With the NHL season at a standstill for the foreseeable future, GM Pierre Dorion can breathe (hopefully in self-quarantine) and take a break from his role as the NHL’s busiest general manager. Seriously, even taking into account the added pressure from his boss, his 42 (per CapFriendly.com) trades in under four years is a rather impressive number. Today, we’re going to look at the extremes, good and bad, of his work. Here are the five best and five worst trades made by Pierre Dorion.
#5 (Worst): Alex Chiasson to CGY for Patrick Sieloff
Yeah, I’m as surprised as you. However, going through Dorion's worst trades, there are only four that I can say look worse than this one. Any smidgen of potential value would have been an acceptable return for Chiasson, who failed to live up to expectations as the centrepiece for the Jason Spezza trade. Unfortunately, not only was Sieloff unable to make the jump, the one thing he was known for in Ottawa was his check to the head of Clarke MacArthur during training camp in 2016. MacArthur’s prior concussion history was a sign that his career was already in jeopardy, but to see an unfortunate play take him out before the season began was just awful to see.
#5 (Best): Curtis Lazar and Mike Kostka to CGY for Jyrki Jokipakka and a 2017 2nd round pick (CGY)
Two trades in a row with the Flames! This one turned out much better for us, as Lazar simply wasn't productive at the NHL level and many consider him a bust. Along with a swap of depth defenders, a second round pick is a solid return. With that pick, Ottawa selected Alex Formenton, who currently is one of the team’s best prospects given his *elite* skating as well as the ability to finish on scoring chances generated by some of the more dynamic players in the farm system.
#4 (Worst): Mark Stone and Tobias Lindberg to VGK for Erik Brannstrom, Oscar Lindberg and a 2020 2nd round pick (DAL)
Well that escalated quickly. Although Brannstrom is progressing at a rate that will make us look at this trade in a less negative light as years pass, we’ll always know that Dorion simply didn’t do well enough here. A top prospect and a 2nd isn’t enough of a return for the best two-way player this team has ever seen (since Marian Hossa?).
#4 (Best): Ryan Dzingel and a 2019 7th round pick (CGY) to CBJ for Anthony Duclair, a 2020 2nd round pick (CBJ), and a 2021 2nd round pick (CBJ)
A few days prior to trading Stone, Dorion moved fellow pending UFAs Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel to the Blue Jackets in separate trades, and the haul Dorion pulled in for Dzingel especially stands out amongst his best trades. Two second round picks is a good return for a rental top-six forward, but what really puts the trade over the top is the current career season from Anthony Duclair; despite a nasty cold streak he’s contributed 23 goals and 40 points in 66 games.
#3 (Worst): Mike Hoffman, Cody Donaghey and a 2020 5th round pick (OTT) to SJS for Mikkel Boedker, Julius Bergman, and a 2020 6th round pick (SJS)
I still shudder to think of this trade, but there’s a reason it’s only at the #3 spot. Giving up Hoffman, who went on to score 36 goals and 70 points in 2018-19, in exchange for Boedker, who eventually became a frequent healthy scratch for the club, is cause for calling this trade an abomination, but keep in mind that Hoffman’s value was already low due to prior events; Florida gave up a 2nd and some late-round picks to the Sharks shortly afterwards; so Dorion didn’t lose too much value in this transaction. It’s still total garbage, but it’s not Hall-for-Larsson bad.
#3 (Best): Jean-Gabriel Pageau to NYI for a 2020 1st round pick (NYI) and a 2020 2nd round pick (NYI).
Jesus, Pierre smacked this one out of the park. One moment, we’re hearing that Ottawa may be keeping Pageau unsigned beyond the deadline, and now they’re sitting pretty with their third pick in the 1st round of the 2020 draft, one belonging to a team currently in a state of free-fall. The fun part is going to be seeing who the picks turn into; no disrespect to Pageau but if the scouts are on their game, the player we get with that 1st is going to be even more of a stud.
#2 (Worst): Kyle Turris, Shane Bowers, a 2019 1st round pick (OTT), a 2019 3rd round pick (OTT), and Andrew Hammond to COL for Matt Duchene.
You can argue that the team was heading in a less-than-ideal direction before Dorion pulled the trigger on this move, but it was the Matt Duchene trade that truly began the dark period for the Ottawa Senators. As we all know, Ottawa fell from grace in unprecedented fashion, eventually finishing last in the league in 2019 without their first-round pick. They were at least able to flip Duchene that year and recoup some value, but having an additional Top 5 pick would have put the Senators’ rebuild in an even better position than it is now.
#2 (Best): Derick Brassard, Vincent Dunn, and a 2018 3rd round pick (OTT) to PIT for Filip Gustavsson, Ian Cole, a 2018 1st round pick (PIT), and a 2019 3rd round pick (PIT)
Despite Eugene Melnyk’s unwillingness to retain salary turning this trade into a jumbled mess involving those obnoxious Vegas Golden Knights, Dorion was able to get a great return for the sort-of-second-line centre. At the 2018 NHL entry draft, after passing on Filip Zadina’s skill for Brady Tkachuk’s character, he moved Pittsburgh’s first rounder back four spots to draft a pair of blueline buddies; the steady Jacob Bernard-Docker 26th overall and offensive-minded Jonny Tychonick 48th overall. Filip Gustavsson is gaining pro experience in Belleville’s crease and is still a promising young goaltender at only 21 years old.
#1 (Worst): Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 2nd round pick (OTT) to NYR for Derick Brassard and a 2018 7th round pick (NYR)
Like with Matt Duchene, Dorion was able to get good value for Derick Brassard after grossly overpaying for his services. Zibanejad wasn’t looking like he’d become a bona fide first-line centre in the NHL, but he still racked up 47 and 51 points respectively in his two seasons prior to the trade. Dorion made this swap as a win-now move, however Zibanejad outperformed Brassard offensively right from the get-go. No doubt the trade served as a wake-up call of sorts for Zibanejad, as he currently has 41 goals and 34 assists in 57 games. Would he have found this gear if he was still in Ottawa? Maybe. Maybe not. Would Ottawa have gone on that magical playoff run in 2017 if they didn’t trade for Brassard? Again, there’s no way to know for sure. When you have a potential star that you’re on the fence about, you have to make a decision; keep him and risk his value plummeting, or trade him and risk him turning into a franchise player. In this case, the organization chose wrong. So very wrong. And don’t even get me started on the pick swap.
#1 (Best): Erik Karlsson and Francis Perron to SJS for Chris Tierney, Dylan DeMelo, Josh Norris, Rudolfs Balcers, a 2020 1st round pick, a 2019 2nd round pick (FLA), and a 2021 2nd round pick (SJS)
When dire circumstances emerge, and you’re forced into an un-winnable situation, all you can do is close your eyes, put your hands together and pray to Sam Pollock for a hockey miracle. And that’s just what Dorion did on September 13th, 2018. By no means did he fleece Doug Wilson on that day; nobody expected the Sharks’ 2020 1st rounder to be in the Top 10. It is, though. It’s reality. And how sweet that reality is. On top of the lottery ticket, the Sens’ return for the most talented player in franchise history includes a future second-line centre in Josh Norris, as well as a collection of bulk goods. In January of 2019, Erik Karlsson stated that he was “happy to be on a winning team” in San Jose. That’s certainly an understandable sentiment, as Ottawa failed miserably to surround him, on the best bargain contract in the NHL, with the necessary players to consistently compete for a Cup. Though it’s definitely interesting to see a very possible scenario of Karlsson never making it further as a Shark than within a goal of the 2017 Cup Final, as his new team is in a state of limbo; they’re severely lacking in forward depth while being weighed down by albatross contracts such as Brent Burns, Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Erik does seem happy in San Jose though, and I wish him well.
We’re finally at the end! Be sure to let us know what you think of the list, and tell us yours in the comments. Also, be sure to let us know whether or not weekly Top 5/Top 10 countdowns should be a regular thing! Stay safe!