The Ottawa Senators will be missing one of their key defenders for the next while, as Dylan DeMelo is out with a broken finger. Hailey Salvian of The Athletic reports that the injury will keep DeMelo out for three to four weeks. Craig Anderson meanwhile who also wasn’t at practice won’t play until at least next week according to Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia.
Though the Senators aren’t exactly competing for a playoff spot this season, DeMelo’s performance was obviously something to keep an eye on. The 26-year old defenseman is in the final season of a two-year, $1.8MM deal he signed with the San Jose Sharks before coming to Ottawa in the Erik Karlsson trade, and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer. The fact that he has become such an important part of the Senators’ group—he trails only Thomas Chabot and Nikita Zaitsev in even-strength ice time—complicates his future this season and next.
The team could obviously re-sign DeMelo to keep him in their defensive group for the next several years, but his extremely cheap contract ($900K cap hit), handedness and performance this season will also make him a desirable trade asset. The Senators are still in the midst of a rebuild, but at some point they’ll have to make a decision on whether or not to keep some of their core players.
The fact that DeMelo is still just 26 makes him a candidate to stick around in Ottawa as they attempt to turn things around. This injury will allow them to take a look at other players in his place, hopefully giving the Senators some clarity on the upcoming decision.