What To Do?

So here’s the thing, now that the Sens are back in the win column, back in the play-off hunt, and doing it with the help of some young talent, the reasonable next squestion is “So, who’s going sit?”

Big Zach has proven to have real legitimate role player talent.

Now, let’s not make a mountain out of a mole hill, but when a team has specific skill needs, but little cap space with which to address them, having a player in your line-up you can count on to play 10 minutes a game, provide some grit, and play the PK in a pinch, for under a million, it’s a big deal.

Having the same, for 3M, is an anchor.

And this is where it gets dicey.  I think Jonathan Cheechoo is a fantastic guy.  He is a great representative of the native community, a great representative of Canada, pro athletes, and the Senators.  These are unassailable fact.  Cheech is a great “team” guy who delivers solid effort every shift, supports his team mates, and brings a positive attitude to the dressing room.

But his play on the ice, for all of his effort, is that of a one dimensional 4th liner.  The truth is Jonathan no longer has the speed to do what he does best, score.  So, what does he do?  He doesn’t kill penalties, he doesn’t fight, or deliver crushing hits, and he doesn’t play on the PP (although, if I were coach, I’d park him in front of the net on the second PP unit with Kovy and Shannon).

Ask yourselves, Sens fans, what does Cheech bring that Smith does not?

In my opinion, nothing, apart from experience, but even that, come post season time, is not worth much.

If this team is in a re-group phase, which I wholeheartedly believe to be the case, especially after the loss of Heatley, why not use this time to develop your young talent?

In order to do this, the cold hard fact is Cheech would have to be sent to the AHL.  It seems a mean-spirited thing to do, but is it more fair to send Zach Smith down instead, when he can provide more to the club?

Honestly, why would it be fair to force Smith to remain in the A, but un-fair to ask the same of Cheech?

There is a belief out there that to make such a move, with a veteran player, would leave a black mark against the Sens organization in the eyes of the NHLPA, and that may well be so, but that still doesn’t make it “fair”.

I don’t want to send Cheech down, I want him to earn his 3M in cap space, in the NHL.  If he can’t do that, it’s not the fault of the Senators, hell, it’s not even the fault of Cheechoo, but it is the reality nonetheless, and the Sens, the NHLPA, and Cheech himself should have the maturity, integrity, and professionalism to accept it for what it is.

No matter what happens, Cheech will be a very rich man, and playing him in the NHL, just because you have to pay him, would be like finishing a bad meal, because it’s already paid for.  What’s done is done, and if you can’t send it back, you may as well cut your losses and move on.

Ultimately I’d love to see Cheech re-discover his game, I’ve hoped for it all season, but now, with the emergeance of Smith, it’s no longer reasonable to wait (hope), when a very real alternative is available.  It’s time to swallow the last bitter bite, put down the fork, and pay the bill.

Yeah it would cost Melnyk some money, but not much, only about 190k.  But it would free up over 900k in cap space, or the equivalent of a 2.38M/yr player for the remainder of the season.

That’s enough to accomodate a Cogliano or Smid.  Either of those would be well worth a middling prospect and 2nd rnd pick, either of those would help this team now, and into the future.



13 Responses to “What To Do?”

  1. GN look at the ice time .. Donovan played 6 or 7 minutes. Less than Cheechoo or Zach Smith. I’d say he sits first. Also look at the number of shots. While Cheechoo has not scored, he always shoots at the net and is a threat (albeit not dangerous).

    My opinion only ..

  2. Agreed Sami, the question is more posed for when all are back, Spezza, Mich and Winnie.
    As for Donovan or Cheech, well, the same holds true, when one considers the impact of one or the other leaving the ice, it’s almost a draw, but on the ledger…a HUGE difference.

  3. If you’re not getting the elusive top-D, just stay put. I have been very impressed with Regin so he’s definitely top 6 capable. I don’t know much about smid or cogliano except they’re struggling on a bad team.

  4. dave young Says:

    To be honest Mr. Norton, I think your answer is simple;

    Dono and Winchester come out. And when the team has different needs on different nights you recycle Dono, Winchy, Smith and possibly (if he regresses back to how he was pre-injury era) Shanny.

    I love dono. Some nights we need him to win. Others we dont, and the high energy is matched by smith, who plays better physically and has a better nose for the net and IS counted on on the PK

    With Winchester, Smith is doing EVERYTHING Winchester does but is bigger, younger and has better touch.

    Lines become


    Three lines that can be a threat (as each has taken its turn as the top line) and can be rolled EVENLY



    As the best 4th line in hockey. 4 lines rolled every night, which if I remember is what got us to the cup

  5. Guys:

    Brian is not going to do anything, he has been telling us that for awhile now…we’re broke…need a play off game and some season tickets…

    Cheech will “anchor” the 4th line…Dono out…Zach down…Winchester the spare…thus the excuse we are locked onto the CAP and the Salary budget is spent…it’s Ottawa we cannot help ourselves…next year we make the big push!

  6. Scotty's little Moppy Says:

    I agree with the Cheech on the PP comment. Always have. He has some hands (release etc) when he can get to the areas to shoot. And he does battle in the corners but is a very expensive 4th liner. Speed has become his achillies.

    Amazing how we are back to quibbling over the bottom 3. Not a bad place to be I guess. I agree with Nik – Dono, Winch scratched and Smith back in the A, despite his perfomance.

    Until Cheechoo can be moved or his contract expires he’ll remain up.

    Could have had Sykora from waivers but cap space and forward log jam have prevented it. Cheaper than Cheechoo and may have made a good line with Spezza and Michalek or Fisher and Kovalev.

    Some of those depth guys could still be moved at the deadline or (Murrays favourite deadline – 3 weeks before) for another middle of the pack D man. Smid or someone of that ilk – I bet Edm will be shaken up soon.

  7. I don’t know where you get this 190k figure from? Sending Cheechoo to the minors, at this point, would cost over 1M…plus the cost of his replacement, which you’re proposing should be yet another player, on top of the two extras (Donovan and Winchester) we already have.

    And how is it fair to Winchester (who was one of our best forwards all season long and easily our best when the team was underperforming) to keep him out of the lineup for anyone on the current 4th line?

    Regardless, professional sports is a business and business isn’t fair. What’s fair isn’t always economical. And what’s economical isn’t always fair (especially to the fans). Either way, I’m eager to see Cheechoo in the playoffs. The tight checking style of the post-season should suit him just fine. SJ fans were quite vocal in their praise of Cheechoo after last seasons flop, saying he was one of their best players and definitely one of their top forwards.

    On the same note, your “experience doesn’t really matter in the playoffs” comment makes absolutely no sense. Experience is essential. Sens fans like to think that Cody Bass and Brian Lee playing “so well” against he Pens in 08 is a clear example of how little experience matters, but those kids wouldn’t have looked so good if anyone else on the team was doing anything. And where are they now?

    Anyways, I like Z.Smith and I think he’s a real solid player, but his time just isn’t now (assuming there’s no trade on the horizon).

    • Ok, as for the money, it is cumuative. Zach would replace Cheechoo, not Winnie.
      Basically, take the extra $$$ Melnyk would spend paying Smiths’ NHL contract, vs. his AHL contract, for the remaing 31 games, and that works out to an extra 190k. Cheech is getting paid 3M no matter where he plays, so what $$$ goes up by having Cheech play in the A is what you pay the guy replacing him, less what you would have paid him anyhow (his AHL contract with the OTT Senators).
      It adds up.
      My comment on the experience points to the fact Cheech was a member of a team with a terrible post season record. Is having that kind of a track record really a value? Maybe yes, maybe no, but it’s not like he was a Conn Smyth candidate.
      My line -up would be;
      Mich – Spez – Alfie
      Shannon – Fish – Kovy
      Smith – Regin – Winnie
      Ruutu – Kelly – Neil

      The 3rd and 4th lines and players are interchangeable, and neither are fixed as 3rd or 4th, it’s up to how they’re playing, both as lines, and individually.
      There will always be an injury, so Donovan is 1st in line to play, with Cheech #2.

  8. I agree 100%

  9. You’re explanation of the numbers makes zero sense. I have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s pretty simple: Cheechoo’s contract pays him 3M this year and next. He has already been paid about 1.7M of the total for this year, leaving approximately 1.3M for the remainder of the season. Zack Smith makes .580M in the NHL vs. .060 in the AHL. Assuming he plays the remainder of the season in the NHL, his cap hit would be about .225M. Add it all together and your plan costs Melnyk over 1.5M just to bury Cheechoo’s contract.

    It’s all irrelevant anyways, as Melnyk has stated many times that he’s unwilling to bury 1-way contracts. The reality of the situation is that, unless we package Cheechoo with a significant piece (high pick, O’Brien or better, etc.) then he isn’t going anywhere. He’ll take a roster spot away from one of Winchester, Regin, Shannon, Foligno, or an injured player—Donovan and (unfortunately) Smith aren’t even in the discussion…

    • Mike, sure hope you’re not an accountant.
      The money Cheechoo makes is a set expense, as is Zachs’ AHL salary. This money will be spent no matter where either plays, therefore cannot be considered an additional expense.
      Therefore, the “additional” money is the difference between Zachs’ NHL salary and his AHL salary, over 31 games, or @ 190k.
      Seems pretty obvious to me, but if it still confuses you…oh well.
      As for burying money in the minors, there’s a big difference between burying 3M, for a season and burying 190k for <30 games, on a contract you're buying out in the off season anyhow.
      Nobody will take Cheechoo unless it comes with Alfie, Mich or Spezza.

  10. First of all, I’m pretty sure teams would line up for him if he came with Cowen or a 1st.

    Secondly, your logic is nonsense. You’re not burying 190k by putting Cheechoo in the AHL. You’re burying the remainder of HIS contract, which is over 1.3M… I don’t see how that is tough to understand. You’re paying him one way or the other, but you aren’t paying him to play in the minors. Melnyk doesn’t do that… Why do you think Schubert isn’t in Bingo right now? He’d rather pay half his salary than pay the full thing so he can play in the AHL, and his total 09-10 salary is less than what remains on Cheechoo’s. The expense of Cheechoo’s contract isn’t somehow irrelevant to the equation just because you have to pay it anyways. I don’t know why you would think that. Maybe, if you persist in this “logic”, you can explain how you came to that conclusion?

    The cost of this proposed transaction is to both the remainder of Cheechoo’s contract plus the remainder of Smith’s NHL salary (which, despite your own self-professed mathematical perfection, is closer to 205K than 190K). That, as I said earlier, brings the total cost to the owner (which is what this discussion is about) to over 1.5M. I don’t know how I can make this more simple and clear.

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