Would Steve Ott Make A Good Red Wing?


Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that the Buffalo Sabers are a tire fire of a team right now. Any useful asset to any team seems on the way out the door. So much so that when Tomas Vanek was sent to the Islanders for Matt Moulson, people began speculating on where the Sabers would trade Moulson. If the Sabers are in a fire-sale mode, the obvious target for trade speculation is Ryan Miller. But the player I’m wondering more about is the now only captain Buffalo has. (Two captains? Are you serious?) I wonder if Steve Ott makes a good fit for the Red Wings.

For those of you unfamiliar, allow me an introduction. Ott is a forward who can play center and was drafted by the Dallas Stars in 2000. He spent nine seasons there before he was traded to the Sabers. According to CapGeek.com, he carries a $2.95 million cap hit and will be a UFA at the end of this year. Ott plays a physical style that walks the line, and often crosses it, with grit and a couple suspensions to his name. The first in 2008 for a head shot to Jordan Leopold. The other was an eye gouge in 2009. Oh yeah, and this happened:

What brings Ott up on my radar is some comments he’s made lately. Since being named captain, he’s been saying all the right things. Focuses on winning, building the team from within, etc. Then Dave Davis from Kukla’s Corner brought an interview to light that Ott did with a radio station.

"“I want to win,” Ott said during his radio segment on WGR-550.  “That’s, firsthand, the most important thing for myself is I want to be successful in the NHL and have a chance to win….. Who knows what situation the Buffalo Sabres are in.  They might use myself, for an example, as an asset and acquire things as well.  Obviously, it’s the business side of things.”"

So you want out of Buffalo, do you Steve? No one can blame you. Seeing Pominville and Vanek get sent to other teams has got to make a guy wonder if the grass could be greener, captain or no captain. But could the grass be redder in Detroit? (wow, that was bad, let’s forget I said that one.)

I’m not entirely sure where Steve Ott would fit with the Red Wings. He’s not a huge offensive threat. The most points he’s gotten in a year was 46 and he cracked the 20-goal plateau once, on a different year. But he cracks 150 PIM each year like it’s as simple as taking a face-off. While this is great for somebody who needs a forward in a fantasy league that keeps track of PIM, it’s not always a good thing for a NHL team if you have a guy that seems better at taking penalties than producing points. He may appear to be one of the strongest threats on the Sabers. But being an offensive threat on the Sabers is a lot like being the least-spoiled can of anchovies at the convenience store. Sure, if you’re a can of anchovies you want to be the least spoiled, but you don’t exactly hang your hat on it at your next contract negociation. Negotiations with another convenience store to be their can of anchovies…

Additionally, if you’re Ken Holland, what do you give up for the least-spoiled can of anchovies? One can argue that the Wings are at a point where picks aren’t as important as they used to be. Plenty of prospects, Datsyuk and Zetterberg aren’t getting any younger, they need players more than they need picks. Winning now versus winning later. A second or third rounder seems reasonable but to be competitive the Wings would probably have to offer up a first-round pick to the Sabers for Ott. I’m not so sure that’s worth it. And there’s no way that Ott is worth a Jurco, Ouellet, Sproul, or any other highly sought after prospect.

This is to say nothing, of course, of the Wing’s cap woes. Clearing $3 million in cap space would take some serious negotiating skill. The only real way I could see it happening is if Samuelsson miraculously accepts a trade to the Sabers, but I’m pretty sure he’d accept a trade to a Swedish Elite League team before doing that (He has a no-trade clause). I might as well wait for the Blue Jackets to be good.

Ultimately, if Darren Helm doesn’t come back this year, you could do worse than having Steve Ott as your third-line center (Isn’t that Weiss’s job now though?). Maybe if he isn’t on the ice so much he doesn’t take so many penalties, and some real sand paper would be nice to have on the team. But $2.95 million is a lot to pay for a third-line center, and a first-round pick is a lot to pay for a guy that probably isn’t coming back after this year. Finally, a team with Todd Bertuzzi, to say nothing of Justin Abdelkader’s suspensions, doesn’t need another player with a reputation for being dirty.

But what do YOU think?