From the looks of it, at the ripe age of 73 while battling colon cancer, Senators’ GM Bryan Murray shows no signs of slowing down. On Thursday morning Sportsnet released a report claiming that the Senators are front-runners to land Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin. Prior to the week of Feb 8th, Murray had maintained a fairly quiet season, making just one minor-league deal. On what is rumoured to be his last year, he certainly made a splash with the acquisition of Toronto’s former captain. And, as it appears, Murray is not yet finished.
In his flurry of interviews surrounding his most recent deal, Murray made it clear.
“I am going to pursue something else” – Bryan Murray
Now, that’s not the first time Senators fans have heard that from Murray. It has been a long-time coming that he has been on the search for a top-six forward to help Ottawa’s offensive inconsistencies. But, the pressing question for Murray and his team now is if Drouin can be the solution they’re looking for.
Murray detailed his pursuit for a forward as a long-term commitment. As eluded to in the Sportsnet report, he made it clear that he is not looking for a player at the end of their contract. It looks as if this is the closest Ottawa has been to landing a forward since the search began.
The Reality of Trading For Drouin
There is understandably some confusion that Ottawa is all the sudden the “front-runner” to be the landing strip for the 3rd overall pick in 2013. It was back in early January that Drouin’s name was being connected to a deal with the nation’s capital. And it was then that news surfaced that Tampa’s ever-so-patient general manager Steve Yzerman was interested in Cody Ceci – a defenceman the Senators were not willing to part with.
Following that false alarm, the idea of Drouin calling Ottawa “home” quieted down. What changed?
If there’s one thing that Yzerman has made clear throughout his reluctance to simply trade Drouin away because the 20-year-old wants to leave – it’s that he won’t settle for anything less than receiving something that, to him, is equal in value.
With Ottawa finally finding what seems to be a consistent defensive partner for Ceci, it is extremely unlikely that they’ve had a change of heart about dealing him. Assuming that Ceci is not available, the other options to trade for Drouin don’t stretch very far. In terms of NHL active players, Yzermans’ interests could range from youngsters such as Curtis Lazar or Shane Prince to the unutilized defenceman in Patrick Wiercioch.
The only other likely option to fit Yzerman’s expectations would be the likes of a player similar to Thomas Chabot – a 19-year-old defenceman (drafted 18th overall in 2015) who has 8 goals and 21 assists this season playing for the QJMHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs.
“Front-Runner” Murray has to ask himself just how valuable Drouin could be for the Ottawa Senators and in turn determine what he is willing to deal for him.