The top five available options for the Ottawa Senators to either sign free agents, trade, or otherwise. There seems like there has been a lot of organizational momentum going back to 2022 when pegged the “Summer of Pierre.” That said it seems like General Manager Pierre Dorion is not quite done with the roster. Here we shall look at the best available options as free agents or other alternatives for the Ottawa Senators.
What Is Available for the Ottawa Senators either Free Agents, Trades, or All Other Possibilities
If you study the Ottawa Senators roster, signing free agents or making trades might make sense. It does make for a meaty debatable topic whether the Sens will be better upfront year-over-year. Consider that they lost the likes of Alex DeBrincat, but acquired Dominik Kubalik, and will have a healthy Josh Norris. Of course, that brings up the point, it is a long season, and unexpected events will happen. Whether it is injuries, slumps, or just plain bad luck, craziness always goes down through an 82 game season. Therefore, let’s take a look at the best five options for Dorion to focus on ahead of the 2023-24 season.
Vladimir Tarasenko: The Top Gun of Best Free Agents for the Ottawa Senators
Let’s be real, if the Senators bring in a player of Tarasenko’s calibre, it will automatically raise expectations. It will elevate the team’s level from the top down. It takes the pressure off Tim Stützle, and it allows Kubalik to play down with Shane Pinto on the third line. Furthermore, it just provides insulation for the lineup. Tarasenko has generally been healthy throughout his career outside his shoulder problems post the 2019 Stanley Cup. Moreover, he did bounce back admirably, considering his 2021-22 season of 34 goals, and 48 assists in 75 contests. Tarasenko has been known to be remarkably consistent throughout his career. He finished with between 66 and 82 points (his career-high), six times.
Despite all the positives, bringing in Tarasenko presents, he does have one drawback, his price tag. This is his first year after his 8-year, $60 million contract, with an AAV of $7.5M. You would think a player of his pedigree commands nearly $6M on the open market as he is currently. This would mean that the Senators would need to have some finesse around the cap space. The one name that comes up, and for no other reason than his cap hit is Mathieu Joseph. Joseph makes $2.95 M, and trading him would really open up the space that Dorion has to work with here. The flip side of the coin, with Tarasenko asking so much, immediately eliminates teams due to cap problems. This may end up working in the Sens favour if they can prove to be in the running at closing time.
Tomas Tatar: A Favourable Runner Up
Signing Tatar would hardly be a consolation prize in some people’s eyes. In fact, he might even be preferred to allow for better flexibility on other roster moves. One positive for pursuing Tatar as opposed to Tarasenko is likely the monetary argument. Tatar’s last contract was for $4.5 M annually. As a 32-year-old, it would be safe to say if you are giving him some term, it will come under that amount. Furthermore, Tatar might be more effective than his counterpart, Tarasenko, from an analytic standpoint. From Moneypuck.com, if you filter on lines that played over 250 minutes, Tatar was a part of the second-best line in xGOALs% (64.5%). His linemates were Dawson Mercer and centre Nico Hischier. Tatar is a well-rounded player, adding a decent Point Share (PS) value of 5.9 individually. Also, he had his seventh career 20-goal campaign. If the Sens go this way, you are getting a dependable two-way player, who would contribute on either power play.
Pius Suter: The Under the Radar Offensive Contributor
It just seems the 27-year-old Swiss native has a lot to offer. He should come at a bargain, earning $3.25 M last season. It might work well for the team that signs him, as he did have his least productive season in 2022-23. In three seasons in the NHL, he has had Points/60 minutes starting in his 2020-21 rookie season of 1.8, 1.6, and 1.3, respectively. Still, there is no need to be a doubter, and he can still score, with 14 goals last year. This was in a meager 14:04 of ice time, and on a Detroit Red Wing team that was trying to develop its prospects.
Travis Konecny: The Trader’s Route
If Dorion wants to make one big final splash for this summer, this could be it. The Senators do not have a lot to offer in trade, but they have a few valuable items. First of all, they have defenceman prospects or those that have yet to live up to expectations, that would at least be top-six guys. Examples include Jacob Bernard-Docker and Erik Brännström. They have enough goalies, that they could expend one of their prospects in Leevi Merilainen or Mads Søgaard. On top of that, they have forward prospects and draft picks. However, Dorion does want to maintain his 2024 picks, partially behind the reasoning for the choice in return for DeBrincat.
So, why is Travis Konecny so desirable? It starts with he is coming off a season with a PPG of 1.02. He has a manageable cap hit of $5.5M and the Philadelphia Flyers are looking to make deals. Therefore, General Manager Daniel Brière might be willing to dive into the proverbial trade pool with Dorion. Also, Konecny is locked up until the 2024-25 season expires. With the possibility of a salary cap increase after this year, the Sens could find a way to contend. It might make for an ideal fit.
The Final of the Five Options: Do Nothing
When we say “Do Nothing,” what we really mean is do nothing now, and see how things play out. The idea being the Senators only have so much cap space to work with now. If a key injury comes up, they want a little wiggle room as a safety net. Moreover, this would allow for the team to play the season for themselves. If the trade deadline comes, and a move would put this team in contention, they have the breathing room to do so. After all, they did acquire their sought-after top-four defenceman in Jakob Chychrun at the 2023 trade deadline. Also, Kubalik is a top-six forward, so he can help fill the gap left by DeBrincat.
All and all, the Senators have a young core and are going to improve this year. They still have some options, and a GM eager to pounce on opportunities. This is a team that only finished six points out of a playoff spot in 2022-23. Now, with the addition of a reliable goaltender in Joonas Korpisalo, it is just another reason to raise, not lower, expectations.
Main Photo: Marc DesRosiers – USA TODAY Sports