With one week left before the NHL trade deadline, GMs of contending teams around the league are scrambling to figure out how they are going to improve their team for their playoff run.
Pierre Dorion has already made two trades, and I expect him to do a bit more to try to get the team younger, but most importantly to save money (because that’s what it is all about, right?). He has an endless amount of possibilities, although I think only a couple more moves will come.
Before I begin, I must preface this by saying that I’m not an “insider” and don’t know anything more than has been reported, so this list is based off of rumours and what makes the most sense. Let’s go through and rank the most likely Senators players to be traded.
Most realistic trade chips:
1. Zack Smith
I’m convinced that Dorion will move Smith, mainly because of his $3.25M cap hit for the next 3+ seasons. Personally I would want to move that salary too though, because in order to afford re-signing the better players on this team, Ottawa can’t be overpaying for third line players.
Smith is a fine player, but without Mark Stone he caps out as a 30-point winger. I’m sure teams would love to add “grit and toughness” to their bottom six, and he seems like a prototypical deadline acquisition for a contender. I’m not sure what Ottawa will be able to get back, but considering his sub-par contract, I would be perfectly happy with a 2nd round pick.
2. Johnny Oduya
There are no excuses for not trading Oduya. On Bob McKenzie’s “Bobcast” he had mentioned Oduya’s name as a trade target, and I’m sure there are a few teams that would want to add depth to their blueline if they expect to go deep in the playoffs.
He isn’t a part of the team’s future as he’s a UFA in the summer, so they might as well get something for him. I would literally take any draft pick for him, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they could get a 4th or a 5th.
3. Derick Brassard
Brassard’s name has come up a lot more in the past few weeks, and I think he’s more likely to go than Hoffman. Brassard has been decent this season with 33 points in 55 games, but if Ottawa can get a 1st round pick and a solid prospect in return, I wouldn’t mind that at all.
Brassard is due for a new contract in 2019, and at the age of 32, I’m not sure I’d be willing to give him lots of money. I’d prefer if Ottawa could get a young player already in the NHL (Robby Fabbri?) or someone at least close, but that may not be possible.
He has been connected to the St. Louis Blues, and with their boatload of good prospects, it’s exciting thinking about getting a young up-and-coming player in return. I’m not sure he’s likely to get moved, but I can definitely see it happening if they want to shed more salary. Either way, I don’t think they’ll want to re-sign Brassard after 2019 anyway.
4. Jean-Gabriel Pageau
Pageau’s name is the most interesting of this bunch, mainly because he’s that lovable character that the fans and organization have always seemed to adore. He’s never been a massive point producer, with 43 points back in 2015-16 seemingly being his ceiling, although when he has competent linemates he can be a great 3rd line centre.
Much like with Smith though, losing his $3.1M cap hit would amount to significant savings. Pageau also isn’t a player that is irreplaceable, as someone like Logan Brown might be able to take over that role as soon as next season.
It would be a tough loss for sentimental reasons, but I honestly think Ottawa could get a package close to what teams would offer for Brassard. He’s five years younger and much cheaper, so I can see a team overpaying for him.
Just in case he’s gone, you can watch this on repeat:
5. Mike Hoffman
Although there is still chatter surrounding his name, I am getting increasingly more optimistic that he will stay in Ottawa. And honestly, there’s no reason to trade him. His cap hit just over $5.1M is a big number, but when you consider that he’s a 60 point player, that’s actually incredibly good value.
Since December he has been linked with the Blues as well, but considering he and Matt Duchene have had very good chemistry of late, I think Dorion will be hesitant to move Hoffman.
St. Louis certainly does not want to give up two of their top prospects like Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou, but I think that sort of overpay is what it would have to take to move him. Hoffman is part of the solution, not the problem, and I hope Dorion realizes that there are easier ways to shed salary.
These five are the names that have come up the most, and if any of them get moved I wouldn’t be too surprised.
“We can dream, but it’s unlikely” category:
If any of these players are moved though, I’d be ecstatic and shocked.
1. Cody Ceci
The organization has talked up Ceci so much recently that he’s even being talked about as a successor to Erik Karlsson. Imagine trying to sell that to your fanbase? I’m desperately hopeful that this is just Dorion trying to drive up his trade value, as Ceci’s next contract this summer will be scary.
Ottawa needs to avoid another Jared Cowen and get something of value for him before they are paying him $4M and he has no value.
2. Gabriel Dumont
Nate Thompson and Chris DiDomenico were both “Boucher guys” and have now been traded. Perhaps they will continue the exodus?
3. Mike Condon
Condon has regressed back this season with an .898 SV%, and still has two years left on his deal. There’s no way Ottawa can go into next season with him and Craig Anderson again, so hopefully Condon will be easier to trade. His trade market is most likely extremely limited though.
4. Alex Burrows
I thought there was a chance Burrows could get moved before his 10-game suspension, but now I think that’s incredibly wishful thinking. He still has one year left on his deal worth $2.5M and I don’t think anyone wants to touch that.
5. Bobby Ryan
If Dorion can get Phaneuf off the books, maybe he can pull off a miracle by getting rid of the worst contract in the league? It would mean giving up a good asset to entice another team, but it might be worth it long-term.
“I hope not, but don’t rule anything out” category:
1. Erik Karlsson
I would take whatever Nick Kypreos says with a tiny grain of salt, but it was a bit worrisome hearing him say this about Karlsson:
Per HNIC, Kypreos says “don’t be surprised to see Erik Karlsson traded in the next nine days.”— Mark Scheig (@markscheig) February 18, 2018
I still doubt that he does get traded this week, but if his relationship with the team is worse than we thought it was (or if Melnyk is flat-out saying he won’t give him the money), then maybe it is a possibility.
It’s not as if he is the only person that has mentioned this as an option too, so I wouldn’t completely shrug this off as nothing. I sincerely hope that the Senators come to their senses and get him re-signed in the summer, because if Karlsson is traded within the week, it better be for an enormous return.
Considering that trading franchise players don’t happen very often, I have him last on this list. Leaving him off completely would be negligent though, as there’s a non-zero chance that a trade happens.
All in all, that is 11 names that have some chance of getting traded to another team. But then again, I left out other players who I wouldn’t completely rule out, either. I don’t think anyone expected Dion Phaneuf or Nate Thompson to get traded, so anything can happen.
The trade block will be fun to follow for the next seven days, as there are lots of ways Dorion can take this. Unless Karlsson is moved, then...perhaps it’ll be time to take a break from hockey.