Matt Duchene

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Eugene Melnyk’s Senators are kind of a mess right now

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As the Ottawa Senators prepare to head into their outdoor game against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night it is really difficult to imagine this is the same organization that was one game away from winning the entire Eastern Conference just seven months ago.

It’s taken a less than a year for all of the goodwill that improbable playoff run created among the team’s fan base to be almost completely wiped away.

And it’s not just because the product on the ice has badly regressed.

Actually, that is probably the least of their concerns at this point.

On a day that is supposed to be a celebration and a highlight of the team’s season — a home outdoor game against the Montreal Canadiens!– the fan base is instead staging a social media rebellion against team owner Eugene Melnyk with the #melnykout hashtag on Twitter.

[NHL On NBCSN: Senators, Canadiens Meet In NHL 100 Classic]

Pretty much every reply to every Tweet from the Senators’ social media team is being bombarded with that hashtag as fans voice their displeasure. On Saturday afternoon #melynkout was one of the top trending topics in all of Canada.

Just a quick recap of everything that has gone wrong in recent weeks to help get things to this boiling point.

  • Erik Karlsson, the team’s best player, a generational talent, and a superstar that has played the past few seasons on a below market contract made some comments that indicated he would not be willing to take another hometown discount when his contract expires after next season. Given the team’s financials it is pretty clear that he already has one foot out the door.
  • The team, struggling on the ice and apparently desperate to make a move, is reportedly fielding calls on every player on the roster, including Karlsson.
  • Kyle Turris, traded as part of the Matt Duchene trade, suggested the team’s front office wanted to re-sign him but ownership did not. Turris and his new team, the Nashville Predators, have been unstoppable since the trade while Duchene and the Senators have been stuck in neutral.
  • General manager Pierre Dorion denied that claim and said all hockey moves go through him, not the owner. That press conference from Dorion included the anecdote that Dorion’s own son said the team’s “level of suckage is high.”
  • Then, on Friday night, on the night before the team’s outdoor game, Melnyk poured a bucket of gasoline on the tire fire that is his team and made some ominous comments about the team’s financial situation and future in Ottawa.

Melnyk is no stranger to bringing some less than desirable attention to his team. The whole forensic investigation surrounding the Matt Cooke and Erik Karlsson incident; the way he lost his mind in the wake of the Sidney Crosby/Marc Methot incident. But to make comments like the ones he made on Friday, on the eve of a major NHL and team event, and given everything else surrounding the team and his ownership at the moment, is astonishing even for him.

Oh, and the team itself is still seven points out of a playoff spot and sitting in 15th place in the Eastern Conference.

Given all of that it is really difficult to imagine a bleaker long-term outlook for any fan base in the NHL. Which situation can possibly be worse?

The only one that really comes close at this point from is probably the Detroit Red Wings, and that is strictly from a hockey standpoint. The Red Wings are a sub-par team saddled with a ton of long-term contracts, little in the way of young, impact talent and are in dire need of a rebuild but seem reluctant to actually go through with it. It might be a long time before the Red Wings are a factor in the Eastern Conference again, but at least they are not in danger of moving (or at least having that threat thrown out there). They don’t have an owner that fans are openly revolting against.

Even the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes have some reason to be hopeful from a hockey standpoint (Jack Eichel in Buffalo; Arizona is struggling, but they have a ton of young talent).

But the Senators? What is the reason for optimism here?

They have a generational superstar that might be one of the finest players to ever play his position and it is only a matter of when, and not if, he is playing for another team.

The owner, seemingly unwilling to sell the team, doesn’t seem to respect his own fan base and doesn’t seem to have the funds to consistently put a competitive product on the ice.

If you are Senators fan, what can you possibly have to look forward to right now, whether it be for the rest of this season or beyond?

It is a grim situation to be sure.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

‘It’s just a formality’: Erik Karlsson talks about submitting 10-team no-trade list

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There has been plenty of speculation regarding the future of Erik Karlsson over the last few days.

On Tuesday, the speculation took an interesting twist as Karlsson spoke to the media for the first time since a report surfaced about him being asked to submit a 10-team no trade list to management.

“That’s one of the things that’s in my contract and it’s just a formality and it’s business. I don’t read too much into it,” said Karlsson, per the Ottawa Sun.

Karlsson might not read much into it, but the fact that the Senators have allowed this situation to get to this point is mind-boggling.

Sure, the Swedish blue liner might not want to take a discount to stay in Ottawa, but he’s arguably one of the top three players in the game. Are the Sens really willing to make a franchise-altering trade because the face of their organization isn’t willing to take a few million dollars less?

Of course, this might just be a negotiating tactic. Maybe they believe that the threat of trading him will scare him into taking less money, but that’s a pretty silly way of thinking. On the flip side, asking him to submit his no-trade list could theoretically turn him off, too.

“It varies from person-to-person and from personality-to-personality,” added Karlsson. “When you’re in the situation we’re in right now, I’ve been through it before, so I’ve seen multiple different scenarios. I’m probably better dealing with it than some of the other guys.”

 There’s no doubt that the Senators are struggling mightily right now. Although it’s still early, the Matt Duchene trade has been a complete flop. Not only is Duchene not producing, the Sens, as a team, have seemingly forgotten how to win.

Ottawa has dropped four games in a row, and since coming back from their sweep of the Avalanche in Stockholm, Sweden, they’ve won just one of their 12 last games.

They need to shake things up, but trying to rattle Karlsson’s cage is not the way to get it done.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Adam Henrique finding new life on West Coast

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Remember when Adam Henrique scored 30 goals one season?

He does. His fans do. And the Anaheim Ducks would love for that to be a memory of their own in the near future.

The good news Henrique, who was traded to the Ducks from the New Jersey Devils for Sami Vatanen 10 days ago — and all involved for that matter — is that he’s rekindled that penchant for putting pucks past goalies in his new threads.

Henrique scored for the third time in five games on Friday since joining the Ducks and now has six points in that span. That puts him one goal shy of the four he scored in the first 24 games of the season with the Devils. Prior to joining the Ducks, Henrique had one goal in his previous 15 games.

Evidently, the change of pace has helped.

(Perhaps Matt Duchene in Ottawa should take a few notes.)

Indeed, Henrique, 27, has found new life on a line with Corey Perry and Rickard Rakell. The battered Ducks envisioned some adding scoring when they slotted Henrique on the top line in Anaheim and he’s since delivered.

The move has had added benefits as well, including getting Perry going.

Perry has missed a playmaker like Ryan Getzlaf in the middle. Getzlaf has been limited to six games this season due to two separate injuries.

Perry has found some good chemistry with Henrique, managing to score twice in as many games last week, with Henrique playing a part in both tallies. Perry has also returned the favour, assisting on two of Henrique’s three markers.

It’s a good sign for the Ducks, who might be getting healthy soon to boot.

God knows they need it. Even with the offensive boost, the Ducks have still only managed two wins out of their past 10 games.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

PHT Morning Skate: Kovalchuk urges clean Russian athletes to go to Olympics

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• If Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson both hit free agency in the summer of 2019, there’s no doubt that that would change the landscape in the NHL. (Sporting News)

• Ilya Kovalchuk believes that all of Russia’s clean athletes should go the Olympics. (Reuters.com)

• Speaking of the IOC’s Russian ban, Canucks forward Alex Burmistrov says he’s not impressed with the decision. (The Province)

• Former Minnesota high school hockey player Jack Jablonski was left paralyzed after being hit during a game. A couple of weeks ago, he got a huge emotional boost. (LA Times)

• One of the bidders has pulled themselves out of the running for the land at Belmont Park. That means that the Islanders and MLS’ NYCFC are the only two bidding on that piece of land right now. (The Sports Daily)

• Sens GM Pierre Dorion already made a splash when he acquired Matt Duchene, but now he’s looking at other ways to help his struggling team. (Ottawa Sun)

• Erik Martinson, who tracks the stats at University of North Dakota hockey games, is passionate about his work. His crew will be tracking stats at the Frozen Four this year. (Grandforksherald.com)

• Seattle Thunderbirds GM Russ Farwell isn’t surprised by the way Mat Barzal has performed for the Islanders this season. (SNY.TV)

• The Carolina Hurricanes are always near the bottom when it comes to attendance, but that’s partly by design. (SB Nation)

• It’s time for the Avalanche to trust Semyon Varlamov and stop being so cautious with him. (BSN Denver)

• The Tampa Bay Lightning are close to announcing two new five-year leases that would keep them Tampa through 2037. (Tampa Bay Times)

• Jack Hughes isn’t draft-eligible until 2019, but it already looks like he’ll be one of the next great American hockey players. (Hockeywilderness.com)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Fantasy adds & drops: One cool DeBrincat

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Every week, PHT will try to help its readers by providing some fantasy hockey advice. This column will attempt to guide you through the rough waters of your league’s waiver wire.

We’ll recommend players to pick up that are owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues and we’ll tell you who you should drop, too.

Here it is:

Alex DeBrincat-LW/RW-Chicago Blackhawks (owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues)

DeBrincat, who will turn 20 this month, picked up an impressive 14 points in 13 games during the month of November. He’s currently on pace to score 33 goals in his rookie season, which is pretty impressive for a player of his age. If you’re in a dynasty league, he’s a must-add off the waiver wire.

Mathieu Perreault-C/LW-Winnipeg Jets (18 percent)

Perreault has never hit the 50-point mark at the NHL level, but he seems to have figured things out this season. Even though he missed a good chunk of the season with a lower-body injury, he’s managed to put up 14 points in 15 games. The Jets have a ton of firepower which means they’ll likely continue filling up the net. Perreault probably won’t be a point-per-game player the rest of the way, but there’s definitely some value there.

Kyle Connor-LW-Winnipeg Jets (18 percent)

Connor is currently on the shelf with a minor injury, but he’s still worth picking up in most leagues. The 17th overall pick in 2015 is quietly putting together a solid rookie season, as he’s already up to nine goals and 17 points in 21 contests. The fact that he’s been playing with talented players like Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler will only help his fantasy outlook.

[More Fantasy: RotoWorld’s Waiver Wired column]

Adam Henrique-C-Anaheim Ducks (16 percent)

Henrique’s tenure with the Ducks is off to a great start, as he’s produced a goal and an assist in his first two games with his new team. Anaheim has been decimated by injuries (Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell and Ryan Kesler have all missed time), so Henrique will continue to play an offensive role with the team.

Pierre-Luc Dubois-C/LW-Columbus Blue Jackets (8 percent)

It might still be a little early to pick up Dubois off the waiver wire, but there’s no harm in giving him a mention at this point. He’s only picked up 11 points in 27 games this season, but he’s been producing a lot more lately. The Jackets rookie has a four-game point streak going (he’s picked up six points during that stretch). He’s also playing significant minutes during this stretch, as he’s played at least 18:49 in three of the four contests. He’s a high-risk/high-reward add in most fantasy leagues.

Drop: 

Clayton Keller-C/LW/RW-Arizona Coyotes (62 percent)

Having Keller on the drop list would have been unthinkable a month ago, but his production has really dipped over the little while. Even though  he has three assists in his last four contests, the Coyotes rookie hasn’t found the back of the net in 14 straight games. He was a great story early on, but it probably wasn’t realistic for anyone to think he would keep rolling at a point-per-game pace on a bad Coyotes team.

[More Fantasy: RotoWorld’s In the Crease column]

Matt Duchene-C/RW-Ottawa Senators (50 percent)

Duchene finally got his wish, as he was moved to Ottawa from Colorado a few weeks ago, but that hasn’t helped his on-ice production. Since playing his first game with the Sens on Nov. 10, Duchene has picked up just two points. He might get back on track eventually, but he can safely be dropped for now.

Henrik Zetterberg-C/LW-Detroit Red Wings (48 percent)

The Red Wings have been a disaster of late. Not only have they dropped seven games in a row, they’re also coming off a 10-1 dismantling at the hands of the Canadiens on Saturday night. Zetterberg hasn’t scored in 20 games and he’s accumulated just 15 points in 2017-18. As great as he’s been over the years, it might be time to part ways with him in all fantasy formats.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.