The NHL Trade Deadline is right around the corner and no team is under more pressure to figure out what their position will be than the Ottawa Senators. The Senators are in the unenviable position of having to both work on extensions and field trade offers for three of the most prolific unrestricted free agents of the 2019 market. Forwards Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Dzingel are currently ranked No. 2, No. 3, and No. 8 respectively among all impending free agents in scoring and have all established themselves as elite players and core pieces. While Ottawa would prefer to keep the trio, the rebuilding team cannot afford to let any of them walk as a free agent because they were unable to come to terms on a new contract and too indecisive to make a move before the deadline.
During last night’s “Headlines” segment of Hockey Night in Canada, Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman reported that it was his understanding that the Senators would have a decision made on the availability of Stone, Duchene, and Dzingel by “about 10 days out before the deadline hits” on February 25th. This hypothetically gives the Senators one more week to discuss new contracts, followed by one weeks to talk through trade scenarios. In other words, Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion should either be announcing extensions or reaching out to teams with asking prices by the end of the week.
It has long been expected that the Senators would talk through contracts with Stone and Duchene first and then work on Dzingel once they have more clarity on their long-term future. As the Sportsnet team expanded on the topic, Chris Johnston added that he feels Duchene could be the linchpin of the whole situation. Johnston believes that Duchene enjoys living and playing in Ottawa, near family and friends, and is open to staying with the Senators.