Pierre Dorion Speaks: Acquiring Brassard, Trading Zibanejad
Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion joined Ian Mendes and Lee Versage on TSN 1200 to discuss the big trade, Cody Ceci, Mike Hoffman and the upcoming season.
Senators GM Pierre Dorion joined TSN 1200 today to discuss the big trade and a couple of his own RFAs. You can find the full interview here.
On how the trade happened:
"Jeff (Gorton) and I started this the first phone call when he phoned me to congratulate me. Jeff and I have known each other for many years - from his years as a scout with the Bruins, assistant GM and then when he moved on to the Rangers in a similar position I had, then he went on to be assistant GM and then GM. So we've had a long history together... We started talking and I said 'Glen (Sather) and Bryan (Murray) have never made a deal' and I said 'how about you and I make a deal.' I threw some things out and he came back and we started at that point in time about my first week on the job."
On what they're getting with Derick Brassard:
"Our team for the last few years hasn't had a left-handed playmaking centreman. I think with Derick we're getting a top-end forward who can generate offense on a consistent basis. We're bringing in someone who is in the prime of his career at 28-years-old. We're bringing in someone that's had playoff success, especially in the 2015 playoffs where the Rangers went to the Conference Final. I know I talk a lot about getting into the playoffs, but I want us to have a team that once we get into the playoffs that can compete at that time. I know we gave up a good player in Mika, but as a group we just felt that this was a really positive step in the right direction to make us better right away."
On the process:
"For us, the price was significantly higher when Jeff and I started talking. At the draft if anyone had stuck around, Jeff and I just sat at the table while everyone had gone back home we talked for 40 minutes. At that point in time the asking price was significantly higher... and we just felt that what they were asking didn't make sense. But we understood that at this point in time Derick was better than Mika, and giving up a 2nd rounder is not something we like to do, but it's in 2018 and a lot of things can change from now to 2018. It was just a price to pay and at the same time we get a pick back and people say it's a 7th rounder but I have faith in our scouting staff that maybe at the end of the day, that 7th rounder will be better than that 2nd rounder we would've taken."
On if waiting for the Rangers to pay Brassard's $2 million bonus was part of the process:
"I was just stalling him. *Laughs* We talked about it over the course of last week and then we said 'why don't we think about it over the weekend.' To me, the money didn't have anything to do with it. I'm happy that we saved $2 million, that allows us to do more moving forward, but to me it was more of a hockey deal than anything."
On if not having to pay the bonus gives the team some wiggle room:
"It gives us flexibility to do a lot of things, but at the same time, we didn't control the fact that Allan Walsh got a front-loaded deal for Derick Brassard two years ago. We can't control the fact that the Rangers paid $13 million in the first two years of a five-year $25 million deal. The reason we did this deal is to make us a better hockey team. If it allows us to do other things, even better. That was our thinking behind it when we were talking. I just said 'I'll just stall a bit a few more days, and stall a bit a few more days.' And the asking price went down, and when we felt that we could make a deal, we went ahead and did it."
On trading Zibanejad:
"I've never lost faith in Mika. I don't think we've ever lost faith in Mika. The coaching staff was excited to get the chance to coach him. This is more about what we got in return. We're not going to be able to get Derick Brassard for a 7th round pick in the next three years; we have to give up something. So there was never lost faith in Mika. It was a tough phone call today to Mika. Y'know, you're maybe the person most responsible for drafting him at that point in time, you're the person that's seen him the most, you think about how many years you've been with the player - I think it's six years that we've been with the player - and from there you're moving on in another direction. It was not about losing faith in Mika, it was about making our team better."
On the team acquiring Dion Phaneuf, Chris Kelly and now Brassard going forward:
"From day one that I've been GM of the Ottawa Senators, I've said that I'm happy with our top six forwards. I've said that publicly, I've said that privately. I said 'for us to get better we have to improve our role players and our leadership.' Even though I'm happy with our leadership; we can never have enough leaders. And through what we've done since I took over April 10, with our management group, the coaches we've hired, targeting certain people we wanted to bring back - one of them is Chris Kelly - targeting a left-handed centreman. Derick was someone that we targeted. Not just for his playing ability, but all the other intangibles that he brings. When you find out a lot about Derick Brassard, you talk to Mark Stone, you ask him what type of guy he is and you find out a lot of positive things about how he could fit in your room. It's the direction we wanted to go from Day 1 since I've taken over this role. Pieces aren't put in place all together, they're put in one-by-one, and that's what we're trying to do here. One-by-one putting in pieces where we feel comfortable, where we can make the playoffs and once we get in the playoffs, then we can challenge against some of the better teams."
On all the centres in the organization:
"These are good problems to have. I'll go on the record and say this - and I'll probably regret this - but of all the picks we've made over the course of all my years in Ottawa, probably the most exciting pick we made - our fans will say Erik Karlsson - but in our last two years, taking Logan Brown this year and taking Thomas Chabot and Colin White, I know we've added blue chip prospects to our organization. I know we've added top six forwards when they are physically and mentally mature. Top four defensemen are even more (important) to our organization. Having a lot of centremen is a really good problem to have. Guys that play centre can adjust and move to the wing very easily, compared to wingers moving back to centre. If we have too many players, it's only a good problem to have."
On who will benefit from playing with Brassard:
"Bobby Ryan or Mark Stone because they're both right wingers and whoever plays with Derick will get the puck more on his forehand from Derick's forehand. If it's a power play situation, Erik Karlsson. I'll even throw in Mike Hoffman, Clarke MacArthur or Zack Smith. I think a lot of players can benefit from playing with Derick Brassard. I know our fans don't know him as well as we do, but I can tell you I was very excited to make this deal today and I think our management group was elated, and I think the happiest people of them all were our coaches. Guy actually said a few nice things about me today."
On the Mike Hoffman situation:
"We're working hard. They're working hard to get a deal done, we're working hard to get a deal done. We would obviously like to avoid a one-year arbitration. We want what's best for our hockey team, for our fans. The only good point if it's a bad (result) can be that we know we have Mike Hoffman playing for us for at least one more year, but we're going to work hard at it. We all want to sign Mike Hoffman. I can't say more than that. Again, today I talked with his agent, he's been a pleasure to deal with. We've had numerous conversations over the last few weeks, from the draft and on, so we're working at it. We still have until August 4, and then after that we'll probably have 48 hours, if we go to arbitration, to get something done."
On the Cody Ceci situation:
"Real good talks with J.P. Barry (Ceci's agent) on Friday and over the course of the weekend. We exchanged emails today, so we're working on something whether it's in the short, mid or long term, we've got a few things on the table.
On the future of Ceci and Hoffman:
"They'll both be playing for the Ottawa Senators on October 12. There's no need to worry there, Lee and Ian. If you're both at the game, you can both have your Ceci and Hoffman jersey on."
On the team competing in the near future:
"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."
On if he's looking to add another defenseman:
"Yes, but in saying that, if (Mike) Kostka, (Fredrik) Claesson, Patrick Sieloff are five six or seven, I feel comfortable starting the season, there's no doubt about that. I said in a few interviews over the past few weeks that Chris Wideman's play at the World Championships really excited me. I think Chris, last year, played a bit tentative, didn't want to showcase everything we've seen from him last in the previous year in the AHL where he was a dominant, tranisitional, jump-in-the-play, move-the-puck kind of guy. And I know it's the AHL, but a lot of players that have done it in the AHL at a younger age can do it at the NHL level. Of course we're going to look to add, whether it's through a trade again or through free agency - that might be one position we look at. I think we're don up front once Mike Hoffman is either done in arbitration or we sign a contract, but if we could add one defenseman it would not be something that I would object to."