Five Thoughts for Friday: Trade Market

With a few big trades already through, things are going to start picking up over the next week. What should the Ottawa Senators get up to?

Five Thoughts for Friday: Trade Market
Photo by Kenny Eliason / Unsplash

It's Friday. The NHL Draft is just around the corner, followed by free agency. An otherwise slow news cycle for the Ottawa Senators is likely to pick up in the coming days.

While we wait for the offseason to get more interesting, I've got some thoughts.

On Trading Seventh Overall

It was inevitable that the idea that the Ottawa Senators are listening on 7th overall would make its way into the rumour mill. After all, the Sens have been disappointing for a long time. This past year was supposed to be different. Frankly, the year before was also supposed to be different. The idea of trading 7th overall for immediate help, rather than using it to select a player who won't make an impact in Ottawa for at least a few seasons, makes sense to talk about.

For me, the only way you should be considering moving on from this particular pick is if it's in exchange for more picks, not for immediate help. We've gone down the "immediate help" road before (hope you're enjoying Michigan, Alex) and we don't need to do that again.

If Ottawa is trading a top ten pick, it should be to move back and add multiple picks in the first and early second. Looking at mock drafts from Corey Pronman, Craig Button and others, there appears to be a ton of question marks about how things will shake out basically immediately after San Jose makes their selection. Ottawa could have the opportunity to still grab the player they want outside of the top ten. For example, Bob McKenzie has Carter Yakemchuk and Zeev Buium ranked 12th and 13th respectively. If one of those defenders is who Ottawa has an eye on, moving back and adding more picks is an easy choice provided they can find a partner.

There's a world where Calgary sees the son of one of their most iconic players of all time available at seventh and makes a pitch here. Calgary currently holds 9th and 28th in round one, then they also have a pair of seconds (41st and 62nd). This is a world where trading seventh overall makes sense to me.

If they're going to go the route of trading this pick for "immediate help" it better be in the form of something they really, truly need - like a top end right shot defender who's locked up at a reasonable cap hit long term.

On Trading Erik Brännström

"Should the Senators trade Erik Brännström" is my Sens Offseason Bingo free square. It happens every year. People love to hold onto the idea that, when he was drafted seven (!) years ago, he was "the next Erik Karlsson" or whatever. Time's change, development changes, and moving on from your most effective third pair defender seems like a silly choice to me. In part because his trade value isn't very high.

I know what you might be thinking. But, Spencer, if his trade value isn't very high then why keep him? Doesn't that mean he's not good?

Well, no. It means he's not worth as much on the trade market as he would be internally.

What it means is that having Erik Brännström on your third pair and whatever return you can get from, say, Jakob Chychrun, is probably more valuable to the team than keeping Chychrun and whatever you'd get in return for Brännström. You have a real opportunity to use someone like Chychrun as a trade chip to address a real need - goaltender, right shot defender, veteran top six forward - and then still start the season with a left side of Jake Sanderson, Thomas Chabot and Erik Brännström.

Trading our short Swedish King is likely to net you a mid-to-maybe-early round pick and some help in Belleville at most. Keeping him ensures the ability to move the puck on the third pairing and someone who can, when needed, step into a bigger role temporarily should injuries arise.

I'd rather keep him.

On Trading 25th Overall

I'm no longer on The Twitter™ so I don't know what the discourse was like on this, but the Silver Seven group chat made me aware of this tweet from Travis Yost:

I can't help but assume this is the Senators going after a guy like Scott Laughton (again) and I also can't help but assume that the 25th overall selection will be involved in that deal.

For me, I understand that the Senators' cupboards are bare and the long term play should be to make all of the selections they can in 2024. That being said, this is going to be a fine balance moving forward in building up the cupboard while also positively impacting the team that will be in camp for September. Because Ottawa will (likely) be picking a high end player seventh overall, while having 39th (and 4 fourth round picks), I think the Senators can afford to take the long term hit of not adding a second player in the first round in exchange for someone like Laughton who checks off the boxes Staios has been talking about in experience, veteran leadership, etc.

On Trading Jakob Chychrun

This topic has probably been overdone but my thought on it is pretty simple.

Trade him.

The Senators don't have much else in the realm of trade chips that will garner what Chychrun would and while you "can never have too many good defensemen", Ottawa is in a spot where the left side of their blueline is one of their few positional strengths.

I also think the trade of Pierre Luc Dubois to Darcy Kuemper that went down earlier this week sets an interesting precedent for the idea that Chychrun could be used to bring in someone like Linus Ullmark.

In my opinion, Chychrun is more valuable than PLD for a number of reasons - contract, position and skill. Ullmark is also more valuable than Kuemper for a number of reasons. I do think the Senators would still have to add to Chychrun to get the deal done, but I also think the idea that has been floated by "league executives" courtesy of Bruce Garrioch that it would have to be "Chychrun, a first and another selection" is pretty wild. The goalie market has now shrunk, with both LA and New Jersey getting their guys, so Boston's leverage is waning.

With the comparison of PLD for Kuemper, one-for-one, and the teams willing to spend on a high end goaltender shrinking, it probably shouldn't take more than Chychrun and a non-first selection to get it done.

On Trading a Goalie

The easy "decision" here is to trade one. The hard part, obviously, is making it happen.

In Anton Forsberg, you've got a little more wiggle room as he has one year left on a reasonable cap hit and, while he didn't perform well last year, he'd be a pretty easy sell as a backup goaltender for a contending team with some space. One example here could be the Winnipeg Jets. Laurent Brossoit has likely priced himself out of the tandem with Connor Hellebuyck with his .927 marker across 23 starts this year. I'd imagine he tests free agency and gets himself a small-to-medium pay bump in the process.

In Joonas Korpisalo, a trade is almost unimaginable without mortgaging the future with sweeteners. The most likely route here is actually a buyout, regardless of what Staios has said on that topic in the media. The numbers corresponding to a Korpisalo buyout are actually relatively tame, especially when you consider the expected rise in the salary cap over the next few seasons.

A Korpisalo buyout would give the Sens an immediate and massive amount of cap relief, with $3.67M becoming available this coming season. Yes, you'd end up paying Korpisalo until 2031-32, which is far from ideal, but even then a wasted cap hit of $1.3M isn't exactly detrimental to building a team with a savvy front office.

I'd hope Staios bets on his team being able to handle this slight bump in the road and manage the cap accordingly.

So my thought on trading a goalie is, actually, don't. Buy out Korpisalo and find a starter to play ahead of Forsberg for 2024-25.

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