Karlsson To San Jose
This was without a doubt the biggest and most integral trade of the entire Senators rebuild.
In September 2018, Erik Karlsson, a two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman and one of the league’s premier players (widely regarded as a top 3 player after the 2017 run), was traded to the Sharks. In return, the Senators received a package that included Chris Tierney, Dylan DeMelo, prospects Josh Norris and Rudolfs Balcers, a conditional first-round draft pick, and 2 second-round draft picks.
At the time of the deal, the trade was seen by many (myself included) as an absolute fleece for the Sharks, they acquired a generational talent in Karlsson and it was thought he could be the piece to put them over the top. Meanwhile, Ottawa appeared to have received a collection of assets going for quantity rather than quality, none expected to be game-changers which we now know a couple would become.
The trade turned out to be extremely valuable for the Senators in the long run. Chris Tierney, emerged as a reliable and productive center for Ottawa… For all of 1 season before he turned into a fringe NHLer. Additionally, Dylan DeMelo proved to be a valuable presence on the Senators’ defence. He displayed responsible defensive play and contributed to the team’s stability in their own end. DeMelo was eventually flipped the the Winnipeg Jets for a 3rd rounder that would turn into current goaltending prospect, Leevi Merilainen.
The prospects acquired in the trade, Josh Norris and Rudolfs Balcers, were both assets who showed some good promise for Ottawa. As we know now, things didn’t quite work out for Balcers at the NHL level however, Josh Norris, has emerged as a dynamic 2-way centre who puts up goals with the best of them. He has showcased his scoring ability at every level and has become one of the cornerstone pieces for Ottawa being the teams second line centre.
In terms of draft picks, the conditional first-round pick became a much more valuable asset than originally anticipated for Ottawa. It eventually materialized into Tim Stützle, the third overall selection in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Stutzle has quickly established himself as one of the very best upcoming superstars after just putting up 90 points finishing his third season. The 21 year old has unquestionably become the most important player for the Ottawa Senators and is looking to be one of the leagues very best players for years to come.
The Senators were also able to select prospect Zack Ostapchuk with one of the second round selections involved in the trade. Ostapchuk has shown some great signs of development at the WHL level as well as on the international stage for team Canada at the WJC. Ostapchuk is likely to start the year in Belleville this season where he will continue to grow his game. He along with Norris and Stützle should be important players for the long-term success of the Ottawa Senators.
When you look at great teams in the NHL, one common characteristic is that they have great centre depth. With this trade, the Senators acquired two players who will likely be their first and second line centres for the foreseeable future. Without this trade, the Senators would not have their teams MVP or their teams best goal scorer. This trade was so important for the future of the Ottawa Senators, and Pierre Dorion absolutely crushed it.
Duchene To Columbus
The next trade to look at is the Duchene to the Blue Jackets in exchange for a package that included forward prospects Vitaly Abramov and Jonathan Davidsson, a first-round draft pick, and two conditional draft picks. At the time, the trade appeared to be a reasonably equal deal, with Ottawa receiving a number of promising assets in return.
Vitaly Abramov and Jonathan Davidsson, were the two prospects acquired in the trade, both were considered talented players to varying degrees but it was Abramov in particular who seemed to have the higher potential. However, both players have struggled to make a significant impact at the NHL level. Abramov has spent the majority of his time in the AHL and has since gone back to the KHL where he has put up respectable but not eye opening numbers. While he has shown flashes of offensive skill, he has yet to establish himself as a consistent contributor. Davidsson, on the other hand never really established himself to the North American game. He faced injury setbacks and has struggled to find his footing in the professional ranks.
The first-round draft pick obtained in the trade held promise, as it presented an opportunity for Ottawa to add a high-end talent to their prospect pool. With this pick, the Senators selected defender Lassi Thomson who has shown potential, but appears as though he will not be a true difference maker at the NHL level.
Furthermore, the conditional draft picks received in the trade have not materialized into significant assets for the Senators. Their conditions were not met, resulting in Ottawa not receiving any additional picks. Overall, the trade was actually quite solid for Ottawa, they acquired two solid prospects as well as a first round pick. Where things went wrong was the development and drafting with these assets as the Senators now have little to nothing to show for the once promising deal.
Dzingel To Columbus
Shortly after the Duchene trade, Ottawa and Columbus made another transaction that sent Ryan Dzingel to the Blue Jackets in exchange for Anthony Duclair and a pair of picks—a second-round pick in 2020 and a second-round pick in 2021.
Although it was largely overlooked at the time of the trade, Duclair’s acquisition proved to be a pleasant surprise for the Senators. Duclair had struggled to find consistency and establish himself as an impact player in his previous NHL stops. However, Ottawa provided him with an opportunity to rejuvenate his career, and he ran with that opportunity. Unfortunately, Duclair left the Senators in free agency but that shouldn’t distract from the great play he provided to the Senators.
The other pieces of the trade were the two second round draft picks acquired. These picks were used in future trades for the Senators however neither brought anything of substantial value to the Senators. The two trades these picks were involved in included the Matt Murray trade, and the Derek Stepan trade.
Overall, this was quite a solid trade by Pierre Dorion, even though the assets acquired may not have been utilized effectively. Anthony Duclair was a great player for the Senators and Ryan Dzingel never really found his game again following the trade.
Stone To Vegas
One of the more disappointing trades for the Senators was the one and only Mark Stone trade. In this deal, Ottawa sent Mark Stone and Tobias Lindberg to Vegas. In return, Ottawa received defenseman Erik Brannstrom, forward Oscar Lindberg, and a second-round draft pick in 2020.
Erik Brannstrom was the centerpiece of the trade and was highly regarded as one of if not the top defensive prospect outside the NHL at the time. However, since joining the Senators, Brannstrom has struggled to reach his full potential. While he has shown flashes of his skill and offensive abilities, his overall development has been slower than anticipated. He has faced challenges in adapting to the NHL level and has yet to establish himself as a top-tier defenseman. With that being said, Brannstrom has still turned himself into a solid and reliable defender who can play up and down the lineup. Although he may not be the Norris caliber player the Sens thought he could be, he is still a very valuable player to the team.
Oscar Lindberg provided limited impact during his time in Ottawa. He played a depth role and did not contribute significantly to the team’s offense or long-term plans. Lindberg was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in a subsequent deal.
The second round pick in the trade eventually turned into current prospect Egor Sokolov. Sokolov has shown solid development at the AHL level and is looking to push for a roster spot this season with the NHL squad. It remains to be seen how his career will unfold, but as of now, he does not offset the loss of Mark Stone’s impact and production on and off of the ice.
Speaking of Mark Stone, he of course has thrived with the Vegas Golden Knights since the trade. He has emerged as one of the league’s premier two-way forwards and is still known for his exceptional two way play.
This trade may be disappointing for Senators fans and rightfully so. Stone was a fan favourite and an elite player at the time of the deal, and the package Ottawa received simply wasn’t valuable enough. With that being said, it is important to view the players acquired in the deal, specifically Brannstrom from an unbiased perspective. While he may not be the game changer Stone was, he is still a great player who provides a lot of value to the Senators roster.