Mika Zibanejad and Jakob Silfverbeg are both expected to have spots next year. There will also be many prospects such as Stephane Da Costa, Mark Stone and Stefan Noesen competing to grab a spot as well. With only five games remaining in the regular season, let’s take a quick look at who may no longer be a part of this franchise next season.
1. Zenon Konopka
By all accounts Zenon Konopka is the perfect role player. He’s apparently a very good guy in the locker room, he’ll fight and defend his team-mates whenever the need arises, he can play the penalty kill, and he’s one of the best in the game when it comes to faceoffs. Unfortunately for him he lacks any offensive talent and speed. He also has a reputation with the referees leading to more penalties taken when he’s on the ice. With this year supposedly being a rebuild, it made sense to sign Konopka as this team wasn’t expected to go places. However, with his contract up at the end of this season he’s as good as gone with so many prospects looking to make the jump.
2. Kaspars Daugavins
Many thought in the offseason that Daugavins would return to Europe after having still not cracked the NHL. Yet he made the choice to sign a one year two way contract for this season to give it one last shot. It proved worthwhile, as after being called up he managed to stick with the big club. His play started off strong but has since slipped as the season passed and he has found himself a healthy scratch more often than not. He hasn’t put up strong offensive numbers with 11 points in 61 games, but has provided the team with solid penalty killing. At the end of this season Daugavins is still an RFA. However, he has played over 60 games, meaning the Sens will have to offer him a one way contract should they decide to keep him. I have a hard time believing they will do so unless he performs in these late games and playoffs should the Sens make it.
3. Bobby Butler
After an extremely strong rookie season in which he looked like he may be top 6 material, expectations were high for Butler this season. Whether it was a bad offseason or something else, Butler has just not been able to reach the level he was playing at last season. He only has 15 points in 55 games and has found himself a healthy scratch often this season. When he’s not putting up points his worth goes down as he’s not part of the penalty kill. However, what he has going for him is that he’s still signed for next season at $1.05 million on a one way contract. It’s extremely likely Ottawa will give him a chance in training camp to prove himself again. If he isn’t able to crack the team next year, the question is whether the Sens will still keep him around as an extra forward.
4. Jesse Winchester
Unfortunately for Winchester, his concussion injury may have cost him. He’s a UFA next season and with only 28GP the Sens may decided to let him go. If he can squeeze in the lineup (very doubtful) before playoffs that may change though. Winchester has proven to be a very solid 4th line center, is one of the best on the team at faceoffs and is a very solid penalty killer. However, with such a small game sample size it will cause some hesitation when it comes to re-signing him.
5. Jim O’Brien
O’Brien had already been called a 1st round bust years ago, but a strong showing in his callup has allowed him to keep a spot on the team. With 5 points in 23 games he’s no offensive star, but his effort and grit along with penalty killing ability are of value. He’s an RFA next season and I don’t see any reason Ottawa wouldn’t qualify him with another two way contract. However, I don’t see him cracking the NHL roster next season as he just doesn’t have the offensive ability to hold a spot.
6. Peter Regin
Injuries haven’t been friendly to Regin and that may be enough reason for the Sens not to qualify him as he’s an RFA next season. However I believe they should as I explained here.
7. Rob Klinkhammer
Klinkhammer performed well enough for the Sens that they gave up their conditional 7th round pick in 2013. However, since starting on the 2nd line he has now fallen to the 4th with limited minutes. He just hasn’t shown the ability to score in the NHL that he has in the AHL. Barring a miraculous turnaround, with 1A in 11GP the Sens will probably let him go as he is a UFA next season.
8. Matt Carkner
Carkner is an interesting situation. He’s a UFA next season on a very low contract. He is the only real enforcer on the Sens defence as well. Carkner has also proven himself to be a very reliable 7th defenceman who has slipped back into the lineup with no issues (such as replacing Gilroy recently). All this leads me to believe that the Sens may extend him one more year on a low cap hit contract to remain the 7th defenceman. However, it also wouldn’t surprise me to see them let him go in order to sign a UFA or potentially promote someone from within such as Eric Gryba or Mark Borowiecki.
9. Matt Gilroy
Murray compared the Gilroy trade to the Anderson trade with both being try outs to determine if they should remain with the team. If Anderson passed his try out with flying colours, than Gilroy did the exact opposite. Brought in to replace Lee and be an offensive defenceman, he has a single assist in 11 GP along to go with two wide open net misses (including a potential game winner in OT against Montreal). Gilroy has now found his position taken by Matt Carkner, a player many thought wouldn’t be making his way back into the lineup. Unless he begins showing any flashes of offensive brilliance he’s as good as gone from this team next season.