Ottawa Wants to Add Defense; They're Watching the Blackhawks

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Ottawa Wants to Add Defense and They’re Watching the Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks

Over the summer, when Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson revealed that he was shopping some impressive pieces, the biggest trade he consummated was with the Ottawa Senators.

Alex DeBrincat went north in a blockbuster trade that brought the seventh overall pick and a second-rounder in the 2022 NHL Draft — Kevin Korchinski and Paul Ludwinski — and a third rounder in 2024 back.

Clearly Davidson has Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion’s number in his cell.

Dorion is in an intriguing situation right now. The Sens have been building to “turn the ship around” for a couple years, and the addition of DeBrincat was supposed to take them to another level this year. On Monday, they wake up in seventh place in the Atlantic Division and with the news that star forward Josh Norris’ season is over.

Last week, Dorion spoke with TSN 1200 about shopping for help on his blue line. He’s been looking for some time, and while he indicated in the interview below that he might stay inside the organization for a fix, it’s been out there for some time that he’s looking to add.

Dorion watched two straight Kings games, including a trip to Chicago last night. Now, he’ll reportedly watch the Blackhawks when they play in Vancouver on Tuesday night before attending the prospect game later this week.

The Blackhawks happen to have too many defensemen on their NHL roster right now. We’ve talked a fair amount about the frustration with Ian Mitchell and Isaak Phillips alternating games on the back end while Jarred Tinordi has been out; both would benefit from more consistent ice time. And, at some point, the Blackhawks might want to get another look at Alec Regula at the NHL level as well.

So dealing from a surplus would make sense for Davidson.

For their part of a potential transaction, Ottawa has all of their picks in the 2023 NHL Draft except their third-rounder. They also have Nashville’s pick in the seventh round. Next year, the Senators have two picks in the second and fourth rounds; the Blackhawks already own their third in 2024.

Who could go?

The Blackhawks’ most popular trade chips on the rumor mill recently has been Jake McCabe. But widely held belief is that at least six of the seven teams in Canada are on his seven-team no-trade list. Toronto is the only Canadian team that has been speculated to be a possibility.

Connor Murphy has three more years left on his contract that carries a $4.4 million cap hit. However, he was also given a limited no-trade clause by Stan Bowman (he handed those out like Halloween candy). Murphy reportedly has a 10-team no-trade list; there hasn’t been as much speculation about what destinations he would prefer to avoid.

Veterans Jack Johnson and Caleb Jones are both on one-year contracts. The degree to which Ottawa is looking to rent as opposed to buy a defenseman with term is unknown; they aren’t making the playoffs this year. Caleb is an RFA after this season, however, so there is some level of control there if he interested Dorion.

And then there’s Mitchell, who might be viewed as a possible reclamation project by other teams. He’s an RFA after this season and just turned 24 last week. He might be a better fit for the young Senators if they’re looking for a right-shot defenseman who they could re-sign at a modest dollar amount. It doesn’t hurt that Mitchell scored Chicago’s only goal with Dorion in attendance last night.

Either way, if Ottawa is looking to bolster their blue line and Dorion is going to watch multiple Blackhawks games this week and is looking for a defenseman this is certainly something worth watching as we inch closer to the NHL’s trade deadline.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab