Could Mike Reilly’s former team, the Ottawa Senators, solve the salary cap dilemma facing the Boston Bruins and reacquire the 29-year-old defenseman on the NHL trade market?
Already having been in deep-dive mode scouring the NHL trade market for a defenseman since the 2022 NHL Entry Draft back in July, the Ottawa Senators may be forced to finally pull the trigger on a trade if top defenseman Thomas Chabot, injured in a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday, ends up being out long-term.
On the latest edition of ’32 Thoughts’ on Hockey Night In Canada on Saturday night, Sportsnet Insider Elliotte Friedman was asked what the Chabot injury could lead to for the Senators?
“Now there’s no clarity on this right now, and I’m sure we’ll all have to see how Chabot looks and feels [Sunday] after the team returns home from the road trip,” Friedman pointed out. “But what it might do is accelerate Ottawa’s attempts to find another defenseman. It’s been well-known out there that GM Pierre Dorion has been trying to do it and as another couple teams said ‘he’s been looking under every single rock you can think of to find a defender.
I think there’s a couple of things that are coming against it though: No. 1 is that he doesn’t want to do anything insane and he wants to be careful with any move he makes and doesn’t want to make a desperate trade that looks bad for years to come, and I think the other thing too is that a couple teams reminded me, there’s still a lot of players, who have partial no-trade clauses into Canada, and that makes it even more challenging for a team like Ottawa or the other Canadian clubs when it comes to adding players.”
As reported here numerous times, Reilly, who is in the second season of a three-yea, $9 million contract ($3M AAV), and forward Craig Smith, in the final season of a three-year, $9.3 million contract ($3.1M AAV), have been on the NHL trade market since this past offseason. Reilly was actually waived (along with Nick Foligno and Chris Wagner), was waived just prior to this season and again this past Wednesday to facilitate the return of Charlie McAvoy to the ice and of his $9.5 million cap hit. Reilly cleared both times and is currently on the Providence Bruins roster. However, even with Reilly being in the AHL, Bruins would not currently be $887, 500 under the $82.5M salary cap if not for being able to place goalie Jeremy Swayman ($925,000 AAV) on injured reserve and defenseman Derek Forbort on long-term injury reserve this past week.
A well-placed NHL source has confirmed to BHN that the Ottawa Senators were one of the teams that previously ‘at least poked around’ on re-acquiring Reilly, but was not sure where that stood as of Sunday. With McAvoy and Brad Marchand ($6.12M AAV), back on the cap books, the Bruins will eventually need to move a contract like Reilly’s or Smith’s on the NHL trade market, and likely sooner rather than later because Swayman and Forbort are pegged to both be back by early December at the latest. With the Bruins’ magic training staff, chances are they’ll return earlier than that.
So could the urgency Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is feeling to unload cap space on the NHL trade market be a good fit for Senators GM Pierre Dorion’s urgency to acquire a defenseman? The chances are strong that Dorion or any NHL GM will ask for a sweetener in the form of a draft pick from the Bruins, but at this point Sweeney likely has to eat that bullet.