With the trade deadline looming, teams are jockeying for position to solidify their playoff chances. The Ottawa Senators are in the hunt, which means they may be in the market for something come March 1.
The team is currently second in the Atlantic Division, with a 29-18-6 record after taking down the New York Islanders. Goalie Craig Anderson returned to the lineup after an extended absence and got the shutout Saturday, giving his team the win and securing a major emotional victory in the process.
But there are issues, with scoring near the top of the list.
Consider that the Senators have scored as many goals as they’ve allowed (143), which makes them the only break-even team in the NHL as of press time.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that Ottawa could use some assistance in the goal-scoring department in order to tilt the differential in their favour. And they are in the latter half of the league when it comes to goals scored per game.
The trade deadline should give the club a chance to address the scoring concern.
The good news is that the Senators have around $23.3 million in available cap space. That means they can afford to spend some green on getting who they want.
Sure, Tommy Wingels, Chris Neil, Chris Kelly, Tom Pyatt, and goalie Mike Condon are pending unrestricted free agents. And sure, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ryan Dzingel, Fredrik Claesson, and Curtis Lazar are RFAs come summer.
But that list offers up a few assets, too.
Lazar is an attractive bargaining chip. He has credibility as a first round draft pick in 2013, but he hasn’t panned out as of yet and has just an assist in 29 games this season. He topped out at 20 points a year ago, so a change of scenery could help boost the 22-year-old’s fortunes.
There are some options to shop for, like Colorado’s Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. Arizona’s Radim Vrbata is also on the radar, as it Martin Hanzal.
The Senators could package a decent trade involving Lazar in order to secure one of the aforementioned scorers and that would help break their offence open a little. Right now, they have just five players in double-digit goal totals. Mark Stone is leading the charge with 20 goals in 52 games.
Ottawa does have a history of making deals at the deadline, by the way. A year ago, Bryan Murray brought in Dion Phaneuf in a blockbuster nine-player trade. New general manager Pierre Dorion is thus far untested on deadline day, so he may be looking to make a splash. The cap flexibility will help, so we’ll see what the new guy comes up with.