Senators Keep Eye on the Future by Acquiring Joseph

Ahead of the trade deadline, the Ottawa Senators traded pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) Nick Paul to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Mathieu Joseph and a 2024 4th-round pick. Joseph has a cap hit of $737,500 and his contract ends this year with him becoming a restricted free agent. Here’s how Joseph’s game shakes out and what can be expected from him with the Sens. 

Mathieu Joseph, Tampa Bay Lightning
Mathieu Joseph, former Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Joseph is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound winger who spent the better part of the last four seasons with the Lightning. He contributed two assists in six games during last year’s Stanley Cup championship run as a depth forward who can move up and down the lineup to fill in wherever needed. With eight goals and 18 points in 58 games this season, his numbers are consistent with 2020-21. Willing to block shots and skilled at stripping the puck away, Joseph has been a key part of Tampa Bay’s penalty kill. Having played over 120 minutes of their 292 four-on-five minutes, he notched two short-handed goals and picked up an assist.

The Trade by the Numbers

At even strength, Joseph has produced just one fewer point than Paul in nearly 200 minutes less ice time. With Joseph on the ice, the Lightning are producing at their expected goals for (xGF) of 25.53. Conversely, with Paul, the Senators are under their xGF of 34.01 right now. In most other stats, their numbers are rather similar. For the Sens, they get a winger who has existed mostly in the bottom-six of a strong team but with the potential to become a second-line winger on their roster in exchange after losing a slightly older player who is moderately more effective defensively. Here’s how they stack up this season in all situations combined:

Ottawa Senators Nick Paul and Tampa Bay Lightning Mathieu Joseph Hockey Stats Comparison Table
Nick Paul and Mathieu Joseph 2021-2022 Season Comparison (Stats taken from Natural Stat Trick)

Paul has a slight edge in the numbers in a few categories. On offense, he’s got a minor lead in goals per 60 minutes. But for assists and overall points per 60, he’s behind Joseph. Joseph owns the higher shooting percentage with fewer shots on average. If he can get some additional offensive deployment and build some chemistry with his new linemates, his goal total could get a nice bump. His choice of shot selection and overall shooting accuracy appears to be better than Paul as Joseph has a lower individual Corsi for and Fenwick for, but they are very near his shots on goal total. Joseph also ranks 26th (among forwards who have played a minimum 600 min.) for penalties drawn/60.

Where Does Joseph Fit in the Lineup?

After the deadline departure of Zach Sanford to the Winnipeg Jets, it remains to be seen who Ottawa will call up to fill that role. Joseph should easily slot into their penalty kill, but some re-tooling will need to take place to get a spot locked down. If he stays on the right side, it’s possible that Connor Brown gets bumped to the top line, with Colin White centering the second line, which would put Tim Stutzle back to his natural wing and allow Adam Gaudette and Joseph to compete for the second and third-unit jobs.

Look to head coach DJ Smith to try some different lineup combinations until a fit is found and as players come back from injury. If Joseph can transition to the left side, he could add a little bit of grit and grind to help out Stutzle and Brown if the top line doesn’t change.

Mathieu Joseph, Tampa Bay Lightning
Mathieu Joseph, former Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The offseason reality meant either a high-priced contract or losing Paul for nothing. Getting a player and a pick in exchange for him was a solid move by general manager Pierre Dorion. The other part of this is the intangible aspect of Joseph knowing what it’s like to be in a winning locker room. Bringing in a player who has won back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships is a big bonus for a team that is getting closer to truly competing every season. Ultimately, this is a rare win for the Senators. At first glance, it feels like a straight swap, but the details reveal a real commitment to the future.

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