With the trade deadline days away, it’s still unclear how things are going to pan out with Mark Stone or Matt Duchene. The Ottawa Senators are taking the logical step to make sure that injuries don’t force their hand.
(You know, barring someone slipping on ice or getting injured eating pancakes.)
It’s no surprise that Duchene is a healthy scratch for Thursday’s game against the New Jersey Devils, as that appeared to be the plan all along. The bigger surprise is that Mark Stone is also being preserved with a healthy scratch. Actually, the Senators are leaving plenty of doors open, as Ryan Dzingel was also kept from action.
All three players are pending UFAs, with Stone and Dzingel being 26, and Duchene at 28.
While there are heavy indications that Duchene is especially likely to be traded, none of them are guaranteed to go. That said, some wonder if Thursday served as an unofficial deadline for Stone negotiations. Take this from The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch, who wrote of a possible Stone scratch earlier on Thursday:
It’s believed owner Eugene Melnyk and general manager Pierre Dorion wanted an agreement in place with Stone’s camp by Thursday evening and they don’t want to take any risk he’s going to get hurt if he’s to be moved before the deadline.
If you’re already exasperated watching the “will they or won’t they?” pendulum swing back and forth for Duchene and Stone, there’s good news and bad news. The Senators play three games before Monday’s 3pm ET deadline: Thursday against the Devils in New Jersey, Friday against Columbus in Ottawa, and a Sunday home game versus the Calgary Flames.
The good news for those who are annoyed: we’ll know for sure if they get traded very soon. Again, the deadline is Monday afternoon.
Now, if you enjoy this sort of thing, then you’re in for a treat, no matter how close to the wire things go. Could this signal that the Senators are finally going to start firing away? What kind of prices are realistic, versus rumors designed to maximize value? Could Duchene, Dzingel, and/or Stone actually end up sticking with Ottawa after all? The window’s open wider for potential extensions, but trades-wise, we’ll get some answers soon. For everyone but Senators fans, this could be very exciting.
The Devils are holding out two players for precautionary reasons of their own: forward Marcus Johansson and defenseman Ben Lovejoy.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.