Big news finally occurred on Sunday, when Alex DeBrincat left the Ottawa Senators via trade to the Detroit Red Wings. Upon his arrival in Motor City, DeBrincat immediately signed a four-year contract extension. That contract carries a $7.875 million cap hit annually, a dollar figure that exceeds the amount Ottawa has remaining under the salary cap. By moving DeBrincat, Ottawa opened the door for an entirely separate acquisition. Rumours today swirl that Vladimir Tarasenko will join the Ottawa Senators, now that they have cap space to sign him.
NHL Rumours: Ottawa Senators and Vladimir Tarasenko
In 2022-23, Tarasenko wound down the final season of his eight-year deal worth $60 million. Now 31 years old, and still in a flat cap environment, Tarasenko’s next deal isn’t projected to reach the $7.5 million annual value from his last contract. He remains a top target on the free agent market, and with just over $5 million in cap space, the Senators look like a good match for Tarasenko.
— Ian Cameron (@bobano) July 9, 2023
Whether another trade still needs to take place remains to be seen. While $5 million sounds like a lot, it probably won’t be quite enough to secure one of the best remaining free agents. Tarasenko posted 18 goals and 32 assists last year, good for 50 points in 69 games. In his career, he netted 270 goals, 304 assists and 574 total points across 675 games.
Vladimir Tarasenko’s Fit in Ottawa
If Tarasenko wants, he could sign a short deal with the Senators and re-enter the free-agent market in a year or two. This gives him the ability to capitalize when the salary cap increases. With projections for increases of roughly $4-5 million in each of the next two offseasons, teams obtain tonnes more room to bargain sooner than later.
For Ottawa, this may be the best option as well. They remain a team on the rise, looking to break into the playoff picture for the first time since 2016-17. The last six seasons took them through the throngs of a rebuild. Now, they desire to get over the hump.
And coming off their first winning season since that last playoff berth, they no longer fly under the radar of the rest of the league. Ottawa finished 2022-23 just six points shy of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference (39-35-8). Adding Tarasenko to this Senators roster might be enough to close the gap the rest of the way.
Potential Contract Length
A short-term deal bringing Tarasenko to the Senators allows both parties to retain control of their long-term outlook. Should everything work perfectly, Tarasenko might want to re-sign and stay with Ottawa anyways. Or, if the team remains on the outside looking in, Tarasenko becomes excellent trade bait for a contender at the next trade deadline.
Either way, Tarasenko signing with the Senators feels like a win-win for both sides. Ultimately, the dollar figure needs to come in at a value that keeps Ottawa from sacrificing other aspects of their roster. They hope Joonas Korpisalo becomes a legitimate number-one goalie, but if not, that position remains a need. Plus, Shane Pinto still needs a new contract for next season too. They also have Erik Brannstrom, Jake Sanderson and Dominik Kubalikentering the last years of their respective contracts next season.
So, a long-term contract doesn’t seem very likely to work between the Ottawa Senators and Tarasenko. A former NHL all-star and Stanley Cup champion, though, sure goes a long way for Ottawa’s dressing room. Expect a significant push from their franchise to acquire Tarasenko sooner than later.
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