Is Mike Fisher Trade Bait?

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(source: www.cbc.ca/)

A few weeks ago, when GM Byran Murray and owner Eugene Melnyk stated their plans to rebuild Ottawa into a cup contender, Murray hinted that only two players were safe. It was assumed that the two players Murray hinted at were captain Daniel Alfredsson and youngster Erik Karlsson. First line centre Jason Spezza is also expected to be in the group of players not to be moved as first line centres are hard to find.

Also revealed in that press conference was that second line centre Mike Fisher did not have a no-trade or no-movement clause in his contract. There has been some confusion these past few weeks whether or not Fisher did or did not have such a clause in his contract. In a story today from the Ottawa Sun, sports columnists Bruce Garrioch reported that:

"“Fisher’s full no-movement clause expired at the end of the 2010 season.Under the terms of his deal, he had until the end of the last season’s Stanley Cup final to provide the Senators with a 10-team no-trade list, but it was never submitted.”"

What this means is that Murray can outright trade Fisher to any team in the NHL without his consent. The player most thought to be the successor to Alfie’s captaincy, Fisher is now seen as a big fish in the trade market come this year’s February 28th trade deadline. With a lot of needs, Ottawa would be able to fill some gaps with the right trade of one of the franchises most loved players.

Even though he is having a down year, with only 13 goals and nine assists, Fisher is a hot commodity on the trade market. Fisher is way off from his career highs of 25 goals and 28 assists last season, but his style of play is built for the long playoff run to the Stanley Cup. What Fisher lacks in offense he makes up for in leadership, character and defensive ability. This was evident as Fisher was instrumental in Ottawa’s run to the Finals in 2007. And constantly lining up against an opponents best line, Fisher is one of the best shutdown centres in the league.

Needing some young high-end forwards/prospects and elite young goaltending, if Ottawa could find a playoff bound team with these assets to trade for, this trade could speed up the rebuilding process. Looking at teams needing something extra to make some noise in the playoffs, and could meet Ottawa’s trade demands, there are a few teams in the East and West that could use the services of Fisher.

In the East, Atlanta and Florida are potential landing spots for Fisher. Both teams have young forwards and defensemen that could turn Ottawa back into a powerhouse in the East in a few years. But most likely, if Ottawa trades Fisher, they probably want him out of the conference, so these teams are highly unlikely to be trading partners.

In the West, Nashville, Los Angeles, Colorado, St. Louis and Columbus all could use Fisher for their playoff runs. Nashville, LA and Columbus all have forwards and goalies that Ottawa could seek in a trade, as these three teams are the best fit in terms of assets Ottawa needs in a trade.

Do I see Fisher getting traded this season? Probably not. This team and fan base can only take so many blows. But to truly rebuild this team, is a 30 yr old Fisher with a lot of hard miles on his body and declining production the answer?

What would you do if you were in the GM seat?