Likely Staying Tier
Colin White, Nick Paul, Marcus Hogberg
This section is more of a mixed bag of players. The idea is fairly similar to the previous section, in that I have a hard time envisioning any of the three not being a Senator at the start of next season, but unlike the first section, their departure wouldn’t result in a complete revision of the team’s trajectory.
Colin White was the most obvious pick for this spot, as he’s often mentioned as part of the Tkachuk-Chabot core, but his play on the ice doesn’t quite reflect that. Like Brannstrom though, this would be the classic case of selling low, which isn’t ideal considering White is still just 23 and has already proven he can play top-line minutes in a pinch.
While he likely isn’t a top-line player on a good team, there’s too much value in White’s game to be looking to move him now, but unlike Tkachuk and Chabot, he isn’t an absolutely crucial piece to the team’s future, so the deal wouldn’t have to be knock-your-socks-off-good to consider moving him.
Paul was a player I didn’t envision putting into this spot, but the more I thought about it the safer his spot on the team became. After spending years of trying to find his way into the lineup under coaches Dave Cameron and Guy Boucher, Paul finally got a chance to play a regular role on the Sens under new bench boss DJ Smith this season. In 56 games getting mostly bottom-six minutes, Paul impressed with 9 goals and 11 assists while also being a key part of the team’s defence and penalty kill. Last season was likely the best Paul can do at the NHL level, his hockey sense can likely keep him as a productive player for years to come. More to the point of this piece though, after endearing himself to DJ Smith, it’s unlikely that there’s another organization that values Paul’s play as much as the Senators do, meaning that any return in a trade involving Paul likely wouldn’t be up to snuff for the team. Even if the team felt they needed an upgrade in Paul’s spot (which, again, seems unlikely), the vast number of free agents hitting a market where Ottawa is one of the only teams with cap space means that there would be dirt cheap veteran options available to them that way if they wanted.
Finally, we have our first goalie sighting on this list with Marcus Hogberg. After three years in the minors, Hogberg broke through late in the year with the Sens, taking the starter’s reins after Anders Nilsson got hurt. While his .904 save percentage isn’t phenomenal, Hogberg made save after save behind a porous blueline, keeping Ottawa in games they had no business being in. With Craig Anderson an unrestricted free agent and likely done in Ottawa, Hogberg should compete with Nilsson for a starting job. While Ottawa does have a handful of other goalie prospects, none of them shown consistent NHL play like Hogberg has, meaning he currently has the inside track on being the team’s goalie of the future. Of course, the team could always decide that it’s time to move one of the goalie prospects to clear up playing time, but for the reasons mentioned above, I believe it is highly unlikely Hogberg would be the one they give up on.