It’s no secret that things haven’t gone according to plan for the Ottawa Senators this season. Just a goal away from playing for the Stanley Cup Final last season, the Sens have plummeted to the bottom of the NHL’s standings with a 15-18-9 record in 2017-18. Ouch. So much for being a Cup contender…
The November addition of star forward Matt Duchene was meant to bolster the team’s offence, but Duchene has been mediocre with just six goals and 12 points in 28 games with his new team. Meanwhile, the player they traded as part of a package to acquire Duchene, center Kyle Turris, is ripping it up with the Nashville Predators. The former Sen has 19 points in 27 games with his new club. Double ouch.
With so much expectation and so much disappointment surrounding the Sens this season, it’s no surprise that GM Pierre Dorion finds himself on the hot seat. Fans and analysts are clamoring for the team to make a move… ANY move to help this team moving forward.
Sportsnet senior colmnist Chris Johnston reported over the weekend that Dorion has been receiving a lot of calls on forwards Mike Hoffman, Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. But, earlier in the week The Athletic’s Eric Duhatschek throws a new name into trade fires: Bobby Ryan.
Ryan is an immensely talented player, but his five goals and 17 points in 32 games for a whopping $7.25 million annually is an anchor on the team’s salary structure. It’s no secret that captain Erik Karlsson is in line for a HUGE raise in the summer of 2019, but with Ryan and fellow big ticket player Dion Phaneuf eating up close to $15 million annually, can the Sens afford to meet Karlsson’s demands? According to Duhatschek, the team shouldn’t wait to find out.
One easy way to alleviate themselves of any complications with Karlsson’s upcoming negotiations is to trade Ryan before it’s too late. Duhatschek points to the Vegas Golden Knights, who were believed to be interest in Ryan when GM George McPhee was constructing his team’s roster, but the Sens’ disinterest in “sweetening the pot” nixed any potential arrangement.
If [James] Neal and/or [David] Perron eventually move on, that would create some cap flexibility in Vegas and also the need for another top-six scorer.
With the Sens now feeling the heat, will Dorion pick up the phone and revisit these conversations with McPhee? If the Sens retain some salary, Ryan could be a bargain for a team like Vegas.
Is Ryan, at $3.625 million – again, for additional four years – worth rolling the dice on?
It’s an interesting proposition, but one base almost purely on hypotheticals. Vegas is one landing spot sure, but how about a spot like New Jersey? The New Jersey Devils are one of the most surprising teams in the NHL this season. The Devils are armed with over $8 million in cap space and have a perfect for Ryan on the wing alongside Nico Hischier and Taylor Hall. Could that be a destination?
Or, how about the Los Angeles Kings? After a bit of a re-haul this past offseason, the Kings are back on top again and look to be legitimate Stanley Cup contenders once again… and that’s without the help of Jeff Carter for nearly the entire season. An injection of skill with Ryan in the team’s top-six could definitely go a long way towards cementing a long playoff run.
Regardless of what happens with Ryan and the Senators between now and the trade deadline, it’s clear that changes will be made in Ottawa. Dorion is being patient and surveying the market in an effort to ensure that he receives maximum return for all his assets. But, with each passing day just keep in mind that the Sens are getting closer and closer to a potential Karlsson exit… and absolutely devastating scenario for the club. Something’s got to give.
Report: As many as four Leafs trades expected before the deadline
In other trade talk, TSN’s Darren Dreger recently caught up with the TSN 1050 morning crew to talk trade deadline and, specifically, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Dreger was asked point blank, “do you believe the Leafs that they will acquire another defenseman before the trade deadline?”
“Yes, I do,” replied Dreger. “I think it’s going to be more of a depth player, a 5 or 6th defenseman. It’s all about having depth in the position.”
Invariably, there are always depth players to be had at the deadline, but with the Leafs potentially on the precipice of something special the team’s fans want to see its management group push their cards all in and make a bigger splash. The problem there? Most of the big, franchise altering deals come during the summer these days. Might the Leafs have to bide their time, recoup some assets and then take a run at a true #1 defenseman this summer?
Dreger outlines a plan whereby the Leafs could acquire Arizona Coyotes star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but there’s some risk involved and Leafs fans will need to be patient.
“If Lou Lamoriello and the Toronto Maple Leafs decide that they’re not there from a Stanley Cup perspective, maybe they decide to throw James van Riemsdyk on the trade block,” says Dreger. “Or Tyler Bozak, or Leo Komarov, or all three. It’s very unlikely, but imagine what the return could be?”
JVR for OEL? It’s unlikely that the Coyotes would go in for such a deal. They’re a rebuilding club with a focus on the future, so they’re much more likely to demand high end picks and prospects in return for their star blue liner. But ok… let’s stick with Dreger’s idea.
“If Evander Kane and the Buffalo Sabres are going to get a 1st round draft pick, a prospect and a conditional pick if Kane signs somewhere… imagine the haul the Leafs could get for all three of those guys.”
Interesting. So the key then would be parlaying those picks and prospects into OEL?
“So then when you go to the draft floor, you’re into a serious conversation with John Chayka and the Arizona Coyotes about Oliver Ekman-Larsson,” explains Dreger. “You want two first round-picks and a prospect to get this guy done? Yeah… we can do that. These are the kind of conversations the Leafs can put themselves in, but it’s going to hurt to acquire the assets to get into that conversation.”
Seem like a plausible plan? Or is Dreger out to lunch? What if the Leafs trade JVR, Bozak and Komarov only to turn around and see OEL traded elsewhere? What if OEL doesn’t accept a trade to Toronto? The plan is fraught with potential problems, so we don’t see if going down quite the way Dreger draws it out, but it’s interesting food for thought, nonetheless.
Whether or not Lamoriello and the Leafs swing for a homerun at the deadline next month or not remains to be seen, but most fans and analysts do expect the veteran GM to do some tinkering. If they can acquire another defender, preferably a right-handed veteran, akin to Hainsey, they’ll likely jump at the chance. Anything richer than that though… all bets are off.