According to the lines that were used in practice on Wednesday afternoon, there is yet another chance for Bobby Butler to show that he can score at an NHL level.
After Colin Greening, Daniel Alfredsson, Erik Condra and Chris Neil all had chances at the coveted spot alongside Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek with varying levels of success, it looks like Butler will get another shot.
The top line has struggled mightily and is a major factor in the Senators’ current 7 game slide. Spezza’s power play assist last night was his first point in 7 games, while Michalek has only 2 assists in his last 11 games.
The cure? According to coach Paul MacLean, who might be grasping at straws, is to put a player who has also gone pointless in 8 games, with 2 goals in his last 17 games.
There are options on the roster and in Binghamton that could audition for the first line role. Obvioulsy, the first option would be Alfredsson, but that would weaken the chemistry he has quickly developed with Kyle Turris on line 1A. Nick Foligno has been dropped to the third line in the current structure and really hasn’t had much of a shot at the position.
In the minors, Andre Petersson had a cup of coffee on the recent road trip, but didn’t see much action. Stephane Da Costa has 25 points in 26 games in Binghamton and could use another chance now that he has some confidence and has found his touch.
Another option would be to trade to bring in a legitimate top 6 forward, even as a stop gap measure. Not a likely scenario as Murray has finally built what could be considered a top stable of prospects, and wouldn’t want to mess with that to bring in a temporary fix.
In a perfect world Murray could come up with a package that doesn’t include Mika Zibanejad or Shane Prince and pry Rick Nash out of Columbus, but admittedly that would be nothing more than a pipe dream. Nash is only 27 and would be a perfect complement to Spezza and would solidify the top line for years to come. He is signed through 2017-18 with a cap hit of $7.8 M
ANSWER FROM WITHIN
So the answer to the problem will have to come from within for the time being. And it will have to come soon, as the Senators have put themselves in a precarious position, where they no longer control their own destiny when it comes to playoff posititioning.