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Muckler Pulls A Trigger, But Who Eats The Bullet?
posted Mar 9, 2006 at 03:51PM

At the last minute Ottawa pulled a trigger and got Tyler Arnason. (click name for stats sheet)

The initial reaction from talking heads on TV is that this is a good move for Ottawa. I have no direct experience watching Arnason so we are in the realm of pure speculation. He was described as a grit forward who could get dirty goals from in close. His stats, particularly his assists, show that he has good play-making skills as well. So all in all, my first impressions are favorable.

Of course now the big question is where will he "fit in" and who is going to be watching hockey games from the sidelines.

The guys on the Score actually had this guy as a "top six" forward and our new number two center. I am quite resistant to this notion. I can't see this guy being better than Fisher, and we have no way of knowing how he will do with Schaeffer and Havlat.

One combination would put Fisher back on wing and have him play with Arnason and Schaeffer. What do you do with Havlat when he comes back? Havlat with Smolinski is not a workable combination. Smolinski is just too slow and would drag Havlat down. As well what does one do with Neil?

Does Arnason take Smolinski's place and push Smolinksi off to the wing? What does one do with Varada?

Another combination would be Arnason between Vermette and Eaves. Here Kelly is gone and Eaves takes his place on the PK. Vermette and Eaves have good chemistry and so this would work OK.

One might think that Schubert, a defenceman playing forward might be the guy out but he has been playing very well and Murray had said that he would be getting his fair share of ice, and deservedly so.

Vermette is now in Ottawa's top six in goals scored, even though he has had nothing like top six quality ice time. Vermette is slowly but surely becoming the offensive threat that he can be. As well he is amongst the league leaders in short-handed goals. His position by all rights should be secure although my desire to see him at center seem a little distant right now..

That leaves Kelly, Varada, Neil and Schubert. Neil is having a career year, has greatly improved his "skill" play and is just on the wrong line. If he is not the "heart" of this club, then he is certainly one of the main arteries. We need him. Schubert just has too much power forward in him, to not utilize, especially in play-off hockey. He can hit, he has good puck handling skills and he has a heavy shot. The blunt truth is that Schubert is more value to the Senators as a forward playing regularly, than a healthy scratch defenceman.

So that leaves Kelly and Varada. If Arnason does have the advertised "grit" then I think Varada becomes expendable. Kelly is just a better player, especially with the puck and is a proven player on the PK.

The whole big issue of "chemistry" is, to me a wild-card. I have no idea what Arnason brings to the table, or the dressing room in that regards.

So even though trade dead-line has come and gone, players will still be dreading that "smiling face" who approaches them with bad news

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