Pierre Dorion has officially completed the teardown of the Ottawa Senators
The team’s general manager has been busy this week, announcing that the team will not reach agreements with pending UFA’s Mark Borowiecki and Craig Anderson, while surprisingly also buying-out the contract of Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy winner, Bobby Ryan. The Senators are now left with just seven NHL skaters under contract for next season. Dorion’s objective must now shift from tearing down, to building a competitor.
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The team has already looked at making upgrades in specific areas, addressing a hole on the right side of their defence with the acquisition of Josh Brown, from Florida. While this almost certainly won’t be the biggest splash Pierre Dorion makes this week, it does prove that the team is focused on looking externally to fill out parts of their roster.
Ottawa has seven picks in the first two rounds of the 2020 draft (3 in the first round, 4 in the second round). While the team will use this as an opportunity to bolster their rebuild, it’s unlikely that the team will select so many times. With a multitude of players available on the market, look for the Senators to actively shop some of their picks.
The conversation around the future of the team’s goaltending is expected to pick before Tuesday’s draft, with many goalies thought to be available due to the restrictions caused by a flat salary cap. Some of the names that have been floated around include Elvis Merzlikins, Darcy Kuemper, and James Reimer, to name a few.
However, it’s Matt Murray of the Pittsburgh Penguins who seems to be the goaltender with the most links to the Ottawa Senators. Fans should be all too familiar with the twenty-six-year-old, who backstopped the Penguins to Stanley Cup wins in 2016 and 2017.
The ladder championship consisted of the memorable seven-game Eastern Conference Final series, in the nation’s capital.
Whether or not a starting goaltender is actually a need for the Senators at this time is up for debate, but given the uncertainty of Anders Nilsson’s health, this seems like a move the team will look to make. A move to acquire a starting goalie would likely start with a cost of the Senators’ 28th overall draft pick, or one of their four second-rounders.
At defence, the team is more likely to focus on the development of their big guns, like Thomas Chabot and Erik Brannstrom, while filling out the rest of the core with currently contracted talent. The question of what the team does at forward though is a much more interesting one.
Outside of someone like Brady Tkachuk and Anthony Duclair, the Senators don’t exactly have a skilled forward that can take over a game offensively. They may acquire one or two at the draft this year, but that does not help them straight away.
On TSN’s annual trade bait board, they suggest a very wide range of players will be available; from franchise-altering talents like Patrik Laine to established contributors like Alex Killorn, or Tyler Johnson.
The Senators are probably unlikely to chase a player of Laine’s quality, as the former 2nd overall pick in 2016 would likely command a massive trade package, that can help the Jets win now. At best, Ottawa could offer some solid futures.
However, given the Senators position with regards to the NHL’s salary floor, look for them to chase after players that will likely be squeezed out of their respective teams, due to salary concerns. The aforementioned Tampa Bay duo in Gourde and Johnson would both make some sense for Ottawa, provided that the ask isn’t too high.
Considering the tie’s to Ottawa’s coaching staff and Toronto, and their recent trading history, perhaps a younger and still growing player like Andreas Johnsson could be a fit. He could fill a need on the wing while coming in at a respectable cap hit of $3.4m for the next 3 seasons.
The Senators definitely do have a need at forward, and with low expectations still on the card for next season, this will be a good chance for management to give the fans something to look forward to offensively.
One thing the Senators certainly won’t be short on ahead of the draft is options. Considering their draft pick and prospect capital, Pierre Dorion will likely receive more calls than anybody ahead of October 6th. While the draft itself should stock the team nicely in future assets, the ability to accelerate the rebuilding process exists now. It’s time for Pierre Dorion to see if he can take this struggling team one step closer to an era of “unparalleled success.”