‘Ottawa’ Brassard trade another sign Senators crave experience
So much for the Ottawa Senators’ boring summer.
The bold move by Senators general manager Pierre Dorion on Monday — shipping Mika Zibanejad to the New York Rangers for Derick Brassard — is a clear sign of the importance the organization is putting on experience up front.
Brassard is 28, with 563 regular-season and 59 playoff games behind him. Two weeks ago, the Senators brought back Chris Kelly, who has played in 751 regular-season and 90 playoff games. Kelly also won the Stanley Cup with Boston.
It is also in keeping with what Dorion said when he took over from former GM Bryan Murray at the end of the 2014-15 season.
One of the values of experience is to help with shaky nerves early in games.
At the risk of bringing back awful memories, the Senators were atrocious at the beginning of games last season, allowing the first goal in 51 of 82 games. (They went on to post a 14-30-7 record in those contests.)
If — and it’s a big if — Clarke MacArthur can also make a successful return after missing all but four games last season due to a devastating concussion, the Senators’ forward units should be better prepared to handle themselves at the outset of games.
Of course, the Senators could eventually regret dealing away their second-round selection in the 2018 draft to the Rangers in this swap. No doubt the Rangers, who desperately need young talent, were originally asking for a first-round pick to make the trade happen.
If Zibanejad finds his groove in New York, the trade could come back and haunt the Senators, but given Ottawa’s future hopes at centre, there wouldn’t have been room for everyone.
At this point, the Senators’ possible centres for next season include Kyle Turris, Brassard, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Chris Kelly, Zack Smith, Curtis Lazar and Nick Paul. It’s possible that some combination of Smith, Lazar, Kelly and Paul could end up on the wing.
Down the road, though, the Senators need to clear room for Colin White and Logan Brown — the centres selected in the first rounds of the 2015 and 2016 drafts, respectively.
Monday’s trade is another example that hockey is a business. In their current business cycle, the Senators needed to add some experience to improve their chances of making the playoffs next season.