By Sylvain Godin | SWP Journal Staff
And as the dust settles from the NHL trade deadline, we now see what will be a very young, very inexperienced and very patched up Ottawa Senators team that will limp through the rest of the regular season. It is in my hope that the team will at least be competitive, as we saw in the game in Columbus, where they at least brought the Blue Jackets to overtime and got a point out of the game. We can see what kind of team coach DJ Smith is trying to be and I, for one, am happy with these kinds of results.
But I digress. I now have my earlier article open, ready to dissect the Senators trade deadline choices, and the predictions I made.
What I said: Keep What the Senators did: Traded to Winnipeg for a 3rd rounder in 2020.
I kind of scratched my head here. I didn’t think they would have that much of an issue resigning this player. But TSN 1200 morning host Shawn Simpson says he spoke to DeMelo’s agent and no communication or serious contract talks ever came from the Senators. As such, you can surmise that DeMelo wasn’t going to be in Dorion’s plans in the rebuild which, to me, is odd.
You want to have some good veteran presence for the upcoming Sens blue liners to learn how to play the game or how to be a good pro. DeMelo seemed to be the perfect fit for this kind of a role. But term was very important for him and the Senators decided not to pursue this. But boy, this is starting to look like a very young blue line. I would have been happy with a 2nd but apparently no one was giving Dorion more than a third. So, you take what you can get for a player you didn’t really have in your plans.
What I said: Keep What the Senators did: Traded to the Edmonton Oilers for a 5th round pick in 2021
Ennis was set as a ‘keeper’ because I liked the player. The Senators believed that a fifth round pick was a better option, due to the price point Ennis will likely command after the year he's had. They flipped him to Edmonton for a 5th
round pick which amounts to basically not having lost anything as Ennis came over as an UFA. He never was in the long-term plans and that’s why I said 3-4 years to let the others mature in the AHL before you move them up to the big team. Obviously, they'd rather bring up the kids or sign inexpensive free agents to fill the holes and just go with that. This kind of rings to me as the Sens trying to certify the best chance at a highest draft pick decision. So, this one is a swing and a miss; the keepers were traded.
What I said: Maybe What the Senators did: Traded to Colorado for a 4th round pick in 2021
This smells like another “get assets for a player you don’t have plans for and want to ensure the best possible position for a draft pick” story. I was curious if he'd be moveable and it turns out that he got a better return than Ennis did from Edmonton even though Ennis is having a better year. But Namestnikov honestly played well here in Ottawa and he’ll serve Colorado well as a decent 2-way player. There’s not a whole to say about this trade as it could have gone both ways: either the player serves as a warm body or a trade piece. But getting a draft pick back is basically all the Sens gave up in order to get the player (minor league defenceman Nick Ebert was also thrown in). So it was pretty much a wash and good for the player to be able to get to a team that will contend in the West.
What I said: Traded What the Senators did: Traded to the New York Islanders for a conditional 1st in 2020, a 2nd in 2020, and a conditional 3rd in 2021. Conditions are: 1st is lottery protected (if the Isles are in the top three of the draft, the pick is deferred to 2021), and the 3rd disappears if the Isles win the Cup.
This was the prediction I was most confident would happen. I never exactly bought into how serious the re-signing talk was when they spoke of this on TSN Insider Trading a few days before the Trade Deadline. I feel like this was only a tool in order to increase the options and the value of the trade itself. What was curious is what happened after the trade: Pageau signed a six-year, $5 million contract.
I cannot stress this enough: While I feel great for Pageau to have gotten a contract like this for himself, there’s no way I saw the Senators doing this. And the return was fantastic: The Isles are fighting for a wild card spot. The best scenario would be for the Isles to go off the deep end and end up with the 4th pick overall in the lottery. But even if the Isles get into the playoffs, it’s a mid-level 1st round pick in a significantly deep draft which means this can be a fantastic trade chip or prospect, depending on what you want to do.
At this point, I am very pleased for the Senators to have gotten a first and second rounder. The third round was thrown in just in case the 1st round pick is a very low (31st pick due to winning) which amounts to a second-round pick.
Craig Anderson: Andy decided that he would rather just stay instead of some offers that were on the table for him and really, it’s his choice. In the end, you can either go for a cup or just retire with the team you played with for a decade. He chose the latter and you can’t be upset about that. The return was never going to be a big one, but I thought maybe the lure of being with a potential playoff team might be too strong to resist. But, at this point, Andy’s probably going to finish his career with Ottawa.
Mark Borowiecki: A serious ankle injury probably removed Boro from all trade deadline talks but now it's about whether the Sens re-sign him or not. He's a heart and soul guy that has given his entire career to the Senators. He has also served as a good 5-6 and is a very good veteran. I figured this would be why they would keep Boro instead of DeMelo. But, on the other hand, DeMelo is just a better defensive player. If you wanted your kids to learn how to play the game ‘efficiently’, DeMelo would have been your preferred choice.
Dorion had told Boro that he was not being traded in December and that they would review the contract; very similar to what I indicated in my pre-trade deadline article. So, we will see how it goes but either Boro signs for another 2 years or goes elsewhere, and we won’t have lost an absolutely ‘key’ player. Boro has endeared himself to teammates and the Senators fanbase and, after losing Pageau, it might have been a bit much to also lose Borocop.
So, what does this all mean?
Well, we are honestly looking at a Senators team that won’t win much for the rest of this season but this solidifies a high draft pick. In reality, the Senators season was somewhat over by December; everyone knew this year was going to be a bust and, as such, they might as well take their best shot at the player that could turn this around: Alexis Lafrenière.
But, even then, if the Senators do not get the number one pick; the Sens have 13 picks overall in this draft, including 3 in the first round of a deep draft. Now, let’s face it. You’re not going to honestly pick 13 players. You can see some bargaining chips to either move up in the draft, solidify next year’s draft, or packaging said chips with a current player you want to unload and bring in an NHL player with term still remaining. I found it very interesting when I heard the TSN analysts state that the Senators will only be able to rebuild through the draft; I completely agree with this statement. But you can use the draft picks in order to get players that may not always be readily available for you.
This is going to be a trying time, Senators fans, but worry not; the darkness is nearly over and there is light at the end of this rebuild tunnel.