In other years where the Ottawa Senators are not legitimate contenders for a playoff run trading a prospect for a veteran doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. But as they approach the 2017 trade deadline the Senators have a chance to win the division and compete in the eastern conference playoffs.
Pierre Dorion, Senators General Manager, had publically announced he was looking to add forward help before the trade deadline passed.
Enter Alex Burrows.
Burrows was acquired by the Senators from the Vancouver Canucks on Monday in exchange for one of the Sens’ top prospects, Jonathan Dahlen.
On the surface level of this trade, the early consensus is that Vancouver won by a large margin, but the addition of Alex Burrows makes the Senators a much stronger team than one might think.
What does Burrows bring to the Senators?
The Senators are adding a player who has enjoyed a renaissance season playing alongside Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi for most of the year. His point totals don’t scream production, but his on-ice play has been exceptionally better than the numbers indicate. Burrows has spent a majority of the season being an effective player at both ends of the ice while matching up against opposing teams’ top lines. The value for Burrows isn’t his offense anymore, it’s his defensive play, playoff experience, and his contract.
When it comes to the playoffs, the experience is invaluable. Burrows has played in 70 playoff games, where he has 34 points. He was an exceptionally valuable part of Vancouver’s Stanley Cup run in 2011. Burrows is an agitating winger with great character who can provide leadership and experience to Ottawa’s lineup when the major tournament starts in April.
Burrows has been on the Canucks’ top penalty kill for over a decade and has excelled in the role. The Senators have the eighth best penalty kill, but Burrows should help improve it going forward. Burrows’ versatility is an attractive asset to teams. He can play on all four lines and be successful as a top-six forward and a fourth-liner. With a lot of injuries to the Senators top end wingers, Burrows can fill in wherever needed.
Additionally, The Senators are a budget team with an internal cap. His $4.5 million cap hit looks worse than it is because his actual salary is only $3 million. For waiving his no-trade clause Burrows was given a two-year extension to stay in Ottawa worth $5 million over the next two seasons. For a small market team who has difficulties attracting players in free agency trades such as these are how the Senators improve their lineup.
There is a lot to like about this deal from both sides, but there is another story angle where the Senators gave up a solid prospect, Jonathan Dahlen, 19, in exchange for a 35-year-old player on the decline. It’s no secret that Burrows’ best days of hockey are behind him despite having a bounce-back year with the Canucks. Yes, the Senators need scoring help and Burrows was once a 35 goal scorer, but he has been relegated to a more defensive role with the Canucks and only has nine goals this season. Not quite the goal scoring punch a lot of Senators fans were hoping Dorion would add before the deadline.
However, aside from his style of play and veteran experience another reason I think the Senators made the deal is due to the circumstance of the division. The Atlantic Division is wide open this year and the with the addition of Burrows the Senators add depth to an injury-riddled forward group in an effort to win the Atlantic crown. Dahlen, though a great prospect, currently plays in the Sweden Junior League and is not ready to help the Senators this season. While the Senators are seemingly in win-now mode, Burrows can help them achieve their goal of 2017–playoff success.
Three years down the road when Dahlen is scoring goals in bunches for the Canucks this deal may tilt considerably in Vancouver’s favor, but for a team who is ready to compete this season Burrows was a no-brainer addition to the Senators lineup.
The time to win is now for Ottawa. Dahlen projects to be a good player in this league in the future, but Burrows will improve the penalty kill, add scoring depth, and give the Ottawa Senators a chance to make a playoff push and win the Atlantic Division in a year where the opportunity to do that seems better than ever.