Strengthened Senators Are Our NHL Pick When Visiting Red Wings

Jason Lake

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 7:06 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016 7:06 PM UTC

The Ottawa Senators have pulled off a blockbuster trade ahead of Wednesday's matchup with the Detroit Red Wings. How will the Dion Phaneuf deal affect our NHL picks?

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Free NHL Pick: Ottawa +147
Best Line Offered: at Heritage


Jason's 2015-16 record as of Feb. 9: 1-1 ATS (–0.85 units), 0-4 ML (–4.12 units), 0-0-2 Totals (0.00 units)

You don't see trades like this too often anymore. On Tuesday, the Ottawa Senators sent four players and a second-round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs; in exchange, they received a package of five players, led by Leafs defenseman and team captain Dion Phaneuf. None of the contracts involved were massaged to make this deal happen. Neither team is eating any salary – the Senators will assume the entirety of Phaneuf's contract, which still has five years and $33 million on it after this season.

Well, that certainly gives us something to think about for Wednesday's game (7:00 p.m. ET, TSN) between the Sens and the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings have opened as -160 home faves on our NHL odds board, but their opponents have at least nominally upgraded their roster in order to make a playoff push. Are we buying or selling here at the home office?


Before we get to that nine-player swap, let's take a quick look at the advanced stats. Hockey-Reference prefers the Red Wings (+0.01 SRS) over the Senators (-0.18 SRS) by... let's see, carry the one... 0.19 goals on neutral ice, so make it 0.49 goals at Joe Louis Arena. If I recall correctly, back in olden times (around 2003), a half-goal was considered to be worth 50 cents on the moneyline during the regular season. Goal scoring is up slightly since then at 5.31 goals per game, compared to 5.14 goals the year before the lockout. So Detroit -160 already looks like an inflated price.

Depends on who's between the pipes, of course. According to Left Wing Lock, Petr Mrazek (.933 save percentage) is confirmed for Detroit, while Craig Anderson (.914 SV%) is expected to play for Ottawa on the front end of a back-to-back situation. That's the No. 1 netminder for each team. Let's call it a wash. Meanwhile, the Wings defense could be without Mike Green (four goals, 17 assists) on Wednesday after he missed Monday's game against Florida with a recurring groin problem. They're already missing Niklas Kronwall (three goals, 14 assists). Looks good for Ottawa.

So what about this trade? Isn't Phaneuf (three goals, 21 assists) supposed to be washed up at age 30? Well, he's not an All-Star anymore, but Phaneuf did play well for Toronto this year as a No. 3 or No. 4 blueliner. That's an important addition for the Sens, and in the short term, the only player of consequence it cost them was LW Milan Michalek (six goals, four assists), who's even further past his prime at age 31 – and was on the injured list anyway with a broken finger. Factor in the extra zip this trade should put in Ottawa's step, and yes indeed, we're putting the Senators in our NHL picks this time around.

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