The Winnipeg Jets, although outside of the playoff picture right now, continued to add players before the 3 pm ET trade deadline by acquiring 27-year-old winger Zach Sanford from the Ottawa Senators for a fifth-round pick in 2022. Earlier on Sunday, they re-acquired Mason Appleton from the Seattle Kraken for a fourth-round pick in 2023.
Selected 61st overall by the Washington Capitals in the 2013 Draft, Sanford has played parts of five seasons with the Capitals, St. Louis Blues and Senators. In 271 career games, he has 47 goals and 91 points, which includes nine goals and 17 points this season. The aggressive winger had a career-high 16 goals and 30 points in 2019-20 and hoisted the Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019.
Copp Out, Sanford and Appleton In
With Andrew Copp heading to the New York Rangers, it’s difficult to understand what the Jets are trying to do. With Sanford entering free agency at the end of the season, he could end up being a rental, which makes no sense for a team currently outside of the playoff picture.
Essentially Sanford is coming in to replace Copp, just with less scoring potential and versatility. While the former has taken a few faceoffs in his career, he doesn’t regularly play down the middle. He also doesn’t kill penalties, at least, he didn’t do a lot of it with the Senators. He does bring more physicality, though, as he has 131 hits this season compared to Copp’s 35.
Bringing in Sanford actually downgrades their roster rather than the other way around. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out as the Jets continue their push, because losing Copp really puts a dent in their postseason hopes.
Senators Continue Interesting Rebuild
The Senators’ moves before the deadline have also been confusing. First, they dealt a third-round draft pick to acquire veteran defenceman Travis Hamonic, which doesn’t really jive with a rebuilding team unless he actually meshes well with first-round pick Jake Sanderson, that is. Then, they dealt Nick Paul for pending restricted free agent (RFA) Mathieu Joseph and just before the Sanford deal, they traded Josh Brown and a conditional 2022 seventh-round pick for Zach Senyshyn and 2022 fifth-round pick. All in all, a head-scratching deadline to say the least.
With pending unrestricted free agents like Chris Tierney and Tyler Ennis unmoved at the deadline, general manager Pierre Dorion missed out on a massive opportunity to gain more assets. Especially when you consider that both of them could have netted at least a third or fourth-round pick. Unless both of them re-sign in the offseason, he will have lost them for nothing. Not exactly great asset management for a team deep in a rebuild.
We will see what Dorion has in store for the offseason because the Senators are still a ways away from contending for a playoff spot. With the recent contract extension for Anton Forsberg that came in at $2.75 million in average annual value (AAV) and the albatross that is Matt Murray’s $6.25 million AAV still hanging over his head, he better hope the 29-year-old Forsberg has now arrived in the NHL. The Senators will definitely be one to watch again this offseason as they try to create an identity around captain Brady Tkachuk and star youngster Tim Stutzle.
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.