Ottawa has stirred things up one day prior to the NHL’s trade deadline, putting forward Cory Conacher and veteran defenseman Joe Corvo on waivers.
The most surprising decision was Conacher, the 24-year-old who finished sixth in Calder voting last season as the league’s top rookie. The diminutive winger has played 59 games this year, scoring four goals and 20 points, but his ice time has dipped to 12:20 per game, an indication he’s struggled to find his niche in the Sens lineup.
Conacher is best known as the piece Ottawa acquired at last year’s deadline in exchange for Ben Bishop. To say the trade has been lopsided is an understatement — Bishop has turned in a Vezina-caliber year in Tampa Bay, ranking among the league leaders in shutouts (four), wins (29), GAA (2.05) and save percentage (.932).
Conacher’s in the last year of a deal that carries a modest $871,250 cap hit.
As for Corvo, the 36-year-old rearguard’s struggled for a regular spot in the Ottawa lineup, but has scored 10 points in just 25 appearances this season, showing a decent offensive pop. He’s on a $900,000 deal that expires at year’s end, so he could be a depth pickup for a club wanting veteran d-man experience come playoff time.
Bryan Murray has quieted the Jason Spezza rumblings.
“I think the thing that really bothers me — I’ve got all kinds of calls and texts and questions on that now — some guy that I don’t know, put it out on Twitter that we’re shopping Jason Spezza, and everybody in the world now, every other media guy, grabs that and goes … I had one guy ask me if I wanted to comment to quiet the rumors, I said no,” Murray explained, per the Ottawa Citizen.
“I’m not going to … the more I say about it, the more it’s going to be played over and over the next couple days, so I’ll just say that we have not talked, at this point in time, about Jason Spezza.”
Murray was speaking in response to a variety of reports — including one from TSN’s Darren Dreger — which suggested Ottawa had been exploring interest in the 30-year-old.
Spezza, who inherited the Sens’ captaincy from Daniel Alfredsson this year, has rebounded from an injury-plagued ’13 campaign to post solid numbers (15 goals, 46 points in 56 games.) He’d be a significant offensive pickup for any playoff-bound team but, that said, his minus-24 rating is one of the worst in the league — assuming you care about plus-minus.
Spezza deal or no Spezza deal, Ottawa is definitely a team to watch as Wednesday’s deadline draws near. Veteran d-man Chris Phillips is a pending UFA and there hasn’t been much to report about a new contract, while fellow veteran UFAs Milan Michalek and Joe Corvo have uncertain futures as well.
It’s also still unclear what the Sens plan to do at the deadline — they’re right in the thick of the playoff chase, but would have to leapfrog three teams just to get into the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Twenty games was enough for Cody Ceci to show he deserved to be in the NHL.
On Tuesday, Ottawa informed Ceci that he’d be sticking with the team for the remainder of the season, a decision that could have a ripple effect as the trade deadline draws near.
Here’s more, from the Ottawa Citizen:
Since Ceci has arrived, the Senators have gone 9-4-2 and, as owner Eugene Melnyk said Monday, the desperate, league wide search for a defenceman with offensive instincts has been put on hold. In fact, the Senators are now dealing with the new math problem — that eight defenceman is more than enough. The next move could be subtraction rather than addition.
During Ceci’s stint with the Senators, Patrick Wiercioch has had a stretch of being a healthy scratch for eight of 10 games. Eric Gryba has sat out eight of 13 games. Joe Corvo has missed six of 10 games.
Even veteran Marc Methot hasn’t been safe. The 28-year-old rearguard has been a healthy scratch on a few occasions this season, despite being a vital contributor last season (11 points in 47 games while averaging 22:14 TOI per night) and earning an invite to Team Canada’s Olympic orientation camp this summer.
Ottawa is rumored to be in the market for a scoring winger to play alongside Jason Spezza, and could very well move a defenseman — or, defensemen — to get it done.
Ceci won’t be going anywhere, though. Despite only turning 20 in December, the former OHL Ottawa star has played beyond his years and has five points in his first 20 NHL contests, averaging over 18 minutes per game.