Back at the trade deadline in April, the Ottawa Senators pulled off one of the more surprising trades of the season, in swapping goaltender Ben Bishop with young Tampa Bay Lightning forward Cory Conacher. It was surprising on a few different levels, all of which favor the Senators greatly.
It was surprising because they were able to deal Bishop, who resided at a position of strength and depth for the Senators, for a Calder Trophy candidate with big offensive upside in Conacher. Any angle you look at it, it’s a deal in which the Senators completely fleeced the Lightning.
While Ottawa was obviously excited to get an offensive player of Conacher’s caliber to add to their stretch run, the numbers unfortunately did not follow him. After going for 24 points in 35 games with the Bolts, Conacher came to the Senators and finished with only five points in a dozen tilts.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that he played poorly, however. He’s not the type of player that needs to be scoring to be effective. In addition to that, his line isn’t one that put in much of anything offensively, as he combined with Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad for just five goals total in their time together.
That’s three very young players, each getting their first real taste of the league, with offensive upside. Which gives a pretty strong indication that numbers will increase for all three of them. Especially with the upside of each. Conacher in particular is an excellent playmaker out on the wing, capable of putting in some goals as well.
Conacher will be a key forward for this team in the future in a number of ways. Despite his smaller frame, he’s the type of player that’s difficult to play against. He’s an agitator of sorts, unwilling to back down from competition regardless of size. Even with the beating that he took in the postseason, he kept coming back.
After a short time to adjust to playing in Ottawa, Conacher should see his numbers get back to where they were in his time with Tampa Bay. His offensive upside is just too high to think that he’s only going to put up a point in 42 percent of games. He’ll be an offensive threat for this team next season and it should be a blast to watch.