The Ottawa Senators currently have 9 players that are pending unrestricted free agents. This means that if the Ottawa Senators do not renew their contracts, or the players opt to not sign a new offer, they will hit free agency and will hope to get offers from other teams. Let’s look at each pending UFA in the Senators organization and discuss.
In his first full season with the Ottawa Senators, it can be said that Travis Hamonic exceeded many fans’ expectations. He was slotted in a top-4 role for a big majority of the season, and it was assumed by many fans that this role would be too much for the veteran blue-liner. I’m not going to say he played the best season of his career, but he certainly held his own playing alongside Jake Sanderson. Ideally, I’d have Hamonic in a bottom-pairing role or as the team’s seventh defenseman, but that’s okay. If he were open to that role I’d be happy with bringing him back at the right price tag. I don’t think I’d be willing to pay him more than 1.5M against the cap in a one-year contract.
In his third season with the Ottawa Senators, Austin Watson played pretty much to expectations without exceeding them. In 76 games played this season, he played an agitator role, finishing second in the NHL in fights, while also scoring 9 goals and 2 assists. I don’t think he’d be my number one option to slot as the fourth-line forward next season, but I also would not be opposed if the price was right on a one or two-year deal, but not more than that. Should he return, he should get some fighting lessons from Sens Alum Chris Neil as he did not win many of his bouts this year.
To keep this simple, it’s already been announced that should Derick Brassard want to return to the NHL next season, Pierre Dorion has already said that he has a PTO available to him. I would argue that he deserves a one-year extension right now if he’s open to it. I’m a big fan of Brassard as the team’s 13th forward next season, slotting in on a rotation basis in the bottom 6, and replacing injured players.
Acquired at the NHL trade Deadline, Patrick Brown is your average 13th forward. The problem is, as I’ve previously stated I already have Brassard as the Sens’ 13th forward. It could be argued that the team could use another rotation forward, but I’d prefer if it was a different type of player than Brown. I would therefore rather let Brown walk. He hasn’t been bad by any means, I just think there are better options available in free agency. Some options can be found in the piece linked right under this text.
Scott Sabourin is the perfect enforcer. I would definitely bring him back on a minor deal if he’s interested in returning. He can even be called up if the team does not have a designated enforcer against a specific set of teams.
Antoine Bibeau is basically the average veteran AHL goalie. Considering the BSens are likely only looking for a third-string goalie at the AHL level, I would not be opposed to the team bringing him back, but I’m sure there are better options available for this role, or just callup from the ECHL as needed.
Basically a career AHLer at this point, Jacob Larsson is another player up for a contract, I’ll be honest I did not watch enough AHL this season to get a fair assessment of his play, so I’ll say I’m indifferent to this player, as I am with most AHL players in the Senators organization.
A 20-goal scorer at the AHL level, Rourke Chartier is yet another player I don’t know enough about to have much of an opinion on. Based on the stats, I would not be opposed to bringing him back either. It all depends on how Ryan Bowness chooses to rebuild the team, which is most likely going to happen considering the veteran rule, and how the team has not yet made the playoffs since the team was moved to Belleville from Binghamton.
Jake Lucchini is the only AHL player on this list that I have a firm belief in one way or another. The team should absolutely look at bringing him back. He finished second on the team in points as he scored 19 goals and 34 assists for 53 points. I think he’s an extremely valuable player at the AHL player who can be called up in case of injury woes like the ones seen this season. I think he’s one of the best AHLers that are not considered NHL prospects. He’s a valuable guy to have in the locker room and should be in consideration for the team’s captain if Dillon Heatherington is not brought back, which is a genuine possibility as AHLers don’t stick on the same team for long typically.
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It can be said that this offseason is important for both the Ottawa AND Belleville Senators. Both teams are looking to get back into the playoffs and are looking to shake things up a bit. The Ottawa Senators moreso when it comes to depth, and the Belleville Senators might just need to blow it up a bit except for the obvious names.