GARRIOCH: Pierre Dorion is willing to wheel and deal, but he needs a dance partner

Article content

Not a lot of talk, even less action.

advertisement 2

Article content

Nine days to the NHL trade deadline and Ottawa Senators’ general manager Pierre Dorion is prepared to play Let’s Make a Deal but there’s not a whole lot in the way of dance partners.

“The phone’s not ringing off the hook,” Dorion told reporters in a Zoom call Friday. “Everyone knows that we’re not in a playoff hunt, but we definitely do want to play some games that matter for us, as far as building our team.

“I think it’ll get business in the (nine) days but right now the phone’s not really ringing off the hook.”

The Senators have pieces they’re willing to move, including defensemen Josh Brown and Michael Del Zotto along with veteran forwards Chris Tierney and Zach Sanford.

Teams calling about Nick Paul and Anton Forsberg are being told the Senators are focused on keeping them right now. Both are unrestricted free agents while Forsberg likely won’t be moved if Paul doesn’t agree to a deal before 3 pm EDT March 21 then there’s a good chance he’ll be packing his bags.

advertisement 3

Article content

“You know I don’t negotiate through the media and it’s best for all the parties not to negotiate through the media,” Dorion said. “On some impending UFA’s, we’ve talked to a couple of those agents and those players know that.

“We’d like them to be part of our group, we’re working on possible deals but we’re not going to say more than that.”

The Senators are focused on getting Paul signed and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they reached out to Forsberg’s camp to see what the parameters are for a new deal if he’s going to stay. He’s played solid and is carrying the ball.

As noted in this space, the ideal scenario would see Matt Murray get healthy to finish the year with Forsberg. That would allow Mads Sogaard and Filiip Gustavsson to help the club’s AHL affiliate in Belleville push for a playoff spot and get valuable experience at the same time.

advertisement 4

Article content

“Ideally, to finish the year it would be Matt and Anton Forsberg,” Dorion said. Belleville, right now, is in a playoff spot. We want Mads Sogaard and Filip Gustavsson to have a chance to play meaningful games.

“That would be the ideal situation but sometimes it’s not ideal.”

Dorion doesn’t want to make changes just for the sake of it. The Senators have lots of picks and prospects which is why he’s talked a lot about making a hockey deal at this deadline rather than just shipping out free agents.

“To get a late-round pick for a guy that you might sign at the end of the year or in the summer, it’s not worth it to do it,” Dorion said. “We’re not at the stage where we need every late-round pick to turn into something. We’ve got a lot of picks in this draft.

advertisement 5

Article content

“This team is very well coached, we play hard, we’ve got some really good, hard-working character players and they get along. Sometimes you want to see it to the end.”

He makes no bones about the fact the club needs more help.

“It’s no secret for us to get to the next level we need another top-six forward and a top-four defenseman but those don’t just grow on trees,” Dorion said. “We definitely have a top four ‘D’ in Jake Sanderson once he reaches maturity and he might be a top two defenseman on our team.

“We’ve got a few top six forwards but they’re not there yet. Getting a top six forward and top four defensemen, other GM’s and organizations don’t just hand them out.”

The Senators know they didn’t live up to expectations this year and when it wraps up Apr. 29 against Philadelphia the best-case scenario would be for the club to finish strong to set the tone for next year.

advertisement 6

Article content

Injuries and COVID-19 have both played big roles in their performance. It’s not hard to see the Senators have the right pieces in place to build around and now the organization just needs to add a couple of more elements.

Dorion wasn’t about to allow himself to get boxed in by a question asking when the Senators will be ready to win a title?

“We want to be a competitive team and we want to be a team that fights for a playoff spot as soon as next year,” Dorion said. “Once you get into the playoffs then anything can happen. We’ll take it step-by-step.

“We all think here there’s a maturity process with some of our younger core that they’re still developing and maturing. Some of our players, like a (Thomas) Chabot, are in their prime, but some still have room to grow. You never know what can happen, but our goal is to make the playoffs next year and move from there.”

Right now, the focus is on this deadline, but don’t expect a blockbuster.

“I hate to be a ‘Debbie Downer’ but don’t get too excited for this trade deadline,” said Dorion. “In my all years as a GM, this has been the quietest. And when you talk to teams that could be off-loading players, quite a few of them say it’s been extremely quiet.”

[email protected]

Twitter: @sungarrioch

advertisement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user follows comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your e-mail settings.

Leave a Comment