Whatever happened to #failforNail?
The year began with a clear banner among Senators fans, the team was going to #failforNail and be the worst team in the league. Many Senators fans weren't neccesarily buying that plan, but it would be a dire year regardless.
The Senators were projected to finish somewhere between 15th and maybe, with absurd optimism, 10th in the Eastern Conference. Well over the halfway point of the season the Seantors look as though they may be buyers come trade deadline. Huh?
Seriously, team owner Eugene Melnyk and GM Bryan Murray are on the same page with this one too: if the Senators continue to roll, they will be looking to add talent to their roster near deadline day. So what would they add this season?
Well, it's important to clarify that the plan has not changed. The team is building with youth, and they are not going to sabotage that plan. That being said, the team will be looking to add pieces that are young enough to be part of the long-term plan, or rental players that won't forfeit much.
I would love to see the Senators target NAshville as a trade partner. Who doesn't want to see their team target young defenders like Shea Weber or Ryan Suter? The Predators can't hold onto both of them, and there are no shortage of suitors. The Senators could target one of them, but the asking price is obviously going to be extremely high. In truth, it may not be worth it in the end.
While a top defenseman like Suter or Weber would be amazing, it's not the team's weak area. Erik Karlsson is having a career year, Jared Cowen is having a great rookie year, and the old boys Sergei Gonchar and Filip Kuba are having a comeback season. While I don't imagine Kuba will be renewed considering the logjam on defense, he has played some good hockey. Carkner is doing his job as a defensive d and tough guy, and Chris Phillips has been solid on the backline in a shut-down role as usual. Brian Lee is not always in the line-up, but he's a servicable shut-down defender who needs a bit more seasoning. So if defense isn't the answer, what about goaltending?
One area Ottawa definitely does not need a boost is between the pipes. Craig Anderson began the year mediocre and has quickly become one of the best goalies in the league over the past month or so. While he won't keep up at the pace he is going at, he should finish the season with great numbers, and be a solid go-to choice in net. While the defense core is going through some bumps and bruises for the youngsters at times, and the veterans need to be replaced, that isn't something that has to happen this season.
There are several storylines to follow with Ottawa's forwards. The young guns are fitting in just fine, the once-promising players look promising again, and the old guns are firing on all cylinders. Kyle Turris has been dominant following his relocation to Ottawa. He's working hard, has a two-way game, and is contributing offensively. At only 22 years old, and in his fourth NHL season, he is finally starting to find some of his potential. Milan Michalek is having a break-out season at 26 years old, making the Heatley trade not like so brutal. Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza are putting up fantastic numbers again, albeit Alfie is aging.
The question is, who ae the other two six forwards? Colin Greening is a promising rookie, who plas a strong two-way game, but his role is more as a power forward than a goal-scorer right now. Erik Condra plays with a ton of heart, but his game may be better suited to the bottom-six. Nick Foligno seems like he may cap out as a second/third-line winger, who can jump in when needed but shouldnt always be top-six. The Senators coud definitely use another top six winger to make their team have a more consistent offense. If they could make a deal to bring in a player under the age of 30, who could contribute about 60 points a season, the team would be lethal. The problem is, plkayers in that category are tough to find, and pricey to buy. Can they afford Bobby Ryan? They shouldn't try to. How about Alexander Semin? He's a UFA next year and could try for him. He is incredibly skilled, and Ottawa needs a player like that, but the price would be dangerously high. Zach Parise is another UFA that fits into this category as well. The Senators can afford any of these players in terms of the salary cap, but the trade cost will by sky-high.
Then there is the next class of player, the upcoming-UFA non-superstar wingers, who are still under 30. Ales Hemsky is good at times, but injury prone and inconsistent. One of my top choices would be Tuomo Ruutu, who brings a great two-way game and can definitely help offensively. He would be a perfect fit in Ottawa, though his injury-prone nature scares me a bit. Good buy-low candidates are Dustin Penner and Brad Boyes, who used to be dominant players for a time, but have faded greatly. I would not be mad with Murray for targetting a player like Ruutu or Hemsky, especially if he can re-sign them to a reasonable contract. Penner I wouldn't roll the dice on, but Boyes has some potential to return to at least 20-25 goals. In the end, expect a move for a top-six winger of respectably young age if the Sens are in the playoff picture come deadline time.