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Mythbusting the Alex Burrows trade

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I don’t think this was trading the future to get better in the present

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday I argued that I have a hard time seeing any benefit of this trade. I’ve seen a few attempts at explaining the logic behind it. I have a hard time following any of those trains of thought. So here are my thoughts about some of the most common explanations of this trade:

  • The Senators got worse in the future to get better in the present. I fail to see how Alexandre Burrows makes the team better in the present. He seems like an older version of Tom Pyatt to me. The Sens lack depth, sure, but you don’t prepare for another Mark Stone injury by trading for Phil Varone version 3 (version 2 is Mike Blunden).
  • This trade proves the Sens are all-in. Even people like Bob McKenzie on TSN 1200 were spewing this nonsense. Trading for Burrows doesn’t mean you’re all-in. Trading for Matt Duchene means you’re all-in. Maybe trading for Gabriel Landeskog means the same. You’re never all-in when you get a bottom-six (bottom-three?) player. Even if the Sens make more moves in the coming days, wouldn’t you get your big fish before acquiring the depth pieces?
  • That’s the price of a rental in the NHL. The Sens got Tommy Wingels (who’s seven years younger than Burrows) for a washed-up prospect, a veteran who was a repeated healthy scratch in the AHL, and a 7th-round pick. Who was Burrows as that much better than Wingels?
  • No one knows how Dahlen’s going to turn out. That’s true, but we already know what Burrows is: old, ineffective, deteriorating. It’s like trading a lottery ticket for a rusty nickel.
  • The Sens won’t have room for all the promising prospects next year. Like the last point showed, prospects are unknown quantities. Sure, Dahlen has more points in the Allsvenskan than Filip Forsberg did in their respect draft + 1 seasons, but that doesn’t always translate. Stanley Cup champion David Rundblad was an SHL MVP, and he was at best a 5/6 defenceman in the NHL. But that’s why you acquire so many. The hope is that if you bring forwards Colin White, Jonathan Dahlen, Filip Chlapik, Francis Perron, Logan Brown, Cody Donaghey, and Gabriel Gagne to training camp next year, at least a couple will be able to play as NHL bottom-six guys, and a couple others will grow into impact players.
  • Ottawa wasn’t using Burrows’ extension’s cap space anyway. We were sold on the Mika Zibanejad/Derick Brassard trade because it gave the Sens cost certainty. We all know the Sens have an internal budget. If the team is going to throw away $2M on 35-year-old veterans not named Jaromir Jagr, it’s hard to believe this team is really committed to spending effectively.
  • This trade was about veteran leadership. I think Chris Neil brings a lot of veteran leadership to this team. As much as it gets mocked here, I think there’s lots to be said for that veteran presence. I believe in the ability of Neil and Dion Phaneuf to provide a lot of that. I don’t see how adding Burrows (and extending him) gives this team a better veteran presence.
  • This trade was about grit. The Sens have Neil and Mark Borowiecki right now. The statement is that Max McCormick is being groomed into taking Neil’s role as early as next season. Burrows likely blocks McCormick’s NHL career for at least another season.

So there you have it - I can’t think of a lot of reasons this trade would’ve gone down. If you have any other ones, give them to me in the comments, and I’m sure I’ll be able to rip them apart with my pessimistic mind too.