Nov 20, 2011; Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA; Ottawa Senators forward Stephane Da Costa (24) is defended by Vancouver Canucks defenseman Sami Salo (6) during the first period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE

Thoughts On Sens Restricted Free Agents

Dec 16, 2011; Ottawa, ON, CAN; Ottawa Senators left wing Kaspars Daugavins (23) controls the puck in second period action against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Scotiabank Place. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-US PRESSWIRE

With Joy Lindsay (Twitter: @PSBJoyOnTheSens) reporting that the Sens planned to retain the rights to all their restricted free agents (save Craig Schira),  it makes for some interesting conversations. Some can be qualified with two-way contracts, while others are forced to be qualified with one-way contracts. Check out The 6th Sens for a more detailed analysis with the contract numbers (http://the6thsens.com/2012-articles/may/pageau-signs-elc-and-senators-qualify-rfas.html). Keep in mind that these numbers are just qualifying offers to prevent the players from becoming UFAs in the upcoming free agencies. Many will negotiate higher salaries and longer terms with the team.

For the two-way contracts we got Jim O’Brien, Stephane Da Costa, Eric Gryba, and Nikita Filatov. Obviously Filatov will not be back next season, instead signing in the KHL. However, by qualifying him, even if he rejects the offer (which he 99.99% will) the Senators still retain his rights in the future. Right now though it looks like he’ll join the ranks of Alexander Nikulin and Ilya Zubov as failed Russian prospects for Ottawa. Nevertheless, the other three qualifying offers are no brainers. All three have a legitimate shot of cracking the big team next season. If they don’t, they will still provide the Binghamton Senators with some much needed veteran presence (save for Da Costa who was a rookie last year, but still put up solid numbers).

For the one-way contracts we have Erik Karlsson, Nick Foligno, and Kaspars Daugavins. Obviously Karlsson and Foligno would be qualified with the years they had. However, the biggest one to stick out for me was Daugavins. Sure he had a career year last season, finally cracking the NHL, but he found himself a healthy scratch fairly often. With the logjam at forwards , do the Senators really want another on a one way contract. Here’s a rough guess on the forward lines based on the knowledge I have at the moment.

Milan Michalek – Jason Spezza – Bobby Butler
Nick Foligno – Kyle Turris – Daniel Alfredsson
Colin Greening – Zack Smith – Chris Neil
Peter Regin – Jim O’Brien – Erik Condra

I would say everyone listed above has a spot locked, save for Butler, and O’Brien. So those would be the guys competing for a spot with Daugavins. However, training camp can offer many surprises. Players such as Zibanejad, Silfverberg, Da Costa, Stone, and Noesen will also be competing to grab a spot. With Daugavins on a one-way contract, will that potentially hold a prospect back from making the team?

On the flip side Daugavins won’t be making any big money. He’s shown himself to be a solid PK player who can put up the occasional point here and there. With the Sens not expected to be close to the cap, they can surely stomach having him as a healthy scratch should he be outplayed. After all an extra body as a 13th forward never hurt, depth is a good thing. He could also potentially be used as trade bait, there’s always teams looking for cheap players that can fill a role (in Daugavins’ case, a PK specialist). Should the Sens acquire another forward or two in free agency I would bet that this will be the last we see of Daugavins in a Senators uniform.

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Tags: Eric Gryba Erik Karlsson Jim O'Brien Kaspars Daugavins Nick Foligno Nikita Filatov Stephane Da Costa

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