(source: Ottawa Citizen)..."/>

(source: Ottawa Citizen)..."/>

Who Should Stay and Who Should Go?

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(source: Ottawa Citizen)

With the course now set, planning for the rebuild is under way as Ottawa’s management team looks at every scenario and every player to see who should stay and be part of the rebuilding process, and who should go. The current roster can be grouped into four categories: Untouchables, Good As Gone, Questionable and Core Shift.

The ‘Untouchables‘ are just that – Untouchable. These are players that are the core of the franchise going forward and are deemed essential pieces to the rebuild. In this group from the current roster is captain Daniel Alfredsson, youngster Erik Karlsson and number one centre Jason Spezza. Spezza proved his worth with his recent injury and the team going 1-14 in his absence  and having major offensive problems. Spezza is the offensive leader of this team and will lead the team after Alfie retires.

Also grouped in this category is all Sens prospects. This is not because all of Ottawa’s prospects are sure fire NHL stars, but Ottawa needs to keep their cupboards full and develop as many potential NHL’ers as possible. Free agency is a risky game and not the proper way to rebuild a team. Developing NHL talent is the only way to stay competitive in the current NHL and Ottawa needs to starting turning over their aging roster.

The ‘Good As Gone’ group are players that have no future in Ottawa. With the trade deadline only 19 days away, these players days in Ottawa are numbered. With five UFA’s from the current roster, Sens’ brass will look to turn these expiring contracts into new assets. Veterans Alex Kovalev and Jarko Ruutu will be moved for picks, and Ryan Shannon and Pascal Leclaire are long shots to be picked up for a playoff bound team.

Long-time Senator Chris Phillips will be the biggest UFA chip Ottawa has to play with. A defensive specialist, Phillips will be a hot commodity for playoff teams looking to shore up their back-end. Management has yet to come out and publicly state that Phillips is on the market, but it is expected that he will be asked to waive his no-trade clause. Phillips holds all the power with his no-trade clause, but it is expected that if Ottawa asks him to waive it, Phillips will provide a list of teams that he will go to.

Filip Kuba can also be grouped in this category as it is expected that Ottawa will try their hardest to trade him for anything. But with a year left on his contract combined with his poor play this season, it is expected Ottawa will buy out the last year of his contract in the off-season.

In the ‘Questionable‘ group, these are players with something to prove to show that they belong here. Most of the players in this group are young players just entering their prime. What management has to decide is what is the ceiling of these players and if they can be built around. In this group is: forwards – Milan Michalek, Nick Foligno, Peter Regin, Jesse Winchester and Zack Smith; defensemen – Chris Campoli, Brain Lee and Matt Carkner; and goalie – Brian Elliott.

Each of these players has not lived up to expectations and are potential trading chips to bring in assets to help in the rebuild. They all have an up-side to their game, and may be just having an off year. But on the other hand, this may be who they are. From now to the trade deadline, and to the end of the season, management will evaluate these players and decide their future with the team.

In the ‘Core Shift‘ group, these are players that have been part of the leadership core for many years, but may be deemed as trade-able as the team looks to rebuild. Fan favourites Mike Fisher, Chris Neil and Chris Kelly are the three players in this group that Ottawa can gain the most from trading. All have term left on their contracts so they won’t be expensive rentals, and all of their talents are built for the playoffs.

Any team looking for leadership, grit and character and planning for a long playoff run would benefit their team greatly to pick up one of these core players. These three bleed for their team and will give it their all to win. Trading any of these three will certainly generate fan backlash, but this is a business and sometimes fan favourites need to go to benefit the team in the long run.

Who should stay and who should go within these four groups is anybody’s guess, but management will have their hands full trying to sort out this mess for the rest of the season. ‘Til next time, GO SENS GO!!!!!

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**If you liked this story, check out Jared’s Blueprint for a Senators Rebuild.**