With the trade deadline just over a week away, Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion has given us plenty to discuss in today’s Links, News, and Notes. Here are some observations from Dorion’s 25-minute availability on Friday:
- This year’s trade deadline isn’t expected to be a busy one, compared to what we’ve seen in years past. Nick Paul and Anton Forsberg are the two pending UFAs that should garner a decent amount of interest around the league, but don’t expect the latter to be traded — Dorion has also stated the club will continue to run the tandem of Matt Murray and Forsberg in the NHL, with Filip Gustavsson and Mads Søgaard splitting starts in Belleville. As for Kevin Mandolese, he’s out with an injury that’s likely to be long-term.
- Dorion acknowledged that for the team to have a chance at a playoff spot next year, they’ll need to add a top-six forward and a top-four defenseman, and any acquisitions they’ll make in those areas will come after the season, as opposed to before the deadline. In terms of internal options, Alex Formenton and Jake Sanderson are the best the organization has going into next season. It’s possible Formenton will take another step forward and be able to produce consistently alongside Tim Stützle, but heavily relying on that possibility is not a good idea, especially with there being a decent amount of wingers available in free agency. As for the defense, a left side of Thomas Chabot, Sanderson, and Erik Brännström makes sense, but the team could also use another decent defenseman on the right side, adding to Artem Zub and one of Lassi Thomson or Jacob Bernard-Docker. Nick Holden could also move to the right side in a pinch, as he’d be an ideal partner for Sanderson or Brännström. Speaking of Brännström, Dorion spoke highly of the 15th pick of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, referring to him as the team’s most improved player this season.
- More on Sanderson — Dorion and Pierre McGuire had spoken to both him and Tyler Kleven in Grand Forks, and Sanderson will join the Senators once his college season is complete. North Dakota is currently in the semifinal round of the NCHC Frozen Faceoff, in which they’ll take on Western Michigan on Friday. After the conclusion of this tournament, the Fighting Hawks will compete for the national college championship in a single-elimination bracket which will run from March 24th to April 9th.
- If you’re subscribed to the Athletic, make sure you check out Ian Mendes’ thoughts on Dorion’s press conference, including the long-term situation in the Senators’ net, where Colin White fits on the roster going forward, and whether or not the team may look to use their abundance of cap space to add an extra draft pick./