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?