As I mentioned in today's Gameday Preview for SenatorsExtra.com, it's a day for revisiting last season's deadline deal that had Ottawa shipping Ben Bishop to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Cory Conacher and a fourth round pick that turned out to be Swedish prospect Tobias Lindberg.
Ian Mendes penned an article for TSN.ca that retrospectively looked at the situations and realities that the Senators faced when making the Cory Conacher trade. He offers some points that I would love to expand upon, but I think it's noon and this discussion is probably already oversaturated.
Mendes did drop one interesting nugget of information that has not really been discussed in great detail.
I can tell you with a great deal of authority that the Senators were pursuing a trade with the Flyers near the deadline that would have seen Ben Bishop traded to Philadelphia for Sean Couturier. That was the Senators first option and it looked like it may happen right up until 12 noon on deadline day. The Flyers had even claimed centre Adam Hall off waivers right around the deadline, making the Sens believe they were ready to part with Couturier under the right circumstances.
But once the Flyers got cold feet, Murray had to look at his other options and he circled back to the Lightning. Yes, there was a deal on the table from the Oilers that would have included Ryan Jones, but the Senators needed some scoring up front.
It has been reported elsewhere that the Senators had inquired on Couturier and looked into his availability (note: I think Garrioch and Friedman have reported this before), but I don't anyone has described how close this trade was to coming to fruition as Mendes has.
Couturier, if you'll recall, was one of the prospects that Ottawa invited for a private pre-draft work out in 2011 — along with Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Strome, and Mika Zibanejad. Although the Sens ultimately wound up selecting Zibanejad with the sixth overall selection that year, Ottawa's interest in Couturier dates back years, so it's not surprising to hear more about their renewed interest now.
Renowned as a defensive specialist whose offensive production in the QMJHL has never really translated to the NHL game, Couturier's addition would have instantly made the Senators a tougher team to play against. His presence also would have given the Senators a bevy of young centers and would have afforded them the flexibility to potentially move one of them (ie. Mika Zibanejad, Jean-Gabriel Pageau or a Zack Smith) or at the very least, he would have been a controllable asset who could have provided more insulation against a Spezza injury or departure.
Alas, a deal was not struck, but that does not mean that it's not fun to think about what kind of effects it would have had on Ottawa's personnel and management's future decisions.