The Ottawa Senators find themselves in quite the precarious situation.
As anyone who’s followed hockey for a milisecond this season knows, the Sens have had injury problems. Well, that’s a slight (or huge) underestimation of the hard luck that’s befallen them.
The somewhat good news is that defenseman Marc Methot should be back for Monday’s tilt with the suddenly-injury-riddled New Jersey Devils. If not, there’s always Thursday against the Rangers. A bit sad when your injured defenseman only being out a game or two is considered a lucky break but the Sens will take it.
In addition, star goaltender Craig Anderson should theoretically be back soon. Not that they’ve really needed him of late with the stellar play of Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop. Must be nice to get solid goaltending from multiple guys when the Flyers have been trying to find just ONE guy over the last 15 years. But hey, you win some you lose some, right Flyers fans?
Despite all of the injuries that have set them back, the Sens sit in 5th in the East as of today. Not only that but they are within striking distance of first-place Montreal; just five points back (although the Habs have a game in hand).
So what does the team do from here? Do they stand pat, hope their hard work and goaltending can carry them, possibly wasting the last year of Daniel Alfredsson they have?
Or do they load up at the deadline, reinforce the current lineup, and take one last run at glory for their fabled captain?
With the Penguins acquiring former Stars forward Brendan Morrow over the weekend, the number of options are dwindling. Jarome Iginla remains a possibility and could be a huge upgrade but would the Sens be willing to pay the kind of bounty it would take to bring the Flames captain to Canada’s capitol?
Mike Ribeiro might want too much of a commitment from his next potential suitor and, with his success this season, might come at an equally high cost to the team that looks to add him.
Perhaps a run at an under-achieving power forward is the answer. Ryan Clowe of the Sharks has been a solid playoff performer and perhaps just needs a change of scenery to get out of the huge slump he’s been in this season.
Or, hey, how about Drew Stafford or Jason Pominville? The Sabres should be sellers come deadline time and while Stafford may not be ideal, Pominville is an upper-echelon scorer who could do some real damage in a Sens lineup that wouldn’t need him to play like a star.
Perhaps a package of Mika Zibanejad, a middle-tier prospect, and a pick could get the Sabres captain out of Western New York? Zibanejad would give the Sabres a big, talented center — something they covet and have been coveting for a long time. Pominville could help fill the void left by Jason Spezza, who could still potentially join the team for the playoffs.
With April 3rd looming, it’s coming to be decision time for the Sens. The legacy of Alfredsson and his time with the team could be defined by this stretch run and the playoffs to follow.
Will the team stand pat, content that perhaps next year with a healthy team will be their time, or will they make a run and try to deliver that elusive Cup to their long-time captain?
Bryan Murray will have a lot of thinking to do between now and the NHL Trade Deadline.