Monday, July 1st was a bit of a hectic day. The Ottawa Senators made a huge trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, adding Nikita Zaitsev and Connor Brown, while sending Cody Ceci and Ben Harpur to their Ontario rivals. Not done swapping with the Leafs, they also signed Ron Hainsey and Tyler Ennis to one-year deals.
The aftershock of these moves would rumble on through Tuesday, overshadowing any other, smaller moves the Senators made. They did, in fact, make two, so let’s recap the less exciting events of the past couple days.
Jordan Szwarz Signs One-Year, Two-Way Deal
There may be some debate about whether or not the Ottawa Senators got better on July 1st, but I don’t think it’s disputable that the Belleville Senators certainly did.
Already adding Michael Carcone of the Toronto Marlies, the Sens signed Jordan Szwarz to a one-year, two-way deal worth $800K. Originally a fourth-round selection of the then-Phoenix Coyotes in 2009, Szwarz has gone on to play 47 NHL games in his career, between the Yotes and the Boston Bruins. He has 4G and 3A to his name.
Szwarz’s AHL career has been far longer, and far more productive. He took a bit of a step back last year, but the 28 year-old still posted 46P in 68 games. A native of Burlington, Ontario, Szwarz has played in 432 AHL regular season games, and 30 playoff games. That includes the Providence Bruins’ run to the 2017 Eastern Conference Final, a season in which Szwarz made the team on a PTO, and went on to be their regular-season scoring leader. He was named Providence’s captain in 2018.
In a season where the spotlight will be shone brightly on the Senators’ youth, Szwarz is a solid acquisition. He has the offensive prowess to carry a good amount of the load in Belleville, taking pressure off of some Ottawa’s youngsters. His ability to slot on to the fourth line of an NHL squad also provides some depth for the big club. Jordan Szwarz looks like a great pick-up.
Nick Paul Signs One-Year, Two-Way Deal
It appears that the Sens have given Nick Paul one more shot to prove that he’s an NHL player. On July 2nd, they signed the 24 year-old to a one-year, two-way deal worth $750K.
Nick Paul spent 20 games in Ottawa this past season, in a campaign where many fans were frustrated with his lack of ice time. It was perplexing to say the least, as even in his limited role, Paul looked better than he had in any of his previous NHL stints. His possession numbers were actually on the higher end of Ottawa’s forwards, he was using his big frame on the forecheck, and he had a cannon of a shot.
Demoralizing as it may have been, Paul didn’t let it affect him upon his return to Belleville, going on to have the season that the Senators organization and fans had been dying to see from him. Playing on a jaw-droppingly skilled line with Logan Brown and Drake Batherson, the Mississauga native tallied 39P in 43 games, emerging as a top-line forward on a team that fell just short of the playoffs.
Since coming over from the Dallas Stars in the 2014 Jason Spezza trade, Paul has yet to be able to find production at the NHL level. If he can do that this season, it’s safe to assume that his future with the team is solidified. Though the new additions of Connor Brown and Tyler Ennis may make being on the Opening Night roster a formidable task, Paul has proven that if you put him with good players, he will come through.
Hopefully D.J. Smith understands the youngster’s potential to be an important winger, and doesn’t make the same mistakes as his predecessor. Perhaps we’ll even get to see a reunion of that beautiful Belleville line. Time will tell, but one thing is for certain: This is likely Nick Paul’s last chance to be an Ottawa Senator long-term.