• By: Dave Gross

Work just underway for Dorion after trade deadline day

If you thought NHL trade deadline day was ripe with activity for the Ottawa Senators, wait ‘til June 26th in Montreal.

June 27th too.

That’s when general manager Pierre Dorion will strap on his thinking cap for what promises to be an extremely frantic NHL entry draft.

Dorion – already blessed with two lottery first-round picks – landed a third first-rounder on Monday when he sent popular Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the New York Islanders.

Oh yeah, Dorion also bagged a second-round pick this summer and a conditional third-rounder (in 2022, if the Isles win the Stanley Cup this season).

The tally then?

Three first-round selections this June, another four second-rounders and two more picks to come in the third round.

Welcome to Prospect City.

Add all the draftings (coming in June) to an already flush system filled with solid prospects (Drake Batherson, Logan Brown, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Josh  Norris, Alex Formenton, Rudy Balcers and Vitaly Abramov – to name a few) and we’d estimate that this ‘rebuilding’ stage is more than well underway and implemented.

But has it gone a little sideways? A little too far?

Much as I like watching the 67’s, I wouldn’t want to see them compete at the NHL level. But it’s looking more and more like a veritable junior-aged club – outside of a scant few veterans – will hit the ice next October as Ottawa Senators.

The take for dealing Pageau was particularly tasty though. Most thought Ottawa would be lucky to get just a second-round for the 27 year old. They did a lot better.

But I wonder at the cost.

Pageau – like Mark Stone before him – is not a trade chip that’s on the downside of a long career. Like Stone was last year, Pageau’s in his prime with likely plenty of upside.

He’s also huge in the community and one of the ‘faces’ of an organization that doesn’t sport too many.

Justifiably the fan base is upset. Don’t blame them. Pageau’s one of those guys you don’t just want to sign, you need(ed) to sign him.

Attendance is at an all-time low point and swapping away one of the very few guys who can actually generate ticket sales and drum up interest in a bottom-tier franchise doesn’t make sense.

Final analysis – Ottawa made a good hockey deal, but not one that’s going to sit well with a dwindling and already angry fan base.

News, notes and notions: Wayne Simmonds to Buffalo. Why, pray tell . . . Ilya Kovalchuk apparently told Habs GM Marc Bergevin his top choice would be to move to the Washington Capitals. Word is that Bergevin could have landed a lot more from different clubs but decided to help out the veteran and honour the request . . . Sportsnet’s Brian Burke on Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello: "I know Lou Lamoriello better than 95 per cent of the people on the planet, which means I don't know him very well at all . . . He's silent in seven languages." . . . Good deal from a very quiet Toronto Maple Leaf club in signing Jake Muzzin to a four-year deal worth a little more than $5.5 million per year. Muzzin’s a keeper and a key voice in the Leaf dressing room. Loved the term on this deal too . . . Toronto GM Kyle Dubas stated the obvious at his day-end presser, saying a lack of cap space held his team at bay from making any deals . . . Vlad Namestnikov will help an injury-plagued Colorado bunch. Great wheels will see him fit in quite nicely . . . Pending unrestricted free agent and former Senator Robin Lehner heads to Vegas from Chicago. For a guy who’s been through so much off the ice it’s great to see him getting a shot at a Cup on it . . . Loved Calgary’s acquisition of another Blackhawk in getting defenceman Erik Gustafsson. He’s got a cannon from the point and should greatly help a sometimes sputtering Flames’ attack . . . And, if you win with defence, have to like what Carolina accomplished Monday grabbing Brady Skjei and Sami Vatanen. The two blueliners bolster a strong defence but is missing Dougie Hamilton (leg) long term.

Senators – the week ahead:

Tuesday, Feb. 25: Ottawa at Nashville (8 pm)

Thursday, Feb. 27: Vancouver at Ottawa (7:30 pm)

Saturday, Feb. 29: Detroit at Ottawa (7 pm)