The Ottawa Senators deal sending Mike Fisher to Nashville for a first round pick and a conditional third rounder was perhaps GM Bryan Murray’s way of letting it be known that the Senators are open for business. The Senators are sunk near the bottom of the NHL, just two points ahead of the Oilers who have the fewest points in the league. The Sens are packed with aging players and devoid of organizational depth at virtually every position. It’s a grim outlook.
The way to fix that is to start dealing off players that are worth something to a playoff contender looking for that missing piece of the puzzle. While the parts as a whole aren’t working out for the Senators, they can send those pieces elsewhere to help build for the future. As for who could draw interest elsewhere, there’s a few candidates that can get it done before the trade deadline on February 28.
Alex Kovalev – Forward
The NHL veteran has had a rough go of it this season in Ottawa and a change of scenery would likely help him snap out of his moribund funk that’s plagued him all year. He’s always been a goal scorer and this year he’s got 11 goals and 12 assists. He’s just two seasons removed from scoring 26 goals and racking up 65 points and could give a team in need of a scoring winger on the second line a lift. Kovalev would love nothing more than getting out of Ottawa and away from coach Cory Clouston but it’s possible his temperamental style be enough to scare teams away.
Chris Phillips – Defenseman
Phillips is an impending unrestricted free agent after this season meaning that teams just looking to get instant help for a playoff run this year could acquire him and then not think about re-signing him in the off-season. Phillips has been a steady but not flashy defensive defenseman throughout his career in Ottawa. He’s got just four assists on the season so if a team is looking for a point-producer on the blue line, he’s not it. If you’re looking for a guy that can play solid enough defense to shore things up for a Cup run he might be the guy.
Chris Neil and Jarkko Ruutu – Forwards
Neil is certainly not a favored guy around the league and neither is Ruutu. They’ve both got reputations for being agitators and dirty-hit-throwers. Some teams feel they need a player like that to win. Ruutu has been in Clouston’s dog house lately and Neil, despite his questionable fight choices and generally nasty demeanor has a little bit of talent for a third line guy. You may not like them, but they’re the sort of player that you’d rather have on your own team than your opponent’s roster. With things being as dour as they are in Ottawa now, the Senators subtracting one or both of these guys might be addition by subtraction.
Jason Spezza – Forward
He has to be mentioned because he’s the youngest of the most talented guys on the roster. Daniel Alfredsson won’t go anywhere and Spezza has had his share of ups and downs in the last year in Canada’s capital city. Spezza is also the guy that could bring the most usable instant return in a trade.
The problem for any team that might want to acquire Spezza is that the ransom to do so would be sky high and Spezza’s cap hit isn’t very friendly at $7 million a year until 2014-2015. It’s an extreme long shot that Spezza would be traded but if the Senators are going to burn it all to the ground to rebuild, the guy that would help accelerate the process through trade immediately is Spezza.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.
Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.
Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.
Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.
The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.
Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.
After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.
Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.
MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.
But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.
“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”
Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.
“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”
Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.
Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.
Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.
SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.
Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.
The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.
Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.
Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.