Times are tough for the Ottawa Senators, and not just in the standings, where they find themselves in last place in the NHL. That was arguably always the plan, as the Sens aim to rebuild, though. It’s a different story on the injury front.
With forwards Artem Anisimov and Colin White officially on injured reserve, Senators fans can’t even be optimistic about the chances of them icing a complete team these days. However, there are reasons to be hopeful general manager Pierre Dorion can make a deal to reinforce their forward ranks, which is what the Senators are reportedly looking to do. Here are the top five, in trade-chip form:
So, it turns out, contrary to all logic, trading for Vladislav Namestnikov has turned out for the best. Especially in light of the recent injuries up front. However, that’s just so far. Things can change.
Namestnikov is third in team scoring with seven points in eight games, which is far and above his traditional scoring pace. Generally good for around 30 points per season, Namestnikov is taking full advantage of the bump in ice time he’s getting with 19:10 per game (over three minutes more relative to last season).
So, even though it’s working out, maybe the Sens should still consider trading him for an upgrade or include him in a bigger deal for two forwards instead of one. The simple fact of the matter is Namestnikov is still an unrestricted free agent who’s unlikely to stay past this season. If he keeps up the pace, even for a short while longer, his value will never be higher and the Sens owe it to their fans to capitalize.
In a way, trading away Logan Brown would be counter-intuitive. He’s still one of the Senators’ top prospects, but his call-up and deployment on the top line was obviously rushed in the minds of the Senators, seeing as the 2016 first-round pick had played just six NHL games prior to this season and was among the last training-camp cuts this fall.
The 21-year-old Brown’s undeniably been passed on the team’s depth chart. Whether it’s by acquisitions like Chris Tierney or Artem Anisimov or fellow-prospect Filip Chlapik, who officially made the team out of training camp ahead of Brown.
Granted, Brown’s in the NHL now and Chlapik’s since been re-assigned to the American Hockey League. However, to go from the AHL straight to the top line is an odd move and speaks to the possibility Brown is simply being showcased. In any case, you have to believe once the Senators are healthy again, Brown’s going to be sent back down barring an incredible show of talent during his current audition.
Dealing Brown now could result in the Sens acquiring more of a permanent solution to their current woes. A lot of teams can find a use a 6-foot-6 forward. I mean, so can the Senators, but that’s beside the point. If they truly don’t want to rush his development, they can parlay him into an asset of equal value. It’s at least an option, however ill-advised.
If the Senators are hesitant to deal a forward prospect to fill their needs up front, a defensive one can serve the same purpose. Maxime Lajoie is one of the Senators’ top prospects on the blue line. However, objectively speaking, the Senators wouldn’t be sacrificing too much of their future by trading him.
Despite scoring 15 points in the NHL last season (56 games), Lajoie’s effectiveness dwindled as the campaign went on. The 22-year-old, fifth-round pick obviously still has upside, but maybe not as much as the Senators (or another team) are inclined to believe following his hot start in 2018-19. Now’s still the time to sell high.
It’s been a while since goalie Craig Anderson first expressed his desire to be traded. He’s been a relatively good soldier up to now, but, as his contract becomes due, the Senators would be smart to think up an exit strategy of their own. The 38-year-old goalie isn’t getting any younger, while backup Anders Nilsson has arguably been just as effective in about the same amount of starts (six versus five).
The only reason(s) Anderson doesn’t top this list? There just isn’t all that much of a market for goalies these days, especially ones on their last legs. Anderson still has a role to play due to his invaluable experience, but it will quite possibly only be as a backup himself on a contender.
Anderson also has a 10-team no-trade list, which complicates matters. If it means getting a shot at the Stanley Cup, it’s hard to believe he would stand in the way of a deal, though. The key would be finding the right one.
Like Anderson, Ron Hainsey has a modified no-trade clause. He’s also 38, but he’s arguably more marketable as a defenseman, who’s consistently been seen as a stabilizing presence on the back end. Right or wrong, based on poor underlying numbers, there’s also the leadership factor that Hainsey oozes and most contenders would eat up in order to seemingly solidify their third pairings.
The Senators must weigh the pros against the cons of keeping a leader like Hainsey in the locker room, when there is arguably a decent return for the guy out there. If Dorion looks hard enough, he’ll find it if he truly wants to. Seeing as Hainsey is the oldest Senators defenseman by eight years (Mark Borowiecki) and an alternate captain, it’s true they’d be losing a lot.
However, they’d be losing the unrestricted free agent anyway after this season. Even as the wins refuse to come, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a lost season though, assuming Dorion can continue to collect assets. Hainsey (and others) can help out significantly in that regard.
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.