Late Saturday evening, news broke that Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion completed his second consecutive trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets in less than 48 hours. First, it was the Matt Duchene blockbuster, which took place hours before these two teams faced-off against each other on Friday. Duchene and Columbus won 3-0. A day later, it was Ryan Dzingel who was traded from the Sens to the Ohio State hockey club in exchange for three assets.
|Ottawa Acquires:||Anthony Duclair, LW
2020 2nd Round Pick
2021 2ndRound Pick
|Columbus Acquires:||Ryan Dzingel, RW|
The Senators Return
Ottawa made out very well in this trade. Dorion effectively converted a seventh-round draft pick (203rd overall) from 2011 into three assets, including a younger third-round prospect from 2013, and two valuable selections in the second rounds of the 2020 and 2021 drafts.
Duclair is a native of Pointe-Claire, Quebec. He was drafted in the third round (80th overall) of the 2013 NHL draft by the New York Rangers. The 23-year-old left-winger has amassed 19 points in 53 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets this season. Overall, in 266 games, he has 108 points (48G, 60A). Arguably his most skillful career goal can be viewed in the video below.
Duclair broke out in his first season with Arizona, registering 44 points in 81 games. Poised to become a dominant force in the NHL, he has since stumbled. Plagued by inconsistency, he has entered a cycle of constant change. Since 2014-2015, Duclair has played for five NHL teams, including the Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, and now the Senators.
Considering the challenges and adversity the young forward has faced early in his career, he may find his role and fit in well with the rebuilding Senators. At the very least, Duclair has the chance to start afresh, on a young and rebuilding team, which is relatively close to home. The forward makes $650,000 this season and is set to become a restricted free agent on Jul. 1.
Duclair’s arrival in the Canadian Capital also adds another storyline in the rivalry between the Senators and the Montreal Canadiens. Duclair and Montreal star Max Domi were once teammates in Arizona. Now, they will play on opposing teams who have a strong dislike for each other.
In addition to Duclair, the Senators receive Columbus’s second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021.
Ottawa now has a total of 16 draft picks in the first three rounds of the NHL draft in 2019, 2020, and 2021. This impressive asset collection shows that Dorion and the Senators are on track to rebuild the franchise from the ground-up in the next three-to-five years.
The Blue Jackets Return
Dzingel brings more offensive talent and speed to an already offensively dangerous Columbus team. This is further evidence that the Blue Jackets could be all-in to win a Stanley Cup in 2019.
Dzingel, 26, joins a Blue Jackets team that has already added Duchene. Unless traded, the team also appears set to retain elite forward Artemi Panarin and two-time Vezina Trophy winner, Sergei Bobrovsky for their playoff run. Both of these players are slated for unrestricted free agency this summer, and have already revealed their intentions of leaving the team on Jul. 1.
Dzingel is a speedy American forward who has consistently improved his play and point production, year after year, at the NHL level. This season, he is on pace to set a new career high in goals. He has already achieved this in overall point production. In 57 games with the Senators this year, Dzingel has 44 points (22G, 22A). In 247 games overall, he has 126 points (62G, 64A).
Similar to the verdict of the Duchene deal, it is far too early to determine who is the winner and who is the loser of this trade. Rather, it is more agreeable that both teams have acquired what they need and desire at this time, with the Senators doing particularly well.
For Ottawa, it is about building for the future. They succeeded by gaining a younger player who they may be able to redevelop into the player he was five seasons ago. In addition, the Senators add two high round draft picks to their already impressive stockpile. All these Columbus picks could become even more valuable if the Blue Jackets fail to retain elite talent after this season, collapse, and enter a rebuild themselves.
For Columbus, it is about going all-in to win now, and having the firepower and speed to do so. Dzingel makes the Blue Jackets a better team. He is certainly an upgrade from Duclair. Another benefit is the familiarity between him and Duchene, which could be helpful for the Blue Jackets to form chemistry quickly.
Despite their impressive trades of late, the Blue Jackets have taken on an incredible amount of risk. Panarin, Bobrovsky, Duchene, and Dzingel are all headed for unrestricted free agency this summer. The first two have already signalled their intent on leaving for greener pastures. How this impacts the futures of Duchene and Dzingel is unknown at this time. Beyond that, the Blue Jackets are now without their first and second round picks in 2019; their first, second, and third round picks in 2020; and their second round pick in 2021.
If Columbus fails to win the Stanley Cup this year, there will be a lot of questions moving forward about their rebuild, and few answers and even less draft picks to help.
Implications for Mark Stone
After this trade, two of Ottawa’s ‘Big 3’ have been dealt prior to Monday’s Trade Deadline. The lone hold-out remains assistant captain, Mark Stone. Senators management has opted to sit out the 26-year-old for the past two games against the New Jersey Devils and the Blue Jackets. Unless re-signed or traded on Sunday before 7pm EST, it is also anticipated that the Winnipeg native will sit out against the Calgary Flames.
The Duchene and Dzingel trades have freed up significant cash for the Senators. Duchene carried six million dollars against the salary cap this season, while Dzingel carried $1.8 million. Both players are expected to receive significant pay raises this summer, regardless of whether Columbus re-signs them or if they hit the open market as unrestricted free agents.
This newfound money could be used for the Senators to re-sign Stone to an extension. If he decides to stay, there is little doubt he will become the next captain of this franchise. The winger will play a key role in helping grow and develop the young talent around him. Already a fan favourite, Stone’s retention is symbolic of the fan bases trust, confidence and faith in this franchise. Furthermore, it will be a measure of whether the Ottawa Senators can attract and retain elite NHL talent. If Stone leaves, much more will be lost than one hockey player with a heart of gold and gifted skill.
If traded, it is likely that Stone will return more assets than either of the trades with Columbus. TSN reports that the asking price for Stone is at least two first-round picks and two high-end prospects.
With Duchene and Dzingel gone, all attention turns to Mark Stone.
Cover Photo Credit: USA Today – Marc DeRosiers
Billy Morrison covers the Ottawa Senators and the Atlantic Division for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter, @BillyMorrison01.