Help is on the way for the Ottawa Senators, and it’s already in the Canadian capital. On the same day the Vancouver Canucks are visiting the Senators at Canadian Tire Centre, both hockey clubs decided to make a trade with each other.

Ottawa Acquires:Anders Nilsson, G
Darren Archibald, LW/RW
Vancouver Acquires: Mike McKenna, G
Tom Pyatt, LW
2019 sixth-round draft pick

Goalie Crisis In Ottawa

Nilsson is a key piece of this trade for the Senators.

Behind Craig Anderson in the crease, the Senators have been fielding an unstable and high-risk back-up goaltending situation all season. To date, they have struggled to secure reliability behind their starter, and have gone through three secondary goalies in the process. These include Mike Condon (0-2 record, 6.4 goals against average, .800 save per cent), Mike McKenna (1-4-1 record, 3.96 goals against average, and .897 save per cent), and Marcus Hogberg (0-2 record, 3.56 goals against average, .883 save per cent). None have demonstrated they are ready to take on the responsibility of this role, winning a total of one game combined. This falls vastly short of what the Senators need when Anderson requires rest or gets injured.

On Dec. 21, the feared scenario happened, when Anderson suffered a concussion against the New Jersey Devils. The Sens are a woeful 0-5-0 since Anderson’s injury. Consequently, they have fallen to last place in the NHL, just one game shy of the halfway point of the season, with a 15-21-4 record and 34 points after 40 games. There is currently no timetable provided for Anderson’s return.

Anders Nilsson, G

Nilsson arrives in Ottawa with a 3-8-1 record, 3.09 goals against average, and .895 save percentage with the Canucks this season. Throughout his career, he is 39-54-13 with 3.07 goals against average, and .905 save percentage.

Ottawa will be the sixth destination for the 28-year-old goalie, who was drafted by the New York Islanders as the 62nd overall pick in the third round of the 2009 draft. The Swedish native has also spent time with the Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabres, and Vancouver.

This trade offers Nilsson an excellent opportunity to establish a firm place in the NHL. If he capitalizes by earning a respectable record for the struggling Senators, he could be rewarded when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. Nilsson’s arrival should also strengthen goaltending reliability and provide better insurance in the crease, if he performs well. In addition, Nilsson should be able to split time more evenly with Anderson upon Anderson’s return from injury, reducing the workload on the 37-year-old goalie.

Nilsson earns $2.5 million this year. His contract expires on Jul. 1, 2019.

Nilsson’s acquisition may be interpreted as a signal that the Senators are no longer confident in Condon’s ability, which could place the inexperienced Hogberg in the back-up role until Anderson returns. When that time comes, Hogberg would be returned to Belleville.

Entering the match against Vancouver tonight, however, Hogberg is scheduled to start with Nilsson as his backup.

Darren Archibald, LW/RW

Archibald, 28, has two points (1G, 1A) in nine games with the Canucks this season. Throughout his NHL career, the native of Newmarket, Ontario has registered 14 points in 52 games, all with the Canucks. In 379 AHL games, the forward has 167 points (88G, 79A), including 16 points (11G, 5A) in 23 games this season.

Undrafted as an 18-year-old, the former Niagara Icedog and Barrie Colt star signed a three-year entry-level contract with Vancouver in 2010. Like Nilsson, he too will become an unrestricted free agent this summer when his contract expires on Jul. 1. He currently earns $650,000 this season.

Archibald’s addition benefits the Senators organization in depth and size. Pending further injuries to their regular line-up, he could become a candidate to fill a position on the Sens third or fourth lines. The 6’3″, 209-pound winger will start his stint with the Senators organization in Belleville.

Mike McKenna, G

Heading the other way, it appears as though the 35-year-old McKenna will temporarily fill the back-up hole that was created by Nilsson’s departure. However, this trade appears to be more of a forward planning move by the Canucks, who want their highly touted prospect, Thatcher Demko, to have a smooth transition into the NHL.

This trade also effectively ends the competition between Jacob Markstrom and Nilsson over who gets the Canuck’s starting role. Vancouver has not had a number one starter in their crease since the days before Corey Schneider developed to challenge Roberto Luongo‘s role. However, with the Demko era on the horizon, it appears another crease battle is not far off. Until then though, the blue paint in the Vancouver zone is Markstrom’s to own.

McKenna, a journeyman, has had stints with six other NHL teams, including Tampa Bay Lightning, New Jersey Devils, Columbus Blue Jackets, Arizona Coyotes, Dallas Stars, and Ottawa. Vancouver will be his seventh. Throughout his career, the seldom used goalie has a record of 7-16-3, 3.58 goals against average, and .892 save per cent.

Tom Pyatt, LW

The change of scenery for Tom Pyatt may serve him well. After coming close to having a career year in points last season with 22 (7G, 15A) in 81 games, the 31-year-old’s production has dropped off significantly in 2018-19. To date, the native of Thunder Bay, Ontario has only two points in 37 games this season. Throughout his career, the depth forward has 101 points (43G, 58A) in 445 games.

The Canucks have indicated Pyatt will start his time in their organization with their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets. Prior to the trade, Ottawa placed Pyatt on waivers, which he cleared at noon on Wednesday.

In addition to McKenna and Pyatt, the Canucks also received Ottawa’s 2019 sixth-round draft pick in the deal.

Cover Photo Credit: Dan Toulgoet / Vancouver Courier

Billy Morrison covers the Ottawa Senators and the Atlantic Division for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter, @BillyMorrison01.


Billy Morrison
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