Ottawa Senators: Why Was Eric Gryba Traded?


The Ottawa Senators traded Eric Gryba to the Edmonton Oilers for Travis Ewanyk and the 107th pick in the draft. It was a trade that had to be made due to the congestion on the Senators blue line. The trade was certainly beneficial in relieving the Senators of a defenceman, but why was this trade made? Gryba being traded makes me look back at certain decisions from last year and question why they were also made. 

Ottawa had eight different defenceman log minutes last season. In terms of average time on ice, Gryba had the lowest average time at 12.75. Gryba was utilized in the third defensive pairing, he was a frequent partner of Mark Borowiecki. The playoffs saw Gryba and Borowiecki play alongside each other for an average of 13 minutes of ice time. These numbers indicate that Gryba was utilized as a third pairing defenceman.

What does not make sense is how he was used in comparison to Jared Cowen and the other defenceman. Why was Gryba utilized in the third defensive pairing if he was not in the plans for this season? Maybe the Senators brass thought that Gryba gave the team a better shot at winning than Cowen did? Maybe the Senators did not know if they were definitely going to trade him this off-season? Statistically the two players were fairly similar.

Gryba was used in 75 regular season games and all 6 of the Senators playoff games. Cowen was used in 54 regular season games and zero playoff games. Cowen was frequently scratched and fell out of favour with both Paul MacLean and Dave Cameron. This is all fine if Gryba was still with the team but that is not the case. The Senators gave minutes that could have been used in Cowen’s “development” to a player they traded away.

Statistically they we’re not too different during the regular season. Gryba has a CF% of 47.19 while Cowen had one of 48.07%. The only defenceman with worse CF% were Borowiecki with 46.49% and Chris Phillips with 44.53%. The only significant difference between Gryba and Cowen were their Goals Against Stats. Although both Cowen and Gryba shared similar CF% their Goal stats were very different.

Cowen was on for 28 goals for and 45 against giving him a -17 with 17 more goals against than for. Gryba’s stats were far more even. Gryba was on for 35 goals for and 36 goals against giving him a -1. Cowen’s numbers were actually quite bad considering he played in 54 games and gave up 10 more goals than Gryba who played in 75. Maybe the Senators brass truly felt Gryba was a better player than Cowen so he received more playing time. Either way I find it pointless since they dealt him this offseason.

The Senators lost a third pairing defenceman when they traded Eric Gryba. It will be interesting to see who replaces him this year on the third defensive pairing but at the same time I do not believe Gryba will be hard to replace. This will be Cowen’s chance to prove that he is a capable NHL defenceman; is he up for the task? Will Cowen fall out of favour and another defenceman come into the fold? Only time will tell.

Next: Is This Jared Cowen's Last Year To Prove It?

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