The Plan Gets Clearer.
Wow, what a busy month, let alone 2 days. Almost too much to digest, but here it goes all the same.
- The Leadership Plan - It is now obvious that the Senators brain trust (still TBD long-term) have identified those to be traded, and those to be signed. That isn’t to say that all of those, on both lists, have been dealt with, but at least some have. Spezza and Alfie represent the leaders of the “skill” group, Neil the leader of the “depth” group, and at least Phillips, if not Gonchar as well, even if by default, the leaders of the defensive group. Seems good to me.
- The Forward Roster Plan - At his presser today, Murray revealed some new information about the off-season strategy in rounding out this roster for the 11/12 season. Management intends to land at least one NHL ready player through the draft, sign one top sixer via free agency or trade (but, he made clear, not an ageing veteran), and fill the remaining forward positions with current roster players. He did not name these players however (apart from Butler), and this will be further defined by signings come this summer. As I see it the locks coming out of camp are; Spezza, Alfredsson, Michalek, Butler, Neil, Winchester, Regin, Foligno, and Smith. This leaves room for 2 more forwards, if the draft and FA part of the plan shakes out.
- The Defensive Plan - There has been a great deal of hand-wringing about the Phillips signing, but I for one applaud it. Someone had to take this leadership role, and at 3.09/yr, who better? That’s the reality, sure you can pan the deal, but unless you have a viable alternative, doing so is little more than pissing and moaning from the peanut gallery. So here is the likely defensive roster going into 11/12; Phillips, Gonchar, Karlsson, Rundblad, Cowen, Kuba, and Carkner. But both Cowen and Rundblad are far from proven NHL ready Dmen, so until they prove themselves, expect to see Lee stick around. If Murray can land a decent deal for Gonchar or Kuba, they will likely be moved in the off-season, but until then, they are on the team.
- The Goaltending Plan – This, of all the positions, remains the most unclear, and the most worrisome. I myself believe at least 60% of this years woes stem from a lack of quality goaltending. This absolutely MUST be addressed if this team wants to have a healthy environment in which to develop young players. Is Anderson going to be the guy? Depends on his salary demands. If it’s big money/long-term, not likely, but then what? Not Lehner, who would benefit from another year in the AHL, with “reward” play on the big team.
So, here’s how the 11/12 roster looks so far;
Michalek – Spezza – Butler
Foligno – FA – Alfredsson
Draft – Regin – Smith
Neil – Winchester – ???
Phillips – Cowen
Gonchar – Karlsson
Kuba – Rundblad
Carkner – Lee
??? – ??? – Lehner.