Over the last few weeks, Nick Paul has emerged as a top target in trade deadline speculation, because of his versatility and inexpensive expiring contract. The 26-year-old carries a cap hit of just $1.35MM this season and has shown an ability to play all over the lineup. Even if teams were interested, he may not actually be available. Paul’s agent Paul Capizzano of Quartexx Management told Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia that his client would “love to stay in Ottawa if it can work.”
On TSN radio earlier this week, Paul himself gave a similar sentiment:
I love Ottawa. My agent works on the business side but we want to be here. My fiance is from here, she works at CHEO. We live here year round. We want to be here and be a part of the community.
While a contract extension would seem like an easy thing to accomplish, given his pedestrian offensive numbers and obvious desire to stay, it may not actually be the best thing for the Senators. The team is not yet as far along with their rebuild as they believed last summer, and depending on the price they could generate at the trade deadline, could use the additional assets. There is also the potential to bring Paul back in the offseason after a deadline move, when he hits unrestricted free agency for the first time.
In 35 games this season the versatile forward has six goals and nine points, while filling in at center or the wing depending on the rest of the Senators lineup that day. He’s been given heavy defensive responsibility, usually alongside Connor Brown, and often been used as a veteran safety net for young forward Tim Stutzle. At just $1.35MM he’s a useful, inexpensive player, though if the number gets much higher than that he’ll have to bring a bit more offensive production as well in order to continue to provide excess value to the team on the ice. His leadership and other intangibles are also something to consider, especially in a market that doesn’t always get players publicly announcing their hope to be part of the community.