As of right now the Ottawa Senators have an overload of players on the back end. The Ottawa Senatorscurrently have seven defencemen on one-way contracts, and multiple players on two-way contracts that can easily contribute to the team and hold their own while playing in the NHL.
The seven players on one-way contracts are Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot, Chris Phillips, Eric Gryba, Patrick Wiercioch, Jared Cowen, and Mark Borowiecki. The players who I believe could contribute to the team on two-way contracts are Cody Ceci, Aaron Johnson, and Fredrik Claesson. Ceci is a promising young defenceman that has shown he can play at the NHL level, getting into 49 games in the 2013-2014 season. Aaron Johnson is a new acquisition for the Sens. Johnson was signed to a one year, two-way $800,000 contract. This move was made for depth purposes, but Johnson is a very capable player who can put in quality NHL minutes. Lastly, Claesson is a promising prospect for the Sens. Last year, Claesson played in 75 games for the Binghamton Senators posting an impressive plus-37. Though Claesson might be a year or two away he is definitely knocking on the door for opportunity. With the number of defencemen on the Senators roster Johnson and Claesson will not get a serious look, unless there is movement.
There are three routes the Ottawa Senators can go to deal with the overload of players on the backend. One, demote Cody Ceci, allowing the Sens to keep all players with one-way contracts with the big club. Two, trade one or more players on one-way contacts, giving the Senators the freedom to make adjustments to the roster with no concerns. There is a third option the Sens can take, but is very unlikely, the option would be to send one of the players on a one-way deal down to the AHL, exposing them to waivers and opening up the door to lose one of the players for nothing. I strongly believe that this is something that is not in the Senators plans.
Personally, I believe the Sens will not demote Cody Ceci. After Ceci was called up last year he surprised all, by sticking around with the big club until the end of the season. For this reason, it was that much more of a shock that Ceci got called up and stuck around for the season because he struggled in his last year of major junior hockey. Due to a great first half with Binghamton he was given a shot and he never looked back. Ceci added an element of mobility to a struggling blue line, and once again it looks like he will be given a great opportunity to do the same for the upcoming season.
With the likelihood of Ceci sticking around, it puts the Sens back to the option of moving someone out via trade. This gives the Sens opportunity to get something in return to fill voids elsewhere in their line up, or gives them the ability to restock the cabinet with prospects or draft picks.
It has been said that Senators GM, Murray is working on a trade. It is possible one or more of these defencemen could be shown the door. Over the next couple of weeks we should be able to tell which direction the team will go, and whether or not Murray with be able to pull the trigger on a potential deal.