The Ottawa Senators deal sending Mike Fisher to Nashville for a first round pick and a conditional third rounder was perhaps GM Bryan Murray’s way of letting it be known that the Senators are open for business. The Senators are sunk near the bottom of the NHL, just two points ahead of the Oilers who have the fewest points in the league. The Sens are packed with aging players and devoid of organizational depth at virtually every position. It’s a grim outlook.
The way to fix that is to start dealing off players that are worth something to a playoff contender looking for that missing piece of the puzzle. While the parts as a whole aren’t working out for the Senators, they can send those pieces elsewhere to help build for the future. As for who could draw interest elsewhere, there’s a few candidates that can get it done before the trade deadline on February 28.
Alex Kovalev – Forward
The NHL veteran has had a rough go of it this season in Ottawa and a change of scenery would likely help him snap out of his moribund funk that’s plagued him all year. He’s always been a goal scorer and this year he’s got 11 goals and 12 assists. He’s just two seasons removed from scoring 26 goals and racking up 65 points and could give a team in need of a scoring winger on the second line a lift. Kovalev would love nothing more than getting out of Ottawa and away from coach Cory Clouston but it’s possible his temperamental style be enough to scare teams away.
Chris Phillips – Defenseman
Phillips is an impending unrestricted free agent after this season meaning that teams just looking to get instant help for a playoff run this year could acquire him and then not think about re-signing him in the off-season. Phillips has been a steady but not flashy defensive defenseman throughout his career in Ottawa. He’s got just four assists on the season so if a team is looking for a point-producer on the blue line, he’s not it. If you’re looking for a guy that can play solid enough defense to shore things up for a Cup run he might be the guy.
Chris Neil and Jarkko Ruutu – Forwards
Neil is certainly not a favored guy around the league and neither is Ruutu. They’ve both got reputations for being agitators and dirty-hit-throwers. Some teams feel they need a player like that to win. Ruutu has been in Clouston’s dog house lately and Neil, despite his questionable fight choices and generally nasty demeanor has a little bit of talent for a third line guy. You may not like them, but they’re the sort of player that you’d rather have on your own team than your opponent’s roster. With things being as dour as they are in Ottawa now, the Senators subtracting one or both of these guys might be addition by subtraction.
Jason Spezza – Forward
He has to be mentioned because he’s the youngest of the most talented guys on the roster. Daniel Alfredsson won’t go anywhere and Spezza has had his share of ups and downs in the last year in Canada’s capital city. Spezza is also the guy that could bring the most usable instant return in a trade.
The problem for any team that might want to acquire Spezza is that the ransom to do so would be sky high and Spezza’s cap hit isn’t very friendly at $7 million a year until 2014-2015. It’s an extreme long shot that Spezza would be traded but if the Senators are going to burn it all to the ground to rebuild, the guy that would help accelerate the process through trade immediately is Spezza.
Nashville has retained the services of depth defenseman Petter Granberg, inking him to a two-year, two-way, $1.225 million extension ahead of his Aug. 3 arbitration hearing, per CBC.
The contract will pay $575,000 at the NHL level in year one, and $650,000 in year two.
Claimed off waivers from Toronto in November, Granberg appeared in 27 games for the Preds last season, scoring two points while racking up 13 PIM.
He was a healthy scratch for all of Nashville’s playoff run.
Looking ahead, Granberg could be in line for a bigger role with the Preds next season. He only turns 24 in August, and the team did buy out the remainder of veteran Barret Jackman’s contract in late June.
That should open up some minutes on the back end, though Granberg will likely compete with free agent signings Yannick Weber and Matt Irwin for those depth spots.
There’s nothing too flashy about Danny DeKeyser‘s game.
“Basically,” he told reporters today, “my game, I just try to move the puck well, play solid defensively, chip in some points or goals here or there when I can, and just try to be a good team player and do things that help the team win.”
For that, the Red Wings gave the steady defenseman a six-year, $30 million contract, avoiding an arbitration hearing in the process. Yes, it’s a significant amount of money for a d-man that doesn’t contribute a ton of offense, but as we’ve already seen this offseason, players like DeKeyser have significant value. The Edmonton Oilers gave up Taylor Hall to get one.
Re-signing DeKeyser is not expected to stop GM Ken Holland from trying to add to his blue line. The Wings have a surplus of forwards, and Holland has said he’d “love to get a top-three defenseman” prior to the start of next season.
If Holland can’t swing a deal, Detroit’s pairings could look something like this:
DeKeyser — Mike Green
Jonathan Ericsson — Niklas Kronwall
Brendan Smith — Alexey Marchenko
It’s not a particularly young group. Kronwall is 35, Ericsson is 32, and Green is 30. The Red Wings chose not to re-sign veteran Kyle Quincey, and so far he has not been replaced. In June, they drafted a defenseman in the first round, but Dennis Cholowski is a ways away from playing in the NHL; he’s off St. Cloud State in the fall. There are a few other young blue-liners in the system, like Joe Hicketts, Ryan Sproul and Robbie Russo, but they all still have some developing to do.
At the very least, Holland now has some cost certainty with DeKeyser. The next step will be getting Petr Mrazek‘s deal done, possibly with the aid of tomorrow’s arbitration hearing. After that, it’ll be working to get that defenseman he covets.
Related: Blues GM says he might just keep Kevin Shattenkirk
The Ryan Nugent-Hopkins trade speculation may have died down since it peaked at the draft in late June, but it’s not entirely dead.
The 23-year-old former first overall draft pick was asked to address the ongoing rumors Monday at an Oilers charity golf tournament.
“I try not to pay attention too much,” Nugent-Hopkins said, per the Edmonton Journal. “If it happens, it happens. I know it’s definitely a different group than the one we finished with last season.”
Indeed it is. Most notably, Taylor Hall is in New Jersey now, traded for defenseman Adam Larsson. The Oilers also signed Milan Lucic and drafted Jesse Puljujarvi.
What’s still lacking is an offensive defenseman who can run the power play, which is why the names Tyson Barrie (Avalanche) and Matt Dumba (Wild) have been floated as potential targets.
The Wild in particular could use a good, young center like Nugent-Hopkins, and the expansion draft is looming for a Minnesota club that already has defensemen Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, and Marco Scandella locked up in long-term contracts.
Barrie, meanwhile, has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday.
Blues d-man Kevin Shattenkirk is another name that’s come up; however, he can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, and whether he’d re-sign in Edmonton is in doubt.
Chalk up another arbitration hearing that won’t be required. This time it’s Brandon Manning‘s. The 26-year-old defenseman has agreed on a two-year, $1.95 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, according to CSN Philly.
Manning’s hearing was scheduled for next Tuesday. He was the last restricted free agent on the Flyers, after Brayden Schenn re-signed Monday.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the Manning signing.
Manning played 56 games for the Flyers in 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL. He had one goal and six assists while logging an average ice time of 16:32.