The Mika Zibanejad for Derick Brassard swap on Monday was quite the shocker, mainly because nobody actually thought Mika was going to get moved. I had discussed last month that he may not be untouchable, but it's rare to see a team trade a 23-year old former first round pick that just put up 51 points, so I thought he would ultimately stay.
The reaction from fans has been a huge mix, with most people (myself included) simply being confused. It is not a horrible trade like some people are suggesting, although it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Zibanejad is six years younger than Brassard, and Brassard is turning 29 in September, meaning he is what he is and is probably on a very slight downward slope. He isn't too old or anything, but most forwards peak at around 25 or 26, and even if Brassard is a bit better right now that may change in a year or two.
Zibanejad has been far from perfect in his tenure with Ottawa, but he increased his point totals every single year to ultimately finish his final season with 51. I'm sure all of you have looked up Brassard's stats by now and you should be able to remember that he posted only seven more points than Mika. I think I'd rather have Brassard for this previous season and the upcoming season, but I just don't see a huge difference moving forward considering that Zibanejad should probably settle in the 50-60 point range each year.
In my article last month, I had said this about the prospect of trading him:
"Of course, I don't want him to be forced out of Ottawa. But if there is a top notch centre or number 2-3 defenseman available on the trade market, Zibanejad is most likely the player that teams will ask about. For this scenario, I'm thinking about players like Matt Duchene, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Kevin Shattenkirk, Hampus Lindholm, Tyson Barrie, and perhaps a few others. Ottawa will have to give up quite the package if they want to acquire one of those impact players, and Zibanejad is someone that I would be willing to give up."
If the Senators were going to move Zibanejad, I thought it would have been to use him in a package to get a better first line centre or a #2-3 defenseman, not a 2nd line centre. I just find it a bit strange that they didn't use one of their biggest trade chips to go and get a bigger fish, that's all. The thing I really dislike about this deal though, is that they essentially moved down five rounds in the draft in order to save $2 million.
I understand that this was probably more of a Eugene Melnyk thing rather than Pierre Dorion, but man, it sure can be frustrating being a fan of a budget team.
The point of this article isn't supposed to entirely be about the trade though...I just needed to get my thoughts in there. Now despite some of the reactions from the fans, there may be some good news if you read between the lines. I found this quote from Dorion Monday quite interesting:
"I wouldn't have taken the job if I didn't feel that we could be a contender now. I hear people say 'oh yeah, you guys are young, you're going to be good in two or three years' and that's not my thinking at all. Why can't we be good now? We've been Young and Hungry. We've been The Pesky Sens. Why can't we make the playoffs and challenge some of the better teams? I really think that we're going to surprise a lot of people once the season comes around. And I think that it has to do with our personnel, our attitude, our accountability, and I'll even put a bit of pressure on our coaches - I think it has to do with our coaches, as well."
Emphasis on that first line. Bryan Murray would say things like this all the time, but I think Dorion really wants this team to be a lot better next season. I think it's pretty clear that he wants to win right now because hopefully he has realized that you can only have a young cheap core like this for so long. The Dion Phaneuf trade was a win-now move, and so is the Brassard trade.
Obviously Dorion's hands are tied while the budget is tight and Mike Hoffman and Cody Ceci are unsigned, but he may not be done making the 2016-17 Senators despite all of us saying the opposite just a few days ago. If they are going to add all of these veteran/character players, why would they stop now? Maybe I'm getting too excited at the prospect of getting another player, but to me, this trade signifies that Dorion wants to add a bit more to this team.
They essentially contradicted what I said about this being a bridge year for 2017-18, especially if they do make another trade or free agent signing. It's hard to know what Dorion actually wants because the internal budget always blurs things, but I believe he desperately wants to add another piece considering what he has mentioned in interviews.
Another article blurb that made me think he at least wants to add more comes from this:
hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm pic.twitter.com/4qTZiCyaNt— data giver (@MannyElk) July 19, 2016
It's almost as if he is feeling impatient, and that's why I'll be on my toes (and you should too) for the next few weeks expecting a trade to happen at any moment.
I should try to stop guessing what the team is going to do because that has already backfired for me a bit, but I will say this: if Dorion had the financial resources available, I think this Senators team would already be better. I still have no idea what will happen the rest of the way, but the off-season got a bit more interesting all of a sudden.
There's a chance that nothing happens, but I'm sure the team will at least try to make another move or two. I don't love the Brassard trade, but at least this is a good sign that Dorion thinks the team's window is now, not the future. Now we wait to see if something actually comes of this.