Flat Cap Era Presents New Trade Opportunities for the Ottawa Senators

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As the NHL and NHLPA have agreed upon a deal to extend their current CBA (pending final ratification) the league has announced that it has locked its salary cap in at $81.5 million for the next season (and very likely a few seasons that follow). With just over $47 million dollars in committed contracts next season, the Ottawa Senators could hypothetically be in the most favourable position from a trade perspective to benefit from the impact of the Corona virus.

Exploring trade options now may be somewhat premature as we know the draft could potentially fill a couple of needs as early as next season. Choosing #3 and #5 overall, the Senators could potentially add 2 star-calibre players at no cost to the team.  I do think it’s more likely Ottawa will opt to develop these players outside of the NHL and for that reason, let’s explore some new trade options.

Ryan Pulock

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 09: Ryan Pulock #6 of the New York Islanders celebrates his game winning goal at 2:23 of overtime against the Colorado Avalanche at the Barclays Center on February 09, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders defeated the Avalanche 4-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Fit for Ottawa:

Ryan Pulock is the first player that comes to mind when I think of the Senators most glaring need, a permanent reliable partner for Thomas Chabot. Pulock checks all the boxes in terms of a potential fit for Ottawa. He’s young at 25 years of age, he’s a right shot defenseman with good size (6’2, 217 lbs).

He can play physically, he’s responsible defensively and can be used in every situation. Pulock has put up great numbers consistently for the Islanders and has shown an improvement in each of the last 3 seasons from an offensive perspective, 10 goals, 25 assists in 68 GP this season. He would greatly improve the Senators’ best player, that’s basically all you need to know.

Why trade him?

The New York Islanders will be one of many teams entering the post COVID-19 league, in a bit of a tough position. While they may not be the Toronto Maple Leafs or he Tampa Bay Lightning in terms of a Salary Cap nightmare (don’t worry, I’ll get to them), their best player, Mathew Barzal, is coming off the final year of his entry level contract.

That could leave little left for the Islanders to sign Pulock, who’s due for a significant raise from the 2-year, $2 million bridge deal he’s coming off. My thought is that the Islanders will get creative and find a way to sign both however, with the right proposal, perhaps they take an easier road.

Price:

NYI 1st (13-31 overall) & Vitaly Abramov

This is always the toughest part of any potential trade scenario. This must be something that works and makes sense for both sides. In this case, I think the Islanders would ask for their 1st round pick back (Sens acquired for JG Pageau at the deadline). Obviously speaking, the higher up that pick ends up, the more value it will have on the trade market.

I would additionally offer a prospect in this deal. The Islanders are fairly set down the middle (Barzal, Nelson, Pageau) so that all but eliminates Sens Twitter whipping boy Logan Brown from the discussion. Aside from Oliver Wahlstrom, I think the Islanders are quite thin in terms of projected top 6 wingers moving forward. Perhaps Vitaly Abramov is someone that still projects to be a top 6 player. The Ottawa Senator’s prospect pool is so deep sometimes I forget he’s there. The Islanders could then replace the void left by Pulock by drafting a player like Braiden Schneider, who could potentially step right into an NHL role next season on an entry level deal.

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