Unless a trade is made in the very near future, Paul MacLean will have some work to do. The Senators have seven d-men on one-way contracts, which wouldn’t have been a problem if Cody Ceci hadn’t impressed everybody so much last season. After watching him in nearly 50 games last year, it’s difficult to picture him back in Binghamton. So at the moment, it looks like the team may be stuck with eight defencemen. I would rather stick with seven, but I’d also prefer keeping Ceci than sending him down. That pretty much leaves the team with one option: trade.
Mar 4, 2014; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Ottawa Senators defenesman Cody Ceci (5) carries the puck against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Erik Karlsson and Ceci are the only ones I think should be off limits. I can’t see Chris Phillips or Marc Methot being moved any time soon, unless one of them has asked or will ask for a trade. That leaves half of the blueliners. Mark Borowiecki recently signed a three year, one-way extension, giving him a one-way contract for the next four years. That’s a three million dollar investment in someone who’s only played 21 games. The contract may be a turn-off for other GM’s if the Senators try to move him in the near future. Patrick Wiercioch is a solid player, but I’d rather send him to another team than watch him spend another season on the bench. He could be packaged with a forward to get an upgrade on offense, and I don’t think too many people would complain about that kind of deal. Eric Gryba or Jared Cowen could be dealt in a similar deal.
Now, what forward could be moved as part of a package? Milan Michalek is the only top six forward I would consider moving. I’ve got this horrible scenario in my mind: If we keep him because GM’s don’t want him, he’ll have an absolute nightmare of a season, barely managing to get to double digits in the goal column. Or we trade him for a low return, and he scores 30 goals. Though realistically, I feel like the Senators want to hold on to Michalek, considering his contract isn’t very trade-friendly.
Colin Greening or Erik Condra are possibilities. Condra is very solid defensively, and I would have no problem seeing him on the team this season. Greening is a whole other story. He’s got a contract that everyone would love to see moved, but there’s always that small chance he could go all 2011-12 on us, but I doubt it.
Chris Neil isn’t going anywhere. Unfortunately.
Management should be doing everything in their power to free up space on the back end, and slightly improve the depth up front all at once. It seems like a lot to ask for, but it makes sense.