The Ottawa Senators have made their fair share of trades throughout their history. Some of those moves have seen them come out on top, but others have fans wondering what just happened. As with any NHL team, the return an organization can get for a particular player or pick can vary a great deal. Are they buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? Is the organization in a rebuild? Did the player ask to be traded or was a player causing issues for the team, like what happened with Dany Heatley and Mike Hoffman? (from ‘Heatley hated by Senators fans,’ Globe and Mail, 12/2/2012)
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The answers to these questions can drastically change the return a general manager can get in a trade. For the Senators, they’ve had a number of transactions that saw them end up on the losing end. Numerous, then-current and even future stars were sent out of Ottawa for less than they should have been worth. Here are the five worst swaps in Senators history.
5. Long-time Senator Fisher Sent to Music City
To OTT: 2011 first-round pick (Stefan Noesen) and a 2012 third-round pick (Jarrod Maidens)
To NSH: Mike Fisher
It’s never easy to part with a long-time player, especially one that is beloved with the fanbase. Fisher had quite the career with the Senators, playing 675 games with the team that drafted him 44th overall in 1998. Over that time, Fisher had 167 goals and 181 assists.
More importantly, Fisher helped the team to the playoffs seven out of his nine full seasons in Ottawa. That includes the best run that the Senators ever had, the 2006-07 season where they went to the Stanley Cup Final.
With the Nashville Predators, Fisher slightly upped his points per games from 0.52 to 0.56. He had 111 goals and 130 assists in 429 games went on to captain the team. He even made it to the Stanley Cup Final again, in 2016-17.
It’s always hard to know exactly what you’re getting back when you get draft picks in return, but you have to think that Senators may not have made this trade if they knew. Noesen never played a game for the Senators and was a part of the Bobby Ryan trade with the Anaheim Ducks. Maidens suffered a career-ending concussion in the OHL and never played in the NHL.
4. Senators Move on From Demitra
To OTT: Christer Olsson
To STL: Pavol Demitra
The Senators drafted Demitra late in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, with the 227th pick in the ninth round. He played just 12 games in his first season, getting a goal and an assist. His second season, he played 16 games scoring four goals and adding three assists. His third and final season saw him play 31 games and total seven goals with 10 assists. That wasn’t enough for the Senators.
They sent Demitra to the St. Louis Blues in return for Olsson. He started out with just eight games his first season there and only three goals. That seemed to be a turning point for Demitra’s career, as he blew up for the Blues, becoming a star. In 1997-98, he had his coming out party, playing 61 games and collecting 22 goals and 52 points. That point total turned out to be his lowest for the next 10 seasons. He finished his career with 304 goals, 464 assists and 768 points.
As for Olsson, the defender was picked even later in the draft, at 275 in the same year as Demitra. At the time of the trade, he had played 31 games with the Blues, collecting two goals and nine assists. That was better than what he did for the Senators, playing just 25 games, scoring two goals with three assists. He then headed back to Sweden to play hockey and never returned to the NHL.
3. Senators Sends Away a Future All-Star Tarasenko
To OTT: David Rundblad
To STL: 2010 first-round pick (#16 Vladimir Tarasenko)
Maybe the Senators should stop making trades with the Blues. Once again, it’s always hard to know what you are trading when you trade a draft pick. Rather than receiving them this time, they sent away the 16th overall pick to the Blues in exchange for David Rundblad.
Rundblad was drafted 17th overall in 2009 by the Blues and never played a game for them. He was traded to the Senators and played 24 games for them before getting flipped to the Phoenix Coyotes along with a second-round pick for Kyle Turris. At least that trade worked out.
The Blues used the 16th-overall pick in 2010 to draft Vladimir Tarasenko, who turned into a superstar for the Blues. The right-winger has become one of the best scorers in the league and helped the Blues to the 2019 Stanley Cup. The Senators missed out on a star with this trade.
2. Goaltender Logjam Leaves Senators on Losing End
To OTT: Cory Conacher and a 2013 fourth-round pick (Tobias Lindberg)
To TB: Ben Bishop
At one point, the Senators had Craig Anderson, Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop all in the system. Obviously, they couldn’t keep all three while their trade value was so high. The Senators chose to trade Bishop and sent him to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Cory Conacher and a 2013 fourth-round pick.
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Prior to the trade, Bishop played games over parts of two seasons for the Senators, totalling 23 games where he had an 11-8-2 record, 2.47 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. After the trade, Bishop became the starting goaltender for the Lightning, playing three full seasons and parts of two more (due to trades, as he was also traded to the Los Angeles Kings).
Bishop had a 131-64-20 record in Tampa Bay, to go along with a 2.28 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. He was also a two-time Vezina finalist and a two-time, top-10 finalist for the Hart Trophy. Bishop was a big reason the Lightning went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014-15. Lehner ended up being traded away as well in June 2015 and while Anderson has done well as a Senator, his career is winding down and Bishop is still at the top of his game.
As for Conacher, he played 72 games for the Senators over two seasons, getting just 25 points over that time. They let him walk into free agency after that. Tobias Lindberg didn’t play a game for the Senators before he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs as a part of the Dion Phaneuf trade.
1. Senators Bet Big on Themselves and Duchene
To OTT: Matt Duchene
To NSH: Kyle Turris
To COL: Conditional first-round pick (OTT), 2019 third-round pick (OTT), Shane Bowers and Andrew Hammond from Ottawa; 2018 second-round pick (NSH), Samuel Girard and Vladislav Kamenev from Nashville
The fact that this trade is still playing out and makes the top of the list speaks for itself. After months of speculation dating back to the season prior, the Colorado Avalanche traded Duchene to the Senators in a three-way trade that saw the Senators trade a first-round pick, a third-round pick, Shane Bowers and Andrew Hammond.
Related: Matt Duchene Trade Analyzed
Duchene did well during his time with the Senators, playing 118 games, scoring 50 goals and getting 107 points. But the Senators stumbled, finished second-last in the league and then were on their way to finish last in the league before they traded Duchene to the Columbus Blue Jackets for two prospects, a first-round pick and a conditional first-rounder. This was 15 months after the original trade.
The first-round pick that the Senators sent to the Avalanche had a condition that the Senators could either send the 2018 or 2019 first-rounder. The deal turned out to include fourth overall in 2019 after the Senators chose to draft Brady Tkachuk in 2018. The Avalanche drafted top-available defender Bowen Byram. Imagine the Senators with both Tkachuk and Byram?
There’s also Matthew Steinburg, who the Avalanche drafted with the third-round pick they received. Hammond’s time with the Senators was winding down anyway and has mainly spent time in the AHL after leaving Ottawa. Shane Bowers, however, also might hurt the rebuilding Senators in the long run.
Bowers was the 28th overall pick in 2017, who looks to be a solid two-way centre in the NHL. In 2017-18 he put up 32 points in 40 games with Tkachuk on his wing at Boston University. While his stat-line dipped after his winger left, Bowers had a solid defensive, penalty killing showing at the 2019 World Junior Championship and should be a big part of the Avalanche moving forward.