What Will The Ottawa Senators Defense Look Like Next Season?

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Jan 14, 2014; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips (4) against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Senators defeated the Wild 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

1.  Chris Phillips

The veteran has stepped his game up this season and taken more of a role than had been expected of him heading into the campaign.  He is set to become an unrestricted Free Agent this summer, and although his heart and soul is in Ottawa, he might have to take a cut on his $3.08M salary, and accept a 1 year deal going forward, to remain with the Senators.  It would be tough to lose two long-time stars and members of the community in consecutive summers, but that could be the case.

Dec 5, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Ottawa Senators defenseman Patrick Wiercioch (46) against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2.  Patrick Wiercioch

He has had a difficult time staying in the lineup on a nightly basis.  He could be a prime trade candidate if the Senators want to try and land a top 6 forward or help in other areas either at the trade deadline or in the summer. He seems to have a permanent cot in Paul MacLean‘s doghouse, and Ceci’s rapid development seems to have made him expendable.  His 2 years remaining at $2M could be an attractive contract to deal if he can find the right spot.

Nov 20, 2013; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Minnesota Wild right wing Jason Pominville (29) shoots on Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson (41) as defenseman marck Borowiecki (74) defends in the third period at the Canadian Tire Centre.The Wild defeated the Senators 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

3. Mark Borowiecki

Although he started the season with the Senators, he still needed a bit of polish to his game.  Next year his contract will be a 1 way deal so there are decisions to be made.  Physical, not afraid to mix it up, he adds a dimension that the Senators don’t have much of. The question is, can the Senators afford to ice a less-mobile third pairing of Gryba and Borowiecki?

4. Fredrik Claesson

The second year pro should make a push for a roster spot next season, although with the depth ahead of him it could be a tough task.  However, he has doubled his production already this season (in just 44 games as opposed to 70 last year) and by all reports will be at minimum an in-season call-up.