Yesterday’s surprise trade that saw three impending free agents swapped, with Ryan Dzingel returning to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for role players Cedric Paquette and Alex Galchenyuk moving to the Carolina Hurricanes, provided more questions than answers. Speaking on Sportsnet’s broadcast of Hockey Night In Canada on Saturday, Chris Johnston tried to provide some explanation or at least some projection on what it could all mean. Johnston clarifies that the centerpiece of the deal is really Paquette, who is expected to stabilize the Hurricanes’ fourth line over the remainder of the season and very likely into the playoffs. As for Dzingel and Galchenyuk, he warned that they should not “get comfortable”. Not only are both, as well as Paquette, very likely heading to the open market this summer, but Dzingel and Galchenyuk could be on the move again before the end of the season.
Dzingel specifically is somewhat of a suspect acquisition for the Senators. Previously a two-time 20-goal and 40-point player for Ottawa, Dzingel’s stops in Columbus and Carolina since departing the Senators have been less than inspiring. In his final season with the Senators, Dzingel was scoring at a 63-point full season pace; in his 96 games since, Dzingel is scoring at a 38-point pace. Perhaps Senators GM Pierre Dorion feels that a return to Ottawa and to a top-six role for Dzingel can reignite his offensive prowess. The team needs scoring and Dzingel could be the solution. However, if Dzingel continues to struggle or, alternatively, if he succeeds but is unwilling to re-sign in Ottawa, the rebuilding Senators have no use for his expiring contract. They would would very likely put him back on the trade block and hope that they could recoup the trade capital they might have received for renting out Paquette and Galchenyuk. Considering he must quarantine for two weeks before joining the Senators in this shortened NHL season, Dorion and company will not have much time to make a determination on Dzingel, but still felt the calculated risk was worth the potential long-term payoff.
- As for Galchenyuk, Johnston’s premonition that he could be on the move again could prove true far sooner than he likely expected. With Galchenyuk being placed on waivers today by Carolina, it could be that by tomorrow afternoon he has a new team for the second time in 48 hours. Of course, Galchenyuk is no stranger to frequent movement. After six seasons with the Montreal Canadiens to begin his career, he is now on his sixth team in four year and has been traded in-season in back-to-back years. Once a rising star in Montreal, Galchenyuk has been reduced to a one-dimensional hired gun goal-scorer due to his defensive struggles and many inconsistencies. Galchenyuk still has value as a substitute in case of a top-nine injury, but has not proven over the last year that he is worthy of being handed an everyday role. As a result, it is no surprise that a cap-strapped team like the Hurricanes would rather move Galchenyuk to the taxi squad, thereby burying his entire $1.05MM salary, and simply use him as depth down the stretch. There may very well be a team out there however who also likes the 27-year-old forward for that role and has the roster flexibility to claim him and keep him active. Even if he does clear waivers, that would only improve his value due to the added transactional flexibility and if the Hurricanes don’t like what they see, they could still flip him before the deadline.
- Galchenyuk’s placement on waivers has also changed the travel plans for Carolina’s latest acquisitions. Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported on Saturday that Paquette and Galchenyuk planned to skip the required quarantine that accompanies commercial air travel by instead joining the Senators on their team flight to Toronto today and then making the 13-hour drive to Raleigh, potentially even in time for the Hurricanes’ Monday night home game. The new plan, as revealed by Carolina beat writer Michael Smith, is for Paquette to make the solo trek from Ottawa to Raleigh today, a similar 13-hour drive, again with the expectation that he will be available on Monday. Galchenyuk meanwhile will remain in Ottawa until waivers clear tomorrow. Not only did he not want to make the long trip only to be claimed by a different team, but he also did not want to leave the country in case he was claimed by another Canadian club. If Galchenyuk clears waivers and is assigned to the taxi squad, he will presumably then make the drive to Raleigh himself and would be available for the ’Canes as early as Wednesday.