The Ottawa Senators finally resolved their contract dispute with defenceman Andrej Meszaros on Friday, trading the restricted free agent to the ever-changing Tampa Bay Lightning.
In exchange, the Senators received defencemen Filip Kuba and Alexandre Picard and a first round pick the Lightning previously acquired from the San Jose Sharks.
There isn't a major discrepancy on offense between Kuba and Meszaros, which bodes well for Ottawa -- a club that already is dealing with a loss of firepower at the blueline. In the last two seasons, Kuba scored 31 points in 2007-'08, and 37 in the year prior. Meszaros recorded 36 and 35 points during the same period. Ottawa will once again lose some youth -- Kuba is 31 years old and up for unrestricted free agency in 2009-'10. He is slated to make $3 million next season (a far cry from the 4.5 that 14 was asking for, and the 4 million he is rumoured to be receiving from Tampa). As for Picard, he's a young add-on, but Tampa Bay fans on the message boards are informing Ottawa supporters that the kid is fun to watch and will "hit anything that moves". If true, his development should be interesting to follow.
Reaction to the trade seems to be mixed thus far. Many continue to obsess about a wildly extravagant offer sheet for Meszaros that may or may not have existed. The important thing to remember is that Meszaros' regression left Ottawa in a major bind. Yes, he could contribute offensively, but his play in his own zone left a lot to be desired. It was an unfortunate revelation, considering his highly impressive rookie season as a Senator. Gambling with a lengthy contract in the hopes that his game would solidify was not an option -- 14 was never a sure thing, and the money he demanded from the Sens was more than they could afford. Now it's a matter of observing how Kuba fits into the mix -- better, worse or same. File this one under "To Be Continued".