- Senators winger Ryan Dzingel is expected to rejoin the team on Tuesday, notes Postmedia’s Ken Warren. He has missed the last two games due to a family matter. The 25-year-old is in the midst of a career year as he is on pace to hit the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career.
- The Senators won’t be bringing anyone to replace outgoing team president and CEO Tom Anselmi. Instead, team owner Eugene Melnyk will assume the CEO role and be more active in the day-to-day operations of the team, reports Postmedia’s Don Brennan. Melnyk has come under harsh criticism recently for public comments made about attendance and the potential of the team moving down the road although they have taken some steps towards getting their new downtown arena in place. Brennan notes that Melnyk will officially step into his new role sometime next week.
The Blues and Senators are discussing trade scenarios involving winger Mike Hoffman and center Derick Brassard, Blues beat writer Lou Korac reports on his personal blog. He adds that the talks would see St. Louis acquire one or the other and not both players.
Among the players that Ottawa is believed to be interested in is winger Robby Fabbri, who has yet to play this season due to his second torn ACL. Korac notes that the Sens have asked for permission to view Fabbri’s medical records. The 22-year-old will become a restricted free agent for the first time this summer but will not have arbitration eligibility.
A pair of St. Louis centers are also on Ottawa’s radar as well as the scribe links Vladimir Sobotka and Patrik Berglund as part of the trade discussions. Sobotka has two years left on his contract after this one with a $3.5MM cap hit although his deal was slightly front-loaded in terms of salary. Berglund, meanwhile, has four years remaining at a $3.85MM cap charge; his contract is also front-loaded salary wise. The 29-year-old Swede also has a full no-move clause in 2017-18.
Both Brassard and Hoffman would have the potential to be impact players with the Blues. Brassard would give them another top-six option down the middle and give them a boost on the second line. He would also serve as insurance if Paul Stastny, a pending unrestricted free agent, leaves the team in the summer. He has one year left on his contract after this one with a $5MM cap hit but just a $3.5MM salary.
Hoffman has been linked to St. Louis in recent weeks and he would certainly give their attack a boost. His 16 goals this season would rank fourth on the Blues in scoring while his 39 points would slot in fifth. The 28-year-old has two years remaining on his deal with a cap hit just shy of $5.2MM and has a ten-team no-trade clause in his contract.
The salary cap will undoubtedly be a factor in any talks between the two teams as St. Louis has very limited space to work with this season. They have the ability to add another $1.8MM in a full-season cap hit per CapFriendly but that includes Fabbri’s LTIR provision. As a result, the finances will need to be pretty close for a trade to work here.
The Penguins have expressed an interest in Senators centers Derick Brassard and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, reports Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch. However, the scribe notes that Ottawa isn’t likely to deal either player and it was reported earlier this week that the asking price for Brassard was quite steep – a first-round pick, a top prospect, plus another piece. The ask on Pageau is obviously lower but with two years at $3.1MM per season left on his deal, it might be a challenge for Pittsburgh to fit that into their salary structure. It’s well known that the Pens are still looking to add help down the middle but they will likely have to look elsewhere for that assistance.
After clearing waivers today, Chris DiDomenico is on his way to Chicago. The Ottawa Senators have traded the forward to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for defenseman Ville Pokka. Both players can immediately be sent to the minor leagues, since that was where they were assigned when the trade occurred.
DiDomenico was finally slipped through waivers after being claimed and then re-claimed by Tampa Bay and Ottawa earlier this season. With that came some flexibility, and Chicago has decided that was enough to pull the trigger to bring him into the Rockford picture. Whether he’ll get time at the NHL level is unclear, but he can now be moved up and down for the time being.
Pokka on the other hand has yet to make his NHL debut, and didn’t look likely to make it anytime soon for the Blackhawks. The 23-year old defenseman was selected 34th-overall by the New York Islanders in 2012, and has shown good offensive ability in the minor leagues. Unfortunately, that has come with a lot of struggles in the defensive end and a lack of any real consistency on the ice. That sort of wildcard is exactly the kind of risk Ottawa is willing to take as they try to build their club back up.
Interestingly, DiDomenico is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer and won’t help the Blackhawks at the NHL level in any meaningful way unless they re-sign him (provided the team doesn’t go on an incredible hot streak and slip into the playoffs this season). Whatever value he’ll bring this season to Chicago or Rockford was apparently enough to give up on Pokka, who clearly had been passed over several times by other prospects in the organization. Pokka is a restricted free agent and could become a Group VI UFA in 2019 if he isn’t given an extended opportunity at the NHL level between now and then.
Thursday: Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that both Glass and DiDomenico have cleared. Both players can now be assigned to the minor leagues. The Blackhawks have done so, recalling Berube to take his place in the Chicago crease. DiDomenico is on his way to the Belleville Senators, where he has 14 points in 25 games this season.
Wednesday: Goaltender Jeff Glass has been placed on waivers by the Chicago Blackhawks, likely signalling a return to the crease for Corey Crawford or Jean-Francois Berube. Chris DiDomenico has also been waived by the Ottawa Senators, after the team made a trade last night acquiring two forwards. Korbinian Holzer, on waivers yesterday, has cleared.
Glass, 32, was a wonderful story in Chicago this season, finally getting a chance at the NHL after more than a decade in the minor leagues. Selected in the third round in 2004, Glass made his NHL debut on December 29th and played in 14 games for the team while they dealt with injuries. After starting out quite strong, his play has slipped in his last few outings and doesn’t look quite good enough to be a full-time solution at this level. Crawford is travelling with the team, but if he’s not ready to return from his injury Berube could be called upon from the minor leagues.
DiDomenico must be getting used to the waiver process, as he was already claimed and re-claimed earlier this year, swapping between the Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning. The team will try to sneak him through once again to give themselves some roster flexibility, but it’s not out of the question that he’ll be claimed. The 28-year old forward has 10 points in 24 games this season.
The Canadian Olympic team got off to a better start than their US equivalent, beating the Swiss team 5-1 in their opening game this morning. Wojtek Wolski and Rene Bourque both tallied two goals in the win, showing that they still have some high-level hockey left in them after a long professional career. As the Olympics continues, we’ll keep track of all the NHL’s minor transactions right here.
- The Ottawa Senators have recalled Ben Harpur from the minor leagues, giving them an extra defenseman for their game against the Buffalo Sabres later tonight. Harpur was recently extended by the team for two more years, as he obviously figures into their plan on the blue line. The 23-year old has a single point in 20 games with the Senators this season.
- Brendan Lemieux has been loaned back to the Manitoba Moose of the AHL. The Winnipeg Jets are preparing for their matchup tomorrow against the Colorado Avalanche, and have several players nursing injuries. Lemieux has played very well for the Moose this season, recording 28 points in 30 games and has made a physical impact during his nine games with the Jets. The 21-year old is part of the future in Winnipeg as a bottom-six winger who carries some scoring upside.
- Reid Duke has been activated from injured reserve and sent to the Chicago Wolves, finally ready to start his professional career after being the first player ever to sign with the Vegas Golden Knights. Duke was injured in training camp and hasn’t played all season.
- Colorado has returned winger Rocco Grimaldi to San Antonio of the AHL. He had been recalled yesterday in case winger Matt Nieto was able to play. The diminutive forward has three points in six games with the Avalanche this season along with 24 in 40 minor league contests/
After the trade that sent Dion Phaneuf to the Los Angeles Kings, analysts from around the hockey world weighed in on their thoughts of the trade. The deal also brought Nate Thompson from Ottawa in exchange for Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore. Here are the thoughts of some scribes around the league.
Zupke sees Los Angeles benefitting from a veteran defenseman with playoff experience:
Phaneuf fills a need as a top-four defenseman with leadership and experience. He plays more than 20 minutes per game, in all situations, and he helped Ottawa reach Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last season. Phaneuf also turns 33 in April and is signed through 2020-21, but the Kings are banking on some immediate dividends.
Garrioch, like many others, looks at the financial ramification of the deal and how the rebuild is on in Ottawa.
Naturally, this is a huge deal for the Senators because they get Phaneuf’s cap hit off the books, though it does have to take Gaborik’s contract in return…This is the start of general manager Pierre Dorion’s promise to build the team back to respectability. The Senators had asked Phaneuf to waive his ‘no move’ clause in the summer so they could protect Marc Methot in the expansion draft, but couldn’t get the deal done. The move will give the Senators flexibility with the roster.
McGran also examines the financial aspect, indicating that the Sens may end up buying Gaborik’s deal in the end.
There is some cash savings, which is important for Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk: Phaneuf is due $18.5 million in actual salary in the three years after this one. Gaborik is due $10,825. The Senators have to pay 25 per cent of Phaneuf’s salary, or $4.6 million. So they’re up to $15.4 million, a savings of $3.1 million (plus another half million for the remainder of this year) when comparing Phaneuf to Gaborik.(They’ll save on Nate Thompson, but his ultimate replacement will probably come in around the same dollar value.) One thing that makes sense is a buyout. Gaborik would cost less than Phaneuf. A Robidas Island situation is not likely. The Senators aren’t likely to spend to the cap anyway.
Mendes sees this as the beginning of sell-offs, and echoes McGran in saying that a buyout of Gaborik’s contract is likely.
Based on owner Eugene Melnyk’s recent statement – in which he announced a three-year contract extension for Dorion – it now appears as though the club has a mandate to shed salary and put more of an emphasis on developing younger talent.
The Phaneuf deal is likely the first domino to fall, as the club will save north of $5 million in real dollars over the next few seasons. Those savings could increase if the club opts to buy out the contract of Marian Gaborik this summer, although it’s unclear which route they will take at this point. We could get our first clue later this week if the Senators make Gaborik a healthy scratch for their games against Buffalo and the Rangers.
We finally saw the first crack in the trade market last night, when Dion Phaneuf was sent to Los Angeles in a swap of bad contracts. Could that be the start of a fire sale in Ottawa, or did they just take advantage of a (perceived) opportunity? We’ll have to wait and see, but for now we’ll keep track of all the minor moves that go on around the rosters of the NHL.
- In Ottawa the team has sent Max McCormick to the minor leagues, a move they’ve completed several times recently. This time though, it’s unclear if he’ll be on his way back up after the Senators added a couple forwards last night. McCormick has played in six games for the Senators this season, registering two points.
- According to the AHL transactions page, the St. Louis Blues have returned Tage Thompson to the San Antonio Rampage. This comes after a minor injury that has kept him out of the lineup the last few games. Thompson has shown flashes of his potential as a big scoring winger, but hasn’t yet really put his stamp on the NHL as a full-time player. The Blues don’t play again until Friday, meaning they could recall Thompson in a few days.
The Ottawa Senators have deemed Derick Brassard available, but only for a very high price. According to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, the team is looking for a first-round pick, top prospect and a third piece of some sort in exchange for the veteran center. Brassard is under contract for 2018-19, and does hold an eight team no-trade clause.
Senators’ GM Pierre Dorion was recently extended in Ottawa, after laying out his long-term plan for the franchise with owner Eugene Melnyk. While it’s unclear exactly what that entails, especially regarding the upcoming free agency of Erik Karlsson, making Brassard available indicates a willingness to retool the core of the organization. The team already traded Kyle Turris earlier this season, and now seem ready to move another veteran center. With Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau also in the rumor mill, the center depth of the club could be devastated in the next few weeks.
Ottawa is in a fight for the first-overall pick this season, despite some better play of late. They currently sit in 29th place, and Brassard hasn’t been able to do anything to change the outcome most nights this year. Though he does have 14 goals and 30 points, he hasn’t been able to create much on the powerplay and is under 50% in the faceoff dot.
Still, for years Brassard has been a positive possession player. For any team looking to add a solid middle-six center who can drive play while also being responsible in his own end, the 30-year old could be a good fit. His $5MM cap hit is a little high for teams looking to use him in a third-line role, but the actual salary is much lower—a prorated amount of $2MM this season, and just $3.5MM total next.