The “Fleece-Off Circle”: A Look at the Senators Before the Trade Deadline

Once again, Pierre Dorion has his work cut out for him.

The anxiety continues to grow exponentially with each passing moment.

We’re only ten days away from the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline, and with several pending UFAs on the Ottawa Senators’ roster, GM Pierre Dorion is once again expected to be extremely busy; working out trades and contract extensions alike. We’re going to take a gander at the Senators’ outlook for the trade deadline; who could be moved, who will stay put, and how the Belleville Senators’ playoff run will affect roster decisions for the big club.

First off, let’s look at our current roster. Aside from Bobby Ryan working on his conditioning upon returning from the NHLPA Player Assistance Program, as well as Anders Nilsson still recovering from a concussion, Ottawa is currently carrying a full roster of 23 skaters, as shown on CapFriendly, with seven pending UFAs that could be traded. However, before we can talk about moving anybody, we must first consider the players who will need to be made eligible for the AHL playoffs.

To be eligible, a player must be in the minors at the time of the trade deadline. This concerns both Drake Batherson and Filip Chlapik, who will both be assigned to Belleville before the deadline. Ottawa needs at least 18 skaters and 2 goalies up with the big club, so their roster would look something like this, with Ryan and Nilsson out:

Tkachuk - Pageau - Brown
Namestnikov - White - Batherson
Paul - Tierney - Ennis
Boedker - Anisimov - Sabourin

Chabot - DeMelo
Reilly - Zaitsev
Borowiecki - Hainsey

Hogberg (starter)

Once Dorion drops a proverbial nuke on this mediocrity in roster form, he’s allowed four call-ups after the deadline, and the only safe bet would be Batherson. In addition, the club may decide to get a look at Josh Norris and Alex Formenton for a few games each, as they are the major prospects that have yet to play an NHL game this season.

With all of that out of the way, we can finally consider who could be traded. Dorion has stated that he wants to make sure the team remains competitive in games down the stretch, and the team may also decide to keep most of their top prospects in Belleville to close out the season. I would expect at least two of our pending UFAs to be traded. Let’s proceed to the firing line.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau (57 GP, 21G, 13A, $3.1M Cap Hit):

Everyone seems to have a different opinion on Pageau this season. On one hand, he’s a phenomenal veteran, two-way player and fan-favourite. On the other hand, he’s putting up unsustainable offensive numbers in a contract year, and is slated to receive a massive raise on his next deal. With numerous injuries to centres around the league, notably the Oilers’ Connor McDavid, the Avalanche’s Nazem Kadri and the Islanders’ Casey Cizikas, interest is at an all-time high for a player of Pageau’s caliber. The Senators have set a steep price of a 1st rounder and a prospect, but I think a more realistic package would be a prospect, a 2nd and a 3rd.

Dylan DeMelo (47 GP, 0G, 10A, $900k Cap Hit):

Over the course of the 2018-19 campaign, Sens fans began to take notice of DeMelo; the least exciting piece among the "awful haul" we got for Erik Karlsson was now making a name for himself as a new-age Marc Methot, acting as a very steady partner for Thomas Chabot. This year, the rest of the league has taken notice, and there are multiple teams in need of a second-pairing RHD that have shown interest in DeMelo, including the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers However, DeMelo has helped everyone he’s played with on defence, and signing him to a deal of reasonable length would help the Senators compete for a playoff spot in the next few years.

Tyler Ennis (57 GP, 13G, 17A, $800k Cap Hit):

Ennis is one of the best bargains in the NHL among pending UFAs, as he’s put up middle-six production with a team-friendly cap hit of 800k. This means that any team looking for a third-line winger will be able to fit Ennis under the cap, and Dorion would be smart to take advantage and bring in the best deal possible for him. However, I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea of bringing him back on another one-year deal, as he provides offensive depth to a team that’s most promising forwards are still in the process of transitioning to full-time roles in the NHL.

Mark Borowiecki (53 GP, 7G, 11A, 1.2M Cap Hit):

Although he’s been on the team for years, it’s hard to name a Senator who’s gained more fans this season than Borowiecki. It’s not that people have never appreciated his character and leadership, but this year has been extra special for him; he’s having a career year offensively, he’s taken his Borocop moniker to a whole new level, and he’s begun his journey as a father. I don’t see; or want to see for that matter; the Senators trading him, but I’d expect a 2nd rounder as the hypothetical return for Borowiecki.

Vladislav Namestnikov (51 GP, 12G, 11A, 3.25M Cap Hit):

Despite his even-strength play not being up to par this year, Namestnikov has put in work on the penalty kill, as well as decent third-line offence. His cap hit isn’t bad for a third-line player, and if Dorion decides to move him, he should get at least a third-round pick in return.

Ron Hainsey (50 GP, 1G, 10A, 3.5M Cap Hit):

Hainsey was carrying his weight on the back end in the first half of the season, however it seems that Father Time has caught up to him recently; he’s been the weakest link on the back end by a long shot since the All-Star break. That being said, he still has value to a team with an injury-riddled blue line looking for some cheap depth. Dorion won’t get more than a 4th rounder for Hainsey, but it would still be a decent return.

Craig Anderson (25 GP, .899 SV%, 4.75M Cap Hit):

He absolutely should finish his career in Ottawa. Andy’s made it clear that he doesn’t want to be moved, and few teams would consider giving up anything of value for him anyway. Nilsson is still out with a concussion, so shutting him down for the season and running a Hogberg-Anderson tandem down the stretch would be the safest bet.

Up front, I would look to make room for three spots for young players: Batherson, Chlapik and either Norris or Formenton. This can be done by trading Pageau and one of Namestnikov and Ennis, and stapling Boedker to the press box for a lineup like this:

Tkachuk - White - Batherson
Formenton - Tierney - Duclair
Ennis - Anisimov - C.Brown
Paul - Chlapik - Sabourin

On the back end, the Senators’ best move in my mind would be to re-sign DeMelo and Borowiecki, as they will easily fit on a seven-man D-corps next year with Chabot, Zaitsev, Reilly, Christian Wolanin, and Erik Brannstrom. They may decide to keep Hainsey around for the remaining games, but there’s bound to be some interest from multiple teams looking for cheap defensive depth. If Hainsey is moved, Ottawa can choose to play Cody Goloubef on the 3rd pair for the rest of the season, they could look to claim a player off of waivers to temporarily fill that spot, or they could make my day and sign Dion Phaneuf to a PTO.

Chabot - DeMelo
Reilly - Zaitsev
Borowiecki - ???

All in all, Dorion has plenty of options going into negotiations in the next few days. Regardless of what he does, Pageau and DeMelo are both too valuable to leave unsigned past the deadline, so both will either be signed or traded before then. After that, who knows? Let us know who you think will be traded, what kind of return you’re expecting for them, and if you’re anywhere near as horrified as you were a year ago!

Seriously, Pierre. Please sign Dylan DeMelo.

How many players on the current roster will be traded before the deadline?


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