The Senators made a splash today, placing two names on waivers:
Zaitsev and Hellberg (OTT) on waivers too— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) November 9, 2022
The Nikita Zaitsev move in general feels like it had been a long time coming. Zaitsev infamously came over to the Sens from the Maple Leafs as a salary dump in the trade that primarily saw Cody Ceci and Connor Brown trade teams. He’s played 182 games for the Sens, putting up 41 points, and a 45.5% share of the 5v5 shot attempts, good enough for 12th-worst among defencemen in that span (min. 100 games played). From an eye-test perspective, he does seem to struggle with the puck on his stick, and last night he both made the mistake that set up the Canucks’ first goal, and took a penalty late that gave them a powerplay to score an insurance goal. You don’t want to sum up a player based on a single game, but it felt indicative of his career with the Sens in general. DJ Smith, having been his assistant coach in Toronto, seemed to keep deploying him in high-leverage situations, often as Thomas Chabot’s partner on the top pair, averaging 21 minutes per game over that time. It’s unclear if waiving him is hoping he gets claimed, if it demonstrates an intention to send him to Belleville, or if it makes it easier to offload him in a trade.
Magnus Hellberg was simply a victim of numbers. The Sens claimed him on waivers from the Seattle Kraken, a player with 5 games of NHL experience. He played exactly one game, putting up a .935 save percentage against the high-flying Dallas Stars. In the end, once Cam Talbot and Anton Forsberg were both healthy, the Sens decided to keep the tandem with more NHL track record. Likely he will be re-claimed by the Kraken, though another team in need of a goaltender (the Leafs?) may also try. For Sens fans, we’ll always have his incredible pads (bottom-right):