Like everything else in 2021, expect something of an aberrational trade deadline this NHL season. As we learned with the Derek Stepan trade, when adding quarantine and travel factors to the usual family commitments and logistical limitations, uprooting individuals right now can have even more consequences on and off the ice than usual. Without re-litigating that particular trade, I imagine we will look at any international transactions through a similar lens for the foreseeable future. The contracted 56-game season, financial struggles, and the temporary divisional re-alignment will also make this deadline very unique and possibly rather uneventful. So with all of that in mind, how would you approach this deadline as armchair GM of the Senators?
Stay the Course
Given the ethical considerations and the state of the team, maybe it makes the most sense just to leave everything the way it stands. Considering this team doesn’t have a Mark Stone or a JG Pageau to shop anyway, maybe moving pieces around would cause more trouble than it’s worth. We’ve seen so many injuries because of the compressed schedule and the long offseason so having extra veteran bodies has its benefits. You can also make the argument that this team needs time and patience more than anything. This system still has a bunch of important pieces coming down the pipeline in the next couple of years so maybe you just let this stretch of games run its course without any more tinkering.
Sell what you Can
Mike Reilly, Ryan Dzingel, and Erik Gudbranson all immediately come to mind when discussing pending UFAs that the Senators could shop at the deadline for modest returns. Mike Reilly looks like a serviceable defender on a low salary that could garner interest if Ottawa feels confident running all youngsters down the left side of defence. Ryan Dzingel could re-establish his stock somewhat before the deadline if all parties involved feel comfortable with Zinger having to go through quarantine again. Erik Gudbranson, despite his larger cap-hit, has skills that NHL GMs covet for reasons beyond my comprehension. We don’t really have a clear picture of which older players fit into the team’s plans long term so we don’t necessarily know who Dorion will make available.
Eff it, Blockbuster
Patrik Laine? Sam Reinhart? Dante Fabbro? Dream big. A lot of Sens fans (myself included) will still feel apprehensive about trades of this magnitude after seeing the prices Ottawa paid for Bobby Ryan and Matt Duchene. You could argue, however, that you need to get aggressive to put this team over the top while they have this core intact at very little cost (relatively speaking) cap-wise. Maybe some added offence or a solidified defence accelerates the growth of this team enough that they can compete for a playoff spot as soon as next season. How attached do you feel to Ottawa’s first- and second-round pick in 2022-23 when Ottawa’s best players average around 24-years-of-age and find themselves in their statistical primes? Do you take advantage of teams about to commence their own rebuilds who can’t afford to hang on to players in need of a big commitment?
I don’t believe Ottawa can make or break the long-term development of this team with any transactions at this deadline and I have reserved expectations, at best. All things considered, maybe the very unique circumstances of this season conflate to create some unforeseen and remarkable moves on deadline day. Your guess is better than mine. What are your thoughts?