The Sens season is upon us and at the time of writing they sit at 4-1-4, with a game tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. They are playing pretty good hockey and sit 3rd in the division and 6th in the conference. There is always room for improvement however.
Just yesterday, Vegas announced that Vladim Shipachyov would be allowed to look for a trade elsewhere. With this in mind, lets explore why it may or may not be in the Senators interest to pursue Shipachyov.
Shipachyov is currently under contract for this season and next at an AAV of 4.5 million per year according to Cap Friendly. This seems like a lot of money until you realize that the Sens currently have over 3 million in cap space without placing MacArthur on LTIR. If you place MacArthur on LTIR it goes up over 6 mil, so they do have the space. Some concern may come next year however, with impending free agents Cleasson, Ceci, Stone(RFA's), Turris, Wideman, and Oduya(UFA's) all needing extensions. Now obviously not all of these guys will be resigned, I would expect at least 2 (maybe 3..?) defence to be gone next season. The question then becomes, do you resign Kyle Turris?
Now we all have our on opinions on what Kyle Turris is worth and if the Sens should resign him. Chace wrote an article on his opinion here, and no matter what your opinion on it is, I think it is very hard to deny the fact that acquiring Shipachyov makes it easier for the Sens to lose Turris. So the question becomes, is he an improvement on what the Senators already have?
This is where I find it hard to believe that Vegas is giving up on him so quickly. In 30 minutes of ice time this year he has 1 goal, and has been on the ice for 3 5v5 goals while on for 0 against. His CF% is only 46% however it is using literally one of the smallest sample sizes you could ever possibly use. It is hard to put a true value on Shipachyov because he has not played in North America. What makes me so confused on why Vegas gave up so quickly is A) They paid 9 million for him and only used him for 30 minutes. And B) It is known that most players take a few games to adjust to the smaller North American ice style. You shouldn't expect a guy who has played on IIHF sized ice all his career to suddenly come and adjust while playing against the best level talent in the world. Besides that, he hasn't even looked bad while trying to do this! His 1 goal in 30 minutes still puts him on pace for about 2P/60 at 5v5. That would be a slightly below average 1st liners pace, or at a fringe 1st line pace (Patrick Eaves was 90th in 5v5 scoring had a 1.8P/60 5v5).If you don't want to look into the small sample size as a reason, which is fair you should switch to his KHL numbers. Shipachayov has thrown up 50+ points 3 years in a row including last year where he had 76. Now granted he is on a stacked team however, he is 15th ALL TIME in the KHL for Points per game. He has done this by playing 445 games, much more than most (Like Malkin who leads PPG with 1.575 PPG in only 37 games). The guy has skill, he was also in the top 5 for P/60 in the KHL last season. This is what makes it so odd that Vegas gave up on him so quickly.
Obviously he is a talented guy, no doubt about that. But where would he fit and what would it cost to bring him in? Ideally if you bring Shipachyov in you move either him or Pageau to the wing. This is because with Shipachyov, the Sens would have Turris, Brassard, Pageau and Shipacyov down the middle. Now that would be some crazy depth, but also a waste of talent throwing one of those guys on the 4th line. Ideally you throw him on the LW and play him with maybe Turris and Dzingel? The problem here is that I am not sure how willing Shipachyov would be to play wing, I have no idea if he prefers it or not. However, he may not care if he is getting top 6 minutes plus maybe some PP time. The other problem is how much would it take to acquire him? I would like to think that the asking price is pretty low. He has been buried in the minors twice now and Vegas clearly does not value him highly so I can not see them demanding a kings ransom for him. But it is George McPhee so anything is possible. By best guess would be a 3rd rounder? Maybe even a 4th? That or you could try and flip them a prospect that hasn't worked out, such as Nick Paul? There is some caution doing this however has Paul could be alright, but he has been surpassed on the depth chart by many, so maybe you convince Vegas he just needs a new start.
The only real problem I see with Shipachyov is that he may not fit in to Bouchers system well. To me this is frustrating because coaches should be able to at least adapt a little to let skilled offensive guys like Hoffman and Shipachyov be the most useful. However, that is not the case so you wonder if a concern for the Sens is will Shipachyov's offensive prowess fit well with the System? The other problem is that the Sens seem to hate Russians. They have not drafted one in at least 10 years and the last one to play for them was Sergei Gonchar in 2013! I'm not sure if this is actually and organization thing (I would like to hope it is not) or if they just feel like there has been no Russian players to acquire that make them better.
Either way, maybe we can see a new Russian face in a Senators jersey! There is no doubt that he helps this year, and can help relieve the loss of Turris, while having his deal done before that big Karlsson extension is up. I think he would be a cheaper add than a guy like Matt Duchene but also still improve this team's offence by quite a bit! This is just some of my thoughts on Ship and the options for the Senators, what are yours? Let me know here or on twitter @nhlsensandstuff.
My name is Alex, this is my page, all thoughts are mine and feel free to comment on what you think! Enjoy!