As the season enters its second half, the Ottawa Senators will have plot-lines involving trades, extensions, coaching, management, and ownership.
The Ottawa Senators are back on the ice tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins, their first game since January 22nd. With how far out of a playoff spot the Sens are it’s safe to say the next few months will be about playing for pride.
But a fair amount of suspense is generating about the decisions that will be made off of the ice.
Management and ownership have to get a potential rebuild off of the ground. We we may see some Belleville Senators called up to show what they can do in the NHL. Trades and extensions will be the talk of the town, and hopefully Eugene Melnyk will do something productive as we enter the dog-days of the season.
Trade Deadline Chaos
The trade deadline is on February 25th, so the Senators have just a few weeks to finalize any trades they may be thinking of making.
So what players will be on the trade block? Matt Duchene and Mark Stone would both be solid rentals for teams looking forward to a deep playoff run. A player like Ryan Dzingel would add some nice depth. Even Cody Ceci, despite his poor play this season, could be a target for several teams with problems along the blue line.
But it wouldn’t just be who’s heading out, but what is coming back for each of them. The draft picks or prospects the Sens get for their trades will be just as important. These trades are the first step towards the rebuild, and will be a major talking point going forward.
The AHL Call-Ups
If trades occur, the Senators will call up some fresh faces from the Belleville Senators to fill the holes in the line up.
We may see AHL All-Star Drake Batherson come back up for his second stint in the NHL this year (He played in 17 NHL games earlier this season). Maybe Logan Brown or Rūdolfs Balcers, who was acquired in the Erik Karlsson trade. Or how about Jack Rodewald, Belleville’s leading scorer, or goalie Marcus Högberg (Who has been the better goalie in Belleville this year)?
The Sens would want to see if anyone they have in the minors can compete in the NHL, so keep an eye out for the AHL call-ups that could pop up in February or March.
If trades do not go through for Duchene, Stone, Ceci and Dzingel, then the talks will turn to whether or not the Senators can re-sign them to extensions.
Ceci seems to be heading down the arbitration route like last year. Duchene is a UFA and the Sens recently offered him $8 million per year. With how much the Sens gave up for him, re-signing him would be a top priority. Mark Stone is a UFA; he’s the Sens’ leading scorer so the attention his extension will receive will be extensive. Dzingel may not be on the level of Duchene and Stone, but he is still a solid producer (38 points in 48 games this year).
Contracts are always an exciting topic, and the Sens have some very important players to get re-signed before July 1st.
After how last year went, Pierre Dorion and Guy Boucher were already on thin ice when the season started in October. Now both are likely to be put of a job before October rolls around in 2019.
Both men haven’t done anywhere near enough to warrant another year in Ottawa, and as the season continues the story surrounding if/when the two will be out of a job will dominate headlines. Another topic would be who may be chosen to replace them after they are let go.
Just a note, but if the Ottawa Senators want to rebuild, bringing back the GM and coach at the epicenter of your organizational problems would not be the best idea.
Although the true problem of all of Ottawa’s problems remains owner Eugene Melnyk.
The storylines involving him are endless: Will he actually do anything productive within the organization? Will he actually fire Dorion? Will he settle on a new arena deal that is beneficial to the city of Ottawa? Will a new arena deal be completed at all? Will he do another video with Mark Borowiecki? The man is a headline machine waiting to happen.
The Ottawa Senators are about to enter an offseason with over $35 million in cap space. The rebuild is about to begin, but only if Melnyk allows it to happen.