Blue Jackets’ Potential Trade Partners: Ottawa Senators

Welcome to part six of our month-long series on Columbus Blue Jackets’ potential trading partners. In case you missed part five, we took a look at the Edmonton Oilers.

Today, we look at a team on the polar opposite end of the scale in the Ottawa Senators. While the Oilers have aspirations of a deep playoff run led by Connor McDavid, the Senators have just four forwards on their main roster signed for 2020-21. Those are Bobby Ryan, Colin White, Artem Anisimov and Brady Tkachuk. That’s it.

Brady Tkachuk Ottawa Senators
Brady Tkachuk hopes to lead the Ottawa Senators back to prominence. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Ryan is staying as I’m not sure who would want that contract in a flat-cap world. White and Tkachuk are who the Senators are trying to build around so they’re staying. Anisimov has just one year left and could be dealt especially by the trade deadline.

But as for an offseason deal, these four names you should be able to safely eliminate from a Blue Jackets’ perspective. However the Senators do have an RFA that the Blue Jackets should inquire about given their need up front. This player enjoyed a career offensive year while making an impact in several different areas of the game.

The question the Senators will need to consider is if this player is a significant part of their future. Given the vast needs of the team in all areas, any deal to bring futures in would be highly considered. At age 26 and due a nice raise from his $2.1 million cap hit, there’s no question the team can afford to keep him. But if someone is willing to meet their price, a deal would happen.

Who is he? It’s forward Connor Brown.

Reviewing Brown’s Career

Since the start of the 2016 season, Brown has been as dependable a player around the league as any. He hasn’t missed a game in that time span playing in 317 of a possible 317 regular season games.

Brown’s durability is just the beginning. He broke 40 points in a season for the first time in his career in 2019-20. He has a 20-goal season on his resume back in 2016-17 with the Maple Leafs. But when looking at Brown, he isn’t known primarily for offense.

Brown can play in all situations. He can fill in on the top-six if needed. He can stabilize the bottom-six. He can play both special teams units and have a positive impact in both. He’s a coach’s dream given how flexible he is.

So why would the Senators consider trading him? They have to decide if he’s a part of their future. Once the kids in their system are ready, where would Brown fit in their lineup? Logan Brown, Drake Batherson, Vitaly Abramov, Josh Norris and others are going to push for playing time. Does Brown want to commit to a long-term rebuild?

Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun recently reported that Brown and the Senators are both optimistic a deal will get done. But given the uncertain financial situation, should they not find common ground on a deal, the Blue Jackets should inquire. John Tortorella would utilize him a lot.

Outside of Brown, there really isn’t much on the Senators’ roster that the Blue Jackets should pursue. Maybe you look at a Chris Tierney, but he isn’t the ideal center the Blue Jackets are looking for.

What Would Ottawa Want?

Looking at this situation from the Senators’ perspective, they should have interest in a couple of roster players. As mentioned above, they would be very interested in futures if there’s enough there.

The Blue Jackets have a stock of defensemen available. They also are willing to part with a goaltender in the right situation. The Senators are in the market for a goalie.

Craig Anderson is likely not coming back. Anders Nilsson could compete for the starting job, but hasn’t played in a game since Dec 2019 due to concussion-like symptoms. They will have to make a decision on him. Marcus Hogberg showed he could play, but Nilsson’s situation will dictate where this goes.

Could Joonas Korpisalo be the answer?

While the idea of Korpisalo on the Senators could make sense, I am not seeing a deal here. For the Blue Jackets to deal Korpisalo, they need forward help. I’m not sure that Brown alone would be good enough to make this deal.

The Blue Jackets do not have to trade a goalie. They can elect to keep Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins together to form one of the strongest tandems in the league. The Senators don’t seem like the right partner for this goalie trade.

This is where I think a defenseman could make a lot of sense in a potential deal. Thomas Chabot is there. Nikita Zaitsev has four years left on his deal. Beyond that? They could use some help.

Maybe Markus Nutivaara or Andrew Peeke+ straight up for Brown?

Nutivaara has two seasons left on his deal at an affordable $2.7 million and has played in the Blue Jackets top-four at times when there were injuries. Nowadays when he plays, he’s usually on the third pair. Going to Ottawa would give him a chance to play a higher role.

Markus Nutivaara Columbus Blue Jackets
Markus Nutivaara is buried on the Blue Jackets depth chart. He could get dealt in the right situation. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Peeke played some this past season when the injuries piled up. Given the current makeup of the defense led by Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, David Savard and Vladislav Gavrikov, Peeke could be included in a deal if the right thing comes up.

In Conclusion

Again though, similar to the Edmonton Oilers, I just feel there are better fits elsewhere for both teams. I think Brown gets a new deal in Ottawa. I also think the Blue Jackets would want more in a deal for a defenseman. While Brown would look nice in Columbus, I don’t see it happening.

So despite our best efforts to keep the Senators and Blue Jackets trades going, don’t count on it this offseason. Stay tuned for part seven as we look at the last Canadian team on our list, the Vancouver Canucks.

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