Losers of 11 of their last 12 games, the Ottawa Senators are falling apart on the ice. Ownership is seemingly perpetually twitchy and their management may be impatient so the rumors are kicking up that they may be impulsively about to make a trade soon. The Ottawa Sun reports they’ve done about the unthinkable and asked best defenseman in the league and team captain Erik Karlsson for his 10 team no-trade list. That’s beyond the grasp of the Pittsburgh Penguins to acquire, however the following paragraphs were intriguing.
But that doesn’t rule out the possibility of Dorion making a deal in the coming days.
He isn’t prepared to speak to the media just yet but he’s been doing a lot of talking on the phone and, with the Christmas roster freeze set for Dec. 19, there is a time crunch if he wants to shake things up now.
Like everybody else in the city, the belief is Dorion is frustrated with the way several players on the roster are performing and league sources indicated Sunday he’s held talks with several teams to see what’s available.
Smith has been a hot commodity in the past, but he’s likely not going to bring much return with only one goal in his past 20 games. League executives say the three best options that will bring return are Hoffman, centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau and defenceman Cody Ceci.
Given the fact the Senators have fallen so far it would be hard to believe there are any untouchables and you’d have to think teams with playoff aspirations would at least study the option of centre Derick Brassard, who steps up at that time of year.
If Dorion is going to make a trade, though, it doesn’t make sense to do a small deal. If the point is to send a message to a struggling dressing room, then it’s got to have to a trade that strikes at the core of the team.
Just because Ottawa is desperate doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to make a bad trade. NHL GM’s make confounding decisions, but expecting it is a tough call. So lest we could hope for a Carl Hagelin to Jean-Gabriel Pageau deal straight up, that’s probably not going to happen. Nor are they going to trade Mike Hoffman for Tom Kuhnhackl and a 2nd round pick or some other random “bad player for a good player” type of trade.
Still, Ottawa may want to shake things up, and their motivation seems to be to get NHL caliber assets now, in an attempt to kick the team out of a slump. The best assets the Penguins have to offer right now are probably a 1st round draft pick and prospect Daniel Sprong, which might have some interest in Ottawa since they traded away picks and prospects to acquire Matt Duchene recently in a move that hasn’t worked out near as expected.
I’m sure the Pens wouldn’t mind moving Hagelin if possible in an effort to upgrade performance and production, but his salary and production don’t exactly make him attractive to a budget team like the Senators, and in fact probably counter to what they’re trying to accomplish.
I’m not sure if the Pens would consider trading a guy like Bryan Rust, but he’s young, cheap and productive and would have to be ideal for Ottawa. A player like Mike Hoffman would add a lot of skill. Pageau or Brassard could solve the center depth problem that Pittsburgh’s had all season in what Jim Rutherford has found to be a frustrating and tight trade market without many interested trading partners.
Pageau is 25 years old and carries a $3.1 million cap hit for this season and the following two. (Almost identical to Conor Sheary..) Pageau has been a pretty good defensive center in recent seasons with some offensive upside and skill as well. He would be an ideal player for the Pens to add moving forward.
Brassard had seasons of 58 and 60 points recently with the Rangers but has slumped a bit in Ottawa since coming over in the 2016 trade. The Sun’s note rang true that he does seem to be a guy to play better when the games matter, I thought he was among their best players in the ECF last spring. Still with a $5.0 million cap hit for this season and next and a more offensive skill-set, he’s more a #2 center than a #3 in paycheck, role and attributes.
The NHL holiday trade freeze is from midnight on December 19th - 27th, leaving one week from press time for trades to be made. It’s difficult to know what a fairly erratic team like the Senators might be thinking or what direction they want to go, but the Penguins should definitely be an interested team to ping them and inquire about a potential for Pittsburgh to upgrade at the forward position if possible.