As training camps wind down and we inch close to the start of the regular season, the Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators still don’t have key players in training camp. Specifically Jamie Drysdale and Trevor Zegras for the Ducks and Shane Pinto for the Senators.
In Part One of a two-part series, we will be looking at why it is important to have these players in camp and if these teams could have taken other approaches to get this situation resolved.
Let’s start in Ottawa. Pinto was a crucial piece for the Senators last season. He scored 20 goals and saw time playing second-line center minutes with Josh Norris out with a shoulder injury. Depth down the middle is so important in this league. Teams do not win without good centers in this league and Pinto is one of those players.
Not to mention Pinto played in all 82 games last season. He is a player still on the rise for an up-and-coming Senators team. There are expectations now for this team to compete for a playoff spot, if not make the playoffs. However, it is going to be tricky for one of their young players not to be in camp.
We see it all the time the longer these holdouts last, the harder it is for the player to catch up to the product on the ice. How many times have we seen it? A player holds out, has a contract issue or an injury and when they come back they are trying to play catch up which ultimately leads to an injury.
Even with Josh Norris back, there is no guarantee he plays in all 82 games. Though you hope for Norris’s sake he does. Pinto needs to be there. Practicing outside of the Senators organization is good, but it is not the NHL.
The Senators want to get the deal done. We know the term is a bridge deal of two to three years at $2.5 million. The issue is moving the money. But from Pinto’s side of things that is not his problem because he saw other guys get paid. And now it is a waiting game for Ottawa.
Instead of signing the player and then moving money, Ottawa is doing the opposite. Sometimes that works and sometimes it does not. And right now it is coming up all zeroes for the parties involved.
As NHLRumors.com has reported, the Senators are looking to move Mathieu Joseph. He makes $2.95 million over the next three seasons. But teams are looking for a sweetener i.e. a first-round pick. That is too rich for Ottawa. Thus the dilemma for GM Pierre Dorin.
Teams know the player that needs to be cleared to get Shane Pinto signed. But maybe Ottawa could have snuck some guys through waivers to make the money work for Pinto in the long run instead of taking this approach. Or is there another player that teams are eyeing that Dorin does not want to move?
The Senators also brought Josh Bailey in on PTO. If Bailey performs that is another player that will need a contract and even more money to move. But Pinto is the priority.
Missing time is never ideal for any player, but for a player like Shane Pinto, it is even more crucial. This could affect things down the road because the Senators view Pinto as a major piece of their foundation core moving forward.
The Senators must find a way to get this kid into training camp before it is too late. But the damage might have been done already.