With trade talks starting to heat up as we steadily approach the NHL’s Trade Deadline on March 21, the Ottawa Senators have lots to consider. Over the past month, the following list of Senators have been rumoured to soon be on the move:
- Nick Paul (LW)
- Zach Sanford (LW)
- Chris Tierney (C)
- Michael Del Zotto (D)
- Anton Forsberg (G)
- Josh Brown (D)
However, who or what should the Senators target for themselves this trade deadline? It’s no secret that the Sens are in desperate need of a scoring winger and a reliable defenceman. On March 11, Sens’ General Manager Pierre Dorion excited fans when he spoke to the media saying they’re interested in bringing in a top six forward and a top four defenceman. While these are holes that are usually quite expensive to fill, if the Senators play their cards right, then they could potentially bring in some valued reinforcements at a lower price.
The players that will be appearing in this article have been tossed around on the trade block for one reason or another. I made sure to include some guys who have shown sparks of greatness in previous years, but have fallen off a bit recently. These types of players could potentially cost the Senators less and may benefit from a change of scenery to an up-and-coming team like the Sens.
Rickard Rakell (LW/RW/C)
Over the past few years, Rakell’s production hasn’t exactly been jaw dropping. His best numbers in the past four years came in 2018-19 when he scored 18 goals and 43 points. Since then, his production has dropped off quite a bit recently, as he has only 28 points in 50 games so far. However, his goal scoring has improved, scoring 16 goals. With the budding stars Troy Terry, Trevor Zegras, and Sonny Milano growing strong this year, Rakell is becoming overshadowed.
However, not too long-ago Rakell was quite the goal scorer, netting a 30 goal season two years in a row from 2016-2018. While his shooting percentage those years was the highest it has ever been, Rakell has still proven throughout his career that he has a lethal shot that can be best utilized as a complement to another player. He might not have the capability to drive offence by himself, but his shot could be a useful tool when paired with guys like Batherson or Stützle, who can create offence out of nowhere. Additionally, the 28-year-old can provide much needed leadership from his playoff experience to the Sens’ young core.
As a result of his contract expiring this summer, Rakell’s name has been tossed around as trade bait. The DailyFaceoff’s Frank Seravalli listed Rakell as a player who could be on the move in his Trade Deadline War Room series and TSN ranked him number six on their Trade Bait board. While his UFA status might scare off the Sens as he could end up deciding to test free agency, his lower trade value could mean the Sens would have to give up less than usual for something they desperately need, goal scoring.
Maxime Comtois (LW)
Hailing from the same team as the player just discussed is Maxime Comtois from the Anaheim Ducks. This young star had a breakout season last year, leading the Ducks in scoring with 16 goals and 33 points in only 55 games. Comtois is a speedy, yet big-bodied winger that isn’t afraid to get physical. Unfortunately, this year Comtois underwent hand surgery, forcing him to miss a significant number of games. This has led to quite the drop off in point production for the young forward, who has only managed to net two goals and eight points in 34 games this year. A few times this year Comtois was even healthy scratched. So why trade for him?
Firstly, Comtois is only 23 years old, so a sophomore slump is nothing out of the ordinary. Secondly, Comtois would complement Stützle very well, giving him another speedy player who can match his pace. Additionally, Comtois won gold with Connor Brown and Nick Paul at the 2021 World Championships with Team Canada. A line of Comtois, Stützle, and Brown would be able to outskate and outwork most others and could provide much more depth to the Senators’ offensive lineup.
Much like Rakell, Comtois’ responsibilities are being taken over by the Ducks’ young guns, so he’s become more expendable. TSN ranked him as number 60 on their Trade Bait board. It’s also important to note that he’s on the first year of a two-year deal paying him just over $2 million annually. Not only is this a very cheap option for Dorion, but Comtois also becomes an RFA when the deal expires, meaning the Sens would have control over his rights. Bringing him over would allow him a lot of time to play in Ottawa and prove his worth as a mainstay in their future.
Kasperi Kapanen (RW)
In his career with the Leafs and Penguins, Kasperi Kapanen has established himself as a speedy winger who can slot anywhere around the lineup when needed. Throughout his career, he’s mostly played on the third line but has shown some impressive offensive skill. He potted 20 goals and 44 points in his first full season with Toronto in 2018-19 and just last year scored 30 points in 40 games, which is on pace for 62 points over a full 82 game season. However, this year Kapanen’s production has fallen considerably from last year, only scoring nine goals and 26 points in 57 games.
Since around the beginning of 2022, trade rumours involving Kapanen began to really heat up. He is currently on the last year of a three-year deal signed back in 2019, paying him an annual average salary of $3.2 million. With Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust, Kris Letang, and Evan Rodrigues all needing new contracts come July 1, the Penguins most likely won’t have the money to keep Kapanen and thus, are reportedly interested in moving him at the deadline.
However, Kapanen is an RFA meaning the Sens would have control over his rights. Trading for him would therefor be a good idea as Ottawa has the cap space to sign him to a short term “show me” deal. I think he’s similar to Connor Brown, who when given the opportunity and ice-time, has shown himself to be a legit top six winger on Ottawa. If Kapanen were to come to Ottawa, he would likely be gifted top six minutes alongside Tim Stützle and Alex Formenton to form a dynamic line that could outskate anyone.
Dylan DeMelo (RD)
Trading away Dylan DeMelo at the 2020 trade deadline may have been one of the worst moves Pierre Dorion has made. Back then, DeMelo was the perfect partner for Chabot, allowing the latter to go all out on offence knowing that his defensive minded partner would be there to bail him out. Ever since then, one of the most prevalent topics Sens fans have engaged in was over who should be Chabot’s partner. I think the best replacement for DeMelo would be DeMelo himself.
He’s not very productive offensively, but the 28-year-old can be counted on to eat up top four minutes and provide stability to a shaky d-core like that of the Sens. It would also allow Artem Zub to be utilized more effectively, who could either be paired with a younger defenceman like Erik Brannström or eventually Jake Sanderson.
DeMelo is on the second year of a four-year deal paying him $3 million annually. This summer, the Winnipeg Jets will need to re-sign star forward Pierre-Luc Dubois and will need to make decisions on the contracts of Andrew Copp and Paul Stastny. DeMelo could be moved to free up the cash to sign these players or to make room for their young promising defencemen Ville Heinola and Dylan Samberg. While some might think trading DeMelo could be a stretch, the Jets left him unprotected in this past expansion draft in order to keep Neal Pionk, Josh Morrissey, and Logan Stanley. This could mean it’s not out of the question for Winnipeg to deal him but might require a decent package in return.
Carson Soucy (LD)
Standing at 6’5”, Carson Soucy is a hulking defensive defenceman. The 27-year-old was picked by the Seattle Kraken from the Minnesota Wild in last summer’s expansion draft. While not known for his point production, Soucy is on pace for 13 goals throughout a full 82 game season. However, where Soucy shines is preventing goals in his own end of the ice. He’s leading the Kraken with a plus minus of 10, which is an incredibly impressive stat. Most of the other players on Seattle have negative totals, which makes sense for a bad team, so the fact that Soucy has such a high number is telling of his defensive skill. Additionally, his expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA/60) is only 1.78 compared to the team’s total of 1.92, meaning that the opposing team is more likely to score an expected goal when he is on the bench.
While Soucy is more considered a top six defenceman, I think that he would still be a great addition to the Sens roster that would come at a cheaper cost. Because he’s currently playing behind four more proven d-men, he might not have been given the opportunity that a team like Ottawa could provide. Additionally, after this season he still has one year remaining on a three-year deal paying him $2.75 million annually, allowing him time to prove himself. He would be a good partner for one of the Sens’ young d-men like Brannström or Thomson, allowing them to take more chances offensively as they can rely on Soucy to bail them out.
Travis Sanheim (LD)
Okay, this one might be a pipe dream. While I was planning on writing about underperforming players the Sens could get for cheap, when I looked into Flyers’ defenceman Travis Sanheim, I couldn’t pass up talking about him. Sanheim is a 25-year-old all-around defenceman who is not only a bonified top 4 d-man, but can make an impact on both special teams. He’s another big bodied player at 6’3” who uses his size to physically impose on opposing players and block shots. So far this season, he’s stepped in front of the rubber 87 times, which is good for 52nd in the league and is an absolute horse for the Flyers, playing an average of 22:31 a game.
With Flyers’ defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen being re-signed to a hefty contract last week, many are speculating whether this indicates Sanheim might be on the move. This has been another rotten year for Philadelphia and as it seems likely their star captain Claude Giroux will be traded at the deadline; all signs are pointing towards some type of rebuild. I think it would be a really good idea for the Sens to splurge and make a move for a proven top four d-man like Sanheim. While the excitement for Sanderson is high, it might be a tad optimistic to expect a 20-year-old kid with zero professional experience to save the Sens’ blueline. Sanheim is currently being paid $4.675 million extending into next season, and while he’ll be expecting quite the raise, the Sens have close to $47 million in cap space which needs to be spent if they expect to be a playoff team. The package for him would likely scare off many fans, but I think the time is now for the Sens to buy into someone with experience who can be relied upon to lead the team defensively night in and night out.
While none of these players are overly likely to land in Ottawa, it’s fun to think about. Most of us can agree that the Sens can’t just sit by and do nothing. It’s time to make some moves to finally escape this rebuild.