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Cautiously Inactive: Evaluating the Ottawa Senators Trade Deadline

Ottawa was expected to be busy at the NHL Trade Deadline, but Steve Staios preached patience after a cautiously inactive day for the Senators.

The Ottawa Senators were cautious at the NHL’s March 8th Trade Deadline. Despite many big names from his club supposedly being in play, GM Steve Staios held his ground and didn’t bite. This was the first Trade Deadline ever for Staios in a GM position, and fans in Ottawa are divided on how he handled it. Although the Senators were not especially active, we still learned a lot about the vision of the team in the last week.

Tarasenko Shipped to Sunrise

The Senators made their only trade of the deadline period on March 7th, shipping Vladimir Tarasenko to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a 3rd-round pick in 2025 and a conditional 4th-round pick in 2024. The 4th-round pick becomes a 3rd-round pick in 2026 if the Panthers win the Stanley Cup this season.

Vladimir Tarasenko traded to the Florida Panthers

The first reaction to this trade from many Senators fans was confusion and frustration. Many had hoped the Senators might fetch as much as a 1st-round pick for Tarasenko. Relative to those expectations, the return was deemed underwhelming by the majority of the fanbase. However, it became clear that there was not much more that Staios could have done to net a more impressive return.

When Tarasenko signed in Ottawa last offseason, former GM Pierre Dorion included a full No-Trade Clause (NTC) in his contract. Because of this, Tarasenko could choose which club he wanted to move to. We learned after the transaction that Florida was the only team he was willing to waive his NTC for.

For the Senators, this meant that there was no bidding war for the player, and if they wanted to recoup any assets at all, they would have to negotiate exclusively with Florida. This essentially put the Senators at the mercy of the Panthers, needing to accept whatever offer they were given in order not to lose him for nothing as a free agent at the end of the season.

Not a Seller’s Market

It became abundantly clear as deals started rolling in around deadline day that Staios was also victim to a trade market that favored buyers over sellers. Players like Tyler Toffoli, Tomas Hertl, and Jason Zucker were all being dealt for underwhelming returns. Seemingly, teams were unwilling to part with much to acquire pieces for their respective stretch runs, and this cornered the market substantially for selling teams like the Senators.

Steve Staios Senators GM says the team is looking to add via trade

This played a significant role in why the Senators didn’t do more. With rumblings that Ottawa was considering moving Jakob Chychrun, fans were salivating at the idea of a blockbuster trade at the deadline. Many were disappointed when that and other moves weren’t made, but Staios clearly believed the value wasn’t there. He did; however, leave the door open to making a big move in the offseason. Meeting with the Ottawa media after the deadline, Staios stated:

We learned a lot about not just what was available at the Trade Deadline, but how teams are looking to approach their offseason as well.

The Senators’ season has been objectively disastrous in nearly every way. Fans are eager for change and it seems like they’ll have to wait until the summer to see it happen. Although it’s frustrating, it’s likely for the best, as an underwhelming return on a major piece is far more destructive than being patient for a quality deal.

Senators Claim Katchouk Off Waivers

The only other action the Senators were involved in during deadline day was on the waiver wire. Ottawa claimed forward Boris Katchouk off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks.

Staios described Katchouk as a dynamic and competitive player with offensive upside. The 25 year-old will have the chance to finish out the year with Ottawa and try to play his way into the conversation as a reliable, everyday depth piece for the Senators next season.

Katchouk has nine points in 38 games with the Blackhawks this year, as well as five points in six games with the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL.

Next: Linus Ullmark Blocks Last-Minute Trade at the Deadline

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