Non-Chychrun Trade Targets for The Ottawa Senators
While Pierre Dorion was busy orchestrating one of the biggest off-seasons in franchise history, he was unable to pull the trigger on a defenceman, widely believed to be the team’s biggest need. With the Senators being heavily linked to Coyotes' star Jakob Chychrun all summer, it seemed like a perfect marriage with Chychrun having ties to the Ottawa Valley as well.
Fast forward to now, and the team has started the 2022-23 NHL season off to a 4-2 start. Although some breakdowns remain, this team may no longer need to go out and get the biggest name out there.
Rookie Jake Sanderson has stepped into a top-4 role, and it can be argued that he has been consistently their best defender to start the year. 23-year-old Erik Brannstrom also appears to have figured it out at the NHL level, showing major improvements in confidence with the puck and defensive positioning in his own end. There has also been talk from Belleville Head Coach, Troy Mann, that 2018 first-round pick Jacob Bernard-Docker has been progressing nicely and he may have the opportunity at NHL games this season as well.
With internal options stepping up so far, trading for a Chychrun-type may be redundant given the price. Anytime there's an opportunity to add a top player in the league like Chychrun, you must look at it and see if it makes sense.
However, Arizona seems dead set on acquiring rookie Shane Pinto in a potential trade. With Pinto scoring five goals in as many games and poised to take on a bigger role in the absence of Norris, this does NOT make sense for the Ottawa Senators. In combination with the D-core playing well, many such as Elliotte Friedman have reported the likelihood of this deal is now very low.
So, if Pierre Dorion is no longer big game hunting, are there any other defenceman “on the market” that could bring added value to this team? Let’s take a look…
25-year-old Ethan Bear has played in 190 NHL games, posting 13 goals and 34 assists for 47 points. Now being a member of the stacked Carolina Hurricanes blue line, Bear is unable to crack the lineup and hasn’t played a game yet this year. Signed to a $2M cap hit until the end of this year, Bear is an RFA at the end of this season.
Although the Hurricanes are likely to be contenders for the Stanley Cup this year and unlikely to sell off any good players, there are whispers that Bear may be unhappy with the situation as he believes he is an everyday player in the NHL. If you have watched him, you would probably agree. Known more for his defensive play, Bear has shown some offensive playmaking and was over a point per game player (70pts in 67gms) in his last year playing junior with the Seattle Thunderbirds. Being a right-handed player, he would also be better suited to slot into the right side alongside a Jake Sanderson type, than maybe a left-handed Chychrun.
The 28-year-old, right-shot defenceman for the New Jersey Devils is a big body (6 foot 2, 205 pounds), that has proven success playing 20+ minutes a night. In 572 NHL games, Severson has 232 points and has averaged 21:21 in ice time throughout his career. In a somewhat similar situation to Bear, he now finds himself on the third pairing behind Hamilton and Marino, on a very good Devils blue line. With highly-touted RHD prospect, Simon Nemec, coming into the fold soon, he could see himself on the outside looking in, while still being extremely productive.
However, the Devils have also had a great start to the season, and with the prospects still a while away, New Jersey may not be inclined to trade Severson. Carrying a cap hit of $4.166M until the end of this year, Severson is a UFA at season's end. With MANY players to sign this coming off-season (Bratt, Tatar, Wood, Sharangovich, Boqvist, Graves, Bahl, Blackwood) and only $2M of space to pay for any raises, it's reasonable to assume the Devils may move on from Severson after this year anyway. So, if there is any trade possibility here, it probably only happens if the Devils know they're going to miss playoffs by the deadline. Otherwise, they probably hold on as an “own-rental”.
After the Calgary Flames pulled off the blockbuster trade of the decade, part of which brought Mackenzie Weegar to town, their blueline is stacked, leaving no room for Oliver Kylington. The 25-year-old, 6 foot defenceman was signed to a 2yr, $2.5M contract this summer that sees him signed through the 2023-24 season. Putting up 31pts in 73 games for the Flames last year, Kylington has shown that he can contribute offensively, be a steady presence, and even received some votes for the Lady Byng last season.
The Flames being another team that is right up against the cap, carrying a $2.5M extra defenceman may not be ideal, depending on if they want to add to their group at all. Kylington may not be as good a fit as the others on this list, as he is left-handed, however, he has played both sides and the cost of a potential trade should be very doable for Ottawa.
The Senators may not need to make another move with prospects on their way, but if Pierre wanted to make an immediate addition for this season, these three players should be options they investigate. Although all are on teams with high playoff hopes, there may be a “right” price that could pry one of them out that's likely to be far more cost-efficient then trading important futures, such as Pinto, for Jacob Chychrun. Each of these three would be an improvement, likely forcing Hamonic down to a bottom-pair role, and would fit the competitive window for Ottawa, all coming in at age 28 or younger.
By Ryan Hyndman | Sens Nation Hockey