The NHL Trade Deadline has now come and gone. While it was a quieter one than usual, some trades still happened. In the past couple of years, the Ottawa Senators were a team that was very active as sellers. Selling names such as Matt Duchene, Mark Stone, Dylan DeMelo, and more. However, this year, there were fewer Ottawa Senators trades. It’s a good sign as they are starting to turn the corner on their rebuild hopefully, with fewer expiring deals and more rookies coming in to get playing time. So, let’s take a look at the Ottawa Senators trades that did happen, and also discuss a few that didn’t happen.
Ottawa Senators Trades and Grades
Mike Reilly – B
Mike Reilly was one of the more interesting Senator players in recent memory. At the start of this season, he looked so bad that fans actively wanted him scratched along with other culprits such as Josh Brown. However, as the year went on he steadily developed into a solid second-pair guy for Ottawa. He and Artem Zub found some real chemistry and Reilly ended up putting up legitimately good results. His underlying numbers were strong, and he looked much more in place. Still, he had the tendency to make the really obvious error that stuck out, which led to some not liking him as much as others.
The fact that he played his way into being someone that you could argue they should have kept is impressive though. At the end of the day, they decided to deal him. There certainly will be a trend in this article of getting to play young guys, and Reilly appears to be a casualty of that. Not that Erik Brannstrom was a better option right now, but it was hard to see Reilly in a Sens’ uniform once prospect Jake Sanderson steps in. So, he was dealt for a third-round pick.
The reason this gets a B is that it helps clear up room for some younger guys to play and develop. Ottawa needs to know what they have in Brannstrom and this will allow him to play top-four minutes. However, fetching a third for a guy you paid a fifth-round pick to acquire is a pretty good piece of business. Especially when you factor in that he helped your team a lot this year. The Sens could have gone either way and maybe they do circle back to him in the offseason. But for now, this trade gets a solid B for asset management.
Braydon Coburn – B+
Despite the much lower return, this Ottawa Senators trade receives a higher grade. I almost gave it something with an A. However, for a seventh-round pick that seems a little aggressive. Regardless, Dorion really did some good work with this, especially when you look at the big picture. Braydon Coburn was brought in as a salary dump with Cedric Paquette. Most expected these guys to only be taxi squad guys, but they ended up playing actual minutes. Whether that was Dorion’s plan or not, he made sure it wouldn’t continue. Pacquette was moved for Ryan Dzingel, and then at the deadline Coburn for a seventh.
The fact that Ottawa got anything for Coburn is pretty impressive. He just isn’t a regular NHL defenceman these days. His footspeed is way too slow and he was way out of position too many times. Whether that be losing his man or getting burnt, it was an ugly look. Factor in that he took penalties because of that and also added nothing offensively, it was addition by subtraction here.
People may cite his Stanley Cup ring… but Coburn played in just three games and totalled under 45 minutes for the entirety of the bubble. To say he was basically a non-factor might be an understatement. Still, it’s clear others view him as an option for depth, so credit to Dorion for moving on. Getting any asset and opening an extra spot on the left side is great.
Erik Gudbranson – C
Unlike the Coburn deal, Erik Gudbranson was brought in by Dorion to play minutes, and that’s what he did. Ottawa used a fifth-round pick for Gudbranson, and only managed to flip him for a seventh-round pick in 2023. Unlike the Coburn deal, Ottawa gave up assets to get Gudbranson, which makes this return underwhelming. They did also pick up Brandon Fortunato, but that is AHL depth at this point.
It is good that Dorion didn’t try to double down on the investment. However, it went about as well as expected. Gudbranson didn’t look like he was a fit out there most nights and just couldn’t handle the puck well enough to help out Ottawa’s young defensemen. Still, he brought a veteran presence to the room, so Ottawa likely views that as a positive.
Overall, Gudbranson’s on-ice impact was extremely poor. Most nights he was one of, if not the worst defenceman for Ottawa. That was relatively clear from an eye test point of view, and the analytics backed it up. Maybe he is a good option as a seventh defenceman, but the Gudbranson experiment just wasn’t great in Ottawa.
Two names that were rumoured as possible trade candidates were Dzingel and Artem Anisimov. Both of these guys ended up staying put in Ottawa. For Anisimov, there may not have been much of a market, and if there were, it feels likely teams would want Ottawa to retain salary. If they were willing to do that or not, who knows. As for Ryan Dzingel, it is quite possible that Dorion felt the return wasn’t good enough. If that is the case, that seems OK. Dzingel has been a solid add for Ottawa, and he can continue to be a solid fourth-line contributor.
It seems very likely Anisimov walks this offseason as he is already Ottawa’s 13th forward most nights. He will be taking a huge pay cut if not. For Dzingel, it will be interesting to see what happens. Both parties seem to like each other and there is a fit for at least one season. However, extending any bottom-six forward to multiple years is risky, especially when you have a couple locked up already and you want to add more young guys going forward.
Even if Dzingel walks, it’s not the end of the world. Odds are Ottawa was only being offered something like a sixth-round pick. Dzingel can provide some value in a depth role for the rest of the season.
About the Future
Clearly, this deadline was much quieter for Ottawa. However, the Ottawa Senators trades that did occur showed they were looking for the future. Dorion made it clear that Brannstrom would no longer be sitting. It is time for Ottawa to see what they have in him. They also claimed 22-year-old Victor Mete off waivers, which was a great addition.
Both of them should have about 15 games here or so to show why they deserve to be on the opening night roster next year. That’s what this year should be all about. Building for the future. Overall, it felt like the Sens did that this deadline, and it’s hard to be disappointed.