6. Just like with Calgary when Sam Bennett was a healthy scratch, Ottawa got its share of calls when Curtis Lazar sat out. I do think there is interest but I’m not sure the Senators are willing to pull the trigger. Teams will be happy to bet Lazar can rebound with a fresh start but don’t want to pay the price that comes with such a wager.
This kind of worries me as a fan. It sounds just like what the team said about Jared Cowen, who was rumoured to be worth a 1st-round pick in a trade as recently as two years ago. Bryan Murray was reluctant to let him go and let him succeed somewhere else. In the end the Sens held onto him until his value was so low the team had to drop him as a short-term salary dump in exchange for a long-term salary dump. It also sounds like what the team says now about Cody Ceci. Just a year ago he was a non-starter in a deal for Jonathan Drouin, who proceeded to light up the playoffs and has since cemented his place as a top-six NHL winger. Ceci is a better player than Cowen ever became in my opinion, but the Sens are in danger of overvaluing Ceci until they find he really can’t play the role he’s been put into. This team has a recent history of overvaluing first-round picks until their value has fallen so far, there’s not trade value left to recover.
The other problem is that the team has been willing to trade certain other players. Robin Lehner has gone on to play well when he’s not injured in Buffalo. Mika Zibanejad was traded for the much-older Derick Brassard, and Z-bad has been great (when not injured) for the Rangers will just entering his prime at age 23. It could be a case of Lazar’s trade value being low while Z-bad fetched a top-six centre, but it seems concerning to me that the team might value Lazar a lot higher than they did Zibanejad.
In other news, there was a report quoted by Sportsnet that the Sens may ask Dion Phaneuf to waive his NMC ahead of the expansion draft. As of right now, Phaneuf is the only player the Sens need to protect due to contract status. However, as the article points out, the Sens would prefer to protect Erik Karlsson, Cody Ceci, and Marc Methot and seven forwards. It seems unlikely the Vegas Golden Knights would pick up Phaneuf at four years and $7M, so if the team phrased it as trying to keep the team together, it’s possible he’d say yes. The big problem, as pointed out by our own NKB, is that if Phaneuf waived his NMC, he’d be waiving it for everything. It would give the Sens a small window in which he could be traded anywhere, and I doubt he’d wanted to give up that much control.
Sportsnet also had a piece looking at Phaneuf’s value a year after the trade (much like Colin did this morning), and it seems to agree with most of our thoughts. He’s still an NHLer, but not one worth his price tag. His playing 23 minutes per night is mostly an effect of the Sens’ lack of defensive depth. He has definitely been a great leader for the team. But as Sean McIndoe touched on this week, you don’t build a championship team by overpaying for intangibles.
So most of the Sens off-ice news this week is non-news: Lazar likely won’t be traded, and Phaneuf might waive his NMC for Vegas but I wouldn’t bet on it.