Monday, July 25, 2005

Some thoughts on something not all that vital

What I have been pondering is the fate of my hockey team, the Ottawa Senators.

Deep stuff, I know. Bear with me. If get this out of my system now, I will likely be fine for a few weks if not months. I mean, I said hardly anything during the lockout, so give me a break here...

On the plus side, we finally have a hockey season to look forward to. Of course the price, especially for fans, was pretty steep. The new CBA should provide some pay back, in the form of more competitive balance. Sure, there have been a series of cinderellas making it deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs the last few years, but I don't think anyone would seriously argue that all teams have a reasonable chance at winning the Cup each year. That should change under the new arrangement, which effectively caps the disparity in payrolls, and the increased movement of players created by liberlaised free agency and the cap, should make more and better players available every year. That means a pretty quick rebuilding process. Revenue sharing should also give encouragement for low incomce teams to spend, further narrowing the payroll disparity.

So what does this mean for my team? Well I am of two minds. On the one hand the liberalised free agency should make it harder to keep the team together. The cap ensures that the team can't just keep paying your players more money all the time. Eventually you bump your head against the cap. So keeping a large core of really good players together may be impossible.

On the other hand, I expect that a team that pays really good attention to scouting, drafting and development should be able to continuallly turnover its roster of middle and low skill players. That would have the impact of keeping the cost of 3rd and 4th line players as well as #5-7 d-men down, freeing up salary for more elite players. Ottawa does excel at drafting and developing, so this may work out alright. The so-called "middle class" player gets squeezed though.

Of course it is also posible that teams will opt to stock their rosters with mostly middle class players. Lots of depth that way. But I confess that when I think of that, I see a whole lot of Minnesotas. That defense first style is what we want to avoid. But that defense first style comes from not being able to compete in terms of skill, which is partly due to inability to compete in terms of salary. Maybe the new CBA will make i so easy for teams to get skill players that there won;t be the need for such stiff defensive strategies.

Of course parity could also make such startegies that mcuh more important.

As for the rule changes, the only one that matters is enforcement. If enforcement on the clutch and grab doesn't happen, the rest is just window dressing.

If it does happen though, teams like Ottawa, which are built on speed, should thrive.

Other little thought for my team:

Sign and trade Todd White, and leave a roster spot open for Alexei Kaigorodov. The Russian is bigger, faster, cheaper, with more offensivce upside.

Don't resign Curtis Leschyshyn. You already have a very solid defense corps in Phillips, Redden, Chara, DeVries, Pothier, and Volchenkov. If depth iw what you want, there are some AHL guys who could stand to be called up, and would be cheaper. Think Christoph Schubert.

The answer to the Sens left wing problems may already be in the system in the form of Brandon Bochenski.

I would favour ditching Chris Neil in favour of B-Sens captain Chris Kelly. Even if you don't get rid of Neil, Kelly deserves a look.

Antone Vermette is wasted on the 4th line. Get that kid on the 3 or even the 2nd line.

Speaking of lines, here is what I would like to see:

Hossa - Spezza - Vermette
Alfredsson - Smolinski- Fisher
Havlat - Kaigorodov - Langfeld
Kelly - Neil - Varada

Spare: Schaeffer; First call up: Bochenski

Redden - Volchenkov
Phillips - Chara
Pothier - De Vries

Spare: Schubert; First Call up: Platil


Let me first say that if I had my druthers, I'd sign Khabibulin. I am not convinced that Hasek can do it. So, in the absence of anohter signing, here is what I see:

#1- Hasek
#2- Emery

Prusek gets traded. First call up would be Billy Thompson, who will get the #1 job in Binghamton, backed up by Kelly Guard or Jeff Glass.

I Hasek doesn't come bac, then expect Prusek to stay and platoon it with Emery.

I expect Patrick Eaves to sign and play in the AHL. He may get a look towards the end of the season.

So that should be all you hear out of me hockey wsie for a while.

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