How Joey Daccord's Injury Creates More Questions
An injury afforded Joey Daccord the opportunity to build momentum and allow him to make a strong case for the number one goaltending position, and an injury has stunted that plan.
Marcus Hogberg and Matt Murray’s inadequate play largely contributed to the Senators having the worst goaltending metrics of any NHL team this season, but it took injuries to create an opportunity for Daccord. With the exception of one six-goal game against the Edmonton Oilers last week, the Arizona State University product has performed relatively well.
Daccord has displayed athleticism, stability and a confidence that has not been seen around these parts in quite some time.
It is like the hockey gods are conspiring against the Senators to enjoy nice things.
Daccord needed assistance to get off the ice and could not put any weight on his left leg. The leg injuries that Colin White and Ryan Dzingel sustained this past week looked ugly as well, so maybe there is hope that he can return sooner than many anticipate. Hopefully whatever treatments and magical spray Gerry Townend used can be used again to save Daccord’s season. The Senators do not play again until next Tuesday, so there is a bit of time before the next game.
Fortunately, the Senators successfully put in a claim on Anton Forsberg yesterday and once he fulfills his seven-day quarantine next week, he will be eligible to play. Even with Forsberg’s debut with the Senators around the corner, it is easy to wonder whether Pierre Dorion will aggressively look outside the organization for a veteran to insulate the kids. Dorion has never hesitated to add veteran goaltenders to the mix before. He added Mike Condon in November of 2016 when it became clear that Andrew Hammond was not going to be a reliably healthy piece. In January of 2019, he made a similar deal to acquire Anders Nilsson from the Vancouver Canucks. At that time, the organization was uncomfortable with the idea of playing Marcus Hogberg consistently behind a terrible defensive team. (As an aside, Hogberg would play four games with the Senators during the 2018-19 campaign before appearing regularly the following season.)
The wrinkle is that those transactions were made during normal circumstances. Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, any goaltender that the Senators acquire from outside the province or country will be subject to the same isolation timelines that Dzingel and Forsberg encountered.
Perhaps most importantly, is it worthwhile throwing away another asset to acquire a stopgap solution when we simply don’t know how long players like Murray or Daccord will be out? It is a fair question. Having already jettisoned a few valued picks for unproductive contributions like Murray and Derek Stepan, perhaps Dorion will think twice about throwing around assets for stopgap solutions to a problem that isn’t particularly significant.
Barring some unforeseen circumstances, Forsberg will be on the roster next week. It is not like the Senators have playoff aspirations to fuel their decision-making process. It is an abbreviated NHL and AHL season anyway, so playing or carrying Filip Gustavsson around in the interim may not even be that bad.
Gustavsson, a key piece of the 2018 trade that sent Derick Brassard to the Penguins at the deadline, looked fine in relief last night. He stopped all eight of the shots that he faced in regulation and overtime – including a beautiful toe-extension save on a Bo Horvat breakaway.
Gustavsson is only 22 years old however and he does not have much of a history of success at any North American professional level. Across his two seasons in Belleville, Gustavsson only played in 55 games with some uninspiring save percentages (.887, .889). He has been significantly better this season (2.68 GAA, .909 save percentage), but he has never really had any lengthy opportunity to be the go-to guy since joining the organization. Knowing that, I wonder if the Senators are apprehensive about giving him an opportunity to showcase what he can do at the NHL level. Perhaps the organization would prefer to have Gustavsson play predominantly as the starter in Belleville.
Conversely, I wonder how much consideration is being given to just letting him remain in Ottawa. It is not exactly a state secret to recognize that Belleville is lacking in talent thanks to the graduation and loss of some key players from last season’s roster. In the same way that it was difficult to evaluate a goaltender like Chris Driedger’s potential impact because he played behind some bad B-Sens teams, perhaps an extended look in Ottawa would allow the organization to evaluate what he can do when he’s surrounded by better talent.
Regardless of the severity of Daccord’s injury, it should not influence how the Senators plans to handle the expansion draft this summer. Based off what he showed in his limited time here, the Senators should protect Daccord as their goaltender over Matt Murray. Sample size be damned, the combination of Murray’s performance, age and contract make him undesirable. Protecting him would either simply be a poorly orchestrated attempt to instill confidence in the goaltender or avoid the inevitable negative PR that would be invited by leaving him exposed.
Looking at the list of what may be available on Ottawa’s expansion list, the most desirable assets are the goaltenders or prospective young forwards who remain in Belleville.