Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion’s trade deadline moves signaled he wants his team to take the next step as a franchise. With the team holding down second place in the Atlantic Division, a postseason berth seems all but certain as long as the team can play .500 hockey down the stretch.
At the deadline, Dorion added much needed depth to the Senators. That depth is already paying off. In the games that have followed the deadline, Alex Burrows has three goals in his five games and Viktor Stalberg has two goals. There is still lots of time to see how Burrows and Stalberg will pan out for the rest of the regular season and in the postseason, but there is no denying Dorion’s moves have panned out quite nicely for the Senators so far.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 5, 2017
Dorion faced a significant amount of criticism for trading Jonathan Dahlen, the Senators’ second-round selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for the 35-year-old Burrows. A day later, Burrows was given a two-year extension worth an average annual value (AAV) of $2.5 million.
Per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, there were eight teams wanting to acquire Burrows, but it was the willingness to give Burrows an extension that got the deal done and brought him to the Senators organization. Time will tell how Burrows’ extension will pan out, but there is no denying that the Senators are better now than they were before the trade.
For a former scout and someone who has hit home runs on quite a few prospects, trading Dahlen probably wasn’t an easy decision for Dorion. In his new job, he needs to not only look at the team’s future but also the present. The fact of the matter is the Senators have an opportunity this season to do some damage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so Dorion wanted to make his team better this season, and he did exactly that at the deadline.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) January 5, 2017
Dahlen looked great in the 2017 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, putting up six points in seven games played. He is also having an impact in the Allsvenskan league in Sweden, with 44 points in 45 games played. There is no denying that Dahlen is a great player, but the jury is still out on what kind of NHL player he will be. In an interview with TSN 1200, TSN’s NHL insider Bob McKenzie told listeners that he spoke to representatives from teams other than the Senators and Canucks about what kind of NHL player Dahlen would be, saying:
I talked to six teams, and two of them thought that he’s a really top-notch prospect…and they said this guy is going to be a top-six scoring winger in the NHL. …Then I talked to two (other) teams that said ‘we don’t think he’s a top-six guy but definitely top-nine; he’ll be no worse than a third-line player that will score you some goals but not enough to justify a top-six brand.’ …Then I went to two more teams, and they were a little more reserved in saying, ‘he may well play in the NHL but we’re a little concerned about his skating, we’re a little concerned strength and whether he will ever get that next step…he might be a depth guy that plays on your fourth line.’
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 4, 2017
To win in the postseason you need depth and the ability to roll four lines. Since the trade deadline, the Senators have exactly that, with all players getting above nine minutes of ice time, something that was absent from the lineup prior to the deadline.
When you have depth, you don’t rely on your top-six forwards to do all the work and you also allow your skilled players to remain fresh down the stretch towards the postseason and in the playoffs. With this depth, you also have the ability to withstand injuries to players, something the Senators are dealing with right now with Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan out of the lineup.
Guy Boucher has pretty much played 10 forwards all year. Now using 12. This is progress #Sens
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) March 5, 2017
Speaking to the Canadian Press earlier this week, Mike Hoffman praised the increased depth on the Senators.
“I think it can keep everyone more fresh, opposed to double shifting guys which makes you tired a lot quicker, our fourth line has been great the last couple games. They’ve been out there not just putting the puck in the net, but playing hard physically and shutting down the other team as well,” Hoffman said.
Since the deadline, the Senators have yet to lose a game and are firmly holding down second place in the Atlantic Division. They are getting offensive contributions from Burrows and Stalberg, but more importantly, they are a much deeper team, and that will certainly be very useful as the team inches closer to a postseason berth with the hopes of doing damage in the playoffs.