Earlier this summer I asked social media followers to send in their questions for an Ottawa Senators mailbag. So better late than ever, and some have been already answered by subsequent actions, I’ll do my utmost to respond to your questions.
What do you think the Senators will do with six goalies fighting for four spots?
Statistically, last season was Murray’s worst of his five-plus in the NHL. He certainly had his ups and downs, not to mention his share of injuries.
However, the 27-year old posted an 8-5-0 record in his final 13 appearances. Murray recorded a 3-2-0 mark, which included a minuscule 1.37 goals-against average, in addition to an astonishing .954 save percentage after Zac Bierk took the helm as Senators goalie coach.
For the club to have a modicum of success in the upcoming campaign, Murray doesn’t have to perform at these numbers but needs to display more consistency.
Recently signed to a two-year deal with the second year being of the one-way variety, Filip Gustavsson and Mads Sogaard will likely share the net with Belleville. The Senators American League affiliate couldn’t be in better hands.
Gustavsson put his stamp on his future with the team after coming in for relief of Joey Daccord on March 17. Trailing 2-1 in the third period versus the Canucks, “Gus” held the Senators in the game – eventually losing a decision in a shootout, then went 5-1-1 in his next appearances.
Sogaard, the club’s 2019 37th overall Entry Draft selection is undefeated in his pro career. Upon returning from his native Denmark, the six-foot-seven netminder won all seven starts with the BSens to close out the AHL season – a Belleville franchise record.
Now that the organization’s East Coast League affiliate situation has been ironed out, Kevin Mandolese will bide his time with the Atlanta Gladiators along with Tyler Parks who played in Slovakia last season.
Do you think the organization will ever add someone in a front-office role?
Well, yes. Actually, if I did, I’d be lying. So when Pierre McGuire was named senior vice-president of hockey development on July 12, it came as a suprise.
Way back in March 2019, the Senators conducted a search to fill the role of president of hockey operations. It was clearly evident with the organization in a rebuild, general manager Pierre Dorion needed a buffer at the top – a veteran hockey ops person who could act as a consultant on key decisions and become a face to the media.
As we’re aware, this role wasn’t filled – at least until now in a roundabout way. While McGuire is not in charge of operations, he’ll have his hands in all facets of development, and be another ear for Dorion to consult with on major roster decisions.
McGuire does have his share of detractors, and his hiring was panned moreso in the United States than in Canada by some folk, many Senators fans tuned into his daily musings on TSN1200. From listening to his daily conversation, the team’s fans know McGuire is “bullish” on the organizations’ youngsters and prospects to come.
The one bonus McGuire does have is his knowledge of today’s NHL players. His experience viewing countless amount of games each season, while speaking to these players plus agents, executives provide McGuire a unique perspective that can only benefit the Senators.
When would you think we see Brady Tkachuk‘s contract signed?
Personally, for Senators’ fans sake, it would’ve been great to see Tkachuk extended July 28 when the Free Agency period opened.
Now that restricted free agent forward Drake Batherson is signed, all focus is squarely on the Tkachuk negotiations with his agent and Uncle, Craig Oster.
Why is Tkachuk’s signing taking so long? Both camps may want a different outcome. It’s not that the St. Louis resident doesn’t want to be part of the organization long-term. It’s more about determining his value.
Does Tkachuk want to ink a two-three or even four-year bridge deal at xx number of dollars or sign long term at a higher number which would also take him beyond the first early years of unrestricted free agency? A bridge contract gives Tkachuk an opportunity to earn a substantially higher salary coming out of it.
The Senators GM said contract talks were “productive” during his Zoom call Friday. Although this particular negotiation may be tougher than others for Dorion, expect to have it completed prior to main training camp September 22.
Dual question – What would it take to acquire Nazem Kadri from Colorado?
If the Senators acquire a top-six forward and a top-four defenseman who may that be?
Upon the acquisitions of Nick Holden from Vegas via trade and the signing of UFA Michael Del Zotto d-man from the Blue Jackets, the Senators appear settled on the back end. No, the club didn’t add to their top four on the blue line. But they do appear satisfied with their depth heading into the season.
As it stands; D pairings may look like this:
Victor Mete – Michael Del Zotto
Nick Holden – Josh Brown
There’s still a chance Brannstrom is moved prior to camp in exchange for a top-six forward. Currently, there are 11 teams above the $81.5 million salary cap ceiling and two more slightly under one million of the cap. Several of these teams will utilize Long Term Injured Reserve to get under the ceiling – others will have to deal.
There were plenty of names mentioned this summer as trade candidates up front. This column listed potential Senators’ centres in Sharks Tomas Hertl, Avalanche Nazim Kadri, Flames Sean Monahan back in June – along with UFA’s Mikael Granlund, Alexander Wennberg who signed with Nashville and Seattle respectively.
The Strome brothers, Dylan in Chicago, and Ryan with the Rangers are names that have also been floated around in among hockey circles.
As for an answer to the Kadri question; heading into the final season of his contract, it appears the Avalanche will opt to hang onto the centre. Unless Colorado’s plan is to shift rookie Alex Newhook to the middle next season, Kadri is their only viable option in the two-hole.
Dealing Evgenii Dadonov to the Golden Knights opens a spot on the right wing. Dorion spoke Friday on the possibility of Nick Paul or Tim Stützle shifting to the right side. However, this sounds unlikely. The Senators GM also noted highly-touted Egor Sokolov or Roby Jarventie will be given ample opportunity to crack the roster.
However, there are several forwards that may be on the trade market with slightly under three weeks shy of training camp. Kraken Mason Appleton, Joonas Donskoi, Sharks Timo Meier, Wild Kevin Fiala, and Blues Vladimir Tarasenko is still out there.
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Best Senators game I’ve worked?
I can’t really name just one. There have been many exciting moments in franchise history that I’ve been fortunate to play a small part in – bringing a window of them to you, the reader.
June 2, 2007
Senators defeat the Anaheim Ducks 5-3 in their first Stanley Cup Final home game since Expansion in 1992.
April 29, 2017
Jean-Gabriel Pageau eats two plates of chicken parm and scores four goals including the double-overtime game-winner versus the New York Rangers.
April 19, 2007
Senators behind Ray Emery shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 to win Game 5 – marking their first playoff series vctory on home ice.
December 5, 2014
The Senators retire Daniel Alfredsson‘s no.11. Enough said.
February 27, 2020
Bobby Ryan nets a hat trick in his first home game after being away from the club participating in the NHL/NHLPA Players Assistance Program.
April 15, 2017
Down 3-1 in the second period, Dion Phaneuf caps an overtime 4-3 comeback versus the Boston Bruins to even the First Round series at one apiece.
May 20, 2013
Bleeding from the face, Colin Greening tallied a double-overtime game-winner versus the Penguins after Daniel Alfredsson scored a late shorthanded goal to send the game to extra time.