Ah yes, the All-Star break is coming to an end and you know what that means, right? Of course it means the resumption of second half of the 2023-24 NHL season but the real excitement is coming to a hockey franchise town near you – the NHL Trade Deadline. That’s right, step on up and ride the trade bait rollercoaster and see where your favorite team lands after March 8th. For the lowly Ottawa Senators, will they be buyers, sellers or a bit of both over the next five weeks? Maybe the anticipation of what general manager Steve Staios will do or not do in terms of trade deals will provide enough excitement for Senators fans so they ignore how bad this franchise has slid down into the murky depths of ineptitude.
With the NHL season at its mid-point (give or take a few games), the Ottawa Senators should be quite grateful that they aren’t the absolute worst team in the league, in fact, the Columbus Blue Jackets have taken up joint occupancy in the Eastern Conference cellar with the Sens but with an overall 20-25-2 record, who’s bragging right now? The potentially good news for the Ottawa Senators is that they still have 35 regular season games left to pull themselves into playoff contention. The potentially bad news for the Ottawa Senator is that they still have 35 regular season games left to completely collapse and miss the playoffs yet again.
Do the Senators Have Players on the Trading Block?
At this point in the season, its’ relatively safe to say that every NHL team general manager at least has some idea of potential trade candidates for their respective teams and for the Ottawa Senators, GM Steve Staios no doubt will at least entertain possible trade deals with other franchises around the league. Of course, the next million-dollar question is which other NHL players are willing to to be traded to the Ottawa Senators? With trade protections due to No-Trade clauses in contracts, many NHL players may in fact be unwilling to ply their trade in Canada’s capital city. Steve Staios said on record that he would “like to add a veteran player if he could” which of course sets the trade rumors in Ottawa into full motion before March 8th.
Center Josh Norris no doubt leads the category of potential Senators’ trade candidates and with a hefty $7.95 million dollar salary cap, Norris would cost this organization a pretty penny to trade away for available veterans. For Norris, the 23-24 campaign has been a disappointment and with 12 goals scored in 40 games (his last goal came on December 23rd versus Pittsburgh,) a change of scenery may be in the cards – as long as the Senators can take a hefty bite out of his salary cap. Another trade bait candidate working his way to the top of the rumor chart is right winger Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko came to Ottawa as a possible veteran rental and he appears to be heading out of town that way as well. However, the Senators at this point can ill afford to let Tarasenko go given the fact that he has 13 goals and 20 assists in 45 games this season and is one of the Sens’ top overall point scorers. Despite his current value to Ottawa, Tarasenko may carry more trade value to a team locked into the postseason at this point as an offensive rental asset.
Another player who seems to keep popping up in the Senators’ trade rumor mill is defenseman Jakob Chychrun. Chychrun already has a contract running through the 2024-25 season and with an average salary of $4.6 million dollars, any trade deals would again be contingent partially on the Senators eating up valuable salary cap space. In addition, Chychrun seems to be fitting in with Ottawa as the offensive-minded blueliner already has garnered 28 points so far for the Senators. While it may be advantageous for GM Steve Saios to hunt down a top veteran player through trade deals, Jakob Chychrun may in fact be the wrong player to be discussing at this point in the season since a good defenseman will always be valuable; a good blueliner who can help score goals is an asset to any franchise.