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One Thing Does or Doesn’t Lead to Another for the Ottawa Senators Roster at the Deadline

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Let’s assume for the purpose of our discussion here, that on the trade deadline, the Ottawa Senators will stand pat on their roster. But what will the implications of such a decision to do nothing imply? What will become of pending free agents that will be otherwise lost for nothing in the offseason? And just who do the Senators see as key pieces going forward?

Breaking Down the Ottawa Senators Roster Based on Trade Deadline Decisions

If the Ottawa Senators do nothing to change their roster at the deadline, it is fair to make some assumptions. First of all, just what would this mean for Vladimir Tarasenko’s future? Quite frankly, not trading Tarasenko would be a waste to end up losing an asset of his value for no return. We have heard that Tarasenko likes it in Ottawa, and wants a contract to retire on. Therefore, if the Senators do not trade him, you have to believe they will put in a sizeable push for him in the offseason. Just for our discussion, let’s assume that he signs for somewhere between $4-5 M per year.

Someone Stays, Someone Goes

Now, there are also a couple of smaller roster moves for the Ottawa Senators. It likely implies that they re-sign Parker Kelly, likely for a minimum dollar type deal. In addition, given his lack of productivity, they probably would just assume to let Dominik Kubalik walk. He’s also been healthy scratched at times. This means the Senators are at about $800K to $1.2M tied up next year for Kelly. So, are they better off overall?

Finding Who Fits on the Backend on the Ottawa Senators Roster

We can start to explain that by first examining the team’s defence. Their defence will be fairly solid heading into 2024-25. Back to our original premise for a moment, meaning that the Senators did not trade Jakob Chychrun. He’s locked up for next year anyway, so not moving him isn’t a big deal for this season. Furthermore, GM Steve Staios was unable to move the likes of Erik Brannstrom. This raises the obvious question, will they consider re-signing Brannstrom? Unfortunately, for Brannstrom, it just doesn’t seem like there is a need for him. He is fourth on the team depth charts for left-hand shot defencemen. Moreover, he is seen as more of an offensive defenceman, but unable to garner any power play opportunity. Essentially, his 15 minutes of ice time is replaceable. Also, for the organization, it is time for one of the next in line to step up.

Off the top, on the blue line, Thomas Chabot, Chychrun, Jake Sanderson, and Artem Zub are all back. Travis Hamonic has a no-movement clause, and Jacob Bernard-Docker is signed as well. That technically should be their top-six, earning just north of $27 M. They have the competition of AHL prospects trying to crack the roster. These players include Lassi Thomson, Max Guenette, and Tyler Kleven. You’d like to believe that if one of the top six went down, of the prospect group there would be a suitable replacement.

It does seem like the team would need an improvement on the right side still. Therefore, let’s continue to decipher how much is available to spend. Since we have discussed the defencemen and the available cap space, let’s explore the forwards.

The Mathieu Joseph Paradox

One of the top candidates of the forward group to move all along has been Mathieu Joseph. And isn’t Joseph the perfect paradox? When he’s playing below expectations, you want to get rid of him. But, but,…, when he is actually accumulating tucks, well, he’s very influential in a positive sense. This effect is compounded by the fact his salary is right at that happy medium. Not to mention that he has found chemistry with Tim Stutzle this season. If he is producing like you want him to, Joseph is definitely a value contract. However, if he is struggling, like he did in 2022-23, you are hard-pressed to move that contract.

Other than Joseph, the biggest off-season question mark will be Shane Pinto and his pending RFA status. Along with Sanderson’s contract kicking in, there is where the Senators require salary cap flexibility. Right now, their eight forwards under contract for 2024-25 are set to earn around $40.6M. Moreover, the report is that the salary cap for next year will increase a bit from $83.5M to $87.7M.

How Does It All Shake Down For the Ottawa Senators Roster

Despite some hiccups in their play, the two goalies are set to return at $6.75M total. All told that’s eight forwards, six D, and two goalies for around $75M. If we add around the $8M for Pinto and Tarasenko, things are already getting tight. The Senators will look to avoid any challenging roster situations like they have experienced at times this season. For instance, in a recent game against the Columbus Blue Jacket, they could only dress five defencemen. It is ideal to have more than 20 players under NHL contract. Thus needing to spend the remaining $4-5M on two or three forwards and maybe a defenceman.

That’s why a trade is so appealing. Then, they can begin to explore their market cap on a top-four, right-shot defenceman. There are plenty of them out there if you have a combination of capital and some finesse to seal the deal. Will this be Staios’ time to create his destiny? Or will the Senators once again find them out of a playoff race by Christmas?

Main photo: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports


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