Friday, January 20, 2012

Ducks’ Hagman Might Be Option For Ottawa

Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray has never been one to hide his intentions from the press, unlike some of his colleagues who apply to the old Cosa Nostra theory that “three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead”.

Murray telegraphed his wish to pick up another forward who can put the puck in the net and even owner Eugene Melnyk said he’d support Murray’s efforts at the deadline. With the Senators continuing to roll after a somewhat surprising 4-1 win over the Sharks, coming on the heels of a long flight into the Bay Area 3 time zones away, Murray is clearly in a position where he has to start thinking about the playoffs.

There’s some disagreement amongst fans whether or not Murray should be risking the chemistry of the team for a better shot in the post-season, and probably a near unanimous sentiment that he shouldn’t deal any top prospects, but some kind of move is inevitable. Especially when Murray has a history of adding at the deadline, even if a lot of those moves didn’t pan out as expected.

Those were different teams under different circumstances. This year’s edition of the Senators is the first team under Murray’s GM tenure that seems to have fresh momentum heading into the stretch, as opposed to the post-Cup final squads that were hanging on to past glories.

A smart deadline deal for a team on the upswing can really push them to the next level, while that same deal might just burden a club already fading under expectations.

Yet if you look at the situation closely, it seems like Murray has already pulled the trigger on the biggest move he’ll make this season when he dealt future offensive stud David Rundblad for Kyle Turris, a player who is making Murray look like a genius after bloggers like myself called him crazy. But that’s the hockey business. One day you’re on the ropes, the next you’re landing uppercuts.

Barring a stunning deal that brings in a well-known player with term and money on his contract, the Senators are likely looking for a veteran forward who is about to become a UFA, has a scoring touch and can fit into coach Paul MacLean’s system by being able to skate. Even if the Senators defense isn’t very fast as a group, it seems like MacLean insists on his forwards being able to play with speed.

Keeping that in mind, who would be a likely target for Bryan Murray when talks heat up after the All-Star break?

A guy that seems to fit is Ducks veteran winger Niklas Hagman, now a bit of a journeyman after stops in Florida, Dallas, Toronto, Calgary and now Anaheim. He’s had a few rough stretches in his career but he’s put up over 20 goals three times, has 30 games of playoff experience (all with Dallas), and would immediately become one of Ottawa’s best skaters. He also has experience playing either wing and would be an easy plug-in on any line. Other than inconsistency, Hagman’s biggest drawback is that he’s not physical but the Senators aren’t exactly lacking in that department.

If Hagman’s not to the Senators taste, there’s a buffet of players heading into UFA status on bad teams that would be available to Murray. Tuomo Ruutu will be a guy that everyone will be chasing but Carolina GM Jim Rutherford will probably want to hit a home run with the gritty winger which means Tuomo will likely miss being the third Ruutu brother to be brought into the Senators organization (after Jarkko and Mikko).

Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth of the Oilers are probably out of Murray’s range for similar reasons. But Sammy Pahlsson and Vaclav Prospal of the woeful Blue Jackets might be options for Murray. Pahlsson doesn’t have the offense Murray might want but he’s known as a greasy playoff guy and won a Cup against Ottawa while with the Ducks. MacLean knows Pahlsson well from the Western Conference and there might be some interest there. Prospal is ancient but has a history with the Senators and can play both wing and centre. He may still have a few goals left in him but he’s probably a long shot to join Ottawa.

But who knows? For all this talk, Murray might just decide to fold his arms and watch other teams fall all over themselves for past-their-prime players while his Senators plug the holes with prospects from Bingo.

Maybe Andre Petersson steps in and scores a hat trick in his first game. I’m pretty much through with predicting how this season will go for the Senators. There seems to be a surprise around every corner and I expect the trade deadline to be much the same.


Anonymous said...

I like the team the way it is. This team is greater than the sum of its parts. I don't know why you would want to mess with that.

We've seen this group get contributions from different guys every night. I think they should be rewarded with an opportunity to see how far they can take this thing.

A few years ago, when Calgary acquired Olli Jokinen at the trade deadline from Phoenix, everyone thought that they won the day. They were already a really good team and they had just landed a top centerman. I think it cost them Lombardi and a first rounder.

At the same time, I read a Vancouver Canucks blog post that commented that Calgary may have just made a mistake. I don't remember the blog, but I remember his point was that it's a lot easier to make a great team worse, than to make a great team better.

Sure enough, Calgary did not improve with Jokinen, and got bounced in the first round, and lost Lombardi and their first rounder in the process.

I think the Sens are playing great right now. They are punching way above their weight and I think that's an easy thing to mess up.

The Turris trade is looking good. I say that Murray should quit while he's ahead. I fear we'll start hearing names like Ray Whitney (former Murray player) pop up.

Anonymous said...

What about Ryan Malone? Not sure if Yzerman would be looking to get rid of him but his cap hit is 4.5 with the actual salary decreasing from 5.5 this season to 3 to 2.5 and 2.5 for the next 3 seasons.

He hasn't been too healthy for the last 3-4 seasons but puts up more than 0.6-0.7 ppg for those years. Also he is a big and will stick up for teammates if needed. He'd make the top 6 a lot tougher.

I remember him being a warrior during the Pens cup run when they went to the final against Detroit. Also seems like he would fit it quite well (and people could just pretend he is Matt Carkner if needed).

I know the Sens have a lot of good prospects at forward and his presence could block their development. I don't think that is a bad thing - if enough of these guys work out, we could trade for good young D prospects (which seems thin after trading Rundblad).

Merchaholic said...

I'm glad the Sens are doing as well as they have been. I've been to 4 games and they've won them all. Wooo!! lol! Well besides the Jets 2-0 blowout. Jesus they didn't have any legs under them that game. Turris is looking like a good trade. I've been following him since. I just hope they don't mess up the chemistry with some crazy trade. We'll see how it goes.

Peter Raaymakers said...

I like the idea of acquiring any of Hagman, Pahlsson, or Prospal, as long as the price is right. But I think the Sens' defence is where the focus should be, because the D-corps is dangerously vulnerable in my opinion.

Right now, I see two tiers on Ottawa's defence: The first is Karlsson, Kuba, and Gonchar, and the second Phillips, Carkner, and Lee. It's the second group that concerns me. MacLean doesn't seem to fully trust either of Lee or Carkner, and at this point I wouldn't, either. Phillips has good games, but he also has bad games, and right now looks more like a bottom-pairing defender than a middle-pairing one. Which means we need a middle-pairing defender to round out the top four, and provide some NHL-calibre depth on the back-end.