A quiet deadline sets up a busy off-season for Sens GM Steve Staios

Without the pressure of a deadline, Staios and his advisors will be able to revisit some of the potential deals they discussed before the NHL draft on June 28-29.

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The Ottawa Senators were sellers at the National Hockey League trade deadline, and, though they didn’t make any significant moves, they ultimately bought themselves some time.

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While time is of the essence for the Senators to get to the Stanley Cup playoffs even as they prepare to get officially eliminated for the seventh straight spring, they weren’t going to do anything before Friday’s 3 p.m. deadline passed that they felt wouldn’t pay dividends in the future.

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Steve Staios, the president of hockey operations and general manager, steering the ship for his first NHL trade deadline, found himself in a unique position because he wasn’t just trying to sell off assets, but also was looking for players to help his team take the next step.

The Senators had serious discussions with a few teams regarding moves that could have brought in the kind of help Staios wanted. He’s made it clear he wants a couple of veterans to help lead the club’s young core.

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But it was difficult to find the right fit, especially at this time of the season, when contenders are preparing for long playoff runs and aren’t in the same mode as the Senators. Staios is confident some of the discussions he’s had this season will pick up again in the spring.

Staios is the type of person that likes a patient, methodical approach, but he and owner Michael Andlauer know that patience has grown thin in Ottawa. People expected this club to take the next step this season, but now it has no chance of making the playoffs.

Instead, as the Senators trudge home from the four-game road trip they closed out Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks, they will be playing out the string with some players who have no chance of pulling on an Ottawa sweater again next season.

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Winger Dominik Kubalik, an unrestricted free agent as of July 1, won’t be back and, though the Senators tried for three months, they couldn’t find any takers for him. They didn’t deal defenceman Erik Brannstrom, either, and the next decision on him will be determine if the pending restricted free agent receives a qualifying offer or not.

Teams that called about blueliner Jacob Bernard-Docker weren’t willing to pay the asking price. He’s established himself as an NHL player and we’re not sure the Senators were in any hurry to deal him, but everybody is available depending on what you’re getting in return.

Andlauer and Staios knows the team overpromised and underdelivered this season. That’s why the Senators were trying to make significant moves instead of just selling off assets at this deadline. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to succeed.

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Staios noted that the Senators learned that a lot of teams coveted a lot of their players.

That’s good news when it comes to making changes, but you can’t make a trade if the team you’re trying to close a deal with doesn’t value players in the same price range as your organization.

Without the pressure of a deadline, Staios and his advisors will be able to revisit some of the potential deals they discussed before the NHL draft on June 28-29, when teams are in the mode to make whatever changes they find necessary for next season.


The Senators want to make sure their affiliate in Belleville makes the American Hockey League playoffs, but they will also give some of their prospects a chance to suit up in the NHL down the stretch.

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Injuries to Josh Norris, Thomas Chabot, Travis Hamonic and Belleville callup Matthew Highmore have created opportunities for others. The Senators picked up forward Boris Katchouk from the Chicago Blackhawks on waivers Friday and he was to make his debut against the Sharks on Saturday.

Staios hasn’t ruled out the possibility of guys like Belleville’s Tyler Kleven, Zack Ostapchuk and Oskar Pettersson getting a chance to play in Ottawa this season, though the AHL playoffs will also be a factor.

“All those players have progressed nicely,” Staios said. “They’re worthy of an opportunity to play. I think the one thing that I was always mindful of was the timing. Being in the American league and being in Belleville is good for their development and we never wanted to rush those situations along for these players.

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“So we’ve watched them very closely. The benefit of Belleville being so close and proximity to get there for live viewings and to watch their development has been great. I think all of those players are worthy for consideration to play some games for us.”


Senators winger Parker Kelly won’t be eligible to return until Thursday’s road game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He missed Saturday’s game in San Jose on the first part of a two-game suspension from the NHL’s department of player safety for a check to the head of Los Angeles Kings defenceman Andreas Englund last Thursday.

parker kelly ottawa senators suspended
Ottawa Senators forward was suspended for two games by the NHL for a hit to the head of Los Angeles Kings defenceman Andreas Englund on Thursday night. Photo by Matt Slocum /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Kelly was assessed a minor penalty for an illegal check with 3:33 left in the third period of a game the Senators lost 4-3.

“The head is clearly the main point of contact with the hit,” the league explained in its decision. “Kelly’s shoulder makes direct contact with the head and his contact is avoidable. He takes a poor angle and contacts Englund’s head.”

Kelly, who had no previous suspension history in 158 NHL games, was fined $7,900 U.S. That money is donated to the players’ assistance fund.


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