After adding Alex DeBrincat, Claude Giroux, and Cam Talbot to their roster this offseason, the Ottawa Senators were expected to compete for a playoff spot in 2022-23. Instead, they have a disastrous 6-11-1 record and sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. As a result, it seems far more likely that they will again be sellers at the trade deadline. They certainly have some solid rental candidates, and Detroit Red Wings general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman would be wise to consider doing business with them. Here’s a look at three potential trade targets who stand out.
If the Senators continue to struggle and are unable to sign Artem Zub to an extension, he will become their biggest rental asset. The 27-year-old is a pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) and will receive plenty of interest around the league if he becomes available. This is because he has emerged as an excellent shutdown defenseman over the last few seasons and is very reliable in the defensive zone. With that, his immense physicality makes him quite challenging to play against – in just eight games, he has an impressive 31 hits to go along with three points. If the Red Wings want to make a legitimate push for the playoffs, he is someone who should be on Yzerman’s radar.
The potential fit for Zub in Detroit’s lineup would be on either their second or third pairing. If the Red Wings wanted a bit more defensive stability on the second pairing, it would make sense for him to take Filip Hronek’s spot. However, at the same time, he would work fantastically with Jake Walman, as his steady defensive play would allow the latter to take more chances offensively. With that, he would be guaranteed to receive time on the penalty kill.
To acquire Zub, the Red Wings would need to part ways with a second-round pick and a prospect like fellow defenseman Donovan Sebrango. In 13 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins this season, the Ottawa native has three goals and an assist.
If the Red Wings are still in the playoff hunt near the 2023 Trade Deadline and want to strengthen their bottom six, Tyler Motte would be a player worth considering. Although he was a late-offseason signing for the Senators, the 27-year-old has been solid thus far, with seven points in 18 games. Yes, he would not be a major splash, but he would provide them with a bit more experience to go along with some much-needed grit.
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Motte can be described as the perfect depth forward who is capable of playing all three forward positions. This would make him fit virtually anywhere in Detroit’s bottom six. With that, he has the potential to be a short-term upgrade over forwards like Joe Veleno, Adam Erne, Filip Zadina, and Matt Luff. However, even if he was utilized as an extra forward, he would still be a great depth piece to have.
Last season, Motte was traded from the Vancouver Canucks to the New York Rangers for a fourth-round pick, and I think that’s still a reasonable asking price for him. Considering that’s not too expensive for Detroit to part ways with, Yzerman should consider this avenue.
Another pending UFA from the Senators is Austin Watson. The 30-year-old winger has had a bit of a slow start to the 2022-23 season, with one goal and two assists in 18 games. However, he could start heating up as the campaign continues, as he just had 10 goals and 16 points in 67 games last season. Yet, even if his offensive numbers don’t pick up, he still has the potential to be a solid addition to the Red Wings because of his very physical style of play and toughness. That’s an area where Detroit could use some improvement, so he is a player worth targeting.
If the Red Wings were to acquire Watson, he would compete for a spot on their fourth line. Although Detroit’s forward depth is strong, the Michigan native’s gritty style of play could be enough for him to earn a permanent role in their lineup. However, even if he becomes an occasionally utilized extra forward, he could still benefit the Red Wings. This is especially true considering Detroit’s injury trouble already this season.
It’s unlikely that the Red Wings would need to give up more than a sixth-round pick for Watson’s services. Although he would not be the biggest splash, his imposing style of play could make him a decent little pick-up for them.
Nevertheless, the Red Wings do have some intriguing trade candidates from the Senators. Of the trio, Zub would be the biggest splash, but Motte and Watson also have the potential to be serviceable bottom-six forwards in Detroit. Alas, we will have to wait and see if these two Atlantic Division rivals end up striking a deal before the trade deadline passes.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, & Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHL Trade Rumors.