Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ottawa Senators on the Decline

How the mighty have fallen - the Ottawa Senators have dropped 3 straight games to the horrible New York Islanders and are just 2 points in front of Dallas, the worst team in the league. The same Ottawa team that set a new NHL record for the best start after the first 16 games last season. Many would argue that the record is unjustified and this is a bump in the road to success. I on the contrary believe the once powerhouse Senators team is on the decline and dropping fast.

Reasons for the Decline:
- Defensive players such as Redden, Meszaros, and Corvo has been replaced by Kuba, Picard, and Smith. Although Kuba is a pleasant surprise, Corvo is having an excellent year in Carolina and Redden/Meszaros are all top-end NHL players in my opinion.

- The Dominik Hasek experiment was to sure up the skeptical goaltending situation Ottawa has been receiving for the past decade. That turned out to be a bust. Fast forwarding to 2008, Ottawa is still having problems in net - and with an unacceptable defensive unit, the Ottawa back-end although stats-wise seems decent, it is definitely not as good as previous years.

- Surprisingly, Ottawa has been struggling to put pucks in the net this season. The power line of Spezza, Heatley, and Alfredsson is contributing, but not tearing up the league like we're accustomed to. Secondary scoring has practically disappeared. Behind Alfredsson, Heatley, and Spezza, the next three scorers are defenders and Jarkko Ruutu.

What to Do:
1. Here is a suggestion. Blow up the team and make a trade with Vancouver. Start rebuilding the team from the back-end by acquiring a defence from Vancouver (Ohlund? Bieksa?) and Cory Schneider for one of the top forwards on the team (Spezza? Heatley?). Vancouver has Luongo and Cory Schneider is a top-end goalie that might very well be expandable for the right price.

2. Time to rebuild the franchise. Alfredsson recently signed a long-term contract to stay with Ottawa for the rest of his career. Restructure the team for couple of years around Alfredsson and either Spezza/Heatley with a solid defensive core and make a run in a few years time.

3. Continue to go in the tank and hope for Tavares or Hedman. Previously i suggested for Vancouver to throw away the season if Luongo was out for an extended period of time in hopes of picking up one of the two prospects. Throwing away a season for a draft pick might not be the best idea, but when the top two picks has the caliber of Tavares or Hedman, finishing last is not a bad idea.

Something needs to be done in Ottawa to turn the franchise around. If they think things will just improve as is, they are in for a big surprise. There are too many flaws in the team to have a legit shot for the playoffs. Scoring was the key to the team for the past few years and do they really think Alex Auld or even Gerber can carry them into the playoffs. Key to the Sens - Make a Trade!