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So, Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel are FINALLY on the chopping block. Should the Bruins take a chance?

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The Sens have at long last shown their hand. Should the Bruins capitalize?

Winnipeg Jets v Ottawa Senators Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images

Well, we’re less than a week out from the deadline, and other than some smatterings of ideas here or there and the Coyle move, it really feels like this is shaping up to be one of the least fun, least crazy deadlines in recent memory. In this article, I guess the only thing to do is-

...throw out everything I was just about to say and start talking about the Senators!

How did we get here?

Matt Duchene in 2017, clearly not reading the room the right way, decided that leaving Colorado was best to go join up a winner, and the winner he went with was the Ottawa Senators as part of a bizarre 3-way trade. At the end, Duchene seemed to be in a good spot, as the Sens certainly seemed poised to look pretty okay for the recent future at the time.

The Sens responded to this stroke of luck by being catastrophically awful in spite of his work, and an offseason full of chaos, woe, managerial incompetence and out right negligence, and the franchise defender leaving made life for the guy way harder than it should’ve been. The pick that could’ve easily helped re-start the team going to Colorado for him ended up being one that the entire Avs fanbase is hoping turns into Jack Hughes only bitterly poisoned this deal further for the Sens.

Duchene has since been unquestionably a good player, but he’s also looking for an extension for next year, and with the Senators straight up saying they’re finally committing to trying to get a deal for Mark Stone done, it’s clear they don’t think they can keep the guy in a market where the goal appears to be cutting costs at the expense of everything else. As a result, he’s been made available. Talks for him will likely be quite heated, as many otherwise good teams are going through cold spells and some mediocre teams have plenty of cap space that would definitely love this brand name star to help bolster their lineup.

Meanwhile, lost in this whole mess of contract negotiation is Ryan Dzingel, who’s name has only been barely mentioned in these discussions while he’s been having one of his best seasons as a Sen, leading to the speculation that he’s probably looking for an out as well since the Sens have all but stated out loud they’re trying to cut costs wherever they go until they don’t want to anymore and while he’s good, he’s not exactly a franchise cornerstone like Mark Stone is (which, given the history of the team and their franchise cornerstones, seems more like a punishment than an endorsement). Darren Dreger also indicated on a TSN morning show that the B’s might have shifted focus towards getting him.

With both available targets, the question becomes...Should there be a look? Is it even worth looking?

So, what are you getting on the surface?

If you had to pick two players not named Mark Stone or Thomas Chabot worth taking from the Senators, you’d be pressed to come up anyone worth mentioning other than these two. Duchene has long been one of the more dynamic players in the NHL. Ryan Dzingel meanwhile, has been definitely one of the brightest spots of an otherwise completely freaking useless system in Ottawa, being their 2011 7th rounder that ended up going so much farther than anyone on earth previously thought he would, and has been rounding into form in his best year as an Ottawa Senator...While simultaneously dooming his chances of remaining one for too much longer thanks to his performance. He’s on a great deal but stands to get paid for something more to his liking once July rolls around.

In short, good guys, good players.

Under the Hood:

While looking through this stuff, it should be noted that the Senators are a one-two punch of bad team and don’t play a style of hockey that lends itself well to good possession stats and surprise-surprise, they’re both looking kinda bad in that department because of it.

Matt Duchene:

  • Season CF%: 45.9%
  • Season FF%: 47.59%
  • Season xGF%: 48.54%

Ryan Dzingel:

  • Season CF%: 43.67%
  • Season FF%: 44.28%
  • Season xGF%: 43.57%

So we must go to the visuals of our good friend Micah McCurdy over at HockeyViz and our friends over at Evolving-Hockey to help us build context for what the hell’s going on here.

For Duchene and Dzingel alike, their impact is generally quite positive, as they tend to drag the dregs of Canada’s capital behind them towards better play, with Dzingel definitely pulling his weight considering the kind of players they have on hand to play him with. The visuals really kind of put into perspective what they have to work with.

These RAPM charts adjusts for the quality of the player’s linemates, score of the game, and in general creates a better picture of a player individually.
From our friends over at Evolving-Hockey

Generally speaking? They definitely know how to make most of the guys around them better.

The Case For:

  • The Top/Middle Six Boost Don should’ve done already: While saying it fixes all the problems the forward corps has is stretching it a bit, Dzingel at least would be a great shot in the arm towards creating offense that could finally stabilize the often mercurial 2nd and 3rd lines, and provide some secondary scoring in a stretch where the Bruins could definitely use some. If you somehow land Duchene? Your center depth suddenly looks way, way, way deeper than it did about a week ago and that could be huge going into March and April. Frankly it should’ve been something Don did back in July, but getting a boost now while they’re in an advantageous spot in the standings could be useful indeed.
  • Time is on your side: Thanks to the Sens dragging their feet on the negotiations and the stated priorities on the team’s finances, they are working on a very limited time frame of just under a week to get the most out of the available assets or risk losing at least two of their three best players that aren’t named Thomas Chabot for nothing. Hell, if they botch this they could lose all three. Dorion may take a less-than-stellar deal because hey, it may not be a good deal, but it’s better than nothing.
  • Some teams might back off because they genuinely don’t know why Ottawa is doing this: Basically, the Sens dropped this at the weirdest time possible. Most teams start signalling they’re not in the race anymore well before December’s even over, and basically turn into a showcase forum for the shreds of good talent they have left. In the scramble, there may be fewer obvious buyers than you think because they suddenly have to do a lot of bookkeeping.

The Case Against:

  • Either is going to be expensive: It’s the deadline, so it’s to be expected. Dzingel is the way easier move as he’s on a $1.8m AAV contract until the season ends, and a depth player making around 2 million can easily come off the books. Duchene would require a move of at least a contract over $4m AAV if you really, and I mean really wanted to go for it, and that would probably have to be your only move for the rest of the deadline. But while cap space is good, draft picks are probably going to look even better to the Sens, who have spent the better part of the year getting grilled over an open flame for giving up their first rounder for Matt Duchene, and are almost certainly looking to sneak their way back into this year’s opening round if their season’s lost. Don Sweeney has gone on record as stating he’d rather not lose his first rounder again if he can help it, so if the asking price starts with a first rounder? Don will either have to get creative with how many young forwards he can throw at Pierre Dorion, or have to look elsewhere for help.
  • You’re not the only one shopping: There are plenty of teams right now that want Dzingel, Stone, and Duchene. One’s even rumored to want all three. Your offer is going to have to be quite attractive in order to get Dorion (or Melnyk, whoever’s actually pulling the puppet strings here) to bite, which leads back into point one against.

Personally Speaking...

If you have to make an offer, you’d probably have to make it at Mark Stone since he’s Ottawa’s best player by a mile and I can’t imagine anyone, even the loyal-to-a-fault NHLer, who would want to stay in that environment. But...since he’s not for sale (yet), between the two I think Dzingel’s ask would be way, way less than whatever Duchene’s is, and Dzingel could probably slot in on the 2nd line as a designated trigger-puller for David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. To say nothing of how he’d do with Charlie Coyle.

It’s all a matter of whether or not you think he’s worth the risk and potential costs.


Should the Bruins go for Matt Duchene or Ryan Dzingel?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    They should go for Duchene. They wanna show me they’re all in? They should prove it.
    (66 votes)
  • 36%
    They should go for Ryan Dzingel. He’d fit better in the middle 6 and he’s a cheaper choice
    (315 votes)
  • 41%
    Screw both of these guys. Get Mark Stone!
    (358 votes)
  • 13%
    They shouldn’t go for either, the sens will make the price too high.
    (114 votes)
853 votes total Vote Now