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BREAKING: Senators Deal DeMelo to Jets for Peanuts

February 18, 2020, 2:22 PM ET [124 Comments]
Michael Stuart
Ottawa Senators Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Ottawa Senators announced this afternoon that they have traded defenseman Dylan DeMelo to the Winnipeg Jets for a third-round pick in the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft:

For Winnipeg, this deal is a slam dunk. They needed help on defense, and they picked up arguably the best value-for-dollar player available on the trade market at this deadline. That's a win for the Jets and their fans.

For the Senators, however, it's impossible to call this return anything but underwhelming. Since arriving in Ottawa, DeMelo has shown himself to be capable of playing top-pairing minutes with Thomas Chabot against the league's best offensive forces. He was one of only a few bright spots on an otherwise lowly blue line. While players of his ilk (i.e. those with supremely good and even elite underlying numbers, absent traditional counting stats) are traditionally undervalued by the market, it's tough to believe that a third-round pick was as good as the Senators could do, especially given what the trade market has looked like over the last few days.

While this space has often been used to advocate for the idea of trading pending free agents for picks, DeMelo's situation was different. The Senators don't have enough players like him in their system. He was on an affordable deal. He had a defined role with this club now and moving forward. Trading him for anything other than a gross, gross over-payment would have been a mistake from this blogger's perspective; to deal him for far less than he's worth on the ice to the Senators right now is an abject failure to the nth degree.

The bigger picture impact here leaves a lot of questions to be asked. The organization's ability to identify, evaluate, and retain quality defenders is far from proven. While a player like Nikita Zaitsev receives constant praise from the organization, DeMelo is being sent to Winnipeg for a mid-round pick. There's a disconnect there, and it's one that could extend the rebuild in a material way.

With so many pending free agents sitting on Ottawa's roster, this trade deadline has the potential to signify to a cautious fan base that this rebuild is on the right track. Unfortunately, the first step today was one backward rather than forward. In an environment where selling fans on the future, and selling tickets, has been a challenge, today's trade does nothing to alleviate concern. There's still time to rectify that in advance of Monday, but skepticism will be high until it happens.

As always, thanks for reading.
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