Turmoil in the Nation's Capital
(Image courtesy of https://mapleleafsnation.com/2018/06/20/the-ottawa-senators-debacle-is-both-tragic-and-hilarious/)*
Before I get really into things, I would like to start out by saying this… Senators Nation, pain is coming. Toronto Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan famously said, “It [the rebuild] was the first indicator for Leafs fans that there were indeed dark times approaching.” He may not have been the first to say this, yet still this was not enough to make fans go into a frenzy of chaos!
Dark times were promised, so why didn’t anyone panic or cry out?
The answer: Trust!
For the first time, in a long time, fans of the Blue and White had trust in management. They knew Shanahan would not fail them. The ‘Shana-plan’ was the way to go.
Four years later, the hockey world can collectively agree Shanahan knew what he was doing. Hockey fans have seen the Leafs qualify for the playoffs twice and have given some of the greater teams in the NHL a run for their money. They’re younger, faster and more skilled, all the while the majority of the roster has yet to even reach its full potential. The Maple Leafs did it; they got themselves through a rebuild.
They had a plan, and they stuck by it. Now look at them! They’re enjoying the fruits of their labour. The same cannot be said for the Ottawa Senators.
The past season has been nothing short of dumpster fire. Going from being one goal shy of making the Stanley Cup finals, to being a part of the Dahlin sweepstakes in under a year can take a toll on a fan base. Nothing seemed to go right this year for the Senators (they even dropped in the draft order from second to fourth, with the Canadiens winning the third overall selection… ouch). The near future seemed rough.
By midseason when the playoffs were essentially a fantasy, all thought it would be time for the Senators to say goodbye to their third captain in five years, along with the other misfit players in hopes of a good return. It was time to enter a rebuild, trade your expiring contracts, get younger and stockpile draft picks. You know, the basic blueprint to any rebuild.
All eyes were on Erik Karlsson. Who would be the lucky team to land one the greatest players to ever play the game, and at what cost? Ottawa was in line for a jackpot return.
February 26th 2018, 3:00pm. The NHL trade deadline passed…
Karlsson is still a Senator. The piece that was destined to grant the most return is losing its value, and all the team managed to do was trade center Derick Brassard for a late first round pick (Pittsburgh Penguins 2018 First Round Pick) and goalie prospect Filip Gustavsson, as well as a few other minor league deals. It was a deadline day that most consider underwhelming.
Nothing left but to wait for their agonizing season to end, Senators fans hope that their team finds some better fortune in the off-season.
131 days later, we enter the 2018 off-season. The pressure is back on Dorion and his staff to answer the big question; what is the plan? Your two best players are entering the final year of their contracts, the remainder of your roster has been less than productive, and your 2019 first round pick belongs to the Colorado Avalanche as a result of the Duchene trade. The Senators are faced with a conundrum. Begin the rebuild in the summer of 2018 and part ways with the core, or make one final push with Karlsson on your roster, and hope you can resign him at some point in the 2019 season.
It’s an answer the fans would like to know. Dorion has stated many times that the team’s number one goal is to re-sign Karlsson, a decision that many would argue is detrimental to the future of the team. It’s clear to any hockey fan that the Senators do not have the right roster to make any sort of convincing push for a championship, or a playoff berth for that matter, so resigning a player of Karlsson’s calibre would only keep them in sports limbo. Not a terrible team, but nowhere near the level of a cup contending team (think Montreal Canadiens and Carey Price).
The Senators have a lot to think about. With too many questions to answer, the last thing Dorion would need is a scandal to up the pressure of this summer…
Enter Monika Caryk stage left…
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you’d know all about the allegations against Monika Caryk, Fiancée of former Ottawa Senator Mike Hoffman. Without regurgitating every article of the past week, it was apparent to anyone, Mike Hoffman’s days were numbered with the Senators. It’s speculated that this was known to teammates throughout the season, which ponders the question why Mike Hoffman wasn’t moved sooner and before these allegations went public. Now with the every GM aware of the situation, you could only wonder how much Hoffman’s stock has plummeted.
Now, we know just how far it dropped and boy, did it ever drop substantially. Prior to the deadline, Hoffman’s name was circulated in trade rumours, and the belief was that the asking price was a 1st round pick and a mid-level prospect. Unfortunately, after the allegations came out against Hoffman and his fiancée, the possibility of getting such a return became near impossible.
This proved to be the case on Tuesday, June 19th, when Dorion had traded Hoffman along with prospect, Cody Donaghey, and a 2020 5th round pick to the San Jose Sharks for Mikkel Boedker, Julius Bergman and their 2020 6th round pick.
This got people scratching their heads because the trade honestly made zero sense. Dorion’s decision to take on Boedker was an odd one because it signified a rebuild wasn’t in the works. The player swap only saves the Senators a measly $1.1 million in cap space through the next two seasons, and combined with the steep decline in Boedker’s productivity, one can only wonder.
Boedker’s also a touch on the older side, turning 29 years of age by December of next season, making it clear that he is not a piece that would be easy to move later on. His $4 million cap hit is especially tough and he most definitely does not contribute to a rebuild if that were the path the Senators would go down.
It was a difficult trade to accept, but one in which fans would eventually come to terms with had it not been for Doug Wilson’s (San Jose Sharks GM) sorcery a few hours after finalizing the trade to acquire Hoffman.
Just over an hour after making a trade for Hoffman, Wilson was able to flip Hoffman to the Florida Panthers for several picks, which included a 4th and 5th round pick in the 2018 draft, and a 2nd round pick in the 2019 draft.
Without playing a single minute for the Sharks, Hoffman had essentially done more for the Sharks future than he did for the Senators in his 4 full years of playing for the major club.
The lack of return, which Dorion was able to receive for Hoffman, was disheartening to all Senators fans, without question. However, it is what Doug Wilson was able to do an hour later that makes it harder for Sens nation to have any sort of trust in their team’s management.
There is a lot riding on this off-season for the club that saw its franchise spiral to rock bottom over the span of one calendar year, and it’s safe to say that the start to it has not been a positive one.
Here’s to seeing what Dorion can do to change Sens fans opinions on the team’s goal.