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Email Hotstove: Trade Deadline

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We put our heads together and talk about the big questions coming out of Monday's trade deadline.

Phillips and Neil celebrate remaining in Ottawa for another year
Phillips and Neil celebrate remaining in Ottawa for another year
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

This marks the first contribution of Richard McCrae as a writer here at the site. Richard has written a number of excellent FanPosts on the site, and we all look forward to seeing his new contributions in the coming weeks. Please join the staff in giving a warm welcome to our newest writer!

Are you happy Ottawa stood pat at the deadline?

Amelia: I'm not really happy the Sens stood pat, but I'm glad they didn't do anything ill-advised. We're in a bad spot with our veterans: Neil got injured and consequently took care of the market on him long before the deadline. It's hard to paint Phillips as a desirable asset when he's been a healthy scratch/injured since the start of December. I suspect Legwand could have been moved for a mid-to-late round pick if he didn't have that extra year on his deal, if the cap was increasing like usual, or if Ottawa was willing to eat part of his salary.

Richard: Am I happy? I’m... satisfied given the circumstances. In terms of value and making this team better I would really have liked to see guys like Neil, Phillips, Legwand, Michalek or Cowen moved out. Obviously, In the cases of Neil of Phillips that wasn’t exactly realistic given their respective combinations of salary, performance, and potential. As much as I complain about usage, seeing those two guys finish their careers in Ottawa would be great, as long as they’ve decided that’s what they want. They’ve seen their playing time significantly reduced and while it’s largely due to injury issues, we’ve had the opportunity to play younger, better players a lot more lately instead.


As depth players I think we’ve seen real improvements from Michalek and Legwand in the latter half of the season. I would rather see younger, cheaper players given more opportunities in those spots, but given their play recently I can live with them sticking around for now. 
If anything frustrated me about this deadline, it’s the idea that Murray was getting calls on Cowen and doesn’t appear to have been particularly receptive to them. It sounds like he was open to trading the other two, but their injuries meant that option was off the table. His comments after the deadline strongly suggest to me that Murray places more value on Cowen’s play and his potential in particular than he probably deserves.


I don’t know what kind of offers Murray actually got for Cowen, and I can understand the thought process of not wanting to trade away someone who could theoretically improve dramatically.  I think we can all agree that there are other teams and GM’s in this league who haven’t jumped on the analytics wagon just yet, and I personally have a hard time imagining that there wasn’t an opportunity out there among them that would have been advantageous for us in the long term. It could be argued, at least in the short term, that moving Cowen regardless of return is addition by subtraction. With all of that considered I see the decision not to move Cowen as a missed opportunity and evidence of the potential consequences of the "analytics skepticism" Ottawa management has been accused of and seems to have recently confirmed.

I could also have been happy to see some kind of package sent out to bring in a talented young(isn) player with term. That’s maybe something that will be more realistic in the offseason. And without haven’t looked at the trades in particular depth, I don’t recall having seen a deal yesterday that really represented the kind of package or return that I’d have in mind. It seemed mostly to be lower-end players traded for late picks or prospects.

That being said, things could have very easily gone terribly wrong this past week. I consider the following bullets dodged, for now at least:
  • Moving under-rated, high value/low cost guys like Wiercioch and Condra for less than they’re worth
  • Acquiring a declining or overrated player with term like Clarkson
  • Moving assets for a rental player, potentially one as bad as Stewart.
The number of terrible decisions we could have made is overwhelming. Personally, considering how bad it could have been and the longstanding rumours surrounding exactly those scenarios, I find myself feeling far more relief today than regret. Given how the market has looked this month, how maddeningly bad some of the trades we could have made would have been and the way the team is rolling right now, I’m good. I think winning always makes these things easier, and I might be considerably antsier if we weren’t currently on a run.

The opportunity to draft a difference maker this offseason or to maybe take advantage of a cap-challenged team in the summer is still there, and it might be the better time to re-evaluate what kind of team this and where our needs lie.

NKB: If I were to grade Murray in a bubble, no I'm not too disappointed -- it would have been very hard to unload the players he needed to and that was something of a pre-requisite to bringing in outside help. Except Murray *put* the Sens in this position in the first place. The trade deadline was disappointing to me if nothing else because it didn't provide a possible exit from the current predicament.

The silver lining in all of this, of course, is the team's much improved play of late. Hockey is a results business and if a winning streak is what opened management's eyes to a few things then that's as positive a development as Murray was likely to achieve via a trade.

SC: Overall, I'm not disappointed with the deadline. I think that's because I don't expect much of Murray. He loves trading a second-round pick for a rental or something. I love Murray's drafting record, but his deadline trading record hasn't been great. I would've loved to see Phillips, Neil, Legwand, or Smith dumped. I would've enjoyed seeing Cowen traded for something decent. But at the same time, I figured it was more likely to see Wiercioch or Condra traded. Given the choice of making a bad trade or making no trades, I'll take no trades. Probably the offers for the players with term will be better at the draft anyway.

Ary: I can answer this in two ways! One - yes! Especially with respect to Wiercioch and Condra. The last name is a bit interesting, especially because Murray directly addressed that he got calls on the forward but the five-game winning streak made him think otherwise. In my eyes, it’s worrying that management didn’t see his value before, and I can only imagine what would’ve happened if Andrew Hammond decided to mimic his AHL numbers instead of playing spectacularly.

On the other hand, I’m not happy that they couldn’t trade some of their veteran players, though I understand why it was hard for them to do so given the injuries, term, and raw salary on the players they were looking to move (Greening, Legwand, Phillips, Neil).

Is there anyone you wish Murray could have got for the price another team paid?

Amelia: Honestly, there was nothing I really wanted the Sens to do other than to clear out some dead weight and open up some roster spots. But with so many of those options being injured (Smith, Neil, etc) it seemed unlikely much was going to change.

Richard: Not really. I think most of the players who were moved were pretty short term options, or lateral moves for a lot of teams involved. A guy like Despres could have been nice since he’s a young defenseman with good underlying numbers. I’m pretty sure he only has another year on his contract, then he’s RFA. We don’t really have any Ben Lovejoy’s on our team, but maybe they would have taken one or two of our guys not named Karlsson, Methot, Wiercioch or Ceci for him.

He played most of his minutes over the last 2 seasons with Scuderi and based on their respective WOWY stats it looks like he had a massively positive impact on him. He’s posting positive numbers relative to his teammates in corsi, goals, fenwick and shots for. He’s also playing some of the easiest competition on the penguins by each of those metrics and far easier competition in terms of possession than any Senators d-man this season.

NKB: In a perfect world, Murray could have gone and gotten Petry at the price Montreal paid and have been confident enough  to re-sign him, but that just wasn't possible given the situation the Sens found themselves in. I'm of the mind that the trade deadline is the time to pick up under valued players for mid-round picks; guys like Petry or Bergenheim.

SC: There's nobody I would've liked to see Ottawa grab this deadline. Like NKB said, Petry would've been great at that price if Ottawa could've re-signed him. A non-playoff team shouldn't pick up rentals. Besides that, most trade deadline moves either offload good veterans from sellers or trade good prospects and picks for these players. Ottawa wasn't really in a position to do either.

Ary: I think it would’ve been great to acquire Jeff Petry, as I would’ve easily given up the picks to acquire a right defenseman that can let Ceci play 3rd pairing RD, push Gryba out, and give Mikael Wikstrand (a left-shooting RD that the team is really high on) a chance to develop in the AHL. Petry would’ve required a bit of money to re-sign though, and the team may want to see what they have in Chris Wideman on the right-side first. Still, a top-four defenseman like Petry is exactly what this team needs, but we can him to the list (Boychuk, Leddy, Wisniewski) that the team could’ve acquired but decided not to.

What was the most surprising deal of the day?

Amelia: I didn't really find much surprising. With all the moves leading up to the deadline, there wasn't much left. I do think it was interesting that other teams who are in somewhat similar positions have just as much difficulty making tough decisions on aging veterans who are good team servants as the Sens do. The best example of this was Arizona and Shane Doan. Under the conventions hockey operates under Doan has certainly earned the right to determine his fate, but a rebuilding club would be better served to move a player like that. We sometimes get caught up in Ottawa's loyalty to players like Neil and Phillips and forget that it's a blindspot across the league.

Richard: I can’t say anything that happened surprised me or even really caught my eye, especially not in the wake of the Clarkson trade and the Kane/Myers trade even earlier.

SC: The most surprising move of the day for me was Despres for Lovejoy. Lovejoy is worse, older, and more expensive (though Despres will become more expensive when he becomes an RFA in 2016). If the Penguins truly think they have too many good, young defencemen, why trade for an old defenceman? I can't help but think that not trading at all would've been better than Lovejoy as a return.

Ary: The most surprising deal to me was Tampa’s dual-deal with Philadelphia and Boston, as I didn’t expect them to give up Connolly (though they have great forward depth) nor look to Coburn - the Flyers best D in my opinion - to bolster their D. Scary, scary team.