The Ottawa Senators are in a tricky situation. Similar to the Buffalo Sabres, who sit just a few points ahead of them in the Atlantic Division standings, they have shown some significant growth with a roster full of young, inexperienced talent. The playoffs are likely out of reach this season, but after so many lean years (they last had a winning record in 2016-17), adding at the trade deadline doesn’t seem out of the question.
Even just as a reward for the hard play the team has shown this year, it might be worthwhile to bring in a little boost for the group. More complicated is the fact that the team is going through the process of sale, and increased ticket sales over the last 30 games could be beneficial.
You could tell that there is still some indecision on the part of general manager Pierre Dorion when he met with reporters including Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia today. In detailing his deadline plans, he admitted that the next seven games would determine his strategy one way or another, but there were a few things that he has already decided.
First, is that Alex DeBrincat will not be traded. There had been some speculation regarding the diminutive sniper, because of how his contract is structured moving forward. The 25-year-old DeBrincat is owed a $9MM qualifying if the Senators want to maintain his RFA rights, which would result in a one-year deal that walks him right to unrestricted free agency in 2024. Despite his age, he will qualify for UFA status early because he has already finished six seasons in the NHL.
Ottawa could get a significant piece back for him at the deadline recouping the assets they sent Chicago at the draft. But getting DeBrincat for another season and trying to sign him long-term seems to be the plan for Dorion at this point, kicking the can on a decision down the road. If he’s still unsigned come this time next year, his name will certainly be in the news again.
Second, Derick Brassard will also not be dealt. The veteran forward is coming up on 1,000 games in the NHL, a milestone he will reach with the Senators, his hometown team (Brassard was born in Hull, just across the river from Ottawa). Technically there is still time for that to happen and then be traded, but it doesn’t seem like that is in the cards. Brassard, 35, is on a one-year, $750K contract and will remain with the team for the stretch run.
Third, Dorion admitted that he will add a defenseman if he can, but cautioned that the market is difficult to work with right now. When Travis Hamonic’s name was brought up as a potential chip, he said he likely won’t move him – not quite as determined as in the case of DeBrincat or Brassard.
Part of that need for defense is due to a new injury for Nick Holden, which has moved him to injured reserve. The Senators now have just six defensemen on the roster, as Holden joins Jake Sanderson on IR.