This is a weekly feature that takes an uncharitable look at the Senators’ upcoming opponents.
It’s deadline day! And with four teams on deck this week, all of whom the Senators have already been linked with in trade rumors, let’s forecast what might happen! Might? Will! All of these deals WILL happen!
Tuesday, March 1 – Senators vs. Blues
Word is that Blues scouts have been following the Sens around for weeks, ostensibly looking for playoff depth. Time was, the Senators were allegedly interested in Patrik Berglund, who is basically Zack Smith if he were Swedish and more expensive. It sounds like Zack Smith is going to remain the Senators’ Zack Smith for the foreseeable future, though, which means a deal for Berglund is probably off the affordable, flat-packed table. Then there’s defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who seems to be perpetually linked to teams that need defensemen, although the Senators just traded for the last defenseman they’ll ever need. So who’s left to trade for from St. Louis? Draft picks, probably – players that haven’t even been born. What do you give up for that? Patrick Wiercioch? Sure.
PREDICTION: I would imagine it’s awkward being traded to a team that’s playing in your own rink the next night. You come to work like you normally do, go up to the press box like you normally do, but then you sit on the other side. Pretending the CTC nachos taste the same in that situation is the mark of a true professional. Look for St. Louis native Chris Wideman to offer Wiercioch a few suggestions on up-and-coming neighborhoods. Senators 5, Blues 0.
Thursday, March 3 – Senators vs. Lightning
Jonathan Drouin! This trade saga has gone on longer than a Lord of the Rings movie! This guy has been on the market longer than a four-bedroom house in Alberta! And a third, equally Jay Leno-ish reference!
For weeks, hockey pundits have been linking the Senators to disgruntled Bolts-pect Jonathan Drouin (a.k.a. Kyle LeTurris), because: a) every team is interested in Jonathan Drouin, b) the Senators leak everything they’re NOT going to do to the media, and c) the Senators are OBVIOUSLY getting Jonathan Drouin. Some say the only reason this deal hasn’t happened already is the Senators’ reluctance to include some package of Cody Ceci, Colin White, and/or Thomas Chabot (a.k.a. “value”). Thing is, Ceci was just given a $7M trust fund on his left side. Colin White, as the key piece in the Robin Lehner deal, is supposed to make Sens fans forget about Cory Conacher. And Thomas Chabot did this, once. So who’s left? Patrick Wiercioch? Stats folks will tell you he makes the defensemen playing with him look better, in part by skating like a giraffe being born. Surely the team that signed healthy scratch Erik Condra will go back to that well again. Call it in, Pierre.
PREDICTION: This is the last game the Senators will play against Tampa until the playoffs. Look for Jonathan Drouin to get on the board early, just to send a message that Tampa has a couple months to think about. Senators 5, Lightning 0.
Saturday, March 5 – Senators @ Maple Leafs
Jared Cowen’s contract, Colin Greening’s contract, Milan Michalek’s contract, plus, uh, Tobias Lindberg and a second, for Dion Phaneuf and a bunch of minor-league guys: who says no? Just kidding, that’s ridiculous.
The Senators and Maple Leafs are probably done trading, but again, damn. Leafs fans and self-loathing Sens fans can talk about how Phaneuf is overpaid and declining, and that’s fine. For a hockey team trying to win hockey games in the next few hockey seasons, Dion Phaneuf is a far more valuable asset than Jared Cowen’s contract or Colin Greening’s contract, and if you don’t believe me, witness Jared Cowen clearing waivers this past weekend. See, Ottawa, you always could have put Cowen on waivers, just like you could have left a dented, 40-gallon water heater at the end of the driveway with a “FREE” sign on it for two days, only to watch no one pick it up and then have the city leave a pink slip on it telling you it was too big for general waste collection and that you need to take it to the Trail dump yourself. Vivid.
Is that mean? Sure. Do I think Toronto thought it was smarter than Ottawa, in that it assumed it would be able to trade Cowen’s toxic contract to a cap-strapped team in need of a credit more effectively than Ottawa could? Absolutely. Do I envy them now being stuck trying to flip that toxic potato while Ottawa has an actual second-pairing defenseman? I do not. Do I think Tobias Lindberg will come back to haunt the Senators? I’ll be honest; I have no idea who that is.
PREDICTION: This will be Phaneuf’s first game against his old team, and really, the only question is which ex-teammate he elects to punch in the face first. Lupul’s out for the year, and Kadri’s so obvious the oddsmakers have taken him off the board, so you know what? I’m going with Gardiner. First minute of the second period, two quick jabs after the whistle, and then newly-extended Chris Neil and, I dunno, Peter Holland – he still plays for the Leafs, right? – step in and sort of finish it. “Just like the old days of the Battle of Ontario!” says no one. Senators 5, Leafs, 0.
Sunday, March 6 – Senators vs. Stars
Dallas has a lot of ties with Ottawa; Valeri Nichuskin has been linked with the Senators in exchange for Patrick Wiercioch, who used to be mentored by Sergei Gonchar, who the Stars at one point signed to mentor Nichuskin. So why not bring in Wiercioch to mentor Nichuskin? Seems like giving up Nichuskin would be a fair trade for those sorts of intangibles, right? And tell me that makes less sense than anything other proposals you’ll hear today. Hey, you guys want Chiasson back? No?
PREDICTION: A typical game preview might mention Jason Spezza returning to Ottawa, and the Senators’ ongoing push for the playoffs, and blah blah blah blah blah. This is not that preview. Instead, we’re going to do some WTYKY karaoke here and defer to James’ preview rendered on the occasion of the Senators’ last game against the Stars:
God, I love working here. Thanks for reading. Senators 5, Stars 0.
Season prediction record: 30-27-6
Next week: The Leafs, again. Just like back in the Original Six days, when you’d play the Leafs every week. You know, before entertainment was invented.