A cursory look at Ottawa’s roster might make this move seem puzzling. Sending Bernard-Docker to the minors leaves Ottawa with no extra skaters on the active roster and just five defensemen. However, Ottawa is entering somewhat of a lengthy break between games. After suffering a 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets last night, the Senators don’t play again until Wednesday.
Returning Bernard-Docker (still waiver-exempt) to Belleville doesn’t give him more playing time, though, as Belleville’s schedule mirrors that of their parent club. For Ottawa, having an NHL salary off the books for a few days is a cost-saving measure.
In a less likely scenario, the move could indicate that one (or both) of Artem Zub and Nikita Zaitsev could be ready to go for Wednesday’s game against the Islanders. Both defensemen are currently on injured reserve, but neither has a specific timetable for a return.
Ottawa’s 26th overall selection in 2018, Bernard-Docker has one assist in 13 games with the big club this season. He’d spent the past week on Ottawa’s roster, recalled after Zub exited the lineup with a lower-body injury. In four games since the January 15 recall, Bernard-Docker was held off the scoresheet, had a -4 rating, and averaged 17:15 per game in a more limited role than his earlier call-ups.