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NHL Rumours: Ottawa Senators GM Steve Staios Hunting Starting Goalie

Here we are for another edition of NHL rumours and this time it is Ottawa Senators style. The Stanley Cup Final is still being hotly contested, but for the rest of the league, Sens included, their offseasons are well underway. Here we shall discuss the Senators General Manager Steve Staios and his search to address the club’s goaltending issues. Ideally, they would like to have a plan in place ahead of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft set for June 28th and 29th from the spectacular Sphere in Las Vegas, Nevada.

All NHL rumours come from the original source and are subject to change.

NHL Rumours

Ottawa Senators GM Pushing for a New Goaltending Option

Rumour: Bruce Garrioch was summarizing messaging from none other than Elliotte Friedman that the Senators are in the hunt for Jacob Markstrom‘s services. 

Analysis: It is no secret that the Ottawa Senators want to make an upgrade in goal. It also no secret that when Jacob Markstrom is on his game, he can be a dominating NHL number-one backstopper. The word is that Staios has been quite active in his talks with Calgary Flames General Manager Craig Conroy. However, it is thought that the New Jersey Devils are the frontrunners for Markstrom’s services, but Staios is pleading his case.

It seems that Steve Staios is determined to figure out his club’s goaltending situation. Furthermore, the way he is looking to do that is through external options. Despite the Senators being strong in terms of organizational depth in net, they lack an elite, true number-one.

Therefore, enter Jacob Markstrom into the discussion. Markstrom has played 59 or more games four times in his NHL career, including most recently in 2022-23. In addition, when he is on his game, he can be an elite NHL goalie. Between 2015-16 and 2019-20, he carried a SV% of .910 or better each season. Also, his career-best .922 SV% came in the 2021-22 campaign. Now one question about Markstrom is on his age, 34, and the fact that his numbers were not strong enough to make Calgary a playoff team in 2023-24. In 48 games, he was 23-23-2 with a 2.78 GAA and a .905 SV%.

The Senators Need Some Answers Defensively Based on 2023-24

For Ottawa, they need to have an open mind. Are there better options out there? Maybe, Linus Ullmark comes to mind, but the point is, there aren’t many better options. Markstrom would provide the Sens stability in net, and very important, be physically strong enough to give you his best against the league’s best for 40-50 games in 2024-25. That was one knock on Sens current number-one starting goalie, Joonas Korpisalo. His career-high 55 games in 2023-24 was 16 more than his previous career-high from 2022-23. Perhaps that was a reason for his struggles. Another way to look at the situation from GM Staios’ perspective is how it affects the roster. In bringing in a goalie, that means the Sens can save a bit of money by moving out one of the current goalies’ contracts. Both Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg are signed for 2024-25. Korpisalo makes $4M a year for the next four seasons, while Forsberg is on the books for $2.75M in 2024-25, before becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Regardless of what the Senators do, it does seem like they need to make a move. As we mentioned, the Senators have been known to already be in talks in acquiring Linus Ullmark from the Boston Bruins. The Sens big trade bait for that deal is Jakob Chychrun. Do the pros and cons of acquiring an excellent goaltender like Ullmark out-weigh the downside of possibly loading up an inter-divisional opponents backend?

The Return for Ottawa Senators Defenceman in Trade Rumours

What Position is the Organization Currently In for Goaltenders Leading to NHL Rumours

We do need to talk about why Staios feels that he is even in this position of requiring an upgrade in net. The reason was the poor play of Korpisalo and Forsberg in 2023-24. Now, they did have some positives, including Korpisalo making key saves early in games at times, but the idea remains, the club needs to tighten up defensively in net and on defence. Too many times did they surrender early goals in periods.

One of the most used statistics for goaltender’s quality of play is goals saved above expected. If we search goalies with a minimum 20 games played in 2023-24, 65 NHL goalies qualified for this standing. Connor Hellebuyck led the NHL with a 33.1 rating. Unfortunately for Ottawa, Forsberg was 55th at -7.3 and Korpisalo was second last at -16.1. If we study another powerful stat for goalies, save percentage on only unblocked shots, again same story. Forsberg finished 58th, while Korpisalo was 59th.

There is Help Coming, Eventually

There is a positive as we alluded to in Ottawa’s net, and that is the future. Mads Sogaard and Leevi Merilainen continue to be ranked near the top of the Sens organizational NHL prospect depth chart. They do need a year or two, but help is coming down the pipeline. Maybe according to all the NHL rumours, if Markstrom or Ullmark can come in and give the Sens two to three years of playoffs contention, the transition to the prospects will work out perfectly.

There’s lot of considerations for Staios to keep in mind. The other option is loading up on defensive players through free agents. Players such as a defensive defenceman or a two-way, veteran forward, as a means of making the club better. Maybe the goaltending is near good enough. Now with Korpisalo having played 55 games in an NHL goal, and having struggled, he’s learned the tough lesson of what it takes. Maybe he just needs the opportunity.

Main photo by: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports


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