Thursday, September 11, 2008

Little Things and a Whopper

Plenty of stories today, from further works on the roster overcrowding and Richardson's desire to play, as well as a look into Elliot's future and development, and an interesting conversation with Kuba.

The Ottawa Sun brings us more word that indeed there will be battling for roster spots. Of particular interest is Murray suggesting that we have less skill this season, but more depth, likely alluding to the fact that we could nearly fill the whole roster with NHL pros, while still having many AHL guys looking to get their crack at the big leagues. He goes so far as to say that "If we have to move somebody as the result of a young guy making our team, that's just the way it is." To me, that suggests that should some of the younger players (Bass, Foligno, Winchester, Zubov, Nikulin, Bell, Carkner, etc) outwork some of the older ones, we might see the senior players traded off. Considering in such a situation you would not be trying to fill out the roster, it might mean that they would be traded for younger prospects, or else picks. It's not like we couldn't use more picks to perhaps help us turn our late 1st rounders into higher picks in this reportedly deep 2009 draft.

Also from the Ottawa Sun, we hear that Richardson is looking forward to attending training camp. For the first time in his 20 NHL seasons, he is without a contract. In his favour is that Murray says that "He wants to play. He's really convinced he can continue. I go over to watch him skate, and there's not anything missing from last year. He's the same player." Working against him is that the 'same player' implies a reliable 5th-7th defenseman, competing against youngsters over a decade his junior, some with the offensive skills he lacks. Again, he might stick with the Sens regardless of making the team or not, as word is they like the coaching skills he's been showing while in the press box. The only way I can see him on the team is if all the rookies flop, or if some of our defensemen are a part of another trade, but that too is doubtful.

From the Ottawa Citizen, we get a good look at Brian Elliot, and the efforts being made to turn him into our goaltender of the future. No doubt, he has potential, and looked good in his single NHL game. With Gerber gone and Auld having one year left come season's end, I can't necessarily see Elliot making the jump to the team at that point. As Ken Warren points out, we have yet to develop a goaltender, with Emery being the closest we have come. Since we don't want to follow the example the Leafs set by rushing defensemen into full service too quickly, my guess is that Murray might look into getting a strong number one goaltender via free agency or trade, and keep him with Auld next season. Then, hopefully, Elliot might climb into the NHL as a backup, much as Emery did behind Hasek, only this time I would hope that the two have a more gradual transition between duties. I'd still take it as a good sign that there is faith in Elliot, since the Sens traded up to draft Karlsson this draft, rather than going with the common prediction and taking goaltender Chet Picard.

Via KK, a link to the Bolts Report, referring to a Tampa Bay Online story that suggests Kuba might have gotten the Boyle/McCabe treatment when he learned of his impending trade to the Ottawa Senators. "The way it was presented to me at the time, I knew even if I said no to the trade I wasn't going to stay here on the team," Kuba said. "So it didn't make any sense to say no I'm going to stay and then know I'm going somewhere else anyway." Hmmm, how else might we be able to interpret this? Another situation perhaps where a player is presented with a good deal, but then threatened to be placed on waivers to end up who knows where? Hearing this, I certainly hope that our team will give a very loud, proud, and warm welcome to Kuba, and I hope that Tampa will take over as heir apparent to the seemingly UFA-repelling champ Vancouver Canucks. How much Koules-Aid do you have to drink before you really start to wonder if guys like these and others under fraud investigations are better for the League than billionaire, hockey-obsessed men like Balsillie?

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