When the Ottawa Senators trade Jason Spezza later this week (or perhaps in early July), they’ll have a vacancy at the most important leadership position on the hockey team. For the second straight summer, the Sens will need to select a new player to where the “C”. And unlike last summer when Spezza was the fairly obvious choice, things are a little more complicated this time around.
There’s no slam dunk choice. Instead, there are a handful of candidates that each deserve consideration including a veteran who has played his whole career in Ottawa, a trade acquisition that has assumed the role of number one centre and arguably the best defenceman in the National Hockey League. Some good options, but certainly no obvious choice.
Last summer when the C was placed on Spezza’s jersey, Chris Phillips was considered the runner up for the spot. Phillips has played 1,143 hockey games, all in an Ottawa uniform. And while his play has started to decline towards the end of his career, he’s still a strong presence on the ice and a respected guy in the room. Phillips made it clear last summer that he wanted to be the Captain and this time will be no different. With a new two year contract, Phillips knows he’s approaching the end of the line and would love to wear the C in his final two seasons with the team. The problem is, Phillips is probably a six or seven defenceman at this point in his career and it’s hard to be an effective Captain from the press box.
Kyle Turris has made a strong case for himself as well. Although just 24 years old, Turris has quickly become one of the team’s best two way players and a perfect example of what this team expects from its best players. Turris wore the A at times last season and was selected as an alternate captain for Team Canada at the World Championships this year. Although not the most vocal guy, Turris leads by example and would be a fine choice to wear the C this season.
But while Phillips and Turris are in the running, and Marc Methot, Clarke MacArthur and Bobby Ryan deserve consideration too, there really is only one choice to wear the Captain’s C this season.
Erik Karlsson is the best player on this hockey team. And with all due respect to the other 22 guys on that roster, it’s not even close. He’s a game breaker. A generational talent. The sort of player that can change the game every time he steps on the ice. He’s got a Norris Trophy on his resume and at just 24 years of age, has already solidified himself as one of the best defenceman in the game. In an off year, he put up 74 points. 74. And while critics will point to flaws in his defensive game, he more than makes up for those when the puck is on his stick. He’s vocal on the ice and in the room. He wants to win and seems driven to get better every single day. And even though he sometimes complains about his internet connection and sometimes doesn’t feel like speaking with certain members of the media, he’s still capable of wearing that letter on his jersey.
People I have spoken to on the subject seem convinced that the Senators will go with a young guy this time around. That after losing Alfredsson and Spezza in consecutive summers, they realize the time is right to turn this team over to the young guys. This really is a two horse race between Karlsson and Turris.
In this anonymous blogger’s opinion, Erik Karlsson should be the next Captain of the Ottawa Senators.
-With the free agency negotiation window opening tomorrow, the Ottawa Senators are working hard to get a contract done with Milan Michalek. There is obviously some negotiation required but Michalek wants to stay in Ottawa and the Senators would definitely like to keep him. Ideally the cap hit comes in at under $4 million. Darren Dreger indicated that Ottawa’s first offer was a two year deal. Michalek can still take a spot in the team’s top six forwards and has experience play the left and right wing. For a team that is already a little light on offence at the wing position, this is an affordable option. We’ll see if the Senators can get something done before he can talk to other teams.
-An interesting note from Blues reporter Andy Strikland, as he has dismissed the Blues as a potential landing spot for Ryan Kesler. That likely means the Blues are looking at Jason Spezza and maybe Paul Stastny to provide that additional offensive punch they so desperately need. I assume the Blues put a call in to Stastny’s agent tomorrow to find out if they have a realistic shot at signing him. If not, they turn their full attention back to the Senators and Jason Spezza. Also, if Stastny surprises everyone and does leave Colorado, do they call Ottawa back about Spezza? They certainly discussed the possibility at the deadline this year.