In a recent French language interview, GMPD suggested that the Sens might actually be buyers at this years deadline. While most pundits have dismissed this purely as posturing, either to motivate the team, or to help his negotiations as a seller, it bears mentioning that the senators were in fact buyers at last years deadline and last years draft.
Several names have been floated, some unrealistic (ie Karlsson,) some nauseatingly (ie Chychrun,) while others just made us nauseous because of how foolhardy they sound (ie Dumba.) Weegar and Marino were both traded, just not to the senators, and Severson’s NJ devils are a legitimate contender that don’t seem like they’ll be moving him.
The senators making a deal for a pending UFA like Severson or Dumba just doesn’t make any sense unless they have an extension pre-negotiated, and even then; why give up assets for someone you could just sign in free agency. The sens are also quickly becoming a cap team with important RFAs to sign, so signing a high end UFA also seems implausible but not impossible. If they can shed salary and sign Debrincat to a long term extension for less than his qualifying offer, then maybe they can dabble in free agency. The most important salary to move is that of Nikita Zaitsev, and I’ve already expressed my reluctance at re-signing talbot, but the title of this post is Dman trade candidates, not UFA candidates. So let me dive in….
First off, I only want to talk about players that we can actually afford, both in terms of cap hit (sorry EK65) and in terms of potential asking price (sorry Chychrun.) I also want to focus on Right-shot defensemen, because they are our most glaring need. I also won’t waste much time with pending UFAs or any players that realistically aren’t being traded under any circumstances (ie Drysdale.) Those prerequisites suddenly lmakes the list of potential trade options very small.
Boqvist was part of the return Columbus got in the Seth Jones trade. Still only 22 years old, the 8th overall pick by Chicago in 2018, Boqvist is slightly undersized but has had decent offensive numbers over 4 NHL seasons. His cap hit is 2.6M for this season and two more after which he will be an RFA. Boqvist registered 11 goals last year in just 52 games, and although he’s been held goalless this year through 15 games, his -1 looks pretty damn good on a blue jackets squad that is far and away the worst team in the eastern conference. Acquiring Boqvist would not come cheap, Columbus has no intention of trading him and I would expect the asking price to be a high draft pick, a top prospect as well as a 2nd tier prospect.
Justin Barron - MTL
Barron was acquired by the Canadiens as the main piece of the return for Artturi Lehkonen. Barron was the 25th overall pick in 2020, and he stands at 6’2. Although he only has 16 games of NHL experience he has 5 points and has only taken 1 minor penalty. He also has 40 points (13 goals) in 75 career AHL games. He is in the 2nd year of his ELC. I would expect Montreal does not want to trade Barron and the asking price would be similar to that of Boqvist. Because he has so little big league experience, I doubt GMPD would want to acquire him as he is similar in many ways to Lassi Thompson.
Noah Dobson - NYI
Dobson has it all; size, skill, youth, and term left on his (cheap) contract. There was talk in the offseason that the Sens might have been seeking his services when he was an RFA, and no-doubt the asking price will have only increased since then. Dobson is in the 1st year of a 3 year pact with an AAV of 4M. How the islanders got him to sign for so little for so long is remarkable. He stands at 6’4 but is not just a big body. Last year he scored 51 points and is on pace to match those numbers. Dobson would cost a fortune to acquire, possibly more than Chychrun based solely on the fact that Arizona is actively shopping Chychrun while the islanders are fighting for a playoff spot. IF the islanders slip out of contention by the deadline the sens might be able to pry Dobson from NYI for say Formenton, 2 high picks and 2 high end prospects… but not bloody likely. Ask yourself what the sens would ask for chabot, that’s what the islanders will want for Dobson, if not more.
Sean Durzi - LAK
Sens nation has been abuzz with speculation since GMPD watched the Kings/Stars game in L.A. The kings have an abundance of right shot defensemen already in the NHL with 2 or 3 more waiting in the wings, one of whom appears be on the verge of making the team. Sean Durzi seems like the most likely choice as a trade target. His asking price will be high but won’t be sky high, and he’s young, but not too young. The Kings have several other RD who they would probably prefer to trade, who the sens could have for much cheaper, but they likely wouldn’t slide into a top 4 role like Durzi would. The only problem? The Kings seem like an ideal trade parters for the Sens, but that’s not a two-way street. The Kings already have an incredibly deep forward group and blue line, they are no longer rebuilding and are suddenly a playoff team with very few holes and a wealth of prospects. Their only possible needs are perhaps in goal and on left-D. So what do the sens have to offer them? Cam Talbot for starters, that is if the Kings would even want him. Their goalkeepers have been mediocre at best this season, but Talbot’s numbers don’t look too much better. As far as left shot defensemen the only trade chips we have are Branny and Holden. Not exactly the trade bait needed to land Durzi. Outside of Tyler Kleven we don’t even have much in the way of left shot defensemen who could crack the lineup next year. The Kings are right up against the cap, so for them to add Talbot we would have to retain salary and maybe eat a bad contract too. One of the few things we have to offer them is a small amount of cap space. With that in mind my offer to Rob Blake is; Talbot, Holden and Branny, all with 50% retained, along with a mid level prospect, let’s say Hamara, for Durzi and (Brady’s best pal) Brendan Lemieux as a salary dump.
Matt Roy/Sean Walker - LAK
These are the two other RD that L.A. could potentially move, and the asking price for either of them would be way lower than for Durzi. They aren’t the player Durzi is and are better suited as bottom pair guys in my opinion. Both Roy and Walker are in their late 20’s with one year left on their contracts after this season before becoming UFAs. Roy stands at 6’1 and has an AAV of 3.15M and a career high of 21 points that he’s on pace to beat this year. Walker is 5’11 and has an AAV of 2.65M and a career high of 24 points in a season, he also finds himself more on the minus side of +/- while Roy trends on the plus side. Roy is almost certainly the better of the two, but frankly I don’t want either of them, I want Durzi. I’d settle for a straight swap of Talbot for Roy if it came down to it. This is purely fantasy, but if there was any way to snag Brandt Clarke it would be amazing. Clarke is a local kid, and he went two picks before Tyler Boucher in 2021 at 8th overall, he reminds me of a young Rob Blake and would cost an absolute fortune to wrestle away from modern-day Rob Blake… a man can dream.
Evan Bouchard - EDM
Speaking of dreaming, Evan Bouchard would be another dream come true, and would not cost as much of a fortune as Clarke. The oilers are in cap hell, and Bouchard is due for a decent raise after this season coming off his ELC. Edmonton picked him 10th overall, so they will be extremely reluctant to trade him. The odds of this happening before the deadline are slim to none, but maybe, just maybe, in the offseason when Edmonton is feeling the cap walls closing in on them the sens can entice the oilers with a package of picks and prospects. It would help if Bouchard had a bad playoffs, or if the oilers miss the playoffs altogether. Before the season I bet on them to win the western conference and lose to Tampa in the finals. We’ll see how that plays out. Just remember when it happens that you heard it here first!
Well now that I see all these options laid out, they all seem super unlikely except for maybe Durzi, Walker or Roy. So here’s hoping it’s Durzi! Did I miss somebody that you think should have been on my list? If so, let me know.
PS. Hearing that our beloved S7S might be leaving us pains my heart. Where else can I pretend to be a sports columnist! To the powers that be who are behind this great injustice I say this one word: SHAME