With just less than a month until the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, all teams are getting their preparations set. After failing to make the playoffs this year, the Ottawa Senators off-season will be an intriguing one to follow. With many distractions on and off the ice this past season, the team still has many question marks left. Although general manager Pierre Dorion has brought back his staff, work still needs to be done. He will have a “to-do” list this off-season, and he’s expected to meet the requirements at hand.
To Do List: Ottawa Senators Off-Season
Having a Strong Draft in June
Pierre Dorion might not have gotten the first overall pick, but he should be happy picking top five for his team. After deciding to keep the first round pick from the Matt Duchene trade, the Senators now have to make the most of it. The Sens will pick fourth overall on June 22nd in Dallas. The last time the Senators picked top 10 was in 2011, drafting forward Mika Zibanejad. The Senators will have many solid players to pluck away at in their number four spot. Here are just three players from the pack that will be available when the Senators take the stage in Dallas.
Brother of Matthew Tkachuk, son of Keith Tkachuk, Brady Tkachuk is the projected pick to go at four, but not all mock drafts have him there. Tkachuk had a strong year at Boston University, tallying 31 points in 40 games. Although not all scouts seem to have the same opinion on him, he seems like a kid with a bright future in the NHL. The Senators might want to take a long look at Tkachuk. With the rumours of Mike Hoffman possibly being on the move, Tkachuk might be their future winger. In comparison to Hoffman, Tkachuk will probably bring more of a feisty playing level to the table, and who doesn’t love that? For a more in-depth read on Brady Tkachuk, check out LastWordOnSports prospect profile on him by Ben Kerr.
Defender Quinton Hughes is a polarizing name in between picks four to eight. Hughes, a defender who played for the University of Michigan scored 29 points in 37 games played. The defender has shown glimpses of being a strong candidate to become a top-four defender. Although he wouldn’t be ready to play in the show in his first year, he seems to be a star in waiting. The Senators have a decent pipeline for young defenders, and Hughes would only add to their strengths. If Pierre Dorion is keen on his team having a strong blueline for their future, Hughes is a guy that should stand out. Want to know more about Quinton Hughes? Check out his LastWordOnSports prospect profile.
A Swedish defender that excelled in the Under 20 Swedish Hockey League this past year. Adam Boqvist managed to score 24 points in 25 games played. Boqvist has been projected to go top five in certain mock drafts. He had a superb season overseas and that just might help him to jump up the rankings little by little. Much like Hughes, Boqvist can bolster the Ottawa Senators blueline for their foreseeable future. The Senators have a good defensive prospect pool that includes Thomas Chabot. Drafting Boqvist would only solidify the future of the Senators blueline. For a more in-depth read on Boqvist, check out his prospect profile at LastWordOnSports.
Whichever direction the Senators decide to take at the draft, they cannot afford to make a mistake. It’s been awhile since management has gotten this opportunity to draft high, and they’ll be expected to hit a bullseye their pick.
Ottawa Senators Off-Season is Key for Signings
Along with looking to add to their roster via the draft, the Senators have to take care of their current roster. General manager Pierre Dorion has a few names that are set to be a UFA or an RFA this summer. Throughout the bunch that management will have to make decisions on, two names stand out in particular. The Ottawa Senators off-season will involve two big names to re-sign.
In February, it seemed like Erik Karlsson was set to leave the Ottawa Senators. As trade deadline day neared, the idea of the captain being on the move seemed imminent. Now it seems like Karlsson will be offered a contract on July 1st, except there’s a catch. After missing the first five games of the season due to off-season surgery and later on due to personal issues, Erik Karlsson still put on a show.
He finished the year with 62 points in 71 games played. Nine goals and 53 assists. With missing the amount of time he did, Karlsson still finished 6th in scoring among all defenders. 43 of his 71 points were at even strength, showing that Karlsson wasn’t just used as the quarterback on the powerplay. In fact, only 18 of his points came on the powerplay. He led all defenders who played at least 70 games in points per game. Karlsson ranked third among all defenders in time on ice. Karlsson dominated in possession having a 51.4 Corsi For% also.
The Erik Karlsson Situation Is Still Fluid
When asked about fielding calls on his captain, Pierre Dorion never denied or confirmed that he did such. He simply stated that he fielded calls on all of his players at that point and time. When he was asked about the approach he’ll take moving forward, he gave Sens fans something to be relieved about. Dorion said that he will offer Karlsson a contract on July 1st. Although Dorion said he’d offer his captain a contract, you can be sure he’ll still take calls for him as the draft nears.
Erik Karlsson will most definitely ask for a max deal. Some have projected an annual average of $10 million, which is in line with the top players in the NHL. Los Angeles Kings defender Drew Doughty is in the same boat as Karlsson. Both have one more year on their current deals, and similar dollars have been said for Doughty. If Doughty can get $10 million, or even $9 million then Erik Karlsson is guaranteed to cash in. However the Karlsson situation unfolds, the Sens will be hard pressed to have a successful off-season if they can’t keep Karlsson in the fold.
Ever since the Mark Stone joined the Ottawa Senators, he’s always found a way to impress. Stone, a 6th round pick dispite solid numbers in the WHL (106 goals, 296 points in 232 games), has developed into a top line player for the Sens. Stone has been a player that has always showed up to play. Alongside his scoring ability, Stone can get under an opponent’s skin quickly. In the 2017-18 season, Stone continued his excellent play through a disaster year for the Ottawa Senators. Stone tallied 64 points, scoring 20 goals and adding 42 assists along the way. This was his fourth straight 20 goal season. Although he scored the lowest amount of goals so far in his career, he scored his second most in points overall. A career high in points of 64 in 2014-15, his second pro season.
What Mark Stone Brings To The Ottawa Senators
Like Karlsson, Mark Stone brings great value to the Ottawa Senators on and off the ice. He brings a leadership trait to the locker room as well, something the Sens seem in short supply of. In his last 10 games played of the season, before being injured, Stone netted 13 points. Keep in mind he did this during Ottawa’s final stretch which was a catastrophe with the team going 7-12-1 down the stretch. Mark Stone finished 15th among right wingers in scoring. Only having played 58 games this season, it would be a safe bet to assume that if he had played more, he would have contributed more. For the amount of games Stone played, he had an impressive season.
Hypothetically speaking, a bridge deal would be best for a Senators team whose owner isn’t interested in paying their players heavy bags of cash. The Senators should look for a deal that locks up a piece of their core long term moving forward. Expect Mark Stone to receive a six-year deal with an AAV of $6 million. The forward has brought a lot to the Ottawa Senators, and he’ll want that reflected in his salary. Similar to Karlsson, the Ottawa Senators off-season should be focused on getting Mark Stone re-signed for next year.
Implementing Younger Players Into Their Lineup
When the Ottawa Senators off-season began, there were way too many questions that were left unanswered for fans. Would Guy Boucher‘s staff be coming back was the most intriguing one. Just a month after their season finished, Pierre Dorion announced that Guy Boucher and his entire staff will return. But with bringing him back, came a few asks from the general manager. Pierre Dorion stated that he’d like to see more of their younger pieces in the lineup on a consistent basis. Considering all Sens fans were begging for this come the end of last season, don’t get your hopes up. All of this sounds reassuring, but the Sens lineup will probably not be chalked full of rookies come September.
This news is however still extremely positive. Unless the Senators can move out poisonous contracts from their cap, the youth movement might have to wait awhile. You can expect Guy Boucher to dress young players on certain nights, but will he do it on a consistent basis is the question at hand. The thing is, even if the Senators cannot move certain contracts, they still might be forced to scratch certain veterans on a nightly basis. With Colin White ready for a regular shift in the NHL, someone is going to have to draw out. Forward Filip Chlapik had a great outing when he was called up, showing that he can play in the NHL in the future. Logan Brown is another interesting name, the large center who will look to stand out at training camp.
If the Sens are serious about the youth movement, they’ll have to sit down and look at who may be able to make the jump. The Senators prospect pool isn’t necessarily stacked, but there is some talent. If the teams thinks a full-on rebuild is in order, then they need to move veterans for young assets.
The Ottawa Senators off-season should be busy. General manager Pierre Dorion knows he cannot afford to waste time on the ticking clock. Whether it means re-signing key pieces of his team or making trades to acquire young ones, he has to start moving.
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