- Top Senators prospect Shane Pinto will make his NHL debut this afternoon against Montreal, notes Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch. The 20-year-old turned pro after a strong season with North Dakota where he posted 15 goals and 17 assists in 28 games, opting to forego his final two years of college eligibility.
The Ottawa Senators have signed another prospect, inking Cole Reinhardt to a three-year entry-level contract. The deal will begin in the 2021-22 season, but Reinhardt is already playing with the Belleville Senators on an amateur tryout. Senators GM Pierre Dorion released a statement on the signing:
We’ve been exceedingly happy with Cole’s play this season. For someone who was just recently drafted, he’s already showcased a great combination of strength and speed in addition to excellent hockey sense, which is likely his best attribute.
Reinhardt, 21, was passed over entirely the first two times he was eligible for selection in the NHL Entry Draft, but managed to land himself a sixth-round selection last October. The Senators used the 181st overall pick on the Brandon Wheat Kings forward, who had shown steady improvement offensively and recorded 31 goals and 55 points last season. Impressively, Reinhardt hasn’t looked out of place in the AHL, scoring seven points in his first 21 games with Belleville.
That performance has earned an NHL deal, though obviously, that doesn’t guarantee an opportunity will come at the highest level. Reinhardt will have to continue to work and develop his game, relying on the hockey sense that Dorion points out to create offensive chances for himself and his linemates. If the Senators are able to coax an NHL player out of their last selection in the 2020 draft, imagine how impressive the class–which had three first-round picks including Tim Stutzle and Jake Sanderson in the top-5–will be.
Perhaps the story of the NHL Trade Deadline, since it certainly wasn’t the quantity of trades or the numerous star players on the move, was the advent of the third-party salary cap broker in trades. Three different deals were made at the deadline that included three teams, with the third team strictly being used as a means to retain salary on the centerpiece player moving to a contender short on cap space. In each one, the third team retained the maximum 50% of salary after the seller had also retained 50%, leaving the buyer with just 25% of the player’s cap value. For their part, the third team received a draft pick from the buyer and were able to shed a minor league salary as well.
The Tampa Bay Lightning first used the Detroit Red Wings to broker the trade of defenseman David Savard from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Tampa had been expected to be quiet at the deadline given their miniscule cap space, but ended up getting one of the best defensemen on the rental market. Next, the Toronto Maple Leafs employed the San Jose Sharks as the middle-man for their acquisition of Nick Foligno, again from the Blue Jackets. Toronto had little cap flexibility and a long shopping list at the deadline and would not have been able to add Foligno without help. Finally, San Jose volunteered to be the third team again the deal that sent Mattias Janmark from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas has had the worst cap situation of any team in the league this season, restricted from making standard roster moves and several times forced into short-handed lineups. Yet, using this new three-team retention format they were able to add a top rental.
This all poses a question that at least a few other NHL clubs have been asking: should this be legal? The NHL has cracked down on salary cap circumvention in the past and there appear to be some who believe this is simply the newest version, allowing cap-strapped contenders to acquire players that they never could otherwise. However, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun on the latest edition of “Insider Trading“, this is one perceived problem that the league will not tackle. LeBrun reports that the league has been well are of this method of trade and were not fooled by the deals made at the deadline this year. After all, it was more than three years ago now when the Pittsburgh Penguins seemingly invented this formula – albeit in a more complete hockey trade – in the Derick Brassard deadline deal with Vegas and the Ottawa Senators. The Golden Knights then used the format to their advantage just last year, adding Robin Lehner from the Blackhawks via a cap-retention pitstop in Toronto. Clearly, there is a group of teams who have taken to this specific style of three-team trade, with Vegas and Toronto chief among them, and there are others who are not happy about it. As such, the NHL has already done its due diligence on the legality and will not take action.
Their reasoning? There simply is no cap circumvention occurring here. LeBrun relays that the league has no issue with a third team being used solely for cap retention, as hockey capital is being acquired by all parties. The Red Wings and Sharks received mid-round draft picks in exchange for their assistance and were even allowed to help balance the checkbook by sending out another contract. The NHL feels that this is a valid use of cap space as an asset to make a legitimate trade. So while it does create situations in which the rich get richer without otherwise having the cap space to do so, all parties are being reasonably compensated within the NHL rulebook. Teams may not like it, but that doesn’t make it illegal. And with the flat cap environment likely to continue for another year or two, this style of trade isn’t going away any time soon.
While some had expected Senators winger Ryan Dzingel to be on the move by yesterday’s trade deadline, he ultimately stuck around in Ottawa. Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch reports that there wasn’t much interest in the 29-year-old despite having six goals in 17 games since being acquired. Now, Garrioch notes, GM Pierre Dorion’s plan is to discuss a new deal with Dzingel in the offseason. He’s currently carrying a $3.375MM AAV and with how the market for wingers went last year, it’s quite unlikely that the veteran will be able to get that amount on his next deal, with Ottawa or someone else.
The Ottawa Senators have signed another one of their 2019 draft picks, this time inking Mads Sogaard to a three-year entry-level contract. Sogaard spent this season back in Denmark competing professionally after being part of the Medicine Hat Tigers the last two years. GM Pierre Dorion released a short statement on his newest goaltender:
Mads’ development continued to strongly progress while playing overseas in 2020-21. He’s a big, athletic presence in the net and showcases a very competitive style. We’re anticipating a nice transition to North America next season.
“Big” is underselling it a bit, as the 6’7″ Sogaard often towers above even his own defensemen and fills a huge amount of the net even when down in his butterfly. Selected 37th overall in 2019—the third goaltender off the board—he posted a league-high .922 in 16 appearances for Esbjerg Energy this season in the top Danish league.
Though he has shown strong development this season, Sogaard is entering a crowded goaltending pipeline in Ottawa. Not only is the 26-year-old Matt Murray signed for the next three seasons as the team’s presumptive starter, but 24-year-old Joey Daccord has shown real NHL promise and 22-year-old Filip Gustavsson has a .946 save percentage through his first four appearances for Ottawa. Add in prospect Kevin Mandolese and 2020 third-round pick Leevi Merilainen and the Senators have a whole bushel of young goaltenders that can battle for the crease.
Sogaard isn’t one to overlook though, as he has found success everywhere he straps on the pads (except perhaps when he’s backstopping the overmatched Denmark WJC team). In two seasons with Medicine Hat, he had a .915 save percentage through 74 games, registering a 40-21-6 record with seven shutouts. He’ll now be able to come to North America and test his game in the AHL or ECHL for 2021-22.
The NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone. A relatively slow day ended with a late burst, as many teams jumped into the mix at the last minute. How do you think your team did? Share your deadline grades in the comments for teams in the North Division.
In – D Dmitry Kulikov
Out – conditional 2022 fourth-round pick
In – F Ryan Dzingel, F Michael Amadio, D Brandon Fortunato, 2022 third-round pick (BOS), 2022 seventh-round pick (NYI), 2023 seventh-round pick (NSH)
Out – D Mike Reilly, D Erik Gudbranson, D Braydon Coburn, F Cedric Paquette, F Alex Galchenyuk, D Christian Wolanin,
Toronto Maple Leafs
In – F Nick Foligno, G David Rittich, D Ben Hutton, F Alex Galchenyuk, F Riley Nash, F Stefan Noesen, F Antti Suomela, G Veini Vehvilainen
Out – F Alexander Barabanov, D Mikko Lehtonen, D David Warsofsky, F Yegor Korshkov, 2021 first-round pick, 2022 third-round pick, 2021 fourth-round pick, 2022 fourth-round pick, 2022 fifth-round pick, conditional 2022 seventh-round pick
In – D Jordie Benn
Out – 2021 sixth-round pick
The Ottawa Senators have flipped another depth defenseman, trading Erik Gudbranson to the Nashville Predators for a 2023 seventh-round pick and minor league defenseman Brandon Fortunato according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.
It wouldn’t have been a trade deadline if Gudbranson didn’t move. The 29-year-old defender has now been dealt for the fifth time, including four times since his current contract began at the start of the 2018-19 season. With that deal about to expire, it was all but certain that the Senators would move Gudbranson before the deadline, the second such time he has been moved on the last day to do so.
Unfortunately, Gudbranson’s play this season didn’t warrant much of a return. Gudbranson has just three points and is a -13 so far this season, looking slow and ineffective on the ice. While he started to show signs of slowing down last season in Anaheim, it was very apparent in Ottawa this season. As a result, a player who was traded straight up for Tanner Pearson just two years ago and cost a fifth-round pick for Ottawa to acquire this summer, the Senators were only able to land a seventh-rounder and an unheralded prospect for a short stretch of Gudbranson. Fortunato, 24, has done little in the pros since signing with Nashville in 2019 and does not appear to be a legitimate NHL prospect.
Perhaps the low cost is why the Predators took a shot at the veteran. Nashville was expected to be a major seller not long ago and even after climbing back into the Central Division playoff picture, they were not thought to be a buyer. However, adding some depth and experience on the blue line for next to nothing is not a bad move for GM David Poile and company if they do indeed qualify for the postseason.
The Senators have added some extra depth to their back end off the waiver wire as Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports (Twitter link) that Ottawa has claimed Victor Mete off waivers from Montreal. This move comes off the heels of them trading Mike Reilly and Braydon Coburn late last night.
Mete has played a very limited role with the Canadiens this season, suiting up in just 14 games this season, picking up three assists while averaging a career-low 14:09 per game. It’s a sharp contrast from the beginning of his career when he spent considerable time on the top pairing with Shea Weber but he was surpassed on the depth chart by Ben Chiarot, Joel Edmundson, and Alexander Romanov as they were brought in over the last two years. That resulted in an early-season trade request, one that was clearly not fulfilled and evidently Montreal couldn’t find a taker before waiving the 22-year-old yesterday.
With the limited role he had in the bubble, Mete opted to accept his $735K qualifying offer, making him a low-cost acquisition for Ottawa down the stretch. However, he is eligible for salary arbitration this summer and with nearly 200 career NHL games under his belt, he will have a good case for a somewhat notable raise if it was to get to a hearing despite how things have gone this season.
But that’s an issue for the summer. In the meantime, the Senators will get a free opportunity to take a closer look at Mete to see if he can be a part of their future plans. As for Montreal, they basically brought in his replacement yesterday with the acquisition of Jon Merrill from Detroit so this news won’t affect any of their other plans before today’s trade deadline.
- There is strong interest in Senators defenseman Erik Gudbranson, reports Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch (Twitter link). The 29-year-old has just three points in 36 games this season but can still bring some physicality and shot blocking to a third pairing. One possible issue is his $4MM AAV which is on the pricey side for a depth defender although Ottawa can retain up to half of that and will likely need to do so. Gudbranson will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
The Islanders have brought in another veteran for the stretch run, acquiring defenseman Braydon Coburn from the Senators in exchange for a 2022 seventh-round draft pick. Both teams have confirmed the move.
The 36-year-old was moved to Ottawa just before the season started in a trade from Tampa Bay that was designed to maximize their LTIR potential with the Sens picking up Cedric Paquette (who was dealt to Carolina soon after) plus a second-round pick for their troubles. However, as a veteran on his last legs, Coburn wasn’t a great fit for the Senators who waived him in early February but couldn’t find a taker at that time. On that front, getting a pick, even a late one, two months later is a worthwhile move.
Despite spending a lot of time on the taxi squad, Coburn has gotten into 16 games this season while logging 16:26 per night. Having said that, he should get used to being back in a reserve role as the Islanders aren’t bringing him in to be a regular player as he slots in no higher than seventh on the depth chart. However, as someone with plenty of postseason experience – he has 137 career playoff contests under his belt – Coburn gives them someone that has been there before and can step in if injuries strike. He won his first career Stanley Cup last year with the Lightning although he only got into three games along the way.
Coburn is in the final season of a two-year, $3.4MM contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports (Twitter link) that there is no salary retention in the deal. As a result, the Isles now have $1.55MM remaining in their LTIR pool, per CapFriendly, an amount they can spend if needed with both Anders Lee and Johnny Boychuk out for the season.