This year’s free agent class has a few players the Ottawa Senators should consider pursuing.
Free agency is that wonderful time of the NHL year where teams copious amounts of money on contracts. It’s a chaotic time that can bring joy or devastation to fan bases everywhere. The Ottawa Senators are heading into a free agency period where their fans know nothing but devastation.
Besides the play of Thomas Chabot, Chris Tierney and Brady Tkachuk, Sens fans haven’t had a lot to cheer for since the trade deadline. But with free agency, Senators management has a chance to bring some fresh faces and maybe a little optimism to a struggling fan base and team.
While I’m not expecting the Senators to shell out the cash on Sergei Bobrovsky or Erik Karlsson (As amazing as that would be), they could spend the money on players with more experience or players who never got a chance to show what they could really do. If management wants to raise attendance and season ticket sales for next year, July 1st will be their last opportunity.
Currently the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes, Williams was brought into that organization in 2017 to help a very young Canes squad mature and find their way. He has performed admirably in that task and on the ice, posting 51 points in 2017-18 and sitting on 47 points in 72 games this year.
Williams is a three-time Stanley Cup champion and still has a knack for putting points on the scoresheet. He would bring a winner’s mentality and veteran leadership to a locker room full of young players trying to grow in the NHL. Williams is currently making $4.5 million against the cap, and with his age (37) his big money days are certainly behind him. Signing him to a one-year deal in the range of $3-4 million would be a great get for the Senators.
Yes he is 28 and has made $6 million per year since 2013, but I highly doubt Eberle will be making that much money on his next contract.
Eberle has still been a consistent presence no matter the team he is on. He has scored 40-plus points in all seasons from 2013-18, but he is having a down year on Long Island this season with 31 points in 69 games. Yes, that’s 31 points on a team ranked 20th in the league in goals scored, but NHL teams will only see the final total when negotiating a deal.
A solid possession player and still young, Eberle would make a great addition to a line with Brady Tkachuk and Chris Tierney or, maybe, Logan Brown and Drake Batherson.
On the defensive front, the Senators should look toward the 32-year old, left-handed defenseman from the Vancouver Canucks.
Edler is making $5 million against the cap this year, and with the need for defense around the league that may be about what he gets on his next contract. A contract of that size would make him the highest paid defenseman on the Sens.
His play depicts a decent possession player (0.8 relative Corsi percentage) who has always found a way to put up points (20-plus points in 12 consecutive seasons). He’s a physical player, with over 1,400 blocked shots and over 1,200 hits in 805 games, which would bring an extra dimension to the defense of the Ottawa Senators.
A depth forward that could bolster the roster, Pánik is making $2.8 million in the final season of a contract he originally signed with the Chicago Blackhawks.
With the Arizona Coyotes this season, Pánik has 32 points in 67 games and has shown himself to be a very physical forward with 115 hits. He is decent with the puck, with a 2.2 relative Corsi percentage this season.
The Sens need to fill out their roster, and giving Pánik a bigger role in Ottawa may be an underrated move that other teams haven’t considered.
Back to the defense for our final free agent, Rutta seemed to be a decent signing for the Chicago Blackhawks when he came to the NHL in 2017. He had 20 points in 54 games in his rookie season (As a 27-year old) and averaged over 19 minutes of icetime per game.
This year he has played in just 28 games, but if the Sens want to take a chance on a cheap defenseman who showed promise last year, the Sens should sign Rutta after his $2.25 million contract expires this summer.
The Ottawa Senators have a chance to shape their team’s identity in a positive way if they sign the right players this summer. While Eugene Melnyk will likely want to avoid signing anything over $6-7 million, the players listed would be cheaper and each bring something different to the team. If they’re willing to play ball, management could help speed up the rebuild with a couple of signings in July.