Storylines To Watch This Off Season For Ottawa


This off-season is shaping up to be very interesting for the Ottawa Senators. We have said that before, and other teams will say that as well, but this time it really is true. There will be endless amounts of discussion on so many topics. In the end, perhaps there aren’t that many moves that will be made. If that’s the case, then I will be disappointed. But I doubt that will happen because in certain cases a move has to be made.

Here are the main storylines this off-season for Ottawa:

1. Which Goalie Will Go?

This topic has been discussed for weeks now, and it won’t go away until one of Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner is traded to another team. We know one of them will be on the move, because they simply can’t go into training camp with 3 goalies despite what the team has said. As of now I’m not so sure Lehner is the one who will be moved, especially if one team really likes Anderson.

Apparently the better offers have been for Lehner, which I find surprising. Nevertheless, there should be at least one solid offer that could help Ottawa in a different area of need. Whether that’s a top six forward that Bryan Murray thinks he needs, a young defenseman, or a draft pick, remains to be seen.

The rumours assuredly won’t go away until this is finally over because the Senators have a pretty big trading chip right now.

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2. Why Can’t Erik Condra Come Back?

I’ve outlined before many times why I think the Senators need to re-sign Condra. I won’t go over it again here, but I have to repeat that it would be idiotic to let him go simply because they have too many bottom six players. He’s better than most of them, and is an elite shot suppressor.

It seems that Murray is going to let Condra walk as an unrestricted free agent. I have no doubt that a smart team will sign him to a solid contract, and he will help them out very much on the third or fourth line. It’s not the end of the world by letting him go, but he made the third line so much better.

He should come fairly cheap too, at around $2.5 million at the maximum I would say. I don’t understand why they would let him go when that will clearly make the team worse. It looks like he won’t be staying in Ottawa, but the situation is at least worth monitoring as a Senators fan.

3. Front Office Talk

Bryan Murray announced recently that this next season will be his last as the Senators general manager. That means they will have to start looking for a new GM as early as this summer. Perhaps it will be an in-house candidate like Pierre Dorion or Randy Lee, but I think Ottawa will at least explore some more options.

Ottawa typically likes to promote from within, like they did with Dave Cameron as head coach and Pierre Dorion as assistant GM, and it’ll be interesting to see if we get any speculation for the next GM in the summer. Furthermore, Daniel Alfredsson has been talked about as a potential candidate for a front office spot in Ottawa. The fans want Alfie back, and I’m sure he would be great in whatever role he is put into.

I don’t think he will be with the team for next season, but maybe there will be some hints from him about the possibility of it. I would love to see more of him during the regular season.

Dec 4, 2014; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators former player Daniel Alfredsson (11) takes part in a pre-game ceremony prior to game against the New York Islanders at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

4. Shedding Some Dead Weight

This storyline could arguably be bigger than the goalie trade talks. As Callum Fraser mentioned in today’s post as Silver Seven Sens, the biggest issue with the team right now is the dead weight contracts. That should be priority number one for Murray in the off-season, because the only way the team can get better is by clearing some cap space. And it’s very easy to identify the cap hits that the Senators need to get rid of, because those players hardly contributed to Ottawa’s success this season.

If Murray can even shed just a couple contracts like Chris Phillips, Colin Greening, and David Legwand, then it will be a success. However, there are even more players that I would like to get rid of but I don’t think it’s possible. I’m sure Murray will try to move lots of contracts, but whether he actually does is a different story. If the team made no major additions but was able to shed lots of money off the budget, then the off-season will be successful.

5. Signing The RFA’s

Out of all the issues with the team, this worries me quite a bit. Ottawa is already close to the cap, and they have Mark Stone, Mika Zibanejad, Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Alex Chiasson to re-sign as RFA’s. They do have a bit of security because they still own those players rights and if another team signs them then the Senators will get compensation. But still, the compensation is nothing compared to the value of someone like Stone.

In order to get these signings done, they will have to get these RFA’s to take a bit of a pay cut, but also shed some dead weight contracts like I mentioned in point #4. The absolute worst thing that could happen this off-season is have a team like the Buffalo Sabres offer sheet Stone or Zibanejad with the Senators forcing to give them up.

Offer sheets are extremely rare, and almost all of the time the team will match the offer. However, a team that has tons of cap space is capable of crippling a team like Ottawa. Offer sheets are meant to be strategic, and that’s exactly what the San Jose Sharks did to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 so they could get Antti Niemi after they had to match Niklas Hjalmarsson‘s accepted offer.

I fear that the Sabres are capable of double offer sheeting Stone and Zibanejad, with Ottawa being forced to give up one. That’s why it’s imperative that they get them signed sooner rather than later, especially before July 1st. If the accepted offer is between $3,652,659 and $5,478,986, then Ottawa’s compensation would be a first and a third round pick. Even if that’s a high pick in the draft, I’m not taking that risk by letting a young part of the core walk away.

Apr 24, 2015; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone (61) breaks away from Montreal Canadiens forward Lars Eller (81) during the third period in game five of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

6. Which Direction Will They Go In The Draft?

The draft is the closest event coming up for Ottawa, yet it seems like it’s in the background right now because of all the trade talk. In the draft they say you always have to pick the best player, not someone from a certain position. I believe that to be true, although I still hope that the Senators take a defenseman. Their defensive prospects are lacking a bit, although so are their forwards.

But the NHL roster clearly has some holes on the back-end, and they could use some reinforcements. The good thing is there are so many good options right now. There aren’t many players I would be upset with Ottawa taking, as there is so much depth in this draft.

I would be happy with a defenseman like Oliver Kylington, Jeremy Roy, Thomas Chabot, Nicholas Meloche, or forwards like Travis Konecny, Nick Merkley, Colin White, or Evgeny Svechnikov. That’s not even a complete list, but it gives you an idea as to how many good players there are available at #18.

My gut feeling says Ottawa takes a forward, but it all depends on how the draft unfolds. I can’t wait to see what happens because I think they will be getting a good player.

This summer could define the teams future

7. Free Agents

This is certainly a storyline, although it won’t be talked about too much. There aren’t many good UFA’s this summer, and I doubt Ottawa will pay much in that market. However, I think they could still make one smaller signing, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them sign defenseman Zbynek Michalek.

As a sub-category for this point, Ottawa will have to look at the defense corps and evaluate it. I don’t think too many moves will be made, but like I said someone like Michalek may come on. It’s something to keep an eye on, although they will need to shed some salary first.

Free agency has to be a storyline for every team, although I don’t anticipate the Senators being big players this summer as usual.


Like I said earlier, there will be so many things to talk about this summer as an Ottawa fan. It’s an extremely important summer, because if they can get rid of some contracts and add a player or two to the roster then all of sudden you have a very good playoff team. I don’t want to overstate it too much, but this summer could define the teams future. If they trade the wrong goalie, then that could set the team back for a few years. If not, then they could become contenders very quickly.

They need to make the right decisions, and spend their money wisely. I can’t wait to see what happens.

Next: Ottawa Senators Trade Rumours: Teams In Need Of A Goalie