Friedman noted that Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion had a “tense” meeting Friday with the Senators following a 4-1 loss to St. Louis on Thursday. Ottawa would lose Saturday as well and currently has a 15-20-9 record, putting them 15th in the Eastern Conference and with just 39 points they’re well outside of the playoff picture now.
A specific player often mentioned in Senators trade rumors is 25-year old center Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
“One of the teams that is looking hard at Pageau is Pittsburgh,” Friedman said. “And I would think that would make a lot of sense he would make a great fit there.”
It does make great sense for the Penguins to be interested in Pageau, they’ve spent all season long looking for quality lower-line center depth to replace the departed Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen. In October they added Riley Sheahan who has been probably a little above expectations but is still just one player. Adding another the caliber of Pageau would be wonderful and certainly be a great fit.
The sticking point could be on Ottawa’s end, though. Pageau is signed for 2 more seasons after this at a reasonable $3.1 million per year rate, so they don’t have to be in a hurry to trade a useful player under team control for a while. However, the Sens have been an erratically managed team and it does seem like they are itching to change up some of their players, so who knows quite what they’re thinking.
Finding a return Ottawa would like could prove challenging, since the Sens may be looking for NHL caliber players now. Would Pittsburgh pull the trigger on moving Conor Sheary? Bryan Rust is injured but it would make sense if Ottawa was interested in including him in a potential Pageau trade.
One idea I like, if at all possible for the Sens to accept, would be to include draft picks. The Pens currently hold both their first and second round draft picks this year. If one of those could be a meaningful value to Ottawa (instead of an NHL piece), Pittsburgh could include that.
Then, since they see Ian Cole as a #7 piece anyways, perhaps they could flip him to a team (preferably out west) who needs a rental defenseman for a playoff run and recoup at least a 2nd round pick so that the Pens keep two picks in the first two rounds of the draft. It would be a risk to lose a depth player like Cole, but with Chad Ruhwedel looking serviceable and Jamie Oleksiak’s emergence as a decent enough 3rd pairing guy, the loss of Cole looks manageable at the benefit of recouping draft picks for a possible trade to add Pageau (or another center elsewhere if Ottawa isn’t interested).
It would be out of character for Pittsburgh to trade a UFA-to-be, but since Cole has clearly fallen out of favor with the coach it does make sense to deal him and add to the already small amount of trade ammunition that the Penguins have.
Over a month to go until the NHL trade deadline, Pens GM Jim Rutherford won’t want to wait that long if he can help it so stay tuned. The faster teams on the back-edge of the standings like Montreal and Ottawa keep losing, the quicker they may turn into sellers. It looks like Ottawa is reaching the point where they might be ready to get there.