The Ottawa Senators are entering a critical phase of their rebuilding process, with two lottery picks in the upcoming NHL draft and a long list of potential assets to peddle at the trade deadline.
Once the April draft lottery arrives, it isn’t over-stating things to say that Ottawa’s off-season will be among the most important in franchise history. Attendance at the Canadian Tire Centre is at an all-time low and the organization needs more high-end talent to join Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot as the cornerstones of a turnaround.
The biggest shortcoming is premier skill at the forward position for a team that has lost the likes of Mark Stone, Matt Duchene and Kyle Turris in recent years. As an obvious deadline seller with nine unrestricted free agents and five restricted, the Senators are expected to move at least a few players with an eye toward acquiring prospects and future draft picks.
Ottawa has a lot of blueline depth at the AHL level, NCAA and Europe, so it will be interesting to see which veteran D-men are still here after the deadline. Dylan DeMelo has already been dealt to Winnipeg for a third-round pick.
Pending free agents:
• Jean-Gabriel Pageau, 27, $3,100,000
• Vladislav Namestnikov, 27, $3,250,000
• Mikkel Boedker, 30, $4,000,000
• Tyler Ennis, 30, $800,000
• Scott Sabourin, 27, $700,000
• Ron Hainsey, 38, $3,500,000
• Mark Borowiecki, 30, $1,200,000
• Cody Goloubef, 30, $800,000
• Craig Anderson, 38, $4,750,000
Potential assets to move:
Jean-Gabriel Pageau: Ottawa’s leading goal-scorer, an effective two-way centre, and prime trade chip, barring an 11th hour contract. Pageau is enjoying a career year offensively and is 53 per cent on faceoffs. Proven playoff performer. There is still a chance he could sign back with the Senators before the deadline.
Vladislav Namestnikov: He’s had a decent season since coming over from the Rangers on Oct. 7, although October was his most productive month. A first-round pick in 2011, Namestnikov could be worth a draft pick for a playoff team looking for depth at forward.
Chris Tierney: Acquired from San Jose in the Erik Karlsson trade, Tierney is a useful role player and bottom-six centre who can kill penalties. Close to 52 per cent on draws.
Ron Hainsey: His role has been elevated on a rebuilding Ottawa team. Vast experience could be useful as insurance in a sixth or seventh D situation for a contender.
Tyler Ennis: He’s cheap, versatile and can still play on a PK unit or in a third or fourth line role.
Craig Anderson: His numbers aren’t great this year, but he battles and has excellent career playoff stats (.929 and 2.35 in 46 games).
GM Pierre Dorion has been stockpiling draft picks for 2020 and now has seven selections over the first three rounds. While it’s possible he could move a second- or third-round pick to acquire an asset or higher pick, his first round picks are untouchable at this point.
2020: 1st, 1st (SJ), 2nd, 2nd (CLB), 2nd (DAL), 3rd, 3rd (WPG), 4th, 5th (TB), 6th (SJ), 6th (STL), 7th
2021: 1st, 2nd, 2nd (CLB), 2nd (SJ), 3rd, 6th
The Senators should not:
Trade Pageau if it is possible to get him signed to a reasonable contract for four or five years.