As the 2017 trade deadline approached, the Ottawa Senators and owner Eugene Melnyk had a decision to make: would they be buyers or sellers? With Ottawa exceeding preseason expectations and in contention for a postseason slot, Melnyk authorized Senators GM Pierre Dorion to make two deadline deals, adding much-needed forward depth in the form of Alexandre Burrows and Viktor Stalberg, essentially betting on his club, as Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Citizen writes. As injuries have mounted down the stretch, Ottawa needed every bit of that depth to lock up a playoff spot.
Garrioch notes that those additions added roughly $2.5MM to the team’s payroll, not an insubstantial amount for a budget team. Ultimately, Melnyk believed that the team had gelled under new head coach Guy Boucher and instead of saving the cash he invested it in making his club better. Burrows got off to a fast start in Ottawa, netting four goals and six points in his first six contests with his new team. All told, Burrows and Stalberg have contributed eight goals and 12 points in 35 games combined.
The cost to acquire the veteran forwards, prospect Jonathan Dahlen It remains to be seen just how long the Senators postseason run will last, but it’ clear Melnyk’s faith has been rewarded with an opportunity to find out.
In other Senators news:
- With the Senators locked in a heated battle to secure a postseason spot and injuries to key players mounting, Boucher took a calculated risk in sitting star defenseman and team captain Erik Karlsson down the stretch, writes Ken Warren, also of the Ottawa Citizen. Karlsson, who leads the Senators in scoring with 71 points, is a likely Norris Trophy candidate and may well garner Hart Trophy consideration as well. Yet Boucher elected to give his team’s best player time to recuperate from a heel issue and it appears likely he’ll hold Karlsson out of the lineup this weekend despite Ottawa having a chance to secure home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The strategy has the potential to pay huge dividends if Karlsson returns even close to 100%. Ottawa also hopes to welcome Marc Methot, Zack Smith and Bobby Ryan back to the lineup and a healthy Sens team could surprise come playoff team.
- Lastly, while Alexandre Daigle’s name is almost synonymous with the word bust, the Ottawa Citizen’s Don Brennan hypothesizes that Daigle was simply ahead of his time. Daigle, the top overall selection in the 1993 entry draft by the Senators, had the size and speed to be a star in any era but after scoring 20 goals and 51 points as an 18-year-old rookie, he struggled to find success in a league where clutching, holding and grabbing was common. Brennan believes had Daigle begun his career a decade later, when the NHL cracked down on obstruction, the gifted center would have reached his potential and been the superstar many projected him to be. For his part, Daigle has no regrets though he is hopeful his five-year-old son Vincent, who has just taken up the sport, will become a defenseman rather than an offensive forward like his dad. In Daigle’s mind there is too much pressure on forwards to score goals while defensemen can carve out a long pro career simply by mastering the ability to “chip the puck out.” Obviously those comments were not meant to be taken seriously but it likely does speak to how the style of game played during Daigle’s formative professional years stifled offense.