In the GM's Chair: What Would Jared Do?

Welcome to the first in what will be a weekly series of special blogs.  My logic behind this format is that nothing drives me crazier than listening to call in shows or reading comments online from people who can’t look at both sides of a deal before they make a comment.  The “Let’s trade Chris Campoli to Pittsburgh for Sidney Crosby” type of suggestions that drive me bonkers.  I pride myself on being able to see both sides of the coin, look logically at moves that teams make and see why both teams would make it.

So in this weekly article, I will look at a specific example, and offer my suggestion of what I would do if I were the GM in question.  I will give my logic, and also offer a perspective from the other side, and why it would work.  I plan on putting myself in the Ottawa GM position, but some weeks I might deviate from that plan depending on circumstances and look league wide.  Read along, and comment if you wish, whether you agree or think I am absolutely nuts.  Regardless, I hope you enjoy the read.

TOPIC – WHAT TO DO WITH NASHVILLE’S 1st RD PICK IN THE 2011 DRAFT ACQUIRED IN THE MIKE FISHER TRADE?

If I were GM of the Senators, I would hold onto the pick until the week of the draft, and trade the pick to the Dallas Stars in exchange for the negotiating rights to pending UFAs Brad Richards and Jamie Langenbrunner.

The Reasoning

Brad Richards is arguably the #1 Free Agent available this summer, especially at the forward position.  Ottawa really has only one legitimate top 6 forward right now (Spezza) signed for next year.  Richards and Langenbrunner have Stanley Cups and Richards is a Conn Smythe Trophy winner.  Langenbrunner is a leader who could play on Ottawa’s 2nd or 3rd line.  With Richards and Spezza down the middle, Ottawa would have one of the best centre units in the league, perhaps trailing only Pittsburgh (Crosby, Malkin & Staal), Philadelphia (Richards, Carter, Briere & Giroux in some combination) and Vancouver (Sedin & Kesler).

Ottawa will have the cap space this summer to make Richards and Langenbrunner competitive offers and the ability to play top line minutes.  Ottawa’s bottom 6 is set, but they need to add at least 2 or 3 top-6 calibre forwards, and Richards (and to a lesser degree Langenbrunner) fill that need.

The Precedent

Deals of this nature have occurred before and are becoming more and more commonplace:

  • In 2007 Nashville traded the rights to Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell to Philadelphia for a first round pick (23rd overall).
  • In 2009 Florida traded the rights to defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to the Calgary Flames for Jordan Leopold and a third rd pick.  The Flames were able to lock up Bouwmeester to a long term deal.
  • In 2008, Tampa traded a 4th rd pick in 2009 to Pittsburgh for the rights to Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts.  Tampa signed both players to contracts.
  • Last summer, Dan Hamhuis’ rights were traded twice – first from Nashville to Philadelphia for Ryan Parent and a third rd pick (conditional).  When they couldn’t sign him, the Flyers traded Hamhuis’ rights to Pittsburgh for a 3rd rd pick this coming summer.  The Penguins couldn’t sign him either, and Hamhuis signed in Vancouver.
  • Also last summer, the Flyers acquired the rights to goalie Evgeni Nabokov (for a conditional 7th rd pick) but were unable to sign him.

 

The Risk:  A first round pick may seem like a steep price to pay, and if Ottawa was unable to sign Richards it would be considered a loss.  The GM will have to have a groundwork laid in advance where he gets permission from the Stars to talk to the players’ agents to determine if they would even consider coming to Ottawa.  The price is steep because the Senators will not be the only team in the running, and Richards is the gem of the 2011 free agent class, and the precedent has been set.

Why Would Dallas Do It?:

Ownership is a big question in Dallas, and they are handcuffed right now from giving out any big money, long term deals.  They also can’t afford to lose a top free agent for nothing.

Factors Standing In the Way:

There is a chance Richards gets dealt somewhere else before the trade deadline, but the Stars are a contender and to deal their best player while they are contending would serve no purpose.  The timing of this deal would fit.  Both players have no-trade clauses but should not be a problem after the season to get them waived, as they will be days from free agency anyways.  The ownership problems in Dallas could be resolved by then and Richards could be resigned by the Stars before reaching Free Agent Status.

OTHER OPTIONS:

  • Package the pick with a player at the trade deadline for a higher pick.  It was suggested packaging the Nashville pick with Chris Phillips to Boston for the Toronto pick that Boston got in the Phil Kessel trade.
  • Keep the pick and take the best player available in June at the Entry Draft.  With two first round picks Ottawa should be able to get two decent prospects.
  • Wait until the opening of Free Agency in hopes that they can be the higest bidder at that time

My opinion is that at 30, Brad Richards is an elite offensive player who still has a number of years left, and they don’t grow on trees.  Langenbrunner (35) has a couple of solid years remaining and could be an affordable piece to fill in until the prospect cupboard can be restocked.

The rebuild doesn’t need to be slow and painful, and this move would put the Senators back into contention quickly, without counting on the Senators’ own first round pick this year to contribute right away.

It would be a gutsy move, but one that would show the fans of this city and the rest of the league that the Senators mean business.

I would like to know what you think.  Sign up and comment below, or let me know on Twitter @alfieisgod

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