The bottom six has been a problem for the Ottawa Senators all year long. Mathieu Joseph has been inconsistent all year, Dylan Gambrell is playing in too high of a role, and Parker Kelly has shown to not be an NHL player. Austin Watson has been good at certain points throughout the season, but realistically he is a 13th forward who should not be in the lineup every night. I’m pretty sure you understand the point I’m trying to make, the Senators need to reassess the bottom 6 this offseason.
The Ottawa Senators’ bottom six currently consists of any variation of
Derick Brassard – Dylan Gambrell – Mathieu Joseph
Patrick Brown – Mark Kastelic – Austin Watson
On the injured reserve, the Sens also have Parker Kelly available to them. Julien Gauthier is another player that is currently in the rotation that DJ Smith calls his Bottom 6.
Currently, Shane Pinto is covering the second-line center role, but it is simply on an injury-related basis as Josh Norris would normally occupy this role when he is healthy. Normally, Pinto slots in as the third-line center. Ridly Greig easily has earned that third-line left-winger role, no discussion is needed. The next sure-fire player to return next year is Mathieu Joseph. He has not been consistent this year, but I warrant that to playing with an injury, being slotted down the lineup compared to last season, and just poor deployment. I would have him on the fourth line next year as opposed to the third line. On his line, I would award the fourth-line center role to Mark Kastelic who has been great this season for the Sens.
Kastelic in my mind eliminates the need for Austin Watson, and I in turn let Watson pursue an opportunity elsewhere. Same thing with Parker Kelly, as he has not come as advertised. Another player I’d like to see return is Derick Brassard, but nothing more than the fourth-line left-wing at most. Gauthier has been good with his limited ice time but I’m not married to him quite yet as he’s pretty much just a replacement-level player. Should he want no more than 1 million, sure bring him back to be the 13th forward, but if he wants anything more I’d opt to go to free agency to find his replacement.
That would mean my reconstructed bottom 6 would consist of:
Ridly Greig – Shane Pinto – X
Derick Brassard – Mark Kastelic – Mathieu Joseph
Extra Forward: Julien Gauthier
Free Agent Options
For the Third Line Right Wing option, I would rather approach it via Free Agency on a short 1 to 2-year term, nothing longer. If Joseph is able to regain form next year, he can earn the spot for the next season after that. Here are a few options I’d consider:
Kyle Okposo: Obviously, Kyle Okposo is not what he once was. At this point, he is a bottom 6 veteran who shows great leadership and can contribute a bit of offense while still being defensively responsible. Should he be the option the Senators go for, I’d assume he’d be placed on the fourth line, while Joseph would be put back on the third line.
Nick Foligno: Once a Senator, Always a Senator. It would be interesting to see Nick Foligno return to the Ottawa Senators. Like Okposo, he would be more of a fourth-liner at this point in his career but I believe he can still provide value to the team. I also think his cap hit would be significantly low. The best thing about Foligno is he still has the ability to play up in the lineup in case of injury (for short amounts of time)
Ryan Reaves: If Ryan Reaves is available in free agency, it would be an absolute no-brainer to approach him. He is the BEST enforcer in the NHL at the moment, and he can take away all that fighting responsibility to captain Brady Tkachuk. I would simply use Reaves as a fourth liner with limited deployment, but it would be quite interesting to see him in the Nation’s Capital.
Tyler Motte: On paper, Tyler Motte should have been perfect for the Ottawa Senators, and he for sure started great, scoring 7 points in his first 7 games. I’m a big fan of Motte’s game and if he goes to free agency I would love to give him another chance. And, if it doesn’t work out again, I’m sure the New York Rangers will be interested in trading for him at the deadline.
Connor Brown: I still don’t agree with the decision to trade Connor Brown to the Washington Capitals. He was great as an Ottawa Senator and honestly never should have left. I get why he was traded away but I did not agree with it. The only issue remaining is what number would be worn. Obviously, number 28 is not available, and neither is 11. 12 is also not an option as he would be third in line for it. That’s for the boys to figure out though.
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If I were the General Manager of the Ottawa Senators, I would have my priority for the bottom 6 winger in this order: Connor Brown, Nick Foligno, Tyler Motte, Ryan Reaves, and Kyle Okposo.