NHL GM's are facing similar decisions this weekend. I concede that their decisions are slightly more nerve wracking than mine was. One wrong step could cost you your job. Hell, it could cause a domino effect that one day kills your franchise. Ottawa hockey fans calling our post game shows have sounded this year like they want to burn down the city. And this is while cheering for the best team in the Eastern Conference.
Will there be fan mutiny in the lean years? Who knows? There's no precedent. The novelty of having a franchise took us through the rough patch that was the 90's. How would the fans respond if the team that never misses the playoffs actually did? I believe that worry is always a concern when the Sens make their deadline day decisions.
The Senators have 10 regulars who will be free agents this summer. Some will have to say goodbye. Problem is, there's barely enough qualified kids right now to fill holes for next season. When the Sens lose 4 or 5 of these players, and they will, that would normally free up some money to spend on UFA replacements. But the Senators have already committed to giving Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher a collective 12 million dollar raise next season.
So much for free agent shopping.
So they have rely on some of the kids like Nick Foligno, Brian Lee, Jim O'Brien, Ilya Zubov, Alexander Nikulin, Josh Hennessy, and Kaspars Daugavins. Of that group, only Foligno is guaranteed NHL calibre. When the minor league cupboard is so thin, I think the Sens should be hesitant to weaken it further.
Mats Sundin, Marion Hossa, Dan Boyle, Rob Blake or Adam Foote are all very attractive commodities. UFA's on bad teams. But their teams will want some of Ottawa's future in return - some of the aforementioned kids, a first rounder and maybe a young player off the roster. Should the Senators give some of that up for a rent-a-player and take their shot? I honestly think only Sundin improves your Cup chances to the point that it's worth taking a couple of shots to the foundation of youth.
Sundin is the one player I would swing for the fence on. He can do it all. And it doesn't change at playoff time. He can score via finesse and skill. He can also fight through the garbage in the slot to smack in the garbage while face washing his opponent. Imagine Heatley and Spezza on one line, Alfie and Sundin on the other. Wow.
Now. Here comes the Senator sacrilege. Like everyone else, I love Mike Fisher's game. And what I'm prepared to do has me feeling like the 13 year old kid who dealt away his Gretzky card. But I might actually do Sundin for Fisher (insert gasps and angry noises here).
Sundin gives you a way better chance to win it all right now. The knee jerk reaction from Sens fans will be, "Are you nuts? You'd give up a heart and soul guy for a rent-a-player and end up with nothing this summer?" Well, no. I wouldn't. What makes this deal acceptable to me is that you're not left with nothing. You'd have 6 million dollars in your pocket. The 6 mill that Fisher was due next season. That still helps buys you a hell of a hockey player in free agency. Maybe it could be Sundin, who makes 5.5M right now. Granted, Fisher's salary grows gradually smaller for the ensuing four years but I expect, given the number of breakdowns he's had so far, his games played numbers will also reduce with time.
You'll note in the attached photo that I've begun preparing my Leaf-hating self for this deal by thinking of Sundin only as a Nordique.
To me, the funniest thing about suggesting a Fisher for Sundin deal? I will receive as many angry emails from Leaf fans as I do Sens' fans.