Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion is giving himself a little bit of insurance.
In order to acquire Matt Duchene from the Colorado Avalanche, the Sens had to send their 2018 first-round pick to the Avs, along with multiple other pieces. However, if Ottawa misses the playoffs this season, and that first-round pick ends up being in the top 10, the Sens will have the option to keep it. In that scenario, the Avs would get Ottawa's 2019 first-rounder no matter what, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.
The Senators currently stand at 6-3-5, good for second in the Atlantic Division, and are just one year removed from a trip to the Eastern Conference finals. Missing the playoffs seems unlikely, but anything can happen in this league, and it never hurts to provide yourself with some insurance.
After all, it was only this past offseason that the Philadelphia Flyers jumped 11 spots from 13th overall to second overall at the draft lottery. If that happened to the Senators this offseason without protecting their pick, they would surely be kicking themselves.