Reports out of Canada have suggested that the Arizona Coyotes and Ottawa Senators are discussing a possible trade involving Derek Stepan.
The reports come from TSN’s Shawn Simpson, host of the Ottawa-based sports radio station TSN 1200.
The potential for a trade between the Coyotes and Senators for Stepan is something that has been considered before, with the two sides seemingly well-suited to making a deal happen that can benefit both parties.
For the Senators, Stepan would be a strong leadership player that costs very little in terms of real dollars - accounting for just $2 million in actual salary while holding a cap hit of $6.5 million.
Stepan’s $3 million signing bonus was paid months ago, meaning that the biggest issue around the deal is his cap hit, which the Senators currently have plenty of with the majority of their roster expected to be made up of young, promising prospects.
The Sens do have a plethora of center options, with the likes of Artem Anisimov, Chris Tierney, Colin White, and even Logan Brown knocking on the door, so it could be expected that a player in that position is sent in the opposite direction.
However, the Canadian club could opt to go veteran-heavy during this 56-game season and keep prospects in the minors to over-season before calling up the very best the season after.
For the Coyotes, parting ways with Stepan would mean a few things. It would potentially free up $6.5 million in cap space, allowing the team to target some other preferred players while leaving more gaps through the middle of the offense.
The Coyotes need more centers in their line-up, so parting ways with a player that is proven at the position would be a surprise, if not for the former New York Ranger’s decreasing offensive production in Rick Tocchet’s system.
After registering a healthy 56 points in his debut season in the desert, his season totals have plummeted to 35 and 28 respectively - not great numbers for a player that often plays on the team’s top offensive line.
Under Senators head coach D.J. Smith, Stepan would likely regain his strong offensive touch and become an extremely valuable piece in their North Division campaign.
Stepan isn’t likely to put up big numbers under Tocchet again, unfortunately, meaning that the fan-favorite and alternate captain of the team is more than likely out of the door if the Coyotes can get value for him.
GM Bill Armstrong will be determined to add more draft picks, with the team making one pick in the first three rounds of the 2021 Draft - something that the Senators may be willing to accommodate with the potential value Stepan could give them.
This is still an early report, but with the NHL season now just around the corner, it wouldn’t be surprising to see things move much faster than they previously would have, especially if teams are required to stick to strict bubbles - something that could impact trades this upcoming season.