Ben Fraser The Hockey Writers
Senators Trade Target: Ondrej Kaše
The Ottawa Senators have a set of prospects that rival the best in the NHL. With the quality of those players, there is a great chance that many will transition to the team, and produce as advertised.
With that said, not all prospects work out, and it some cases, it becomes more valuable to trade a prospect for an established player. With the surplus the Sens have, and the number of picks the team has in the 2020 NHL draft, it may be in the franchise’s best interest to trade a prospect for a player who can fit into the lineup immediately. A player who I have in mind is Boston Bruins winger Ondrej Kaše.
Why Kaše Will Fit With Ottawa
The 24-year-old is a perfect fit for the Senators, as the team is in need of a pure scorer who can handle himself in head coach D.J. Smith’s system, which is similar to that of Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, and his former coaches for the Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Eakins, and Randy Carlyle. The Senators play a fast-paced, physical game, and with the talent and drive that Kaše possesses, he would be an excellent addition to a team that needs an established scorer. The Czech would also be an instant fit in the Senators’ top six, as well as on the power play, which needs a boost of talent.
His scoring ability is the best part of his game, but having never played a full season, his stats are reflective of that. Even so, he scores and produces points at an effective rate. He has the potential to become a serious goal-scoring threat in the league if he can stay healthy.
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In his career season in 2017-18, he scored 20 goals in only 66 games, and he was on pace for 25 if he had stayed healthy. In 2018-19, he scored 11 goals in 30 games, which put him at a 30-goal pace over a full season. With the exception of his six games in Boston, he has also been a positive Corsi player as well, and the other advanced stats he possesses are a very good sign.
Kaše had to fight for a chance to even make the NHL, as he was drafted in the seventh round, 205th overall in 2014. The fact that he even made the NHL is a feat in itself, as the odds of doing that are below two percent. With his 97 career points, he is 23rd in his draft class, for a seventh-rounder, that is incredible, and speaks to his work ethic.
Why Would the Bruins Trade Kaše?
With all the praise put towards Kaše, the question is why would they trade him? There a few reasons why Boston would be willing to let Kaše go, but the biggest reason revolves around the differences between the Senators and Bruins prospect systems.
In January, Scott Wheeler and The Athletic ranked Boston as the 30th-best prospect system in the NHL, second-worst of all teams. In the same article, the Senators were ranked 7th, and that is before the team will gain two possible franchise players in the 2020 Draft.
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The Bruins lack any franchise-altering prospects, and while Kaše won’t fetch a Jacob Bernard-Docker, Josh Norris, or Drake Batherson, it isn’t too far fetched to see the Senators give up a B-level prospect for Kaše. Also factoring in the stockpile of draft picks that the Senators have acquired, it would be interesting to send a package to Boston that includes a player like Vitali Abramov or Rudolfs Balcers, and a few drafts picks for Kaše. This becomes even more important for Boston when you consider they gave up their first-round pick for Kaše in a very deep 2020 Draft.
The Bruins never got a chance to see Kaše in action this season, as he only suited up for six games before the season was postponed. The issue for him and Boston is that the Bruins are a very tough team, especially in the playoffs. In the past, he has been a poor playoff performer, only scoring two points in 13 games, and with his history of injuries, that may affect how hard he is able to play in Boston. If he can’t play the kind of hockey the Bruins like, it could affect how he is used, and how the rest of team performs. If the top-seeded Bruins are eliminated from the playoffs early, they may look to make some changes, and Kaše could be among them.
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You have to wait until the 24-team playoffs get going, but Boston isn’t afraid to let players go who don’t fit within their ideals. If he doesn’t work with Boston, and you give the Bruins the right deal, it could be a steal for Ottawa.
What Are the Risks With Kaše?
As previously mentioned, Kaše has dealt with some serious injuries in the past. Last January, he suffered a season-ending torn labrum injury and has suffered concussions that date back multiple years. When you add a player who has that kind of history surrounding him, due diligence needs to be done. If Kaše can’t beat his prior injuries, you are giving up assets for a player who will never be a consistent figure in the lineup. It is a situation where the risk may outweigh the reward. Kaše has the potential to be a 25-30 goal scorer, but if he isn’t on the ice enough, that potential is irrelevant.
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Even if Kaše beats the injury bug, he has never played a full season, so it’s not known how he would adjust to a full season, plus the added intensity of the playoffs. The talent is there, but he isn’t a sure thing.
Alternative Paths to Kaše
If Kaše can’t be acquired via trade, there is an alternative path. He is a free agent in 2021, and the Senators could take a shot at him then. This is assuming that the Bruins will not re-sign him before then, or trade him to a different team. While the Sens could take the risk and wait, he might not be available when the time comes. The team needs to take the risk and make a move for him as soon as possible.
Even with all the risks with Kaše, he is still a very good hockey player and someone the Senators should take a chance on.
Fortune Favours the Bold
The risk may be high on him, but if it works out, he has the chance to be a massive reward for a team that needs a scorer like him. If the franchise wants to compete in the future, they can’t be afraid to take a gamble. A player like Kaše is worth the odds and it’s a player the Senators need.
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