On Friday afternoon, Colin Cudmore of Silver Seven, the SBNation Ottawa Senators blog, reached out to us to answer some questions about our perspective on the blockbuster Matt Duchene trade. Here are the answers that Ryan and Elaine gave. I asked Colin some questions of my own for this post.
Then the two teams made another big deal for Ryan Dzingel after yesterday’s game, and again we exchanged perspectives. Here’s what I told them about Anthony Duclair.
Without further ado, here are Colin’s responses to my questions about both trades, and the general mood of fans in Ottawa right now:
Pale Dragon: What kind of return were you expecting for Duchene? Did this meet your expectation, exceed it, or did it disappoint you? Would you rather have signed him to an extension now, or are you OK getting future pieces in return?
Colin Cudmore: There’s a tricky balance here, because although I would’ve loved to see Duchene in a Sens jersey for years to come, I also recognize that this was probably the right time to trade him. That said, it was the Senators that put themselves in this situation to begin with, by not showing financial commitment to their players, and creating an environment where nobody in the NHL wants to be putting on a Sens jersey. You may have heard a thing or two of our fickle owner Eugene Melnyk, and like everything Sens-related, it all traces back to him.
As for the return itself, I was a bit underwhelmed by the prospects, but the picks could end up providing the most value depending on what happens with the Blue Jackets. I followed Vitali Abramov closely when he was playing across the Ottawa river in Gatineau, and I’m a fan of the pickup, although I would’ve preferred the Sens to target Emil Bemstrom over Jonathan Davidsson. The market had reportedly cooled on Duchene in the days leading up to the trade, so maybe that was once a possibility. But I don’t expect that either of the received prospect will come close to filling the hole left by Duchene.
After the Uber video, were there any concerns about Duchene’s work ethic? Any off-ice issues while he was there?
Not at all. When the Uber video was released, most fans treated it more as a funny moment than anything. Everybody complains about their boss behind their back, hockey players included, and it was unfortunate that the Sens were the ones captured on video. Duchene’s a hard worker who gives his best every game. You’ll love him in Columbus.
After the trade last season, Colorado’s season took off, while Ottawa collapsed. In your opinion, what contributed to that collapse? Do you think the Duchene/Turris trade was a factor?
While the collapse happened right after the Turris-for-Duchene trade, I think this is a prime example of correlation not equaling causation. Turris was a beloved player in the city and amongst his peers, but there’s no denying that Duchene was an upgrade, even more significant than we originally anticipated. The collapse was due to a myriad of reasons — the goaltending was abysmal, the coach was using a systems textbook from the 80’s, and the players’ shots just weren’t going in the net. We knew the ‘real Senators’ weren’t as good as they were in the Eastern Conference Final a year earlier, and we knew they weren’t as bad as they were during the initial collapse. Unfortunately, the penny-pinching owner took it as a cue to rebuild, which should have an asterisk beside it since it’s just cost-cutting in disguise.
The team has broken its trust with the fanbase. Seeing Zibanejad, Turris, Hoffman, Karlsson, Duchene, Stone and Dzingel all being shown the door in a short amount of time has made it clear that the team can’t retain top talent. They’re selling a rebuild, but who are we to trust them when it comes to them locking up players like Chabot and Tkachuk to long-term deals? I say this to drive home the point that the blame for the collapse shouldn’t be pinned on the players, but instead team ownership. It’s bleak, to say the least.
What do we need to know about the kind of player and kind of person Dzingel is?
Dzingel is fast. Like, really fast. Speed is the name of his game, which makes him a great transitional player on offence. There were concerns early on in his career about his finishing ability, although he’s really broken away from that this season, on pace for over 30 goals and 60 points. His weakness is on defence, however, which makes me wonder how he’ll fare under Tortorella’s regime. He’s not a strong back checker, but when he gets the puck on his stick you can rely on him to get it into your team’s offensive zone.
It’s worth noting that his shooting percentage this season is well above his previous career average, so I wouldn’t necessarily expect him to keep putting up 60+ points in future years. He’s still a reliable top six player that’s compatible with a wide variety of line mates.
As a person, I can’t say I know much about him off the ice, but he seems like a fun guy. His character has never come into question by his coaches or teammates. He’s a former Ohio State captain, so I’m sure he’ll be pleased to return to his former stomping grounds.
Do you see him as a better fit at center or at wing?
Dzingel is best fit as a winger, and that’s what he’s been playing since he made the NHL. He can be versatile in the sense that he has some experience playing left and right wing, although in the past two seasons he’s been comfortable in his role as a top-six left winger. In fact, his most common teammate this season has been Matt Duchene, with over 500 minutes together.
Is there optimism in Ottawa for the return they’re getting for these players, or is it outweighed by the depression of watching your team hold a fire sale?
There’s always some form of optimism, but as I mentioned regarding the Duchene trade, everything always comes back to the owner. Ottawa made this trade because Dzingel didn’t want to be with this team for the foreseeable future, and we can’t really blame him considering there’s no commitment from upper management to build a long-term winner. That breeds apathy more than any fire sale, in my opinion.
Of course, stockpiling draft picks is a major pillar to a successful rebuild, and it’s good to see that GM Pierre Dorion at least has somewhat of a clue (because let’s face it, the bar is very low for NHL GMs). Even if the Sens were a bubble team, Dzingel’s a player I would’ve been fine with trading regardless, since this is likely the highest his trade value is going to be. The return they got too was significant, especially considering Dzingel has no contract extension immediately in place. I’m still apathetic, as are many fans, although it’s too a much lesser degree than the Duchene and impending Stone trades.
Thanks again to Colin for taking the time to have this dialogue with us. Be sure to check out Silver Seven for more Ottawa Senators coverage.