Originally posted on The 6th Sens  |  Last updated 6/29/12

While the news that Matt Carkner had rejected a contract offer from the Senators is not new, the Ottawa Citizen's Wayne Scanlan added a wrinkle on Twitter last night.

Sens' 1-year offer, no raise, for D Matt Carkner, for all he's done for club, is a slap in the face. Source: "he'll get his deal" (as UFA)

— Wayne Scanlan (@HockeyScanner) June 29, 2012
It's definitely an awkward situation for both sides. On one hand, you can't fault Carkner for wanting to test the free agent market on July 1st to see if he can get that multi-year, million dollar offer that Scanlan's source believes he's capable of getting. On the other, it's difficult to fault the Senators for recognizing that Carkner is a depreciating on-ice asset.

Starting with his 2009/10 season, here are the number of games played and average TOI/G per that Carkner has had:
  • 2009/10: 81 games played and 16:54
  • 2010/11: 53 games played and 14:53
  • 2011/12: 29 games played and 11:54
Like his average TOI/G, his shorthanded time has diminished considerably since his first season as a regular - declining from 2:16 SH TOI/G to last season's 0:53 SH TOI/G. Moreover, he plays soft minutes against the opposition's worst players. His Corsi relative quality of competion was the worst amongst the Senators' d-corps regulars for each of the past two seasons. In 2009/10, only Chris Campoli played softer minutes.

Using Behind the Net, I looked at defencemen who aren't on their ELCs but who played in 20+ games and averaged 10:00 to 15:00 minutes of ice-time per game, based on last season's numbers, Carkner had the fourth worst Corsi Relative Quality of Competition in the league. From an asset management perspective, his minutes and workload are easily replaceable.

While the $700k offer without a raise could be portrayed as an insult (especially when taking modest salary cap inflation into account), the truth is that of the 'regular' defencemen in the NHL who averaged less than 12 minutes per game, only Sami Lepisto ($750k) and Jim Vandermeer ($1M) earned more than Matt Carkner. Derek Joslin ($650k), Stu Bickel ($600k) and Jeff Woywitka ($650k) all earned less. More importantly, when I examined the list of non-ELC players who played in 20+ games and averaged between 10:00-15:00 minutes per game, I realized that their average salary was approximately $996k and the median from this same list was $800k.

Admittedly, it is easy to romanticize Carkner for his protector role, that playoff OT goal versus Pittsburgh or the Boyle incident, but injuries have noticeably affected his play and limited his ability stay in the lineup. In saying that however, it does strike me as odd that a management team that has seemingly placed some emphasis on fighting and toughness in the past, is now so lukewarm on retaining the services of a Carkner or a Zenon Konopka. Maybe they're starting to come to the realization that fighting's utility in hockey is suspect?

As a team that's not threatening to approach the salary cap ceiling at any point soon, given Carkner's injury history and other inexpensive comparables, I'd like to think that these two parties can come together on a short-term contract that makes sense. Mind you, with the way that the lunacy that occurs on July 1st and a precedent like Derek Boogard's $2.5 million/4-year contract, I guess we'll have to just wait and see what the market bears for Carks.

Schultz Update

Since the Senators were confirmed to be on Justin Schultz's shortlist of teams that were being considered, the organization is operating at DEFCON levels. It's assumed that the organization will be meeting with Schultz at some point this weekend before the free market opens on Sunday at noon but it's not clear when these meetings will occur or who will be travelling to see him.

If you've had your thumb on the pulse of the Schultz Watch, you've probably come across the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey blog that has essentially been publishing Schultz news on a daily basis. Their coverage has been second to none - it's enough to make me think that if the Oilers don't land the University of Wisconsin product that their fans may have to be talked off of the ledge.

Anyways, much like my post yesterday that handicapped the list of teams that were reportedly on the shortlist, Dave Staples has done the same.

Here is what he said about Ottawa:

Do they have a spot in their Top 4 at even strength?

Very likely.

Erik Karlsson, Sergei Gonchar, Jared Cowan, Chris Phillips and Matt Gilroy are the incumbents, and all got more than 15 minutes each last season at evens. Karlsson munched 20:51.

Capgeek tells us that Filip Kuba, a top-pairing guy last year,  and Gilroy, are UFAs. Kuba isn’t expected back.

There is likely a Top 4 spot for Schultz here.

Do they have a spot on their power play?

Hmmm … Gonchar and Karlsson both had more than three minutes a game on the pp last season, but Gonchar had limited success and Schultz could also take Kuba’s minutes.

Anything else?

Is this team really going anywhere? Maybe. Karlsson is certainly a young star. Jason Spezza is also good, but one playmaker does not a Fab Four make.

Senators Chances

Same as Rangers. Maybe, but I can’t see it.

Message to the Murrays: Get it done.

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