I know in the past I have put out the idea that the Senators should consider trading Alfredsson. My argument prior to the 2005-06 season was that the team changed the coach, gave super-talanted Spezza the #1 center role, swapped star wingers (Hossa for Heatley) and acquired a star goalie (Hasek) and that if this team still can’t win in the playoffs that they should consider a major leadership change by trading Alfredsson. They were once again a dissapointment in the playoffs but chose to keep Alfredsson as their captain and leader.
But 17 games into the season the Senators now sit at a dismal 6-10-1 with no real signs of breaking out of their slump. The question is, what do you do now? I would like to once again suggest that tradeing Daniel Alfredsson is what should be done. It seems clear that the goto tandem of the team is Spezza and Heatley. So far the coach has never even flirted with the notion of splitting them up and generally there hasn’t been a reason to as they have played great together. The problem is, if those two are the goto tandem, where does that leave Alfredsson?
Over the course of much of last season and most of this season coach Bryan Murray has tried desperately to find success for Alfredsson on a different line. There was some limited success last season mostly when Alfredsson was paired with Bryan Smolinski but as we know Bryan Smolinski is not in Chicago. This season finding Alfredsson some linemates to play with has been a complete failure. So if you can’t find Alfredsson another line to play on and if he is only going to be the #3 guy on the top line, and if you believe that his leadership abilities are questionable based on past failures to lead the team to playoff success, does that make Alfredsson the most expendable part of this team if you are looking to make an impact trade to turn the season around?
Sure, you could trade Fisher, but he has played poorly so far this season and his value is probably fairly low. You could trade Vermette but he has game-breaking speed and has been one of the few players who has contributed secondary scoring and honestly, would a Vermette trade be big enough to be considered a significant enough shake up to turn the team around? I am not sure of that. And trading any other forward (aside from Spezza or Heatley but they have been identified as the go to tandem so won’t be traded) would be considered enough of a shakeup to dramatically change the make up of the team.
So at this point it is clear that the team needs a significant shake up and that Alfredsson of all the forwards is both expendable and valuable enough to both be considered a major shakeup and provide signifant return in a trade. So, who do you trade him for.
First off, in trading Alfredsson I wouldn’t be looking for a player of equal talent, I would be looking for a pair of players who would bring a different set of attributes to the table. I would be looking for a defensivly aware, high-energy winger who would be able to play with Spezza and Heatley and also a solid all-round second line center to be able to play with guys like Vermette, Eaves, Schaeffer, etc. In an ideal world one or both of these players would have experienced some playoff success.
Here are a few examples of a trade that might work:
1. Alfredsson to Florida for Nathan Horton and Joe Nieuwendyk
Horton is a high energy, feisty power forward with enough skill to be able to play with Spezza and Heatley and he is young and someone you could build around for the future. Nieuwendyk isn’t the ideal second line center because at this point in his career he has injury issues but has the leadership and playoff experience that Ottawa desperately needs. You could try to get Jozef Stumpel but he doesn’t really have the playoff experience and leadership skills you would ideally be looking for. Gary Roberts is another option but doesn’t address the need for a second line center. Florida might consider a move like this because GM and coach Jacques Martin is very familiar with Alfredsson and they might be looking for someone to help alleviate the loss of Bertuzzi to injury.
2. Alfredsson to NY Islanders for Mike York and Trent Hunter
Both York and Hunter have had poor starts to the season but both are capable of playing much better. Hunter is a good all-round winger who can play physical, whill score some goals and won’t hurt you defensively. York is a good second line center with good playmaking abilities and also won’t hurt you defensively. York would be a good second line center for Ottawa. The downside is that neither of these guys provide the playoff experience you would be looking for and also both players have contracts ending at the end of the season. But you could probably get the Islanders to include a draft pick or a prospect in this trade because of that. The Islanders might do this deal to reunite Alfredsson with Yashin and hopefully get some more offense out of both of them.
3. Alfredsson to Anaheim for Todd Marchant and Corey Perry
Todd Marchant would be a solid second line center and Corey Perry has the talent and ability to play either with Spezza and Heatley or with Marchant on the second line. Marchant played great in the playoffs last year as well so that would be a plus for the Senators. Anaheim might do this deal to rid themselves of the 3 years remaining on Marchant’s contract and also to get another proven and experienced scorer. Alfredsson’s salary is more than the combined salary of Marchant and Perry this season but the Ducks did save $800,000 in the Chistov trade so might be positioned to take on some added salary.
I doubt any of these trades will happen but they are the kind of trade that I think Ottawa needs to make to shake up their team and also address some holes that clearly exist in their lineup. The question is, does Muckler have enough guts (or lost enough patience in his team) to make a bold move like this before Melnyk makes a bold move of his own.