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Methot Working Towards Comeback; Potential Fit in Ottawa?

November 12, 2019, 6:32 PM ET [1 Comments]
Michael Stuart
Ottawa Senators Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
That the Ottawa Senators have shown very little in the way of defensive proficiency to start the 2019-20 campaign shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. With the exception of Mark Borowiecki and Dylan DeMelo, who have combined to form the team’s third pairing on most nights this season, there’s an argument to be made that everyone on the team’s blue line this year is either in the wrong role or playing at the wrong level. It’s one of the big reasons that the Senators are allowing more expected goals per 60 minutes of five-on-five action than 27 other teams according to Natural Stat Trick.

As mentioned in Monday night’s “Thumbs” recap, arguably the biggest concern for this Ottawa team in terms of its defense is the struggles of Erik Brannstrom. The 20-year-old defender, acquired in the deal that sent Mark Stone to Vegas, has looked out of place more often than not at the NHL level this season. There’s a more than compelling case to be made that he would be better served by playing meaningful minutes in the AHL. The problem for the Senators, of course, is that they simply don’t have enough bodies in the system right now to make that a viable option. Simply put, Christian Wolanin’s injury threw a serious wrench into any development plans the team may have had in place for Brannstrom.

The question now is what the Senators should do to fix what is clearly broken. Winning games at the NHL level doesn’t have to be a priority, seeing as the team is quite clearly one of the worst in the league. Instead, the priority should be ensuring that Brannstrom (and Thomas Chabot, but that’s a topic for another day…) are protected and developed properly such that they are in a position to be really, really effective NHL pieces when the Senators are ready to compete down the road.

It’s that line of thinking that makes khawk’s recent suggestion of signing a player like Marc Methot potentially attractive.

The Senators are intimately familiar with Methot, with the 34-year-old having spent five seasons in Ottawa between 2012-13 and 2016-17. After fizzling out in Dallas due to the injury bug and lackluster play in limited action, Methot is reportedly working towards an NHL comeback:

There’s no sense in examining Methot’s recent NHL history to determine whether signing him makes sense. Any look at the numbers, advanced or otherwise, suggests that he wouldn’t give this Senators roster much of a boost on the ice. What he might bring to the table, though, is twofold:

1) Assuming he can get healthy and conditioned to play, signing Methot would be a feel-good story for a Senators team that has been on the wrong side of too many feel-bad stories over the last few seasons.

2) Signing Methot would help to rectify the issue with Brannstrom, as it would almost certainly result in the latter’s demotion to the AHL.

Normally I would be quick to discount the first line of feel-good thinking, but with this Senators team things are different. As already mentioned, the 2019-20 Senators aren’t in the business of winning hockey games. They are in the business of developing prospects in the most effective way possible. Right now, they aren’t having much success with Brannstrom on that front, so something needs to change. Whether that means signing khawk, spatso, me, or Marc Methot to a contract that fills space so Brannstrom can get time in the AHL doesn’t matter. It just needs to happen. If you’re able to create some goodwill in the process – e.g. by bringing back a fan favorite – all the better.

There are probably (read: almost certainly) more skilled options immediately available on the market, but the Senators don’t need to find someone skilled to nurture Ron Hainsey’s development. The Senators need to find a body that will let them develop prospects at the right level. If Methot can get healthy and the Senators can help to facilitate a return to competitive hockey for him, it could be a win-win regardless of how much the player has left in the tank.

As always, thanks for reading.
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