Predators Trade Deadline Targets – Ottawa Senators

I recently wrote an article that discussed what the Nashville Predators’ strategy should be at the upcoming 2019 Trade Deadline. In it, I mentioned that although they are a great team, they could use a second-line winger, a net-front presence and a depth defenseman. As I was getting ready to publish the article, GM David Poile landed Brian Boyle from the New Jersey Devils for a 2019 second-round pick. Acquiring Boyle helps address the need for a net-front presence, but the team still has areas that need addressed for them to be an elite team.

Related: Predators’ Trade Deadline Strategies

Beginning with this article, and continuing into several future ones between now and the deadline, I’m going to look at five teams and their players that Poile and the Predators should target to address their needs. This article kicks it off by looking at the Ottawa Senators.

The 2018-19 Senators

Following the Senators’ 4-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 7, they have a 20-29-5 record with 45 points and are last in the league. The past two seasons have been a nosedive of epic proportions for the Senators since they reached double overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a game they lost 3-2. Since then, they have experienced every sort of regression imaginable.

Related: THW’s Top-10 Trade Deadline Must-Watch List

First, there was the Erik Karlsson injury that postponed his 2017-18 debut. Then there was the acquisition of Matt Duchene in which gave up a lockout-protected first-round pick and ultimately finished that season in 30th place. This led to Senators GM Pierre Dorion keeping that draft pick, ensuring it is relinquished in this year’s draft with the strong possibility that it is the number one selection. But that wasn’t the end of it.

Pierre Dorion Ottawa Senators 2015

Senators GM Pierre Dorion has some big decisions to make at this season’s trade deadline. (Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)


Karlsson and teammate Mike Hoffman faced off-ice controversy that stemmed from allegations that Hoffman’s fiance posted hostile messages regarding Karlsson’s wife and their unborn child from a burner social media account. That gave way to this past offseason when both Hoffman and Karlsson were dealt, with the Senators getting burnt on the Hoffman deal. That leads the team to the present.

They are a last-place team without a real path to climbing up the standings this season. What they do have is a solid prospect base and a young blue line. Their NHL roster is also younger than the league average, which is helpful. Additionally, they have two of the most sought-after targets at this season’s deadline in Duchene and Mark Stone. But that’s not it as Cody Ceci and Ryan Dzingel are all but certain to be available as both are free agents this summer, Ceci restricted and Dzingel unrestricted.

Mark Stone speaks with center Matt Duchene

Mark Stone (left) and Matt Duchene (right) are two of the league’s biggest names rumored to be available at the trade deadline. (Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)

For the Predators, it comes down to Stone and Duchene as both are forwards who could fit the team’s needs. Ceci is a good defenseman but will be too expensive considering he’d be a bottom-pair blueliner in Nashville, and Dzingel is too much of a one-way player to help the Predators.

Mark Stone

Stone is a 26-year-old right-shot right winger who will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) this summer. He has a current cap hit of $7.35 million.

The League’s Premier Two-Way Winger

Stone has long been viewed as one of the league’s best two-way forwards, and I’d go as far to say that if he were a center, he’d have already won a Selke Trophy. With a positive turnover margin in each of his past six seasons, including a plus-30 in 2018-19, he is as safe with the puck as anyone. He is a great back-checker and is elite at stealing the puck from opponents. But he’s also much more than that, and is having one of his best offensive seasons.

In 54 games, he has 23 goals and 54 points and is likely to set career highs in both categories. He has three power play goals and 11 power play assists, along with one shorthanded tally. He is shooting a career-high 18.3 percent (his career average is 16.0 percent) and is skating 20:28 per game. On a per-game basis, his .43 goals-per-game (G/G) is a career high and his 1.00 points-per-game (P/G) mark is his second-highest. He is also attempting a career-high 2.33 shots-per-game (S/G).



At five-on-five, he is averaging 15:26 per-game with 1.08 goals-per-60 (G/60), both career highs, along with 2.30 points-per-60 (P/60). He is also generating 7.48 individual scoring chances per-60 (iSCF/60) and 3.52 individual high-danger chances per-60 (iHDCF/60).

He’s also a threat on the power play with 1.27 G/60 and 5.93 P/60 while skating 2:40 per-game, his lowest time on ice in four seasons. The Senators’ top power-play unit that includes he, Duchene, Bobby Ryan, Thomas Chabot and Colin White has scored nine of the team’s 33 power play goals (27.3 percent) while Stone has been on the ice for 18 of the goals (54.4 percent).

Stone also puts his two-way skills to use as an excellent penalty killer, averaging a career-high 1:24 per-game. He has only been on the ice for nine of the 31 power play goals (29 percent) allowed by the Senators and, as mentioned above, he has even scored a shorthanded goal.

At five-on-five, he has mostly played with White and Brady Tkachuk, with 306 minutes together. They are one of four Ottawa lines with a positive shots for percentage (out of nine lines with at least 50 five-on-five minutes). In general, they have excellent metrics and it’s largely because of Stone’s impact.

Shots For % Goals For % Scoring Chances For % High-Danger Chances For %
Stone with Tkachuk and White

50.3

55.6 55.1

61.9

Tkachuk and White without Stone

40.0

0.0 58.3

60.0

What Would He Bring to the Predators?

Stone has elite vision, silky hands and possesses an excellent shots. His playmaking ability and strong two-way play would thrive on the Predators. Given that he plays in every situation, thrives in all zones and is a great skater, he just seems like the perfect addition to the Nashville roster.

What Would He Cost?

Stone won’t be cheap. Considering Dorion is still trying to extend him, and it’s easy to see him as the team’s next captain, Dorion will have to be wowed to move Stone. For the Predators, that means starting with at least one first-round pick and a top prospect like Eeli Tolvanen or Dante Fabbro; or two first-rounders and a prospect not named Tolvanen or Fabbro. However, I wonder if Poile packaged a first-round pick with 22-year-old Kevin Fiala and a mid-tier prospect if it’d get the deal done given Fiala’s upside.

Mark Stone Senators

It would cost a lot to land him, but Mark Stone would be a perfect fit for the Predators. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

But it all depends on the Predators having an extension agreed upon with Stone prior to placing the trade call. An extension that will likely carry a cap hit between $8 and $9 million over eight years according to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch. (from ‘Mark Stone says contract talks are about to heat up with Senators’ – Ottawa Sun – 01/01/2019).

Matt Duchene

Duchene is a 28-year-old left-shot center who is a UFA this summer with a $6 million cap hit.

Having a Career Season

Duchene may be 28 years old, but he is already in his 10th NHL season and is by far having the best season of his career. In 45 games, he has 24 goals, 51 points, four power play goals and four power play assists. He is shooting 21.1 percent, well above his 13.0 percent career mark, while skating 19:13 per-game and winning 54.6 percent of faceoffs. His .53 G/G and 1.13 P/G rates are significantly higher than his current career highs of .39 G/G and .99 P/G.

At five-on-five, he is averaging 15:10 per-game, 1.49 G/60 and 2.99 P/60, all career highs. He is also attempting 7.73 shots-per-60 (S/60) and averaging 8.61 iSCF/60 and 4.3 iHDCF/60, both in line with career averages.

Matt Duchene #95, Ottawa Senators

Matt Duchene is having the best season of his career in 2018-19. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

On the power play, he is averaging 2:38 per-game, the fourth-lowest of his career, with 2.02 G/60 and 4.03 P/60. He plays on Ottawa’s top unit with Stone and the Senators have scored 17 power play goals with Duchene on the ice. He doesn’t kill penalties and hasn’t done so consistently since arriving in Ottawa.

He has mostly played with Dzingel and Ryan this season with 141 five-on-five minutes together. When together, the line doesn’t have great metrics. However, when Duchene is off the line, Dzingel and Ryan’s metrics drop even more.

Shots For % Goals For % Scoring Chances For % High-Danger Chances For %
Duchene with Dzingel and Ryan

49.7

43.5 48.1

52.5

Dzingel and Ryan without Duchene

37.9

31.3 42.5

40.0

What Would He Bring to the Predators?

For starters, he’s a left-shot forward. That would be a breath of fresh air from the righty-dominant lineup they currently have. He’s also a center who excels in the faceoff dot and would give the Predators a third left-shot center after Boyle and Nick Bonino. That would provide the Predators with the ability to put Duchene on a line with a right-shot center like Kyle Turris.

This would allow the team to have a center take a faceoff on his strong side when the second line is deployed. It also wouldn’t hurt that Duchene’s faceoff percentage would be second on the team behind Ryan Johansen.

He has also been a positive turnover player throughout his career even if he isn’t this season. He’s a great skater and skilled playmaker that led to him being selected third overall in 2009. He works best when he isn’t the primary focus on offense, which he wouldn’t be in Nashville. That doesn’t even mention that he is a country music fan whose personality would thrive in the Music City.

What Would He Cost?

Like a potential deal for Stone, acquiring Duchene starts with a first-round pick, and assuming the Stone deal hasn’t happened and he and Duchene aren’t packaged together, I think Poile could throw in Fiala and a mid-round pick or mid-tier prospect and it’d get the deal done. It’s a steep price to pay, but there is the assumption that the Predators would extend Duchene if they acquired him.

A contract that I think would carry an $8 million cap hit on a long-term deal. But I feel there would be interest from Duchene in signing long-term to play in Nashville. I also wonder if there would be any appetite in sending Turris back to Ottawa as the Senators could use a veteran center and parting with Turris’ $6 million cap hit would help the Predators.

Will Either Trade Happen?

While it would be incredible to acquire both players, and the Predators have enough cap space for both this season, they’d have to part with a big contract over the offseason to extend both. Sending Turris back to Ottawa would help with this. A major stumbling block to this plan is that Ottawa has given every indication that they want to extend Stone and he has said all the right things to make it appear as though he wants to stay in Canada’s capital. Because of that, I think teams will have to overpay for him and that can be dangerous even if the player has Stone’s talent.

Related: 2019 NHL Trade Deadline Deal Tracker

Duchene, on the other hand, seems like a real possibility. The Predators were connected to him for several seasons before the three-way trade that sent Duchene to Ottawa and Turris to Nashville occurred. This is their opportunity to finally acquire him while paying less than they would have last season. The Predators have a need for a left-shot forward to play in their top-six and a second line of he, Turris and Craig Smith would be dynamic. Parting with a player like Fiala would be tough, but Duchene has a longer track record as a proven scorer.

Do you think there is a trade to be made between Nashville and Ottawa at this season’s trade deadline? Let me know in the comments below.

*All stats from Hockey-Reference, Natural Stat Trick and Corsica Hockey

Originally published at http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheHockeyWriters/~3/OuLuLI_LDsI/

Post Author: HockeyHawk