You Want to be a GM? Really??

I missed the last Senators game because I was at the Wild game.  I’ll miss the next Senators game because the Senators HAVE NO TV COVERAGE for their game against the Bolts.  Someone please explain to me, in this day and age, how there is no coverage from either side, of the Senators on a Saturday night.  It makes me want to smash bugs with a rock.

Everyone has ideas about what’s wrong with the Senators/what the Senators need/what the Senators should do when it comes to the personnel on the current club.  And really, *most* opinions I’ve heard have at least some validity when taken out of context.  What context, you ask?  The context of the salary cap, silly!  Given the recent signing of El Capitan, I thought it would be a good time to set some things straight.  Personally, I think I’m in the camp that this is a transitional season for the team as far as personnel is concerned, but I’m currently withholding final judgement.

Here are the salaries in terms of cap hit, committed for this year and next:

Name 2008-09 2009-10
Dany Heatley 7,500,000 7,500,000
Jason Spezza 7,000,000 7,000,000
Daniel Alfredsson 4,338,996 5,400,000
Martin Gerber 3,700,000  
Chris Phillips 3,500,000 3,500,000
Anton Volchenkov 2,500,000 2,500,000
Mike Fisher 4,200,000 4,200,000
Chris Kelly 2,175,000 2,175,000
Chris Neil 1,100,000  
Antoine Vermette 2,763,000 2,763,000
Filip Kuba 3,000,000  
Shean Donovan 600,000 600,000
Christoph Shubert 883,333 883,333
Dean McAmmond 875,000  
Nick Foglino 850,000 850,000
Brian Lee   1,275,000
Cody Bass 513,333 513,333
Jesse Winchester 550,000 550,000
Luke Richardson 500,000  
     
Alex Auld 1,000,000        1,000,000
Jarkko Ruutu 1,300,000 1,300,000
Jason Smith 2,600,000 2,600,000
Alexander Picard 800,000 800,000
     
Emery Buyout 562,500 562,500
Total 52,811,162 45,972,166

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that all of the skaters without a contract for next year will not be with the team next year.  (not much of a limb, except for Neil, but Cody Bass will take over his role)

There are a few other players who will likely get time with the Senators this year and at least a portion of their salaries will count againt the cap.  You have to leave $2 – 3 million for call ups and flexibility in deadline dealing.   The salary cap for this year is $56 million.  With the direction of the economy and the decline of the Loonie, we would be extremely hard pressed to see a rise in that number for next year.  In fact, a decrease is not at all unlikely.  For the sake of this discussion, and because anyone who can reliably predict the next cap number isn’t talking, I’m going to assume the cap stays exactly the same as it is right now.  For next year, we’re looking at $9 million available to fill 6 roster spots; not a helluva lot, is it people?!  That is the background from which I’ll be looking at any needs the Senators might have or moves they might make. 

Without further adieu (that’s French), let’s pull out the whipping boys.   

Martin Gerber:  I’m already on record as having given up on Gerber.  What I haven’t decided is what that means to me.  I know it means I’m comfortable that Auld is a better ‘tender than Gerber.  What I have yet to decide is whether or not I’d be happy to see him put on waivers and sent to the minors.  On the surface, I think it’s a fine idea, but when I get into the details, I get bogged down.  It would save a nice chunk of change; ok..score one point for making him the Gerber Waiver Baby.  But, if they do not bring in another goalie from the outside, it would mean we’re going with Elliott and Auld, and it has to be in that order.  There’s no sense in bringing up Elliott to serve as a backup.  The team is better served with him getting 50 games this year to help with his development.  Are we ok with that development happening at the NHL level?  I’m not sure I am.  I’m not sure I’m not, either.  Part of me accepts that this is not a team that will win a Stanley Cup this year, so why not take a shot with Elliott and see what we have in the youngster?  The other part of me says it’s too early to give up on this group developing the chemistry that could make them very competitive in the playoffs.   And, are the two mutually exclusive? ?……I’m so conflicted.  I haven’t really seen Elliott since he was with the Badgers.  He was a stud at the collegiate level, but the differences in the game are huge.  From a numbers standpoint, he has certainly shown the goods this year in Bingo.

What are the other options?  The Senators could pick up another goalie (duh).  But, do you really want to give up what would be necessary to get the quality goalie Senators fans have always insisted upon?  Is there a Lalime or an Emery sitting out there for us to scoop up? (I mean, aside from Lalime or Emery)  [removes tongue from cheek]  I really believe the answer is ‘no’.   Most of our marketable players have no trade clauses.   (Oh, by the way; that’s another reason to completely disregard the Spezza rumour.  Giggles has one for the next 3 years, if memory serves.)    We’re unlikely to get the goalie we really want (Luongo) without dealing one of our top 3 players unless we develop that goalie.    Let’s move on, shall we?

Alex Picard:  Jean-Luc has taken quite a beating in both the blogosphere and the MSM.  Let me put it like this…..WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM AN $800,000/YEAR DMAN?  He has plenty of potential and has shown decent offensive instincts.  He fits in our salary structure, is as good as Meszaros on the defensive end (and not making $4 million) so give it a rest. 

Filip Kuba:  What is there to say about Sta-Puft?  He is what he is; what he’s always been; pour me a glass of Scotch.  He and his $3 million salary are probably not tradeable unless we’re sellers at the deadline, so just get comfy with his creamy middle. 

Mike Fisher:  Really people!  Did you expect just because Fish got a $4 million pay day that he would suddenly become a 35 goal scorer?  Fish will get his 22 goals again.  He’ll do the the things we all love on the ice and he’ll get hurt.  That’s what he does.  He’s overpaid by a $1 million and that hurts the team.  I wish he could have seen that before signing a contract, but that’s just a lot to ask of a human being.  He has a rather cough splutter cottage after all.  And, NO TRADE CLAUSE.

Jason Spezza:  He’s a top 10 talent in the league.  They don’t come along often.  If you’re going to dump this guy, you damn well better get a huge load.  Did I mention his NO TRADE CLAUSE?

Antoine Vermette:  I’m a fan.  I like him, I love him, I want some more of him.  But, unless his ice time/line mates change very soon, whatever the Senators do as far as trades are concerned, will involve Vermette.  Don’t get excited…..he’s not enough to get us the goalie we want.  

Moving Right Along:  The Senators have 3 glaring needs if you listen to conventional wisdom.  I’ll address them in reverse order of need as I see it:

Secondary scoring:  I still believe there are enough assets on this team to forge two scoring lines.  They just need to fashion two lines and give them more than 4 periods to work together.  I’ll die believing that because I haven’t seen any indication that anyone in the Senators organisation sees it.  Fuck me!

Goaltending:  Already talked about this.

Puck Moving/Offensive Defenseman:  There was some hope that Brian Lee would be ready for this role.  Clearly he is not at this point.  Kuba isn’t awful in this regard, but he just leaves us wanting.  It’s depressing to note that 2 years ago, we had 4 offensive defensemen; any of which we’d probably be thrilled with at this very moment if we could ignore their histories with the team.   

The long and short of it is, we’re not going to be able to address all 3 of these “needs”.  We have $9 million to spend across 6 roster spots for next year.  A puck mover is going to run us $6 -7 million (provided one is available; Jay Bowmeester anyone?).  A top flight goalie would cost the same.  That leaves us filling the rest of the roster with minimum wage guys.  And therein lies the reason player development is so damned important in this league.  You have to get some production from young (read: cheap) guys if you want to have success in the NHL in the salary cap era.   These two needs dwarf the secondary scoring ‘want’, in my opinion. 

I’ll save my other rants for later.

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2 Responses to “You Want to be a GM? Really??”

  1. Meaghan Says:

    Couple things:
    – I’m pretty sure Auld is under contract for next season.
    – Wow, that’s a lot more than I thought Lee would be making!
    – Spezza’s NTC doesn’t kick in until next season, unfortunately. (I say unfortunately because this means those rumours are just gonna keep on coming.)

    It’s a pickle. I think I agree with you that secondary scoring is the lowest priority. Hartsburg actually did seem to stick with the same lines for the last two games so maybe he’s finally got a combination he’s happy with. I really hope so.

    It will be interesting to see what happens with the defense. The goaltending situation would drive me crazy if I thought about it too much.

  2. freewillig Says:

    Yep, you’re right about Auld. I’ve fixed that. Thanks Meaghan.

    I believe Lee is at $850,000 base salary with a 425,000 in possible bonuses. The team can defer those to the following year if they choose or count it against the year in which the bonus was earned (if earned, I guess).

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