It wasn’t the busy day some in the organization claimed it would be but in the end the Ottawa Senators took care of their biggest piece of unfinished business.
For the second consecutive summer, the Captain of the Senators is heading elsewhere. The Sens sent Jason Spezza and Ludwig Karlsson to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Alex Chiasson, Alex Guptill, Nicholas Paul and a 2nd round pick in next year’s draft. It’s certainly not a jaw dropping return but rather one that will take a few years to really play out. All four of those pieces have the potential to be good NHL players but it doesn’t do a whole lot for the Senators heading into next season.
Internally though, there seems to be a lot of excitement about the players Ottawa was able to pick up from the Stars and that’s a good sign. In a bit of a strange twist, each of those players was drafted within one spot of an Ottawa Senators selection. Jakub Culek was taken one spot ahead of Alex Guptill in the 2010 Draft. Tobias Lindberg was taken by the Senators at 102nd overall in 2013 and the Stars took Nick Paul with the 101st pick. And Alex Chiasson went 38th overall in 2009, immediately followed by Jakob Silfverberg.
It might be a couple years before we can completely judge this trade, especially is Spezza ends up going to free agency at the end of the season. What we do know is Ottawa got back three big, talented hockey players that will have a chance to make an impact with this team in the future.
And in the end Jason Spezza got what he wanted. A chance to move to an organization that is committed to building a winner. And despite Murray’s best efforts, it’s extremely difficult to do that here in Ottawa right now.
The Senators also signed Milan Michalek to a three year deal worth $12 million. It’s pretty big money for Michalek but in the end he took a little less money to stay here in Ottawa. There was a lot of handwringing over this deal yesterday but when Michalek is healthy, like he was down the stretch last season, he is an effective player. More importantly, he wants to be an Ottawa Senator. That matters.
A few other thoughts from a frantic Free Agency Day
-In the end, the Senators took the best deal that remained on the table. The Blues were focused on their pursuit of Paul Stastny, although their GM indicates he planned to circle back to Ottawa and try to add Spezza as well. I believe the Senators also talked to the Florida Panthers about a Spezza deal on Draft Day and were sort of engaged in ongoing discussions with the Colorado Avalanche. Chicago was interested but just didn’t have room under the Cap.
-Murray was clearly on the defensive a little bit yesterday, especially when speaking about the reasons why Spezza wanted out. At one point he seemed to suggest that there were reports the team had asked Spezza to leave. Not sure I ever saw such a report. The concern people had was the reason WHY Spezza was asking out and it’s pretty clear that his reasons have almost everything to do with wanting to be a part of an organization that’s committed to winning. Murray also disagreed that money had anything to do with his departure, suggesting that they offered Spezza an extension. That’s true but like Alfie before him, this is about more than the money to one player. It’s about budget flexibility that allows you to surround players with other talent. That flexibility does not currently exist in Ottawa.
-Lots of talk about the potential deal Murray is working on. Trying to piece together clues from yesterday’s press conference is a little tricky because Murray seemed to contradict himself a couple times. Early on he was asked specifically if the deal was for a centre and he said “No, not necessarily.” Whereas later in the press conference, he seemed to identify a need at the centre ice position. But then he went on to say Curtis Lazar might play centre with the NHL team. Either way, I suspect we’ll hear more about this today. You would think a defenceman would be on the way out in the deal. On TSN1200 this morning, Pierre McGuire suggested it may be Blues Centre Patrick Berglund.
-Unfortunately nothing new on extensions for the four UFAs to be yesterday. Obviously the most important of those being Bobby Ryan. I really do believe Ryan was and is willing to stay but like star players before him, wants to see the team doing things that suggest they are trying to building a winning team in the near future. The Senators did not do that yesterday. Not coincidentally, Bobby Ryan did not sign an extension yesterday.