What To Do When The A-Train Arrives?

A 5-3 record without the A-Train, against some of the best teams in the east, leaves one questioning his future status on this club.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Volchy is the best shut down, blood and guts Dman in the league.  He cannot be replaced, in that role.

But, for a team lacking a legitimate offensive threat on the blueline, is his skill set worth the cap space it will likely consume?

The emergence of Carkner as a legit NHL shut-down guy has skewed the skill balance on this clubs blueline.  Carks is no top 4 guy, but he can play PK, and “Kitty bar the door” in a pinch.

This is the question facing Murray, RIGHT NOW.  Murray has to build the best team, with a constrained budget, and no matter how good a player may be, individually, they have to be synergistic to the team as a whole.

With the approach of November Fools Day, all NHL GM’s are evaluating their rosters with an eye toward making the early season “adjustment”.

Undoubtedly Murray has one main strategic need;

An offensively gifted, defensively reliable Dman who can log top 4 minutes, run a power play, and force the opposition to respect the shot from the blueline.  This skill set will open up more space for his talented forwards to make plays down low.

Acquiring a legitimate offensively minded top 4 Dman is not going to happen by luck, it will take an asset, either to work the trade, or to work the cap space to accomodate the trade.  There has been plenty of talk surrounding Barker, but, I’m cooling on that move, as both Camps and Picard improve their play.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Barker isn’t the best of the 3, but with a cap hit of over 3M, I have to believe his acquisition would spell the loss of Volchy (due to cap constraints), leaving me to wonder if something better couldn’t be had, at that cost.

Is Volchy worth a top 4 offensive Dman?  Straight up, absolutely.  Any team with depth in this area would be greatly interested in Volchy, particularly if they have Stanley Cup aspirations.

Tops on that list would be CGY, VAN, LAK,  and, you guessed it, CHI.

Available are;

D. Phaneuf, J. Johnson, C. Barker, B. Seabrook, and K. Bieksa.

There has been talk that CGY has been calling, but Murray knows, should he be healthy, Volchy will be worth his most at the deadline, so any deal now would have to be a slam dunk for Ottawa.

Trading Volchy for Phaneuf, straight up, is no deal.

Volchy and Cheech for Phaneuf?

Now you’re talkin’ slam dunk.

Everything Volchy is defensively, Phaneuf is offensively, but they both bring a huge physical presence.  Unfortunately, thus far in their respective careers, everything Volchy is offensively, Phaneuf is defensively.  But still, from a skill balance standpoint, this would be a move worth considering, Phaneuf’s long term deal and all.  The fact of the matter remains that this team would be greatly improved with more blue line offense, and considering Phaneufs physicality, this strategic aspect of Volchy’s game would not be missed.  Yes Phaneuf makes too much, but offense pays, rightly or wrongly, and when compared to his peers, at 6.5M, he brings a lot of intangibles other elite offensive Dmen lack.

Now, if Volchy is prepared to earn 3M a year, sign him, and make a deal elsewhere, but if he’s determined to go to FA, and test the waters, he must be moved, or this team risks a repeat of the Chara fiasco.

Business is Business.



15 Responses to “What To Do When The A-Train Arrives?”

  1. I am sure that getting cheechoo off the books is a priority. One think I keep thinking about wrt the heatly trade: if the heatly camp gave permission for them to speak to Edmonton, then their agreeing to the trade to Edmonton is implicit. Nobody even has mentioned that.

  2. You have got to be out of your mind.

    Calgary trading a star defender for Volchenkov and a cap bust? Sure Phaneuf is struggling, but Sutter is smarter than making that bonehead trade.

    • Here’s the thing AK, salary matters.
      A lot of people have yet to understand the impact salary has on a team. Still, when considering trades, too many people focus on player vs. player. That’s as out of date as Goons. The rules have made it a new environment.
      Phaneuf was shopped, heavily, this past summer, with no takers.
      Sutter signed JBo anyhow, and now is desperate to move Phaneuf, who, at 6.5M, is a strategic albatross to the Flames.
      Volchy would fill a need for the Flames, at less than Phaneuf, and Cheech, with only one year remaining, can be bought out, with little impact on the bottom line. That salary reality is HUGE, and is highly valued by GM’s. Player for player is not the sole, or, in many cases, even the primary consideration in trades anymore.
      Player for player, absolutely, CGY is getting hosed, but when you look at this in a broader, more strategic way, suddenly it isn’t nearly so lopsided.

      • GelatinousMutantCoconut Says:

        One thing though. How is Volchenkov a need for Calgary? Yes, he’s cheaper than Phaneuf, and has the same physical assets, but his offensive production is significantly lower. If this trade was to go through, Calgary’s defense would look like Bouwmeester-Sarich Volchenkov-Sarich Giordano-Pardy/Johnson

        Bouwmeester becomes the only top-4 defenseman with any offensive ability. Unless Giordano can take over that role.

      • GelatinousMutantCoconut Says:

        I meant Bouwmeester-Regehr

  3. Woozle man Says:

    @sam: I’m pretty sure a lot of people have mentioned that. It’s the entire basis of Eugene Melnyk’s grievance with the league, wherein he will try (and fail) to squeeze $4 million out of the Sharks.

    I just don’t know about what to do with Volchenkov. I’d say try to sign him, see what happens at the deadline. Chicago will be fine, they’re practically in the playoffs already, but some of these other teams (LAK, CLB) may be on the brink and looking for a push. Chicago will also almost surely need to make a move before the deadline, maybe more than just Sopel -> Toronto.

    Meh, we’ll see. So glad to see both Picard and Campoli playing to their potential.

  4. Woozle man Says:

    Yeah that Phaneuf trade will never happen. In all likelihood Phaneuf won’t be moved at all, he’ll just play his way out of this slump.

  5. It’s not about his play Woozle, it’s abput the salary space he consumes. THAT is what CGY would be trading for.

  6. The thought of moving A-Train angers me. He should be a career sen along with The Big Rig and obviously Alfie. Why would we want to take on that salary and lose a shutdown defense man that is like a 2nd goalie to us. I am very disappointed in this blog which i liked at first.

    • S4Life,
      First off, I’m a Sens fan, and apart from Alfie, not a fan of the players on the team.
      Secondly, I did not encourage trading Volchy.
      Lastly, as I wrote, if Volchy is willing to sign a reasonable contract (@3M), I encouraged keeping him. But, if he refuses to sign prior to FA, for a reasonable contract, I’d trade him rather than lose him for nothing.
      Am I to assume you would sign him, no matter the cost? Or let him go to FA, a hope to match any deal?
      Because, if you read my blog, you would know that take would be the only difference between your statements and mine.
      Thus, if this difference in opinion is what disappoints you…oh well, can’t please everyone.

  7. GelatinousMutantCoconut Says:

    Where do I sign?

    But seriously, I would love to acquire Seabrook, Bieksa or Phaneuf. A package would have to include more than Volchenkov however, and I don’t see how Cheechoo makes the deal more enticing for Chicago, Vancouver or Calgary. But then, you never know, I could see Cheechoo being a Sutter-type player, but he doesn’t really bring the offense that they require to make trading Phaneuf worthwhile.

    • No, but he does save them, oh, about 24M dollars in cap space over the next 5 yrs.
      In the vernacular of lotto 649, “Just Imagine”.

  8. TGN that is exactly the Heatley trade was not necessarily a loss. Once Cheechoo’s contract is up, the trade has to be Heatley for Michalek + another player who is a free agent costing about 3 mil in market cap. Michalek so far has been a very productive and exciting player.

    • Add to that the draft pick (2nd) and the deal is work-able, if nothing else.
      BTW, I too have been impressed with Mich, and I believe, given more time, he and Spez will only improve.

  9. Nick Rebelo Says:

    I’ve been wondering this for a while, can Ottawa afford to pay more than $6 mil for two defensive defencemen (Phillips & Volchenkov)? Why not go after Versteeg as well, rumour has it that he may also be available, a team can never have enough goal scorers & with the injuries piling up, Ottawa could use another point producer.

    Question: Can a team trade a guy who is on LTIR so that the team getting him can take advantage of not paying his salary because he is on LTIR?

    To Chicago: Volchenkov UFA , Picard RFA, Shannon UFA, Donovan UFA & 1st rd pick. (approx. $4.5 mil)
    To Ottawa: Barker & Versteeg (approx. $6 mil)

    Chicago saves $1.5 mil immediately & possibly Donovan’s salary totalling $2 mil for this yr. Chicago could resign either or both Volchenkov & Picard for next season if they can get rid of Sopel or let one or both walk & save the cap space. A-Train can replace Barker & be the defensive shot blocking machine Chicago needs for a playoff run, Picard could also help & replace some of Barkers points. It would make more sense for Chicago to trade Barker & Versteeg out of their conference.

    Ottawa gets a young 23 yr old top 4 defenceman & a young 23 yr old top 6 forward. The question for Ottawa is are these two guys worth A-Train & a 1st because the other three can be replaced internally & are added to balance some salary. Ottawa will also have to move Cheechoo somehow to make cap space, maybe even waive him. IMO I think this would be a good trade, I hate to lose a 1st round pick but when you can pick up two good young players who will likely be with the club for 5 or more yrs, I think you do it.

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