Senators Complete Four-Player Swap with the Lightning: Acquire Coburn and Paquette

Another day and another trade for the wheeling and dealing Senators general manager.

After signing Tim Stützle to his entry-level contract this evening, it was announced that the Senators had dealt Anders Nilsson and Marian Gaborik to the division rival Tampa Bay Lightning for Cedric Paquette, Braydon Coburn and a 2022 second round pick.

For the Lightning, this move was all about using a valuable draft selection to dump redundant veteran talent and become cap compliant. In acquiring Anders Nilsson and Marian Gaborik, the Lightning will place both of these players on LTIR with Nikita Kucherov to create some financial flexibility and allow the team to make another addition to its roster.

It is a tidy piece of business for Julien BriseBois, but what does it mean for Pierre Dorion and the Ottawa Senators?

In adding Paquette and Coburn, the Senators get two veteran players who can enter the lineup and play depth roles. With the team playing 56 games in 113 days, there will opportunities to play.

Even though there are very real concerns about sub-replacement level players potentially taking away opportunities for the Senators to integrate their prospects into the lineup, the congestion of games and likelihood of injuries will probably create a lot of shuffling between the main roster and the team’s taxi squad.

Since entering the league, Cedric Paquette has played at a sub-replacement level per‘s dataset. He has never posted a positive ‘wins above replacement’ (WAR) value or ‘goals above replacement’ (GAR) value in any of his six seasons as an NHL regular.

He has posted two double-digit goal seasons in his career, so Paquette can shoot it a bit. He has a career shooting percentage of 10.7 percent, but like Artem Anisimov, Paquette has never been much of a volume shooter.

In looking at some of Corey Sznajder’s ‘Tracking Project’ work, Paquette’s not really an effective forechecker or transitional player. He’s the prototypical dump-and-chase fourth liner who just happens to be able to score on a higher percentage of his shots.

Senators Complete Four-Player Swap with the Lightning: Acquire Coburn and Paquette

Conversely, Braydon Coburn is a left defenceman who will likely spell Christian Wolanin or Mike Reilly if either player is ineffective or needs to come out of the lineup.

In 40 games last season, the soon to be 36-year old scored one goal and added three assists. With a number of decent puck movers on the left side already, stylistically, Coburn gives the left side an element that it currently lacks with his physicality and size.

His days of being an effective shutdown defenceman are behind him however.

Senators Complete Four-Player Swap with the Lightning: Acquire Coburn and Paquette

Unless DJ Smith guys full-on Guy Boucher and refuses to take these Lightning castoffs out of the lineup, there shouldn’t be too much of an issue carrying this players in a one-off shortened season. Even if the Senators promote the addition of quality veterans who have won a Stanley Cup, with both players slated to become free agents at the end of the season, it is hard to envision either player staying with the organization past this season.

Hell, there’s even a remote possibility that the Senators could flip these veterans during the season to create more room for its prospects.

For the Senators, this trade was all about the opportunity to flip two players who were never going to play a game for this organization this season for a valued second round pick in 2022.

That selection gives the Senators multiple second rounders in back-to-back years (2021, 2022) and with three early picks in each of those drafts, it helps set the Senators up well. If the team wants to use all of these picks to select prospects at the draft, it would allow the team to stagger the age of the prospects entering its system and reaching the NHL. If the team hits on the players that it drafts, it should help the team preserve its window of competitiveness by adding more cheap and inexpensive talent to the roster.

On the other hand, all this draft capital could come in handy if the team is looking to add more quality players to its roster to supplement its young core.

And depending on whether the contracts belonging to Nilsson and Gaborik were largely covered by insurance, the Senators may actually be saving real dollars on this deal.

Add that all up and that’s a tidy piece of asset management for Pierre Dorion.

Although I have seen concerns that the Senators may be letting a division rival off the hook from its cap troubles, I don’t see that as much of a problem considering how far removed the Senators are from being a contender. This is not like the Dion Phaneuf or the Nikita Zaitsev deal that allowed their provincial rival to be freed from years of salary cap hell. The Senators are obviously giving their expansion brethren a short-term break with this deal, but there are no real long-term consequences on the Tampa side that the Senators need to worry about.

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