Heading into Thursday night’s game action, the Sens own the 26th-ranked power play, 17th-ranked penalty kill, and still have all kinds of questions between the pipes.
On-again, off-again sniper Alex Kovalev has yet to find his stride, and many of the Senators' top prospects look far from ready to compete at the level GM Bryan Murray expects.
The Wild are off to a rather ordinary 2-2-1 start. That said, the team currently owns the top-ranked power play in the league and the 14th-ranked penalty kill; they sit second overall in goals for and 10th overall in goals against.
As good as the Wild have been five-on-five and on special teams, there is still plenty of concern that this team may not have enough firepower over an 82-game season. In the Western Conference, they may miss the playoffs for the third straight season.
With fan interest climbing and the team's nucleus looking ready to make a move this spring, the Wild may be looking to shake things up for the long-term. This may mean entertaining the idea of a roster move or two.
The Wild currently have a total of $58,240,654 committed to 24 players, leaving them with approximately $1.2 million to add players (all numbers courtesy of capgeek.com).
Defensively, the Wild feature a very good stable of talent, including Brent Burns ($3.55 million through 2011-12), Nick Schultz ($3.5 million through 2013-14), Marek Zidlicky ($4.0 million through 202-13), Cam Barker ($3.1 million through 2011-12) and Greg Zanon (just under $2 million through 2011-12).
Offensively, the Wild feature the likes of Martin Havlat ($5 million per year through 2014-15), Mikko Koivu ($6.75 million through 2017-2018), Andrew Brunette ($2.33 million—UFA 2011-12), Matt Cullen ($3.5 million through 2012-13 with a no-trade clause) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard ($4 million through 2012-13).
Of those players, one would have to assume that Koivu, Burns, Brunette, Zidlicky, and Havlat are all but untouchable.
That said, with trades often contingent on making the numbers work, perhaps one of them would be made available to the Senators for a significant return.
On the farm, the Wild have centre Mikael Granlund (who may emerge as a star one day), but other than that their prospect cupboard is void of any future stars, which is alarming considering where the Wild have drafted over the past decade.
Sure, Colton Gillies may emerge as a solid third liner, and Justin Falk has shown signs of improvement, but many of the Wild's prospects are going to be long-term “works in progress,” with many of them at least another 2-3 years away from helping the big club.
The Senators have a number of high-priced talents on their roster that they may be leaning toward trading for the right price.
As it stands now, the Sens have a total of $58,434,723 committed to 22 players, leaving them with approximately $1 million with which to acquire another player or two at the deadline or via trade.
Jason Spezza leads the pack with an alarming $7 million contract through 2014-15, with elder statesman Daniel Alfredsson’s $4.875 million contract through 2012-13 looking equally ugly at times.
Mike Fisher’s $4.2 million contract through 2012-13 is another head scratcher, while Milan Michalek’s $4.33 million cap hit through 2013-14 is also looking a little on the overpaid side.
Paying $5.5 million for aging, frail defenseman Sergei Gonchar looked more like a desperation move than anything else this summer. And the loss of Anton Volchenkov looks to have destroyed this club’s confidence.
It is hard to imagine the Wild being interested in any of these players unless the Sens wanted to ship the likes of Alex Kovalev and his $5 million salary (which expires at the end of the 2010-11 season) over to the Wild in return for Martin Havlat ($5 million per through 2014-15).
If the Wild could get rid of Havlat’s huge salary, they could put themselves in a tremendous position to attract the likes of Brad Richards and other potential high-profile free agents next summer, which may prove beneficial on the ice and in the PR department.
As far as prospects go, the Senators have a very respectable stable of young defensemen in their system, including Erik Kalrsson (who will likely stick with the big club this season), Jared Cowan, David Runblad and Patrick Wiercioch.
As good as the Sens' defensive prospects are, there is still some concern that they are lacking depth in their forward group, which is where the Wild may be interested.
Unless the Senators are talking about depth players, I just cannot see how or why they would bother to entertain making any bold moves.
So it seems any chatter between the Sens and Wild will ultimately go nowhere.