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".
...but it won't be here. Don't worry, the link will be posted when the time comes. Stay tuned.
In other news, CulletWatch '08 has led to extreme boredom around TUC HQ, and right now, there's only one remedy.
If you need us, we'll be in the Mandalay Bay sportsbook next week. And for the record, no amount of alcohol could convince us to put down a futures bet on the Sens right now. Go team!
P.S.: If Bryan Smolinski signs in Pittsburgh while we're gone, that smashing sound you'll hear coming from the left side of the continent will be yours truly.
A random assortment of bits and pieces as we sit around and wait for the Meszaros situation to resolve itself -- an event better known at TUC HQ as "CulletWatch '08".
· James Gordon from the Citizen's Hockey Capital blog has provided the Senators' relevant numbers from THN's Ultimate Fantasy Pool Guide. As expected, the points projections blatantly point out issues that the club continues to ignore. Here's what THN is projecting for Ottawa in 2008-'09:
Jason Spezza -- 101 pts.
Dany Heatley -- 101 pts.
Daniel Alfredsson -- 91 pts.
Antoine Vermette -- 55 pts.
Mike Fisher -- 48 pts.
Chris Kelly -- 33 pts.
Nick Foligno -- 27 pts. (Second line, here we come!)
Dean McAmmond -- 25 pts.
If you think that's dramatic, you should see how it's presented in the magazine. The bar graphic has a huge swath of empty red down the middle -- in essence, representing the virtually non-existent secondary scoring for the club (at least on a consistent basis). It's the equivalent of a staircase with a 20-foot drop after the first three steps. Offense, from the first line to the fourth, must regress at an appropriate pace. 50+ point differentials within the top six forwards leave the Sens looking as disproportionate as Pamela Anderson. This isn't going to end well.
Some positive Sens news (depending on your point of view): Roy Mlakar has been named CEO of the Year by the Ottawa Business Journal.
· Someone needs to check if Mats Sundin has owned a cow or two back in the day, because dude sure knows how to milk it. The whole pensive/indecisive Swede act is so played out. Just toss him in The Brass Rail and throw away the key.
(Aside: I'm very big on Leafs/strip club references/stories. If "Prurient Interests of the Toronto Maple Leafs" was a category on Jeopardy!, I'd totally destroy.)
· In non-hockey news, TUC has been recruited into a fantasy football league by some of the old-school legends from The Jim Rome Show. Notable participants include Jim's show contributor/booker/(expletive)-disturber Jason Stewart, Seanny The Cablinasian (who now hosts a drive-time show on 1560 The Game in Houston) and the elusive Kerwin in Riverside, among others. Something tells me it'll start off competitive, only to digress into drunken Tour Stop stories of yore. Details will surely follow as the weeks progress.