Yes, it's getting to that time of year. The time that we're not going to make the playoffs, so you start looking to the draft. Except the Sens don't have a first-round pick, so you fast-forward a bit more, to free agency and to the next season.
I don't see the Sens shoring stuff up through free agency this coming year. Ottawa's not an attractive place to live by NHL standards, it's a Canadian market which brings pressure, they're not dominant currently, but also don't give people the impression of being on the cusp of greatness.
Ottawa's best chances for improving are its players all getting healthy, conditioned, and ready for an upcoming season. But the next best opportunity is through trade. Ottawa has some young assets who might be movable for the right price, namely if that price is a player in their mid-20s who can help NOW.
Recently, Evander Kane has been a healthy scratch for Winnipeg. This seems odd, given that Kane is a very skilled player who is only 22 years old, and appears to be one of Winnipeg's best players. There are lots of rumours about rifts and Kane wanting out. I know that many around these parts have been drooling over Kane for years, and it looks like he may suddenly be available. So I decided to check into how much I thought he'd be worth.
First of all, Kane is signed through 2017-18 at a cap hit of $5.25-mill. He's not cheap, but he's also probably worth that. This means that if we got him, we wouldn't have to be re-negotiating right away.
Over the past 6 season, Kane's PPG are 0.65 (2013-14), 0.69, 0.77, 0,59, and 0.39 in 2009-10 when he played 66 games as a rookie. So we can see that in he's put up respectable numbers, near the 0.7 mark, in his early 20s, playing on Winnipeg/Atlanta, so not exactly the best team in the league. Seems respectable for a second-line winger, and there's still that possibility that he'll catch fire in Ottawa, and become a mystical winger to play with Spezza and (hopefully) Hemsky.
Looking a bit deeper at the possession numbers, Kane has a Corsi on of 5.93, and a Corsi QoC of 0.973. In these stats he is 5th and 8th respectively for the Jets, so he's no slouch on his team. His offensive zone start of 54.3% vs. ending of 51.0% shows a very small cause for concern. He has a pretty low PDO of 977, but his on-ice shooting pct. of 8.71% is not low, it's just his on-ice sv. pct. is very low, thanks in no small part to Ondrej Pavelec. There is not statistical reason to believe his points will go up, but he appears to be a solid player, driving possession, who shouldn't regress anytime soon either.
The question then becomes who we'd trade for him. As discussed at length, Ottawa has a glut of defensive prospects (Jared Cowen, Patrick Wiercioch, Eric Gryba, Mark Borowiecki, Cody Ceci). There is not room for all of these guys to play with Karlsson, Methot, and Phillips on Ottawa's blue-line, so something must give. I personally believe Ceci is considered untouchable, and Wiercioch is worth far more to Ottawa than other teams. Cowen may attract some interest, but I'm loathe to trade him for too low of a return based on one poor year. I'd trade Cowen for Kane straight up without losing sleep, which leads me to believe Winnipeg never would do this trade.
The other problem is that Winnipeg have pretty good defense - Enstrom, Byfuglien, Bogosian, and Trouba are all notable. Winnipeg's greatest needs are in goal currently, so perhaps building a trade around Anderson for Kane could work, the problem being that Anderson is a year away from UFA. Ottawa will likely be looking to offload Anderson at some point (Lehner being the untouchable here), and if Kane could be got for him with some other pieces, Ottawa would do well to investigate this.
The other thing is that Ottawa does have quite a few forward prospects. Pageau, Puempel, Prince, Schneider, Hoffman, Stone, and Grant are all guys who could have futures in the NHL, but obviously can't all make Ottawa's roster in the next year or two. It seems likely that Ottawa will look to deal a couple of these guys as part of a package, and though I don't think any one of them is worth Evander Kane, it may be possible to sweeten another deal with one or two of them.
Do I see Ottawa getting Kane? Probably not. You have to give to get. But I'd love to have him on my hockey team, and would probably be willing to trade a lot for that to happen.