The Big Question: Should the Senators trade Alfredsson?

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The Big Question will be a weekly feature on PHT where we ask a question, provide some background and ask you, the reader, to weigh in with your opinions.

Today’s question: Should the Senators trade Daniel Alfredsson?

With the Sens off to a predictably slow start, the question of whether to trade captain Daniel Alfredsson for picks and/or prospects has been coming up more and more. At 38 years old (he’ll turn 39 in December), Alfredsson is still putting up respectable numbers – in Ottawa’s first eight games, he has two goals and three assists. Assuming he stays healthy, he could certainly help a contender come playoff time.

But would the Senators ever deal their captain, the franchise cornerstone they drafted all the way back in 1994 that’s played over 1,000 games in a Sens uniform? Probably, if he asked them to. Alfredsson has never won a Stanley Cup and he won’t be winning one in Ottawa.

According to capgeek.com, Alfredsson doesn’t have a no-movement clause. But according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, he does. Not sure which is correct. Not sure it matters either. The Senators aren’t likely to send Alfie packing without getting his consent.

So let’s assume he agrees to be traded. Afredsson is signed until the end of next season with a cap hit of $4.875 million. But there’s a lot more to his contract than just the cap hit.

First factor: His actual salary for next season is only $1 million. Alfredsson got most of the money on his four-year, $19.5-million deal up front. And while the cap hit is the only thing fans care about, NHL owners care deeply about cash flow. Any owner, rich or poor, would love to pay a player of Alfredsson’s caliber a million bucks.

Second factor: Alfredsson signed his deal after he turned 35 years old, meaning if he retires after the 2011-12 season, his club would still be on the hook for the cap hit in 2012-13. There aren’t many contenders (if any) with cap space to waste, so acquiring Alfie would come with a significant risk…unless there’s a wink-wink-nudge-nudge agreement he wouldn’t retire until he was traded to a team that wasn’t up against the ceiling. Granted, the league might have something to say about that.

So where could Alfredsson go?

Calgary’s been rumored as a possible destination, but that’s probably just the internet talking. The Flames need to get younger, not older. And who would Ottawa get in return? Don’t think they’re interested in Matt Stajan.

The Bruins could use a right winger and have the cap space to make something work.

The Red Wings could be a match as well. They seem to like Swedes. And with Nicklas Lidstrom nearing the end of his career, Detroit might be willing to take a chance. Not saying the Wings are in “last gasp” mode, but they’ll miss Lidstrom when he’s gone.

The Sabres would love to trade RW Brad Boyes (pending UFA, $4 million cap hit). Maybe they could get creative there. Give the Sens a guy (Boyes) with an expiring contract plus throw in some picks/prospects.

Any other ideas?

Or is this whole thing a non-starter anyway?

Sens win, but empty seats get the attention

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All the talk in Ottawa today should be about the Senators’ big win over the Rangers.

Instead, the city’s playoff excitement has been hijacked by a familiar topic — attendance woes.

A crowd of just 16,744 was announced at Canadian Tire Centre last night. Pictures of empty seats were all over social media. It had to be embarrassing for the home team, not to mention its combustible owner.

Read more: Plenty of tickets available for Game 1 in Ottawa

There are plenty of theories that attempt to explain the poor attendance. The suburban arena gets blamed a lot, and it’s true that the location is quite inconvenient. Some say the defensive style that coach Guy Boucher employs does not make for an entertaining enough product.

Here’s Sens reporter Ian Mendes with his take for TSN.ca:

The truth of the matter is that Ottawa simply doesn’t have a big enough season ticket base. Though the club never publicly discloses how many season tickets they have sold, it stands to reason that the number is well under 10,000. That means on a nightly basis, the Senators have to drum up enough walk-up sales to fill at least half their building – which is located well outside of the downtown core.

A better crowd is expected Saturday afternoon for Game 2.

But there are still tickets available.

Related: Poor attendance an early story in Ottawa

Preds proving preseason hype was warranted

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They were a trendy pick to win the Stanley Cup.

And then the season started.

The Nashville Predators never really got rolling during their 82-game schedule. They’d have some good stretches, followed by some bad stretches. They ended up as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Most predicted they’d lose to Chicago in the first round.

Of course, most were wrong. The Preds swept the Blackhawks, and now they’re up 1-0 on the Blues in the second round.

“We come in, we’re supposed to be this awesome, amazing team and we didn’t start so hot,” d-man Ryan Ellis said, per NHL.com. “We started to get better, and then some injuries crept into our locker room. We battled the whole year, losing guys at various times in the year and some younger guys stepped up. But overall, it’s adversity that makes you stronger. This was one of those years we faced a lot of adversity.”

A quick glance at Nashville’s roster and it’s not hard to understand the preseason hype. The Predators have a No. 1 center in Ryan Johansen, a tremendous goal-scorer in Filip Forsberg, and one of the more underrated wingers in the league in Viktor Arvidsson.

But the real jewel is their blue line. Roman Josi is the No. 1 defenseman. He’s paired with Ellis, a former 11th overall draft pick. On the second pair is a former Norris Trophy winner, P.K. Subban, who skates with the dependable Mattias Ekholm.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better top four than that. And to think, the Preds also had Seth Jones, until they traded him to Columbus for Johansen.

The wild card heading into the playoffs was Pekka Rinne, the 34-year-old goalie who was spectacularly inconsistent during the regular season. He had a .949 save percentage in November, followed by an .875 in December. It was .933 in January, down to .888 in February, then back up to .923 in March.

So far this postseason, it’s .962.

Tonight in St. Louis, the Preds can make it six straight wins in the playoffs. More importantly, they can take a 2-0 lead over the Blues back to Nashville.

“Throughout the year, I think we’re a little bit inconsistent,” winger Colin Wilson told reporters. “But when we played our game, we were always unstoppable. We have a lot of talent, great D, great goaltending, all-around strong team with a lot of depth.”

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Rangers won’t let Drury interview for Sabres GM gig

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As a former player and well-regarded young executive, there was a fit for Chris Drury in Buffalo’s front office.

Of course, there’s the exact same fit with the Rangers.

That’s why today’s news can’t come as a huge surprise. Per Sportsnet and TSN, New York has turned down Buffalo’s request to interview Drury for its vacant general manager gig.

Drury, 40, has spent the last two years climbing the Rangers’ executive depth chart. He was brought aboard in 2015 as the club’s director of player development and, a year later, was promoted to assistant GM under Jeff Gorton.

The Rangers aren’t the only ones enamored by Drury’s front office skills. Recently, USA Hockey tabbed him — along with Bill Guerin — as the braintrust responsible for building Team USA’s entry in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

As mentioned above, it was easy to see why the Sabres were interested. Drury played three seasons in Buffalo, served as team captain, and the club appears primed to make a splash with its next hire after dismissing Tim Murray.

Drury, of course, spent four seasons with the Rangers and also wore the “C.”

Should Erik Karlsson’s game-winning goal have counted?

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We’re only one game into the Sens-Rangers series, and we already have a little bit of controversy.

Ottawa won Game 1, 2-1, thanks to Erik Karlsson‘s game-winning goal from a seemingly impossible angle (seriously, he scored from the corner).

But should it have counted?

There’s no issue with the Karlsson shot going off Henrik Lundqvist‘s mask and in, but the Rangers felt that the referees missed an icing call moments before the goal happened.

Karlsson is standing near his own blue line when he sends a pass in Jean-Gabriel Pageau‘s direction. Did Pageau get a piece of it? It’s hard to tell from the angles we have at our disposal, but Alain Vigneault seemed to have had a good look at the play.

“We felt on their game-winning goal it should have been icing,” Vigneault said, per Sportsnet. “When we look at it, and look at the angles we get, I think it should have been icing. But at the end of the game you gotta play and you gotta do more than we did tonight to win.”

Challenging icing calls isn’t permitted, so when the officials decided that Pageau touched the puck, there’s nothing more the Rangers could do to reverse the call (except get the puck out of the zone when they had the chance).