With the contract extensions given out by the Senators on Thursday to center’s Zach Smith and Colin Greening, what will be the impact on next year’s roster?
With both contract extensions being one-way deals, both Smith and Greening will be suiting up for Ottawa come this fall. With the rebuild in place, and a few roster spots open on the forward ranks, many did not know which way the Murrays would go in filling those positions. They could have went the UFA route and brought in some outside help. But with a weak free agent market this summer, Ottawa would have had to over pay to land one of the few decent free agents available.
The other option was to go with their young developing players and give them a shot. By choosing to go with their young guns, Ottawa has locked up a few spots in their line-up. Both Smith and Greening bring tons of speed and grit to the line-up. However, the potential of both players is yet to be determined.
With Zach Smith, you get a gritty, tough, tireless worker who will put it all on the line. Blocking shots, throwing hits and dropping the mitts, Smith is the prototypical energy forward. Capable of playing center or wing, Smith is a coach’s dream. Playing parts of three seasons with Ottawa, Smith has moved up and down between the third and fourth lines during his tenure. With the departure of Chris Kelly via a trade to Boston, the third line center position is up for grabs. With a career high this past year in goals with four, Smith is not know for his goal scoring abilities. He might be better suited as a shutdown forward as he can play an in-your-face style of game.
With the second line center position not yet determined as it is uncertain if Peter Regin will fill that role (or if UFA Ryan Shannon or another UFA will), it is hard to slot Smith in a role just yet. However, it can be certain that Smith will be a bottom six forward on the bottom two forward lines. Having a stellar playoff run with the Binghamton Senators this year, with a big summer, Smith can come in a be a force next year, in whatever role he fills.
Colin Greening on the other hand is still some what of an unknown. In his first year as a pro, Greening had an interesting year. Getting off to a slow start, Greening played 59 games in the AHL and racked up 40 points. Being called up after the trade deadline, Greening found chemistry with Jason Spezza on the first line for Ottawa. In 24 for games, Greening put up 13 points while providing some toughness on the first line. Returning to Binghamton for their playoff run, Colin has struggled. In 17 games, he only has three points.
So who is the real Colin Greening? It is hard to say. He has the skill to be an impact player in the league if paired with the right players. He has put up numbers all his career so its far to say the potential is there. I think Greening is best suited as a complimentary role player on a scoring line such as Ryane Clowe or Mike Knuble.
Or is Greening destined to be a bottom six forward. He has all the tools to be a effective bottom six forward – size, speed and smarts. It’ll be up to Greening and his off-season training to determine where he plays when next year begins.
The interesting part of these two contracts are the one-way deals. Smith’s contract is understandable as he as played an increasing role over the last three seasons in Ottawa (Smith’s contract is 2 yrs at $1.4 million – $700,000 per yr). Greening on the other hand has one year of pro hockey under his belt. An RFA, Greening seemed to have little bargaining power in negotiations. With Greening receiving a three year deal (3 yrs, $2.450 million, $816,667 per yr), it was surprising for him to get a one-way deal, especially with so many other RFA’s to decide from.
Among the long list of RFA’s Ottawa will try to resign are Bobby Butler, Erik Condra, Roman Wick, Kaspars Daugavins, Cody Bass and Ryan Potulny. All are having great playoff runs, especially Potulny and Daugavins who are looking to be rewarded with one-way deals. By giving Smith and Greening one-way deals, there are now nine forwards sign with one-way deals not including NCAA standout Stephen Da Costa who is on a two-way deal. Ryan Shannon is also in the mix as the UFA had a strong finish to his year and may be brought back.
If Ottawa does not sign any free agent this off-season, there will be a lot of competition for the remaining open forward spots in training camp. Daugavins and Wick have Europe as an option as they both have played there in their pasts which could mean their contracts might be a little difficult to get done. Getting the rest of the RFA’s under contract shouldn’t be too hard for management, as they could promise them that a solid AHL campaign in the upcoming year will be rewarded with an NHL contract as Ottawa only has eight players signed to play in the 2012-2013 season.
I think these two signings mark the changing of the old guard. Players like Chris Neil, Nick Foligno and Peter Regin will have competition for their ice time and will be seen as expendable if Smith and Greening are ready for prime time. These contracts are also the beginning of a huge summer for the franchise as it embarks on its rebuild. Get ready Sens Army, it is only the beginning of the fun.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
Can’t get enough of SenShot? Here are more ways to get the most info about your Ottawa Senators.
Visit our SenShot Facebook Page. Like us and post comments, photos and videos.
Please visit our NHL Main Page: Too Many Men On The Site.