The winds of trade rumours are swirling in Ottawa Senators land. Even if President of Hockey Operations and Interim General Manager Steve Staios would’ve liked to avoid GM-type decisions and responsibilities it appears the time has come. Thomas Chabot was placed on LTIR near the end of October for approximately four to six weeks. Therefore, he is soon due back, and say goodbye to the salary cap relief. This means that Staios has a decision to make.
An Interesting Problem has Developed Creating Trade Rumours for the Ottawa Senators
In order for the Ottawa Senators to be cap-compliant, someone has to be moved, hence the trade rumours. Of course, the obvious choice is the original call-up on the blue line, Jacob Bernard-Docker. However, there are a couple of problems that have arisen since his initial ‘emergency’ call-up. First of all, since he has ended up sticking around, he can no longer be sent down without clearing waivers. Now, that brings up an interesting dilemma, which is a direct result of his play. The dilemma is, that opposing teams will want him.
Is Bernard-Docker For Real?
For Bernard-Docker, he is playing as well as he has at the NHL level. The 23-year-old may be following the ideology of defencemen being late bloomers. In 11 games thus far, he is playing a career-high 18:01 of ice time. Now, some may argue this has been necessitated through injuries, but the more he plays at the NHL level, the more confidence he gains. One statistic that supports his play, along with the decent ice time, is his 35 blocked shots. This shows he is involved in the play. In contrast, there is still work to do, such as his CF% Rel of -10.9. But if Bernard-Docker can positively increase his involvement and responsibility, he will stick. The metrics will come around with his play. At the very least, he would become desirable to NHL clubs if he were placed on waivers.
The dilemma faced by Staios and the Senators front office is the relief money they have been taking advantage of in Chabot’s absence. The Sens will need to shed up to $3 M in cap space according to capfriendly.com. So, the question invariably becomes, how will they get the job done? Should they seek the return offered from trade, opposed to losing him for nothing? If they don’t send Bernard-Docker down, risking losing him on waivers, it seems they will need to go the trade route.
The First Potential Victim for the Ottawa Senators Trade Rumours
The first option we will explore for trade options is defenceman Erik Brannstrom. It is intuitive that if they are not releasing a defenceman, the option would be to trade one. For Brannstrom, maybe the time has come. He has not lived up to the billing that was expected of him after being the centrepiece in the Mark Stone deal. However, he is skating and playing well, coming off of injury. Also, the Senators do not need another left-shot defenceman. With a player like Tyler Kleven waiting in the wings, there are multiple reasons why Brannstrom is expendable.
Too Soon to Move On from the Newcomer Dominik Kubalik?
The next option for Ottawa Senators trade rumours is to trade the offseason acquisition Dominik Kubalik. Kubalik was brought in for a player that was not wanted, by a General Manager (Pierre Dorion) who is no longer in Ottawa. Therefore, it makes sense to move on from Kubalik to a certain degree.
The debate arises in whether he is a very effective third-line player, or can and has contributed on the second power play unit. Kubalik has consistently throughout his career had strong analytics, such as a CF% Rel, currently at 3.1. He plays a good game, is responsible, and is a great depth piece. His production would be higher if he shot more, as those shots are slightly down at only 25 through 15 games. He is typically over two shots a game in his career. So, he would be good to keep, or you could sell while his stock is high. One further point to consider is he is a depth player, and as such, they are more easily replaced. Don’t forget that suspended RFA Shane Pinto will be available to re-sign with the club come late January.
The Bathman on the Move?
One more name to discuss in trade talks is Drake Batherson. This one is probably a bit more far-fetched. Batherson has been playing on the top power play unit and heating up. Including his two goals Friday night, he has four goals and seven points in his last five games. Of course, he would garner a lot of attention on the open trade market. Plus, his price tag of under $5 M is very favourable. He would command great return, such as a top draft pick. At the end of the day, with his chemistry with players like Joshua Norris, don’t count on this trade actually happening, but he would be a front-runner.
One thing is for sure, something noteworthy will come down the pipes in Sens land. In addition, the contract and salary cap options are complicated such as the NMC of Travis Hamonic. Mathieu Joseph is one further possibility to move, and his decent start to 2023-24 has his trade stock elevated. In any case, Staios will have some decisions to make, and the 8-8-0 Sens are currently a fragile club.
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