is all about "Change!"

Panic is in the Season's Ticket Office when the fanatics realize that there is no "Mesiah" type number 1 defenceman coming to save the day and that these same "plugs" is all they got!!

Oman, bud, between you and I, Brian droped the ball, future or no future!!

Oman said...

Though I get your criticism of the D, especially #21, for the sake of the team, Canucnik, I hope you're wrong.

I have no idea what went on yesterday in BM's office, but I am quite surprised he couldn't at least get something for Neil. I suspect Brian is a bit stubborn: doesn't want to give up more than he gets, and wants to maintain a rep as a tough negotiator for future dealings. Market value is also a tough thing to deal with: where Kuba could have likely got a lot more in July, Neil might have only got a third rounder, or less yesterday.

I am relieved on some level that this wasn't a total fire sale. I'm sure a few more guys could have been unloaded for peanuts, but other than appeasing the fan-base's lust for blood, I doubt that is ever good for the future of any team.

Again, I don't think he did anything terrible on the deadline. There's risk, but lot's of good could still come out of his latest moves. And he has a few more chances to prove his mettle: the draft, the July free agent spree, and off season trades. Call me naive, but I still believe a few more good moves could result in a solid rebound next season.

Anonymous said...

Murray need to go. We're STILL complaining in Ottawa about Hasek's injury, and we bring IN an injured one? Very risky. Furthermore, this team's probem is NOT goaltending, and it hasn't been for a very long time. Management chooses to scapegoat every one all of the players working together at the top of their game.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 2:36pm


Anonymous said...

"Management chooses to scapegoat every one all of the players working together at the top of their game."

What the F dude?!!!