When the season started, it appeared as though the Senators defense would be the only area of concern. They lost top pairing veteran Filip Kuba to the Florida Panthers in free agency, and Mike Lundin and Jared Cowen both suffered injuries playing elsewhere during the lockout. Craig Anderson and the reinforcements on the blueline held the fort though. With Mike Lundin having returned from injury and trade acquisition Marc Methot exceeding expectations, it would appear as though their defense will be just fine.
Their offense however, needs serious help. The Senators are quickly learning the value of Jason Spezza, following his being placed on the IR with back problems. Spezza had surgery to replace a herniated disc four days ago, but will likely be out until at least the beginning of April.
Losing a first line center would be difficult for any team to handle and the Senators are no exception. While they had Jason Spezza in the lineup they went 3-1-1 and averaged 3.2 goals per game. Without Jason Spezza the Sens are 3-3-1 and are averaging only 2.14 goals per game.
The Senators have tried just about everything to get their offense going since Spezza’s injury. Mika Zibanejad was called up, and has played relatively well putting up a modest three points in seven games. He is hardly a first line center though. Not at this stage of his career.
The Senators sudden drop in offense has many around the league wondering if GM Bryan Murray will trade for a center. They did after all find themselves in a similar situation last season. Desperate for a second line center, Murray traded David Rundblad and a second rounder to Phoenix for Kyle Turris. The move couldn’t have worked out better for the Sens.
If Murray decides he wants to improve his depth at center via trade there will be no shortage of options. Stephen Weiss of the Florida Panthers is almost a given to get moved before or on the trade deadline and would be able to fill in on the first line until Spezza returned. Derick Brassard (who the Senators were linked to last season) could most likely be had for the right offer, and could fill in on the first until Spezza’s return and then shift to right winger.
Another intriguing option for Bryan Murray would be Michael Frolik. Frolik is currently centering Chicago’s fourth line, which doesn’t suit his skill set or the Blackhawks needs from a fourth line center. Frolik looked as though he was going to develop into a top 6 forward, putting up 88 points in his first two seasons. As part of the annual Florida trade deadline firesale, he was shipped to Chicago. His time in Chicago has been nothing short of awful though. He isn’t skilled enough to crack their top six, and too soft to be effective as a checking forward. The price would be low on Frolik, maybe a mid round pick, and could be a risk worth taking. Maybe he would benefit from a change of scenery and blossom into the scoring forward he was supposed to become.
You can follow J.D. Burke for more hockey commentary, stats, tweets, etc. @WeveGotTwins and find his blog at http://www.WeveGotTwins.blogspot.ca