Could an early season trade for defense perk the Sens up?

It’s probably not all that contentious a point, as we reach the 10% mark of the season, to say that the Senators are a defensive dud. Not a catastrophe, but far from impressive. 18th in goals against per game. 17th in goal differential. Dead last in shots allowed per game, though there were a couple of 50 shot games to skew the totals. They’re 21st in the league in winning percentage when being outshot, and 26th when trailing after one period–which seems like almost always.

All of which is a real shame, because the team is chugging along offensively: 8th in shots per game, 16th in goals. Their PDO is a paltry 20th, which means they have some room for luck with their shooting percentage. If they keep doing what they’re doing, the pucks will start to go in. But on the back-end it’s a whole other story.

Jared Cowen’s possession stats are abysmal, as are Patrick Wiercioch’s. Chris Phillips fares much better, but is being asked to do too much in the absence of an actual second pairing. Fair to say that Ottawa could use some reinforcements.

With the Islanders trading for Tomas Vanek last night, I can’t help but ask if an early season trade might shake the team up a bit.

Of course they aren’t helped along by the fact that they have neither their first round pick nor any sort of money to spend, and it’s way too early for even the basement dwellers to signal defeat by selling off assets. Also, it’s way more cost effective and strategic to give some ice time to a Mark Borowiecki type than to give up assets for costly veterans. But if Ottawa were to target a defenseman, who might they go after?

I looked at players on expiring contracts who are playing for underperforming teams, and this is what I came up with:

Kimmo Timonen – PHI – Cap hit: $6MM

Hard to imagine Philly actually giving up a defenseman as opposed to targeting one, even one playing as poorly and as injured as Timonen is right now. But he’s formerly a stud defenseman who, at 38, you imagine has at least enough in the tank and his share of experience to share top four minutes, even if he’ll never be the 20-minute-a-night solution he once was.

Andrej Meszaros – PHI – Cap hit: $4MM

It might be interesting to see Mesz back in an Ottawa uniform, although it can’t be helped along that he’s playing terribly and his actual salary is $5.5MM. His Relative Corsi actually isn’t all that bad. Philly apparently wants to part with him badly; could Ottawa have him for peanuts as part of a salary dump? Maybe if Philly retained a portion of his salary?

Marek Zidlicky – NJ – Cap hit: $4MM

Another veteran who could probably be had for cheap, Zidlicky’s been around for what feels like forever.

Nick Shultz – EDM – Cap hit: $3.5MM

If you’ve read any of Tyler Dellow’s stuff about Nick Shultz, you’re yelling at me to run as far and as fast as I can from this player. Never mind.

Dan Girardi – NYR – Cap hit: $3.325MM

Ah, now this is interesting. I don’t think anyone expected the Rangers to be so far out of it at this point in the season. Girardi is young (29), has played decent second pairing minutes for the Rangers, and he isn’t so integral to their plans that he couldn’t be part of an early season trade to shake things up for a team that wants to contend right away.

Stephane Robidas – DAL – Cap hit: $3.3MM

Somewhat underrated defenceman, perhaps due to the market he plays in, but Robidas used to put up solid minutes for Dallas. Also aging, and probably on his way out from a Dallas team that has some young options on the back end, it might be time for a change of scenery. Dallas is looking like they’re heading for another mediocre finish in a tough division.

Nikita Nikitin – CBJ – Cap hit: $2.150MM

This would sort of be swinging for the fences, as you have to assume that Columbus wants to keep this effective, 27 year old player in their plans, and they aren’t far enough out of it to be sellers just yet. Ottawa would have to give up serious resources to make this happen.

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Beyond this cutoff you have players on teams that are either currently in a playoff spot, or guys who you can’t picture playing top four minutes.

So there you have it. It goes without saying that a lot of these guys aren’t going to turn the team into a contender all on their own. But as a decent stopgap to try and stop the bleeding, they might just do the trick.

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8 thoughts on “Could an early season trade for defense perk the Sens up?

  1. I’d like to see them go after Mark Fayne. He’s a right handed shot, and he’s young. He’s always put up solid possession numbers and usually stands out as one of their better defenseman everytime I see them play.Given that he’s a UFA at the end of the year and a consistent healthy scratch, I can’t see them needing to give up much for him. Worth a shot for a guy who could easily play 2nd pair this year.

  2. Uh, I don’t know anything about any other teams in the NHL except for the Sens & the Canucks (That’s not any worse than James, right?!), so I can’t really comment on who we should trade for, but I would definitely not be averse to the move. The D are sorta… not… confidence-inspiring right now, and any kind of change that might solidify our blueliner corps would be welcome.

  3. Matt Bartkowski is an interesting option out there as well. The locals are pretty high on him:

    http://www.stanleycupofchowder.com/2013/7/10/4507666/2013-report-cards-matt-bartkowski

    He was going to be the central piece of the failed Iginla to Boston trade last year, so you know he’s considered expendable. I think Boston’s blue line is so crowded that he’s not getting much of a chance to play, but that wouldn’t be the case in Ottawa. That said he’s another young D-man with an unproven NHL career, albeit with some pretty nice stats (yes, yes, small sample size and all that), and we’ve probably got enough of those. Only $650K though, which I’m pretty sure is the kind of salary Melnyk is more comfortable adding at this point.

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