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Talks between Hemsky and Senators break off: What’s next?

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Numerous sources and publications are indicating that contract talks have recently broken off between midseason acquisition F Ales Hemsky (from Edmonton) and Ottawa Senator's GM Bryan Murray. As Hemsky appears ready to test the free agent market for the first time in his career, there are some fan’s that are disappointed by the news that a contract isn’t in place. However, a lot of the Senator faithful aren’t necessarily discouraged by that.

Ales Hemsky has always had the ability to be an offensive wizard. It’s something that he was always on the brink of breaking through. Year after year, mediocre numbers kept trickling through, driving coaches and management crazy in Edmonton, leading to trade rumors for the better part of a decade. As for the 2013-14 season, Hemsky scored 13 goals, and tallied 30 assists in 75 games. His numbers for Ottawa specifically following the trade from Edmonton are not bad (17 points in 20 games). Then again, if you factor in a salary of $5.5 million, it kind of makes you wonder, what else is out there?

For the sake of comparison, Clarke MacArthur scored 24 goals and 31 assists while earning $3.25 million, and let’s not forget about Kyle Turris who had 26 goals, and 32 assists, while taking home $1.6 million. There is no question, these two guys are due for a raise in salary.

So, with the idea of Hemsky sprinting towards free agency, what does the Ottawa Senators really need?

Scoring potential is present. Along with MacArthur, and Turris, there is team captain Jason Spezza (to be discussed next time), Milan Michalek (if re-signed), Bobby Ryan, and perennial superstar Erik Karlsson. Third and fourth line depth is also exist with Colin Greening, Chris Neil and Zach Smith. Although, it never hurts to add more toughness. Defense is solid, with Karlsson, Cody Ceci, Jared Cowen, Marc Methot, all anchored by the leadership of veteran workhorse Chris Phillips. The goaltending tandem of Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner is not an issue, so what is it?

Top-6 power forwards are hard to come by. The blend of ability to put up points as well possessing the toughness to take the body and battle in the corners when called upon. Here are a couple of names who could fit the bill.

Ryan Callahan: Who wouldn’t want this guy? The former Rangers captain brings leadership and can player either wing. He is a high energy hard skating forechecker who can still provide decent points. The best part of this is that he is still in the prime of his career. At 29-years old, Ryan still a some really good years left in him, that the Senators, could certainly make use of.

Jarome Iginla: Short term solution at best given his age. Jarome’s experience, leadership, and drive to succeed is second to none in the NHL. His deceptive speed, along with toughness, strength, and scoring ability, could do nothing but help Ottawa at this point. It’s unlikely however given Jarome’s desire to go to a contender, and the hefty price tag that accompanies him.

Overall there is still work to be done for the Ottawa Senators, and it’s easy for a armchair GM’s everywhere or I as a columnist to say how to do it, from the outside world. Well, it’s not that simple. There are a lot of moving pieces, and a lot of people involved. It’s not a job I envy, however as a writer and a fan, it’s sure fun to watch.

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