Monday at 5 pm ET, NHL clubs have to present a cap-compliant roster to the league. This opening roster will include players placed on injured reserve, setting a baseline for the 2020-21 season.
At some point Monday, the Ottawa Senators will present a compliant roster that’ll be slightly over the $60.2 million salary cap floor. In order to accomplish this, the team will have to add one more contract Monday.
Every Senators’ fan hopes that one player will be Brady Tkachuk, but it doesn’t appear to be the case.
The club’s top forward remains MIA. While both general manager Pierre Dorion and head coach D.J. Smith were optimistic Tkachuk would be in camp sooner than later when main camp opened September 22, it’s still not the case.
Per multiple reports, Tkachuk’s camp, which includes agent Craig Oster, Brady’s uncle; is adamant his client inks a bridge deal said to be a three-year term. The Senators are presenting an eight-year contract. There’s been little movement to date, though the club may have lowered their offer to five-six years in recent days.
At this juncture, each passing day Tkachuk isn’t on the ice extends the time required to get into game-shape, whenever that may be. With the clock ticking towards opening night, there’s also the off-ice concern of selling tickets. From a pure marketing standpoint, it can’t be easy knowing, arguably your most dynamic player isn’t in the lineup on a nightly basis.
So who’s in the lineup?
There’s little doubt the 23-year old is knocking on the door of permanently cracking the Senators’ roster. Gustavsson will get his opportunity in due time.
Matt Murray has made the most of his preseason. Since working with goalie coach Zac Bierk, Murray has regained his confidence which appeared waning on occasion last season. Murray also gained 12-13 pounds of muscle during the summer. He’s already displayed more agility in camp and seems stronger when pushing side-to-side to stop would-be backdoor setups.
Acquired from Vegas, Nick Holden has been a pleasant surprise, but he does have 558 games of NHL experience.
Signed to a two-year contract in free agency, Michael Del Zotto is still finding his way, but he’s a veteran player who’s skated through the rigors of 13 training camps.
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The Senators will carry eight defensemen to open the season. The D pairings however remain in a state of flux.
Thomas Chabot – Artem Zub
Michael Del Zotto – Nikita Zaitsev
Erik Brannstrom – Nick Holden
Victor Mete – Josh Brown
With Tkachuk unsigned, Smith is still seeking consistent combos up front. Alex Formenton, Tim Stützle each had opportunities to skate with Josh Norris and Drake Batherson. Chris Tierney and Shane Pinto have taken turns at second-line centre.
Colin White, who literally came into camp in the best condition since being drafted in 2015, will miss up to six months after undergoing shoulder surgery.
As of Sunday evening, there were only 12 active forwards listed on the Senators’ roster. They’ll need one more to become cap compliant. Parker Kelly is the likely candidate for a recall. Kelly notched a pair of goals including the game-winner in Belleville’s 5-3 victory over the Toronto Marlies Sunday afternoon.
There’s also a chance the club claims a forward off waivers Monday.
At the moment the 12 forwards are:
Tim Stützle – Josh Norris – Drake Batherson
Alex Formenton – Chris Tierney – Tyler Ennis
This definitely won’t be how the Senators line up Thursday when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.
GM Pierre Dorion still has plenty of work ahead to mold his roster.