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After a Few Injuries, Ottawa Needs a Right-Winger

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With Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, and Bobby Ryan potentially out for a period of time, Ottawa desperately needs another right-winger

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

(EDIT: Looks like Hoffman is out with a groin injury, so I wouldn’t expect that to be too serious. Stone is out for now with a neck injury, which is sometimes code for “concussion.” If it really is just his neck and not his head though, then that is good news. However, the point of this article still stands even if those two are only out for a few games.)

For the first time in a long time, Ottawa actually has a chance to win their division. Their win over the Maple Leafs on Saturday made people excited for the possibility of not only making the playoffs—but getting the first seed in the Atlantic. Heading into Sunday’s game against the Jets, the Senators sat just two points back of the Canadiens with 3 games in hand.

However, the good vibes on Saturday night quickly faded after a frustrating 3-2 loss and some injuries on Sunday.

News came out that Bobby Ryan has a broken finger and he’ll be out 3-6 weeks. Plus, in the game, Mike Hoffman left with a lower body injury, and Mark Stone was the victim of a dirty headshot courtesy of Jacob Trouba.

As I am writing this on Monday, only Ryan’s injury status is known, although by the time this comes out we may have more information about Stone and Hoffman missing a certain amount of time (or no time at all).

My gut feeling is that Hoffman might miss a game or two, but it will be nothing serious. Stone, on the other hand, is in a scarier position. He had a concussion earlier this season, and we know that each successive concussion a person gets is worse than the previous one. We are not even sure if he has been diagnosed with a concussion yet, but the replay makes it look like that would be the only possible injury.

Ryan will be out until at least Mid-March, most likely near the end of the regular season. What if Hoffman and Stone are going to miss a few weeks (or even more) as well?

With Ottawa being in such a good spot in the standings, Pierre Dorion needs to make a move for a right-winger.

I thought Ottawa was thin on right-wing before Ryan and Stone went down, but now it is even more obvious. Even if Stone comes back relatively soon, the team will have to put Zack Smith on his off-wing, while the bottom-six would be even worse than usual due to Ryan being hurt.

Plus when Ryan comes back, Pyatt is still on the third line spot, which isn’t ideal. That is why a trade for a right-winger is imperative.

Is it the end of the world if Ottawa does not go deep in the playoffs this year? No, but they have a real chance to make an impact due to their incredibly weak division. As of now, they would have to go through Florida and Montreal/New York (R) to get to the Conference Finals, which is doable.

If they want to actually be a good playoff team though, they need some depth. Best case scenario, Ottawa is able to add a third line right winger and Stone, Ryan, and Hoffman are all healthy going into the playoffs. But in the worst case scenario, they will at least have someone other than Curtis Lazar or Tommy Wingels on the top line if they make a trade.

Let’s assume that Hoffman is good to go early on, and it is just Stone and Ryan that are hurt. The forward lines still look horrendous:

Dzingel-Brassard-Wingels

Hoffman-Turris-Smith

Pyatt-Pageau-Lazar

McCormick-Kelly-Bailey

Nobody knows how healthy Hoffman and Stone are going to be in the next few weeks before the playoffs, and that should be a good enough reason for Dorion to pull the trigger on adding some depth without sacrificing the future.

On Monday, Ottawa re-called Max McCormick and Casey Bailey, who are not exactly going to be able to step into a top-six role. The only way Ottawa is going to get through a Stone and/or Hoffman injury is by adding from the outside.

I understand that Dorion has his hands tied because of the internal budget and the lack of prospects/picks, but he doesn’t need to add someone like Matt Duchene who would cost Thomas Chabot, Colin White, plus more. Think of someone along the lines of Radim Vrbata.

He is making only $1M and is a UFA at the end of the year. He has 40 points on the season, and has been a positive relative possession player every year besides his rookie season. He’s up in there in age at 35, but I think he would be a perfect temporary fix on the top line while Stone is out. Then if Stone comes back, he can seamlessly slot in on the second or third line.

When healthy, this is a decent lineup:

Dzingel-Brassard-Stone

Hoffman-Turris-Ryan

Smith-Pageau-Vrbata

Pyatt-Kelly-Wingels

Of course, the key there is when healthy, and Ottawa may have to rely on Vrbata more than they would like to if they do acquire him.

The Senators actually have a chance to win some games in the playoffs, and they shouldn’t have to just barely squeak in like they usually do. I still believe that the roster isn’t quite good enough with everyone healthy, and now trading for another forward is even more urgent.

There may not be a ton of options out there, and the price for Vrbata may end up getting high, such as a decent B-level prospect and/or a pick. However, that should not stop Dorion from trying to add to this team.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he is already on the phone 24/7 talking to GMs around the league.

In a few hours, we may get some good news that it is only Ryan who will be missing an extended amount of time. Even if that is the case, Ottawa still needs another forward to make their depth that much better.