Even though Bryan Murray is no longer with the Ottawa Senators, general manager Pierre Dorion is a borrowing a page from his predecessor’s playbook.
It feels like no organization does a more thorough job of leaking information to the media in an effort to drive up the market value of its own players. And with February 26th’s NHL trade deadline just a few short weeks away, Senators fans aren’t going to complain if these deliberate attempts to grease the system, manufacture more demand and drive up the asking price work to the organization’s favour.
Exhibit A: Derick Brassard
Dorion obviously paid a smaller price — Mika Zibanejad and a second round pick — to acquire Brassard during the summer of 2016, but now that the Senators are convincingly out of the playoff picture, the Senators have an opportunity to capitalize on a desperate team that could use some centre depth.
Brassard has been a relatively good player for the Senators over the past season and a half.
Although his production — 28 goals and 69 points (nice) in 133 regular season games — isn’t truly reflective of the strong underlying numbers that the Senators put up whenever he was on the ice.
Granted, some of that has to do with the fact that his most regular linemate over the course of Brassard’s career has been the incomparable Mark Stone, but using Corsica.Hockey’s data, Brassard’s numbers still look good.
When Brassard has been on the ice, the Senators generate more shots (52.06 CF%), more goals (52.98 GF%), more expected goals based on the quality of chances the Senators get (51.16 xGF%) relative to the opposition.
The Senators’ in-house analytics team deemed Brassard to be their best forward last season (note: he wasn’t, Stone is and continues to be), but he was pretty good. Even this season in a down year, his five-on-five goal and primary point production rates have improved despite the team’s struggles.
|Goals Per 60||Primary Points Per 60|
For contenders who need some centre depth, you could do far worse than Brassard. With a cap hit of $5.0 million, but a prorated real salary of $3.5 million this season and next, Brassard’s an inexpensive second line centre who should be coveted around the league.
It helps that he has a reputation for being a clutch playoff performer. In 78 career playoff games, ‘Big Game Brass’ has tallied 22 goals (with four game-winning goals) and 55 points.
Will the Senators fetch the asking price that LeBrun is throwing out there on the interwebs?
It remains to be seen, but Brassard is one of the few veterans on the Senators’ roster who I have confidence in Dorion being able to fetch a good return for.
Whether the Senators move Brassard or not remains to be seen, but the organization has the centre depth to at least consider moving him before the last year of his deal.
In case you haven’t been listening, TSN‘s Bob McKenzie has been doing his own podcasts of late and most recently, TSN has published The TSN Hockey Bobcast: TradeCentre Edition. Within it, McKenzie hit on each and every NHL team. You can listen to the whole episode using the link provided, but the portion devoted to the Senators begins at the 1:19:42 mark.
If you just want to read what he had to say, I’ve got you covered through the transcription below.
“The Ottawa Senators.
What exactly are we to make of the Ottawa Senators?
Now, I honestly couldn’t tell you what’s going to happen other than something’s going to happen. I think it’s a pretty fluid situation in Ottawa. I mean, in December, even coming out of the Christmas break, I would have bet big money based on all the chatter that was going on that Mike Hoffman was absolutely going to get traded. And now I’m not nearly as sure, so come two weeks from now, who the hell really knows?
All I know is that general manager Pierre Dorion — fresh off a visit to Barbados to meet with owner Eugene Melnyk to get a sense of where the owner wants to go and make sure everybody is on the same page — is going to be talking to a lot of teams and trying to make a lot of things happen. And as I said, in December when the wheels were falling off Ottawa and in early January, same thing, I would have bet big money that Hoffman was going to be traded – he has got two years left at a little over $5.0 million. I would have bet big money that Jean-Gabriel Pageau was going to be traded – he’s got two years left at $3.1 million. Or that Zack Smith was going to be traded for sure with three years left on his deal at $3.25 million.
And now, as I mentioned off the top, you don’t get the feeling that Hoffman is nearly as much in play as he was before and if he is, it’s going to take a hell of a hockey deal to get him out of there. You saw the goal he scored in overtime last night to beat the Nashville Predators, just blew by Roman Josi and went in and scored. He and (Matt) Duchene are starting to develop some really good chemistry, so as I said, maybe less likely to be traded now, but it’s still a possibility. I also get the feeling that the Sens have seemed to pull their horns back in a little bit on Pageau moving. I know Pittsburgh had been interested in Pageau, but it seems to think that’s off the table now. But, for every time that a name goes off the board, another one comes on. There seems to be more talk now that maybe Derick Brassard is a guy that they would possibly move. There’s always talk about Dion Phaneuf’s situation. The LA Kings seem to still have interest in Dion Phaneuf, but only if, I think, it’s a soft deal where 50-percent of Dion’s remaining money is taken and the acquisition price isn’t high. And I’m not sure that fits with what Ottawa’s doing. I don’t think they want to get rid of Dion for the sake of getting rid of him, unless there’s marching orders from the owner to say get rid of money – in which case, they might make a soft deal to lose the money. But as much as you lose the money, you’re still paying half of it and if you don’t have anything in your lineup to show for it, how much better is your hockey team?
I do believe Johnny Oduya is a guy who will be moved as a rental at the deadline.
I haven’t mentioned Erik Karlsson yet and you know what, I’m not going to right now other than to say I really don’t think Erik Karlsson’s going to be traded by the deadline. I think that’s a summer conversation – a contract conversation – and then see where they go from there so we won’t waste too much time there other than to say that it’s a fluid situation and what’s true today for the Ottawa Senators may not be true tomorrow or in two weeks.”
Senators Scouting the Lightning
Karlsson relaxed with Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos the night before the All-Star Game, so it’s easy to understand how Lightning fans could dream on the possibility of Karlsson being added to the mix. That said, Smith viewed Cody Ceci as a more realistic possibility and with the Lightning and Senators both scouting each other heavily over the past few weeks, maybe there is something to that.
As an impending restricted free agent, this could be the last opportunity for the Senators to cash in on Ceci’s trade value before his trade value is potentially outweighed by whatever the terms of his next contract will be.
Zack Smith Rumours
In Elliotte Friedman’s latest ’31 Thoughts’ column, he mentions how he had connected Zack Smith to the Calgary Flames recently but was told that he was “out to lunch on that one.”