The Senators are 4 points out of a wild card spot after losing to the two worst teams in the Western Conference. Is it time to panic? Maybe not yet, but we’re almost there. At this point, making the playoffs is doubtful, and the Sens don’t even have a first round pick.
So, here’s the question: Where do we go from here? As usual, there are a few options: rebuild, retool, or just add. We can all cross out add, as the Sens are forced to make dollar for dollar moves, even though they’re nearly $8 million below the salary cap. So at this point, Bryan Murray and the rest of the Sens management team are going to have to choose between rebuilding, or retooling. Rebuilding won’t exactly make their 2015 UFA’s want to resign, and that may be an issue, as they’ll be trying to resign Jason Spezza, Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur, Marc Methot, and Craig Anderson. Not exactly a group of people that you should try to lose. Though if they do decide to rebuild, Spezza and Anderson would probably both be gone, with the current depth down the middle, and Robin Lehner possibly being able to take over as the starting goaltender.
Then there’s retooling. There probably wouldn’t be any drastic trades, but just replacing some players, and maybe moving some bad contracts. If Murray doesn’t think he can resign Milan Michalek for a good price, he may be more inclined to see what’s available in free agency. I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to move Colin Greening and his three year, $7,950,000 million contract as well. A team thinking about making a cup run in 2015 probably wouldn’t be against having a someone as fast and big as him on their bottom six. Unless, of course, they saw him play this season. Jared Cowen also has what could be considered as an unwanted contract, but he’s four years younger than Greening, and still has some potential. I don’t see the Sens moving him.
Call me crazy, but I could see Spezza being traded to help with whatever management decides to do. I’ve never been one of those guys who wants Spezza out of town, and I’m still not. If they don’t trade him? Fine. But if they do, the return would be huge. And unless Ales Hemsky and Spezza find some chemistry before the end of the season, the team still has a top line centre, and no wingers to play with him. If they choose to rebuild, Spezza could get them a high pick at the draft, as well as a decent prospect or two. If they want to retool, they could get a couple good roster players, and possibly even a middle-late first round pick. Bringing in a top six forward and top four defenseman would be huge for the team, and they would still be in the mix for a playoff spot next year. No point in having someone like Spezza if you can’t find someone to play with him.
In my opinion, rebuilding isn’t an option. Retooling would not only help with the team’s future, but would also help immediately. Just picture this: replace Spezza with a top six forward, and a top four defenseman. Then with Greening’s contract out of the way, as well as more cap space from not resigning Michalek, Murray has room to find a couple free agents to fill gaps in the lineup. Or if he feels players like Curtis Lazar, Matt Puempel, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mark Borowiecki or Mark Stone could take a few spots on the team, he has some room to play around with when it comes to trading. Being able to take on some salary through a trade would be a nice change.
What do you think the Senators should be looking to do? If you have an opinion, make sure to let us know in the comments.