by Chet Sellers
It’s no secret Bryan Murray is looking to upgrade the Senators offense over the off-season. But with free agent pickings looking relatively weak, who are the players Murray should pursue via trade, and what will it take to land them? I’ve taken a look around the league and I think I have the answers. Let’s find out what they are!
This big Ducks winger is at the top of most Senators fans’ wish lists, and with good reason. He’s young (26), he won’t break the bank ($5.1M cap hit over each of the next two seasons), and he scores, averaging 60-70 points a year on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Ryan was also the subject of a number of trade rumors over the past year as the Ducks debated whether or not they could afford to resign both Getzlaf and Perry, with Ryan’s hometown Flyers suggested as the most likely destination. Expect a bidding war if he’s on the market.
Is he on the market though? Although Getzlaf and Perry will each make over $8 million next season, Ryan’s deal is not necessarily the first salary the Ducks will look to dump in order to gain a little more breathing room under the cap. And, although the Ducks will need to add more depth to replace departing or soon-to-depart veterans like Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, they may not go about it by breaking up such a productive top line, particularly coming off a season in which they finished second in the Western Conference. So is Bobby Ryan on the market? You bet!
But at what price? If I’m Ducks GM Bob Murray, I’m looking to add depth in the form of proven roster players, not prospects, in order to stay at the top of the Pacific Division next year. I’m also looking to add even more sandpaper to the team in order to get over the hump and make it out of the first round of the playoffs. The Ducks will drive a hard bargain, but I think a Jim O’Brien/Matt Kassian package will be enough to ensure Ryan is lining up alongside Jason Spezza next season.
Bolstering the offense doesn’t have to stop with Ryan, though. One of the things Bryan Murray doesn’t get enough credit for is the fact that he’s not only been able to successfully rebuild the Senators from within more quickly than expected, but he’s also still got a cupboard full of prospects knocking on the big club’s door. And while it’s axiomatic that you’ve got to give up talent to get talent, it’s also true that trading future potential for proven commodities can end up being the safer deal for a GM looking to improve his club.
The Dallas Stars were sellers at the 2013 trade deadline, shipping out veterans like Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy in a season that saw them miss the playoffs. I haven’t done any research into the situation in Dallas, but a quick check suggests they did not turn things around dramatically after the deadline, so I have to assume they’re still in sell/rebuild mode and probably now desperate enough to consider making big changes to their team core. That core starts with young stars Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson, both on affordable long-term deals, but you’ve got to think the Stars will start thinking seriously about swapping one or both for longer-term help.
Eriksson, as a Swede, would probably fit in better with Ottawa’s young Swedes like Lehner, Silfverberg, and Alfredsson, so let’s go after him. Again, you’ve got to pay to play, but I think giving up the rights to Binghamton’s top scorer, Stephane Da Costa, and maybe a third-round pick, is enough to land this Swedish fish.
There’s no reason to stop with Ryan and Eriksson if you’re Tradin’ Bryan. The Penguins need to re-sign Evgeni Malkin in like a year, right? That’s the kind of future financial pressure that forces you to trade a good young player like James Neal today. If I’m Penguins GM Ray Shero, I want a big body in return, someone tough in front of the net, and someone who I don’t want to face in the playoffs again, so I call up Bryan Murray and keep calling until he gives me Colin Greening for Neal, straight up. Game recognize game!
At this point, if I’m a rival GM looking at the Senators roster after these deals, I know the writing’s on the wall for my own team. The best thing I can do is try to get in Bryan Murray’s good books and become his hand-picked successor when he eventually retires and gives me the keys to the juggernaut he’s assembled. So what do I do? I call him up and offer to give him any player he wants. Since you can’t technically just give a player away, though, I ask for “future considerations”. Wink!
Faced with this bevy of options, let’s say Bryan Murray selects, oh, I don’t know, Claude Giroux. Great deal!
Meet your 2013-14 Ottawa Senators!
Hey, I’m not a GM (yet!) but all these moves seem pretty obvious to me. And you can see that with just a few simple deals, the Senators can reshape their top four lines as follows:
Oh, and Conacher, Condra, and Pageau somewhere, probably on defense? Let’s make it happen, Bryan!