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Will Pierre Dorion acquire a top 4 defenseman this summer?!

July 22, 2022, 11:42 PM ET [212 Comments]
Kevin Francis
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Now that things have calmed down for Sens GM Pierre Dorion after re-shaping the Ottawa roster the last few weeks, the only missing piece to his off-season work is acquiring a top 4 defenseman. The feeling with those close to management and the coaching staff is that the longer Dorion goes without securing that key piece for the Sens' defense, is that Dorion might stay status quo with the defense core. It was Dorion that stated in a radio interview two weeks ago that if he can't find the right fit, he would see if one of the Sens' younger players on defense could emerge from the pre-season games as a suitable option to play in the top 4. The mere fact that Dorion hinted at this possible scenario says he isn't willing to meet other teams asking prices for a right handed defenseman that can play with either Thomas Chabot or Jake Sanderson.

If Dorion was to go this route, he must be sure to trade away Nikita Zaitsev before training camp because DJ Smith has demonstrated for a few seasons now that he won't allow the youth the proper opportunity to cease a regular spot in the top 4 on defense. Smith has played Zaitsev far too much when he has struggled over the likes of Brannstrom, Thomson, and JBD when they've been with the big club the last few seasons. Under no circumstance can Dorion allow Smith to continue to deploy Zaitsev over the youth on this blueline. It won't matter how much firepower the Sens have offensively if they can't keep the puck out of their net. If Dorion doesn't acquire another defenseman, the youth needs to be given every chance to grow and learn while gaining valuable experience, they don't need Zaitsev blocking them for their development to start another season! Ottawa has already paid out a two million dollar bonus to Zaitsev so they're in no rush to move him but as the summer moves along, there will come a point when Dorion will need to trade Zaitsev if this team is going to have any success improving their play on the blueline.

Sources have told me if Dorion hasn't made a move to add a defensemen by mid-August, he needs to make sure he trades away Zaitsev to the Chicago Blackhawks as there are very few teams that will want to take him on as the summer drags on. This past season he has stated how he wants as many as players in Ottawa by late August preparing for training camp and building the team camaraderie on and off the ice. Dorion has been very specific about what type of player he acquires, so as to not bring in a player that doesn't fit into the locker room. The young leaders on this roster have created a great culture and with the likes of Nick Paul, Connor Brown, and Colin White no longer with the team, building that team dynamic will be critical for the Sens to get out of the gate with a strong start to the season.

When you look at possible options for Ottawa on defense, I truly don't see the Sens signing free agent John Klingberg. I'm told Sens management has done their due diligence the past two weeks on who would fit in with this group and word is, Klingberg might be a reach in terms of fitting in with this group on and off the ice.

If the Arizona Coyotes would lower their asking price a bit for Jakob Chychryn, I'm pretty sure Dorion looks at him as the best fit on the Sens blueline, plus he only has 3 years left on his contract at a very affordable AAV. Many Sens fans have seen Chychryn around the Ottawa Valley this summer with family and friends, with those close to the family saying how much they would love to see him in a Sens uniform! With MacKenzie Weegar being traded to Calgary, Ottawa has very few options left. The only other possible option is Chris Tanev in Calgary. A lot depends on what direction the Flames will go after the trade of Matthew Tkachuk. Will Calgary re-tool or re-build after losing their two most prominent stars? If they choose to rebuild, then Ottawa would love nothing more than to acquire Tanev who has only two years left on this deal at 4.5 M AAV but he has a 10 team no trade list. He would be an ideal fit playing the right side in the Sens' top 4 on the blue line. Calgary would want at least a prospect on defense that is close to playing in the NHL, and draft picks in return for Tanev. A player like JBD would be the most expendable on the blueline as I don't think Ottawa wants to move Thomson in any deal. Brannstrom would be another player Ottawa wouldn't mind moving either as he just hasn't fit in with DJ Smith.

Lastly, Dorion did kick the tires on Matthew Tkachuk earlier this week. I was told, that he will always look to improve the roster. If he didn't call Calgary about the availability of Brady's brother, he wouldn't be doing his job by always trying to make the roster more competitive.

The Sens' first pre-season game is Wed. Sept. 29th, only 9 weeks away from puck drop!

Comments, thoughts Sens fans?!

Thanks for reading.
Kevin
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