For all of their similarities, Ottawa Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki and forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau are quite different. At least the circumstances surrounding them both as the trade deadline approaches are, anyway.
Borowiecki vs. Pageau
Both Borowiecki and Pageau are career-long Senators, each originally hailing from the Ottawa area. Hell, they both technically play forward, with Borowiecki having suited up as one in the past. Most significantly though, they’re each scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency for the first time this coming summer, during career seasons no less.
In the latter’s case, the time to trade Pageau was arguably months ago in order to maximize the return. There was a stretch during which Pageau had scored 13 goals and 18 points in 23 games, putting him on pace for an impressive 46 goals. Considering he had never scored more than the 19 markers he has now in a previous season, it was quite the heater.
Predictably, Pageau has since cooled down. Still on pace for 36 goals over a complete campaign, Pageau nevertheless remains a hot commodity on the trade market. As such, the Senators should still try to deal him as soon as possible, potentially with the intent to re-sign him this July. That’s not necessarily the case with Borowiecki, though.
Borowiecki’s Career Season
Granted, Borowiecki’s value has never been higher. He has 16 points halfway through the season, when he’s never had more than 11 points in any one entire season his career. He’s already netted five goals, which equals his total from the last three years combined, all with an average of just two seconds of power-play time per game (18:19 overall).
The 18:19 is of course the most he’s ever played by a margin of over two minutes. With that ice time, Borowiecki is nevertheless giving suitors the illusion of a complete defenseman. The fact that it’s an illusion is not a knock on him, because he’s earned a raise for what he brings to the table: size at six-foot-four and 204 pounds and the hits that come with… lots of hits as one of the league leaders in that category. How much of a raise from the $1.2 million he’s making now, though?
If Borowiecki’s recent success weren’t so much of an outlier, he would fall into much the same category as Pageau. He’d be an incredibly valuable asset, one for whom you’d like to get as much as possible ahead of the trade deadline. However, Borowiecki isn’t a complete defenseman, all due respect to him.
What Is Borowiecki Worth?
If you have any doubts or take offense to the suggestion, put yourself in general manager Pierre Dorion’s shoes. How much would you feel comfortable paying Borowiecki this coming July? Likely for nowhere near the $5.19 million cap hit for which the Minnesota Wild just extended their actually complete 30-year-old defenseman, Jared Spurgeon (who has just one more point that Borowiecki).
Borowiecki also has two more goals than Spurgeon, but that’s not the point. Let’s just agree there’s a massive difference between the two. Let’s also agree there’s a massive difference between Borowiecki and Pageau.
Whereas Pageau has time and again put up decent secondary-scoring numbers, Borowiecki hasn’t. Whereas Pageau can realistically fetch a first-round pick at the very least, what would a depth defenseman like Borowiecki? A sixth-round pick like either Michael Del Zotto or Nathan Beaulieu were worth last February?
So, this is where the two Senators’ paths diverge. Based on Pageau’s track record up to now, he can get the Sens oh, so much more. It’s worth the risk of losing the rights of a top-nine forward on a contending team, one who’s generally good for 30 points per season under normal circumstances.
Yeah, Borowiecki isn’t worth nearly as much, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t worth keeping around for the long haul. Like Pageau, he’s a fan favourite, one who’s become somewhat of a folk hero around these parts as a bona-fide crimestopper. One who coincidentally and affectionately goes by the nickname BoroCop.
The return for Borowiecki simply wouldn’t be worth the risk of losing him. You want those extra few months to work out a reasonable deal. You want him to feel wanted, because, well, he is.
Borowiecki understands he can be dealt. Pageau likely too. However, the Sens can really only afford to lose Pageau, or, more accurately, they can’t afford not to lose him… to pass up the opportunity to help get this rebuilding organization back on track. For a role player like Borowiecki, there will likely always be a part for him to play. The guy who gets the Senators a late-round pick at this year’s trade deadline isn’t it. He’s worth so much more, even if just to the Sens and their fans.
After 10 years of writing hockey, Ryan decided it was as good a time as any to actually join The Hockey Writers for the 2014-15 season. Having appeared as a guest on such programs as CBC Radio One’s Daybreak, Ryan has written for such publications as the Montreal Gazette and Bleacher Report and worked for the NHL itself and his hometown Montreal Canadiens. He currently covers the Habs for THW as a columnist.