Busy Summer Ahead For The Ottawa Senators


This is going to be a busy off-season for Bryan Murray and the rest of the Ottawa Senators management team. Senators fans thought last summer was busy with new contracts going to Clarke MacArthur, Craig Anderson, and Bobby Ryan, all of which were fairly expensive. This is the summer of the RFA’s. If I asked you to tell me what young Ottawa Senator impressed you the most this year, chances are he’s in need of a new contract.

Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Mika Zibanejad, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau are all RFA’s, which is somewhat concerning (Alex Chiasson is also in that category, but I’ll talk about him later). Each of these players finished up the last year of his entry-level contract, and each is in a position for a considerable raise.

While the contracts given to MacArthur, Anderson and Ryan last summer – as well as Marc Methot‘s extension from February – will all be more expensive than any of the new contracts handed out this summer, their new salaries aren’t that far off from what they were on their previous contracts (between one and two million more). With all of these new contracts, the total of the team’s salaries is going to be raised significantly.

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I don’t think signing Pageau will be too difficult, since I can’t see him asking for more than $2 million per year, though Stone, Hoffman, and Zibanejad will be a different story. I can easily see both Stone and Hoffman having a salary above $3 million (depending on the term, of course), and Zibanejad could be around the $3 million mark as well.

Can they afford these contracts? Right now, I would say no. However, it looks like there may be some salary on its way out as well. With the signing of College Free Agent goaltender Matt O’Connor, and the new three-year contract for Andrew Hammond, a goalie has to go. There have been rumours about Robin Lehner, Craig Anderson, and Hammond being moved, and to be honest I can see any of the three being traded.

Anderson can bring in a decent return from a team looking to make a run for the cup, while Lehner is an attractive asset for a young team. A trade for Hammond can be seen as low risk, high reward for many teams. As amazing as the beginning of his career was, it wasn’t enough for the Senators to demand anything of much value in return. But who knows? Maybe he’s actually that good, and it wasn’t just a hot streak.

There are enough guys in the AHL who can make the jump [to the NHL]

It’s a tough choice, but if it were up to me, I’d move Robin Lehner as long as the return was worth it. Anderson is the only one I trust to put in a starting position, and the return for Hammond wouldn’t be nearly the size of the return for Lehner. But like I said, I would only move Lehner if the deal was worth it. Unfortunately, there may not be as much interest as the team would like due to the major concussion that kept him out for quite some time. And to be completely honest, I wouldn’t be against starting the season with all three goaltenders staying with the organization.

On top of the previously mentioned RFA’s, Erik Condra is a UFA this summer, and unfortunately it sounds like the team won’t be re-signing him. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to many people, as there are many bottom six forwards on the team that fans would like to see moved instead. Of course, there are also a ton of defencemen that need to be replaced as well.

A few players that should be moved to save space are Colin Greening, Chris Neil, Zack Smith, Chris Phillips, Eric Gryba, Mark Borowiecki, and Jared Cowen. None of these guys would get much back, but I’d be happy with some late round draft picks for most of them. At this point, there are enough guys in the AHL who can make the jump to allow Murray to move a couple of forwards and a defenceman or two.

Mar 23, 2015; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; San Jose Sharks goalie Antii Niemi (31) and Ottawa Senators left wing

Colin Greening

(14) follow the puck in the second period at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Puempel and Shane Prince both looked pretty good in their few games with the team, and could help with some scoring on the bottom six. As far as defencemen go, Chris Wideman lead all d-men in scoring in the AHL, and Fredrik Claesson has shown he has the potential to make it in the NHL.  I feel like both would be immediate improvements over Gryba and Borowiecki.

Wideman is a UFA on July 1st, and given the success he had last season, it would make sense for him to listen to offers from other teams. Unless something amazing comes his way, there’s no reason he should leave the organization, especially with how good his chances of making the big club are.

And finally, there’s Alex Chiasson who I mentioned earlier. What an awful season he had, right? Despite what most people are saying, I want to see the Senators sign him this summer. He had a solid start to the season, and was on pace for 50 points after 10 games or so, which admittedly isn’t all that impressive and honestly doesn’t mean anything.

Regardless, I don’t want the team to give up on him just yet. Starting him off in the AHL wouldn’t be a bad idea, and even keeping him there for most of the season would be beneficial for both parties. It may just be because he was the big name in the Jason Spezza trade, but I want to see him succeed.

Next: 2015 Fansided Mock Draft: Ottawa At #18