Trade negotiations between the Ottawa Senators and the Vegas Golden Knights went down to the wire on Monday. Then, with just 15 minutes remaining before the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline, Sin City emerged with the best offer to win the Mark Stone sweepstakes.
Despite winning the jackpot, the Golden Knights paid a golden price for Stone. In exchange, the Senators acquired a blue-chip prospect, an NHL player, and a highly valued draft pick in 2020. The trade signals the beginning of another Erik era in Ottawa for the Senators, while the Golden Knights advance to the Stone age in Nevada.
|Ottawa Acquires||Erik Brannstrom, D
Oscar Lindberg, C
2020 2nd Round Pick (DAL)
|Vegas Acquires||Mark Stone, RW
Tobias Lindberg, RW
The Senators Return
If Brannstrom’s development ever meets his hype, the young Swede may one day become known as Erik 2.0 in the Canadian Capital. Some hockey experts have already compared the 19-year-old defenceman to Ottawa’s former captain, Erik Karlsson. In addition to his hockey qualities and attributes, both share the same position, nationality, and were selected in the first round, 15th overall.
Brannstrom was the centerpiece that Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion was seeking in exchange for a player of Stone’s caliber. TSN’s Darren Dreger was very impressed with the Senators return. In a Tweet, he said, “Tough to lose a player like Stone, but that’s a home run for Pierre Dorion and the Sens“.
Below is a video that contains some of Brannstrom’s highlights playing for Sweden in the 2019 IIHF World Juniors Championship.
Brannstrom stands 5’11” tall and weighs 173 pounds. In his first professional season playing in North America, he has registered 28 points (7G, 21A) in 41 games with the Vegas’s AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. Although he will start in Belleville, the blue-chip prospect will be given all the opportunity in the world to grow, develop, and prove himself as an elite player with the Senators. Despite all the hype, Brannstrom has yet to make his NHL debut.
It would be a dream come true for Ottawa to eventually replace Karlsson with a Karlsson-type player, who will develop in tandem with another rising star on their blue line named Thomas Chabot.
Lindberg was drafted in the second round (57th overall) by the Arizona Coyotes in 2010. The 27-year-old stands 6’1″ and weighs 202 pounds. The centreman has played 232 games, putting up 71 points (34G, 37A) and winning his face-offs 51 percent of the time.
Despite being drafted by the team from the desert, the Swedish native has only played NHL games for the New York Rangers and Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights selected him from Manhatten during their expansion draft in June 2017.
Lindberg will likely be used as a utility player in Ottawa for the remainder of this season. He is expected to join the Senators immediately and dress for their upcoming game versus the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.
The forward carries a salary cap hit of $1.7 million. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on Jul. 1 but in a recent press conference, Dorion sounded optimistic that Lindberg may be around much longer with the Senators.
2020 2nd Round Draft Pick (DAL)
In an odd twist, the second round pick received by the Senators in this trade originally belonged to the Dallas Stars. Dallas traded this pick to Vegas in a previous deal involving ex-Senator Marc Methot.
With this selection in 2020, the Senators add yet another high ranked draft pick to their bursting cabinet. Ottawa now boasts at least 15 picks in the first three rounds over the next three years. This includes four first-round picks, with the possibility of at least two more if Matt Duchene and Karlsson re-sign with their respective teams. The Senators also own a whomping seven second-round picks and four third-round picks.
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The Golden Knights Return
Stone is just 26-years-old and stands at 6’4″ weighing 219 pounds. The native of Winnipeg, Manitoba is a game changer who can do basically everything on the right-wing. The big forward has an uncanny ability to score clutch goals, an unmatched drive to win, high hockey IQ, and is a master of taking pucks away from his opponents. Off the ice, he demonstrates leadership and maturity beyond his years. These are the many reasons why it was heavily speculated that the fan favorite in Ottawa would become the Senators next captain had he decided to stay.
Drafted in round six (178th overall) by the Senators in 2010, Stone is a prime example of the exemplary player development system in Ottawa. Since his late draft, he has gone on to register an incredible 311 points in 366 games. This includes 123 goals and 188 assists. Despite the Senators sitting in last place in the NHL this year, Stone is on pace to shatter his previous career highs. In 59 games this season, he already has 62 points (28G, 34A). This puts him above a point-per-game average in 2018-19.
In addition to acquiring Stone, general manager George McPhee has already verbally agreed to sign him long term. The anticipated deal is an eight-year contract with an annual average value of $9.5 million. The extension is expected to be announced after Feb. 28.
Lindberg returned to a familiar place on Monday. This is the 23-year-old’s second stint with the Vegas Golden Knights. Drafted in round four (102nd overall) by the Senators in 2013, the right winger has played just six NHL games where he has recorded two assists.
The 6’3″, 215-pound forward has already been traded four times in his young career. He has spent time with the Senators, Golden Knights, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Pittsburgh Penguins. In 174 AHL games, Lindberg has 63 points (27G, 36A).
The Lindberg’s involved in this trade are not related.
The Vegas Golden Knights are the clear winners of this trade in the immediate aftermath. They acquired a top line winger who can do just about everything in hockey. Furthermore, they will extend Stone for the long-term. This immediately makes their team much stronger and increase their odds of another strong Stanley Cup run this year. Vegas currently ranks sixth in the Western Conference and 15th in the NHL.
As much as it hurts the team and fans alike to lose a player like Stone, the reality is he was unwilling to re-sign in Ottawa. Under the circumstances, as unfortunate, frustrating, and disappointing as they are, the only option left for Dorion was to execute a trade. His mission: to get the best return possible for one of the most elite wingers in the game.
Dorion and the Senators are ecstatic about acquiring a prospect like Brannstrom. Furthermore, few hockey experts have questioned Brannstrom’s elite potential. The other pieces of this trade add value for the Senators.
On Feb. 6, owner Eugene Melnyk stated the objective of the Senators is to be “all-in again for a five-year run of unparalleled success – where the team will plan to spend close to the NHL’s salary cap every year from 2021 to 2025.”
This trade helps Ottawa with that objective, at the unfortunate costs of straining fan relations, testing fan loyalty, and by making wins more difficult in the near future. Nevertheless, a hopeful mantra for Senator fans is ‘good things come to those who wait’. If those good things include a Stanley Cup, it will be worth it.
Cover Photo Credit: Fred Chartrand / The Canadian Press
Billy Morrison covers the Ottawa Senators and the Atlantic Division for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter, @BillyMorrison01.