Email Hotstove: Ottawa Senators trade options

The staff talk about what they want the team to acquire

What do you think is the Sens' biggest need six weeks  before the trade deadline? What player(s) can you see Ottawa trading for  to fill that need? What do you think it would cost the team?

Peter: Although I think the Sens are in pretty decent shape six weeks out from  the trade deadline, there are a lot of small moves they could make to  improve their chances.

The biggest one they'd benefit  from would be an upgrade on defence, but I don't see a big splash  happening for a number of reasons: Boucher seems happy with the second  pairing (which is most in need of improvement, in my opinion), the cost  for a good blueliner would be too much (in salary and in assets), and  paying a high price for a blueliner right now would be foolish if you're  likely to lose him (or another D you like, such as Methot or Ceci) in  the expansion draft this summer. Still, with Claesson as the seventh  defenceman right now, the Sens might be looking for a more experienced  depth guy to solidify the corps--Francois Beauchemin has been mentioned,  but he's got a big salary this year and next year even if the price to  acquire him would probably be low. Someone like Mark Stone's brother  Michael would be an interesting option whose name I've heard mentioned  in rumours, but Cody Franson and Ron Hainsey could be some solid UFA  rental options as well. I'm not sure how much I'd want the Senators to  pay for a rental since they're not close to true contention, but a small  price could be worth it for short-term improvement to defensive depth.

Up  front, an upgrade in the bottom six might make sense, but--again--I  think Boucher seems pretty content with what he's got, so maybe we're  not likely to see much. A few former Senators are buried in the AHL  right now and might be worth looking at if they're placed back onto  waivers (Milan Michalek, Colin Greening, Erik Condra), but I doubt we  see anything major until we know what kind of player Clarke MacArthur  will be when he returns.

Of all the things the  Senators might do, the biggest might be a trade involving Curtis Lazar.  His early stint in Binghamton doesn't seem to have helped his production  much, and it's looking like he may not become the offensive producer  the Sens hoped when he was drafted. Still, he's likely got some  remaining trade value to a rebuilding team by virtue of his draft  position, World Junior Championship reputation, and generally positive  attitude. Ottawa may decide that the time is now to move on from Lazar  and give him a change of scenery in order to bring some scoring depth  from a team that's on the outside of the playoffs.

Colin: This is a difficult question. Although the forward and defense corps have been passable (we're  in a playoff spot!), the way we've been playing so far has not  reflected that of a cup contender. If contending is this team's goal,  then we need to get a top-nine forward and top-four defenseman ASAP (and  to answer the question, I think both positions are just as dire).  However, as much as we need to fill these positions, I'm afraid that it  won't really do anything. Tom Pyatt will continue to get regular minutes  while dragging our top players, and the organization will still be  putting Cody Ceci on a pedestal. Boucher and Dorion are too attached to  give them up, even though Ceci and Pyatt in particular have been our  Achilles heel thus far.

Aside from that, taking a  brief look through some recent Armchair GMs, the names that keep  popping up are Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Ryan Spooner, Jarome  Iginla, Ryan Strome, Anthony Duclair and Francois Beauchemin. A lot more  forwards than defensemen, which makes sense due to the recent nature of  the trade market. Many of these are very intriguing, although there's  two obstacles the Sens face with concocting a trade.

The  first, and probably most important, is the financial situation. We're  already over budget, so we'll somehow have to find a cheap quality  player, and still probably have to give some salary back the other way.  This eliminates most teams from trade talks already, which is why  Anthony Duclair is a very alluring option. The other is that we'd have  to give back a valuable asset the other way, and the Sens don't have a  pinpoint position of strength to deal from. A trade would probably have  to involve sacrificing some of our future, and I don't think Dorion and  co. are too keen on going that direction.

Trevor: Yeah, I think the upcoming Expansion Draft will complicate things a  great deal for every team in the league. Ottawa has to protect Karlsson  and Phaneuf, so acquiring someone else would mean Marc Methot would be  exposed, like Peter mentioned. This is not the year that Ottawa has  enough assets to go for it anyway, so as long as they target some  upgrades on defense in the summer, then I'll be happy.

Certainly  that second pairing is a huge weakness right now, and I'd be trying  very hard to trade Cody Ceci for a team who still believes he has some  value. I think Ottawa would be able to get at least a decent forward for  him, which is also another need. Of course if Ceci is moved, then  somebody will have to replace him. However, I would just look for a  solid 3rd pairing player who can take Chris Wideman's spot, and then  move Wideman up.

I am not going to rely on Clarke MacArthur coming back and staying healthy,  so I'm going to assume that there will be at least two holes to fill in  the bottom six. Ottawa simply does not have the scoring depth that  other good teams have, although once again, we have to factor in the  expansion draft. I would not mind going for an expiring UFA, just  because they wouldn't have to worry about exposing him.

As  for potential names, it's so hard to tell who's on the market,  especially for defensemen. For forwards, Martin Hanzal's name has been  brought up, and I wouldn't mind that acquisition to have him as a 3C, as  long as nothing too important is headed the other way (B level prospect  perhaps). If PA Parenteau is for sale, I would be all over that as  well, since Ottawa's depth on the right side is incredibly thin.

There  won't be many options, and the expansion draft plus budget  ramifications make things extremely difficult for Pierre Dorion. At the  end of the day, Ottawa probably needs a 3rd line right-winger, a 3rd/4th  line centre, and a 2nd pairing defenseman, but I wouldn't be surprised  if they did nothing because their hands are tied.

Colin: To elaborate a bit on Francois Beauchemin, who Dorion has apparently shown interest  in, I think it's worth mentioning that Beauchemin's connections run  deep with the Senators. Pierre Dorion used to be a scout for the  Montreal Canadiens, and was part of the scouting staff that drafted  Beauchemin in the first place (1998, 75th overall). Another connection  is that Jim Clark, who is currently the Sens' director of professional  scouting, was an assistant general manager for the Columbus Blue Jackets  in 2005 when they traded Sergei Federov to bring in Beauchemin. Don  Boyd (Sens amateur scout) was also the Jackets' director of player  personnel during Beauchemin's brief stay in Columbus.

This  may or may not mean anything, but it could very well be one of the  reasons why the Sens are attracted to Beauchemin. Maybe they're stuck  remembering him in his prime, even though his play has gone off a cliff  the last couple seasons. He is one player I hope the Sens don't make a  trade for, even though it seems impossible due to his salary and  no-movement clause.

On a completely  coincidental note, Sens prospect Cody Donaghey was traded to Val D'Or a  couple days ago, in exchange for none other than Francois Beauchemin (the other one).

Beata: It's kind of hard to say what the Sens should be looking for right  now because, honestly, I feel like what they really need is for some  their players to start playing better. I don't see any huge gaps in the  lineup, and certainly none that can be fixed at the trade deadline. It's  not like in previous years, when we've all been able to point to the  defence and say "do everything in your power to fix that right this  instant because it's embarrassing." Also, as others have pointed out,  the expansion draft complicates matters considerably when it comes to  trading.

Obviously, it would be nice to acquire  a top-4 defenceman, but that's certainly not happening unless Ottawa is  willing to give up some really good assets, which I doubt they are. Not  to mention that with Claesson and Chabot both looking to crack the  lineup in the next few years, they should be very wary of picking up any  more defensemen who could potentially block the younger guys down the  line. They already have one of those in Phaneuf. If they can get rid of  Ceci, I can see them maybe acquiring a cheap 2nd or 3rd pairing guy on  an expiring contract who can help in the short term but won't stick  around for very long.

As for forwards, the top  six looks pretty okay to me, but the bottom six could use some work. My  guess is that if the Sens do make a trade, they go for a bottom six  forward, because it's an area where they can probably find a cheap, easy  upgrade on what they currently have.

As for  names, there are no players in particular that I would really like the  Sens to target, but I would love it if they could find a way to get rid  of Lazar and Ceci. Neither one is reaching their full potential here,  and they're both young, former first round draft picks, which should at  least give them some trade value.

Michaela: While I would love to see the Sens make some changes to the defence, the  expansion draft makes it particularly challenging to bring in a key  piece in that position (as mentioned above). The team could make a move  to bring in a rental defenceman, but at what cost? In my opinion, the  team should really look at improving their bottom-six forwards. Sure,  changes to the bottom-six aren't going to make a big splash in the  line-up, but the team could use some help in the secondary scoring  department.

Players like Chris Kelly (7 points in 39  games), Curtis Lazar (0 points in 19 games) and even Jean-Gabriel  Pageau (13 points in 39 games) aren't providing the kind of offensive  support expected of players in their position. While the team doesn't  exactly need them to put up big numbers, it's the secondary scoring that  often makes the difference when your top lines are facing tough  competition. In games against top teams like Pittsburgh and Washington,  the bottom-six should provide support, taking some of the pressure off  the top-six. This just isn't happening for Ottawa this season.

So  a low-budget, depth winger could be the easy answer they're looking  for, without having to give up too much. A lot of this will depend on  what happens if/when Clarke MacArthur makes his return. But I think an  upgrade to the bottom-six is a move that makes sense for the Sens right  now, given the upcoming expansion draft, budget restrictions and current  team need.

Callum: It all depends on how big of an improvement you're looking for in  this team. If you'd like to add a little something simply to bolster  their chances of making it to mid-April, then some quality depth in the  forward corps is your best bet.

The  Senators made an attempt in claiming Matt Nieto a week ago, so I assume  that's the sort of player they're trying to go after, but something a  tad more enticing should fit the bill. A player that can bring scoring  and defensive stability to the bottom six has been available through  waivers a few times this season, but right now, Ottawa might have to  give up one of their lesser known prospects and a third round pick to  get a rental worth while.

But if you'd like to  really give the team a chance at winning a couple rounds in the  postseason, then a top six forward and top six defenseman is what you  should be looking to add. Now, this does mean you'll have to be willing  to lose a couple of key pieces, but the good news is, teams like  Colorado and Tampa Bay, among others, are publicly looking to shake  things up.

As many of my colleagues will likely  throw out here, Cody Ceci is one of the more valuable trading pieces  the Senators have. And because they aren't willing to cut ties with  players like Logan Brown, Colin White, Thomas Chabot or Jonathan Dahlén,  then Ceci might be on the chopping block.

You'd  also be looking at players like Curtis Lazar and Tom Pyatt to sweeten a  couple deals. But it won't just take the three I've named to bring back  some top talent. Not even close. If you want to go after some of the  players around the league possibly up for trade - Gabriel Landeskog,  Matt Duchene, Ondrej Palat - then you'll have to give up something you  really would rather not.

Personally, I could do  with either a solid upgrade on either the forwards or defense and then  an addition of depth to one you didn't add the upgrade to. That's not  enough to turn this team into a contender in this league, but it'll  bring them closer to that title than they have been in an exceedingly  long time.

Ross: It's hard to pick one hole. As people keep pointing out, the  defence has been a problem, especially the second pairing, but fixing it  is hard given that expansion is right around the corner. The top-six  has seen Ryan Dzingel getting regular time, which is great for him, but I  don't really think he's a top-six forward on a contender. It would be  nice to be in a situation where there's enough scoring talent, Guy  Boucher doesn't feel the need to play Hoffman or Stone with Pageau. The  bottom six hasn't been great either, and we could probably use an  upgrade over Kelly/Pyatt especially. And let's not forget goalies, since  this team is a Mike Condon injury away from having two goalies with a  grand total of one NHL start as the only guys available.

People  keep pointing out that Ottawa's best trading pieces are Ceci and Lazar.  I'd like to see the team move on from those two at this point, because I  think their values will only continue to decrease. But what can you get  for those two? Not a lot. Definitely not somebody established.  Ceci-for-Drouin rumours were rampant when Drouin had moved home. Now  that Drouin is a top-six NHL player, you never hear anything about that.  Actually you hear the opposite: Drouin is not available.  So you use those two to go after promising young players (which both  were not that long ago) or washed-up older players. Neither of those  appeal to me a lot.

All this to say I have no idea and I don't envy Pierre Dorion's job over the next six weeks.

Beata: The goalie question is an interesting one, because the Sens seem to have  a whole bunch of capable players in that position, very few of which  are currently available. We don't know how long it will be until  Anderson comes back (I'm assuming he'll want to play in the playoffs but  considering the reason for his absence the team definitely shouldn't be  pressuring him to return), and Boucher doesn't seem to trust Hammond  even when he's healthy. Mike Condon's been good but like Ross said,  there isn't much behind him. I could maybe see them going for another  goalie, but only if they give up Hammond or Driedger for someone who can  help them right now. Even then, they're still left with more goalies  than they need at the end of the season and there's no guarantee they  actually improve their goaltending by that much.

Ross: I'm pretty sure management thinks Marcus Hogberg is the goalie of the future,  and O'Connor/Driedger have become placeholders until he's available to  come to North America. But Anderson's getting older, and could very well  retire in 2018 when his contract's up. Hammond might be out of pro  hockey by then. The goaltending present of the Sens is OK, but the  future looks bleak. It's not something I want to see them address by  trade right now, but I'd like to see the team address it at some point.

NKB: The reason the Senators find themselves in the situation they're in  today is largely because Cody Ceci and Curtis Lazar have not developed  as one might have hoped. Chabot and White have been mentioned as  untouchables, but remember that it wasn't so long ago that Ceci was  deemed too integral a piece to trade for Jonathan Drouin. Going back a  bit further, there was a time when Bryan Murray was said to be unwilling  to trade Jared Cowen because he was afraid Cowen would come back to  haunt the Senators. Today, a package of Ceci + Lazar  *and* a  pick might not even be enough to pry away someone like say Gabriel  Landeskog. When teams are evaluating trade chips, draft picks and young  prospects have the added advantage of "untapped potential"; they could  become anything. If a prospect does turn out, the franchise has the most  valuable commodity in a salary cap world: a young, productive player on  a cheap contract. But the danger in holding on to prospects is that  their trade value decreases rapidly if they struggle in the NHL.

All  this to say that right now, there's a decent chance that Thomas Chabot,  Colin White and Logan Brown's value may be as high as it's ever going  to be. If the Sens want to meaningfully improve (and to cement their  play-off status, I think they need to meaningfully improve) it will be  necessary to part with one of those three prospects. Truthfully, they  could use help virtually everywhere except for Centre and Left Wing  (particularly if Clarke MacArthur is able to return at some  approximation of his old self). In their recent history, the Sens have  been unwilling to pay the price of parting with their top prospects. I'm  not sure I see that changing this time around.

What say you? Tell us in the comments!

Not everyone can afford to pay for sports coverage right now, and that is why we will keep as much of the site's content free for as long as we can.

But if you are able to, please consider subscribing to help keep our articles free (and get a few extra perks).

Erik Condra
  • Ability to comment and participate in our community
  • Twice monthly newsletter available only to subscribers
  • Ad-free reading
  • Our undying love and appreciation
Brady Tkachuk
  • Everything from the Erik Condra tier
  • 10% discount on all merch
  • Access to any future paywalled content
  • A personal thank-you from the Silver Seven staff
Daniel Alfredsson
  • Everything from the Brady Tkachuk tier
  • Inner peace knowing you are supporting quality, independent coverage of your favourite sports team