With a five-game losing streak to end 2018, one that pushed the Senators to dead last in the NHL, you assumed something was going to happen. Turns out GM Pierre Dorion decided to send a message to coach Guy Boucher, placing one of his favourites, Tom Pyatt, on waivers.
Pyatt (OTT) on waivers— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 1, 2019
Likely this was to make room for the return of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who has been participating in full-contact practices recently.
It's no secret that Boucher has had a weird soft spot for Pyatt. He's played 37 of the Sens' 40 games this year, despite contributing just two assists (and zero goals) and putting up 35% of the 5v5 shot attempts (via Natural Stat Trick), a mark that only Paul Carey and Drake Batherson have been worse than. In other words, he's been about the worst fourth-liner: generates no offence, and the puck is usually stuck in his own zone when he's on the ice. And being 31 years old, you can't argue this is part of his development. When he was signed, it seemed that Boucher had liked what he'd seen with him in Switzerland and wanted to give him another NHL shot. But he inexplicably played in all but one of the team's games over the last two seasons, and only started getting scratched recently this year. To me, this feels like a message to Boucher that he's supposed to play players with futures in Ottawa.
It seems highly unlikely anyone will claim Pyatt. It's unclear what wi happen if he clears waivers. The most likely scenario is that he'll join other waivers-cleared Sens Max McCormick and Mike Condon in Belleville. There is a possibility he could follow the Zack Smith route of clearing waivers but staying in Ottawa, but this feels unlikely to me. With all the backlash at jerking a player around with waivers once, I can't imagine Dorion would waive another veteran unless he planned to demote him. There's also the possibility that if Pyatt is told he doesn't have a future with the Sens, he could ask for permission to go back to Europe. However, considering he'd be making his NHL salary in the AHL, it's most likely he'd play out the season in Belleville before leaving for Europe.
I have nothing against Pyatt the person, bit his play this season has been pretty awful. Here's hoping this demotion means we'll get to see players like Rudolfs Balcers and Filip Chlapik (once healthy) as call-ups in the future.