Everything old becomes new again.
Yesterday afternoon, the Senators made an unexpected trade. It feels weird to write that considering how often general manager Pierre Dorion likes to pull the trigger on deals, but here we are.
The Senators acquired Ryan Dzingel from the Carolina Hurricanes for Alex Galchenyuk and Cedric Paquette.
There is a ton of familiarity with Dzingel. The left winger was the Senators’ seventh-round selection (204th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft. Dzingel last played for the Senators two years ago during the 2018-19 season before he was moved at the 2019 trade deadline for Anthony Duclair and two second-round picks (2020,2021).
At the time of his trade, Dzingel was 26-years old and an impending unrestricted free agent who was in the midst of a second consecutive 20-goal season. Since being dealt, Dzingel’s production has floundered. He only has 14 goals in his last 96 games, but he still possesses elements that the Senators will value.
Dzingel still has his speed and he remains an opportunistic shooter. He has a career shooting percentage of 13.9 and has scored on 22.2 percent of his shots in Carolina this season. The problem for Dzingel is that he has never been much of a volume shooter.
To put Dzingel’s five-on-five shot rate into perspective, the league’s renowned volume shooters’ rates often fall between 10 and 20 shots per 60 minutes of ice time. The best explanation for Dzingel’s high-efficiency/low volume rate is that he’s a burner who uses his speed to create chances off the rush. Although he has flashed creativity in finding his teammates, Dzingel will never be mistaken for a player who preserves and creates off the offensive zone cycle.
This year in Carolina, his shot rate has plummeted to a career low. Part of that could be a function of the constant line juggling and Dzingel’s usage on what is considered a strong and deep forwards corps. The Hurricanes are not the 2018-19 Ottawa Senators. Dzingel is not playing top-six minutes with Matt Duchene and Bobby Ryan. There is an adage about players who can put up good numbers on bad teams and Dzingel fit that bill. On a good team where he was destined to play down the lineup, Dzingel received fewer opportunities to play big minutes with more talented players.
In Ottawa, there is not a ton of certainty as to where he fits into the lineup. The left wing is probably the strongest and most talented position on the team. With Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stützle and Nick Paul playing meaningful roles, where does Dzingel fit?
Thanks to the quarantine protocol, Dzingel has to spend 14 days in isolation before being eligible to play, which means that the first real opportunity for him to play is March 1st against Calgary. With the NHL’s trade deadline on April 12th, that essentially gives the Senators 20 games to utilize Dzingel and hope he plays well enough to allow Pierre Dorion the opportunity to flip him for a draft pick at the deadline. To give Dzingel the best chance of offensive success, he is going to have to play with skilled players which means that the most likely outcome is having Nick Paul or Tim Stützle transition to centre.
The opportunity to roll the dice on Dzingel and return an asset feels like a win for the organization – especially when you consider the likelihood that the team would not have been able to fetch much for the players that it shipped out. Admittedly, it’s always concerning making deals with an analytically inclined organization like the Hurricanes. It makes you wonder what value they see in Galchenyuk (or Paquette), but their motivation for this deal may simply come down to money. The most interesting wrinkle for the Senators is that they actually took on money. Dzingel is in the last year of his two-year deal that pays him $3.375 million while Galchenyuk and Paquette will earn a combined $2.7 million. The Hurricanes don’t have a lot of projected cap room available to them, so this deal simply affords their organization some flexibility at the deadline to add more talent.
Other News and Notes:
- The Senators announced this morning that the team has recalled goaltender Joey Daccord from Belleville and have placed him on the taxi squad.
- The Athletic‘s Scott Wheeler ranked the Senators third in his organizational prospect pool rankings (paywall). Armed with two second-rounders and what will inevitably a high first-round pick at the 2021 NHL Draft, Ottawa’s system will continue to be strengthened.
- Sticking with The Athletic, Corey Pronman updated his list of the 2021 Draft eligibles (paywall). The 2021 draft class is not as well regarded as previous years, but Pronman’s top-10 is highlighted by three left defencemen, four centres, two wingers and a right defenceman. Considering Ottawa’s placement in the standings, fans should be soaking up all the draft content that they can.