Bye bye Zdeno

Via TSN, we now know what was becoming obvious throughout the week: Zdeno Chara is done as an Ottawa Senator.

My response? Good.

Not that I'm glad he's gone, but at the price he and his agent were asking for, it made ZERO sense to bring him back. With no starting goalie and a need for second line scoring, spending over $7 million per season on an area that is already our strength would be insane.

Which is why I thought John Muckler would do it.

Apparently, the majority of you don't feel the same way I do (based on the little local sports talk radio I listen to and the posters at the Sens board over at the HF Forums), and I figured Muckler would buckle at the fans pressure to get him back and overpay to do it.

So John Muckler just earned some points with me. Still in my doghouse, and it'll take a trade for a 20-year-old Wayne Gretzky to get him out, but I like this move.

Now the question is, what do we do about the gaping hole this creates on our blue line?

Andrej Meszaros is ready to be a top four d-man (was down the stretch, pretty much) and I think Anton Volchenkov can be as well, meaning they could theoretically go with Chris Phillips, Wade Redden, Meszaros, & the A-Train as the big four with Christoph Schubert and either a cheaply signed free agent or Filip Novak at the back-end*

*all of this said under the assumption Brian Pothier isn't coming back, which, based on his request of a long-term deal at $2 mil, he won't be.

They could get by with that, but I'd prefer that wasn't the case.

So who's available at a reasonable ($3-$3.5 million) price?

Well, you have Jay McKee, Willie Mitchell, Ruslan Salei, Jaroslav Spacek, Dick Tarnstrom, Brendan Witt, Kim Johnsson & Pavel Kubina.

A couple of these are probably slightly out of the aforementioned price range (Spacek and Johnsson, and maybe Mitchell), but we do have options, is my point.

Can any of these guys do for us what Chara did (in the regular seasons)? No. In that sense, Chara is a once-in-a-generation player.

But most of the above can provide steady play and bring experience and savvy.

As for Big Z, my prediction, and I say this without even knowing where he'll land though I have my guesses, is that he'll see his standing in the league diminish.

Ottawa teams had have a tendency of making defencemen look better than they are. Think Jason York, Lance Pitlick, & Janne Laukkanen. Two of the three left two for big contracts and were never the same.

While Bryan Murray did get away from the defence-first system Jacques Martin employed, old habits die hard and the team as a whole was still pretty responsible defensively. The forwards had "BACKCHECK" drilled into their heads for years and so it wasn't going to disappear overnight. In turn, they made life a bit easier for their defenceman teammates.

This is not to suggest that Chara will go back to being the middle of the road defender he was on Long Island, known only for his size and not his play, but I do think his days as an elite rearguard may be over.