With final bids due May 15, Ottawa Senators’ fans are holding their collective breath, waiting to see which group will become the prospective owner of their hockey club.
While the process will drag out a little longer until a decision is eventually rendered, it’ll soon be coming down to crunch time for Senators general manager Pierre Dorion to get his roster into shape for next season.
At this current juncture, the team has $16.1 million in available cap space based on the expected ceiling of $83.5M.
On the surface, there appears to be a lot of wiggle room to fit players within the cap. However, when diving deeper, the remaining cap hit only takes eight forwards, five defensemen and one goalie into account.
Presuming forward Ridly Greig cracks the Senators’ roster to open the season, this drops available space to $15.2M.
Several restricted free agents are seeking new deals, including d-men Erik Brannstrom, Jacob Bernard-Docker, forwards Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Gambrell, Julien Gauthier, Shane Pinto, and Egor Sokolov.
If Brannstrom, Bernard-Docker, and Pinto ink new extensions for approximately $6M in total, this leaves the remaining $9M for DeBrincat. The 25-year-old carried a $6.4M cap hit in 2022-23. However, DeBrincat’s actual salary was $9M, thus he has to be issued a qualifying offer in at least an equal amount.
At the Senators’ season-ending media availability, Dorion noted, he’ll extend this QO to Alex DeBrincat.
While it was hoped, dependable unrestricted free agents, Travis Hamonic, and Austin Watson may return to the fold, each are in favour of seeking multi-year contracts. The pair will likely have to wait until mid-July to view the make-up of the Senators’ roster, and be willing to sign for one year only.
And all of the above doesn’t take into account the Senators’ GM search for a goalie and a bottom-six forward as Dorion indicated on April 15.
Around Full Press Hockey
NHL: GM Pierre Dorion Looks Towards the Senators’ Offseason
Ep 119: Patrick Mahomes' Top 5 List
by Full Press Coverage on May 27, 2023 at 7:49 pm
NHL: Derick Brassard: From PTO to Ottawa Senators’ Masterton Trophy Nominee
NFL: What Eddie Robinson Told Doug Williams After He Made History 35 Years Ago
Full Press Bets: Early 2022 NFL MVP Odds: Bills’ Josh Allen Favored
PODCAST: Full Press Hockey Weekly Ep 45: Canucks, Islanders, and The Boston Bruins
WANT MORE PODCASTS? Check Out Some Of The Latest From Around The FPC Network
But first and foremost, the situation surrounding Alex DeBrincat takes centre stage. Each move Dorion makes this season is predicated on the Michigan resident’s willingness or non-willingness to remain an Ottawa Senator.
The diminutive forward admittedly experienced some difficulty in adjusting to Ottawa on and off the ice, “I think (there were) some ups and downs. It was obviously an adjustment coming here – changed up pretty much everything. Even outside the rink, it’s a little different for a family. I felt towards the end of the year, I found more consistency in my game. Tried to find that space to kind of play my game and stay within the system to be effective. Maybe I kind of struggled with it at the beginning of the year, where that middle ground was? But that was the best way to describe it. Hopefully, this will make me better for next year,” said DeBrincat prior to heading home for the offseason.
DeBrincat recorded a respectable career-high 39 assists during his first campaign with the Senators. However, his 27 goals fell short of expectations. Especially after arriving fresh off a 41-goal season with the Chicago Blackhawks. It was the second such occasion he had done so in his accumulative five NHL seasons. DeBrincat’s shooting percentage in Ottawa was 5.2% below his career average posted as a Blackhawk.
Albeit, it wasn’t for the lack of trying; DeBrincat fired 263 shots on goal, the second-most in his career.
For his part, the “Cat” left the door open for a return to Ottawa, “I’m definitely open to anything. I’m going to sit down with my family and talk to my agent (Jeff Jackson) over the next couple of weeks and months, kind of figure out what the best thing for us as a family – try to figure that out. But at this point in time, I’m definitely open to anything.”
Dorion was forthright in his comments to the media, “We know he’ll be back for one year, and then we’ll go from there. We had a really productive meeting…We talked throughout during the season with his camp and they indicated to us, they wanted to see how new ownership was going to go, and how the team was going to go. I think they’re happy with that. We’re going to have to look at our options. If he wants to sign, I think we can get a contract done. If players want to stay, we talk contract. If players don’t want to stay, we move on. But if he doesn’t want to stay, we’ve got to look at our options.”
Therein lies the dilemma for the Senators’ GM. Not having an owner installed prior to the Entry Draft in late June may stymie Dorion from inking Alex DeBrincat long-term. The risk involved to have DeBrincat enter next season on a one-year deal may be too great as well.
What Pierre Dorion does next remains to be seen. But this one important decision will set the tone for the entire make-up of his club’s roster in 2023-24.
Leave a Reply