This summer has been one of the most eventful off-seasons in Senators’ history, in a positive way for once too.
The off-season got off to a great start with positive news for the team on the LeBreton front, which was compounded with Daniel Alfredsson also finally being named to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The organization then followed this up with the announcement of Ryan Bowness as assistant general manager and the promotion of Trent Mann to the same role.
This set the stage for a jam packed summer full of deals and maneuvering from the Senators’ front office. With that said, let’s get into them.
July 5, Colin White placed on waivers for buyout purposes
This move seemed inevitable once it become well-known the team was trying to move White at last season’s trade deadline. By all accounts, White was a great teammate and very well liked in the Ottawa dressing room. However, unfortunately despite the occasional flashes of potential, White just wasn’t consistently able to live up to the hefty contract he received a few years ago. This meant that unfortunately White was no longer in the team’s long-term plans and he was bought out to help keep the books clean as more core players will be up for extensions in the near future. Overall, as a fan this move hurt as White was one of the first players to commit long-term to the rebuild, but it was a move the team needed to make.
July 7, Ottawa trades picks No. 7, 39 and 2024 3rd to Chicago for Alex DeBrincat
This is the move that lit the Senators’ fan base on fire and finally breathed some much needed life back into the organization. This trade was an absolute slam dunk for Dorion and the Senators’ organization. The team was able to acquire a 40 goal scorer and perfect line-mate for their budding superstar Tim Stützle for only one first round pick. DeBrincat is close to becoming a UFA, which is a risk for the team. However, this is the exact kind of swings the team needs to take if they want to win back over the fanbase and start to compete again. Overall this move was a huge milestone for the team.
July 11, Ottawa trades Matt Murray (25% retained), 2023 3rd and 2024 7th to Toronto
This was move that many fans were terrified of happening because of what people expected the Senators would have to move get Murray’s contracts off the books. Essentially from the moment the team gave Murray his current contract, most people assumed it was going to be a mistake. This certainly was the case as Murray’s play was extremely volatile and he was injured more often than not. With this in mind, it seems to be a miracle that Dorion only had to retain 25% of this contract and gave up only a third and seventh round pick. This trade was a huge one for the team, both on the ice and financially as it clears up a logjam in goal and frees up some cap space.
July 12, Ottawa trades Filip Gustavsson to Minnesota for Cam Talbot
This move was certainly in response to trading away Murray. This trade gives the Senators two solid veteran options in goal, with both goalies being able to start any given game. While it sucks to see the team lose a promising young goaltender in Gustavsson, his development appears to have stagnated over the past couple seasons. He also appears to have been surpassed by players like Mads Sogaard on the organizational depth chart. So, bringing in a veteran player like Talbot makes sense for the team as they try to take a serious step forward this season while allowing young goalies like Sogaard to develop in Belleville.
July 12, Ottawa signs Claude Giroux
The signing of Giroux seemed like a fever dream for fans that was never really thought to be possible right up until the eve of free agency. This had been a move fans were dreaming of all the way back to the start of last season, but few thought it would actually be possible. Once the team finally put pen to paper with Giroux on a three year – $6.5 million contract, it seemed like the turning of the page for the organization. In previous years it seemed almost unthinkable that the Senators would ever be able to bring in such a high profile free agent, like Giroux, on what is very much a fair deal for the team. This move signifies to the rest of the NHL that the Senators will no longer be a doormat in the standings and are ready to start pushing for a playoff spot.
July 13, Ottawa trades Connor Brown to Washington for 2024 2nd round pick
At the time this move was made, many believed it was a precursor to clear space so the team could bring in a top four defenseman. However, over two months later, that expected move still hasn’t come to fruition which leaves the timing of this move as a bit of a head scratcher. The team was not wrong for trading Brown, as he likely wouldn’t have re-signed with them moving forward having seen his role decrease with the new acquisitions brought in. The problem with this deal is it feels like the team could have gotten much more in return for Brown if they hadn’t have rushed this trade. Getting a future second in return isn’t terrible, but players much less valuable than Brown have gone for significantly more at past trade deadlines around the league.
July 14, Ottawa signs Josh Norris to an 8 year extension
Norris was another of the team’s young core players to sign a long-term extension with the organization in the past year. Thankfully Norris’ negotiations didn’t drag into training camp and the team was quietly able to ink their first-line center to a long-term deal. This move was one that the team needed to get done, as Norris has been one of the better young goal scorers in the NHL since being acquired by the Senators. The concern with this move is the ambiguity of what Norris’ role might be with the team in the future. Promising young centers like Stützle and Shane Pinto might give the team a very good problem to have in a few years. This move however, was a great sign for the team that the young players are committed to staying in Ottawa long term and want to be here.
September 7, Ottawa signs Tim Stützle to an 8 year extension
I don’t think any fans saw this move coming, given how the team has operated in recent years. It is very rare to se the Senators sign a player to a long-term extension when the player still has term left on their contract, nevermind on their entry-level contract too. However, that’s exactly what the team did with their budding young superstar, Stützle. This move was icing on the cake for the team this off-season, as they have made just about all the signs they can to the fanbase that they are serious about competing. On the financial side of things, right now this move may seem like a bit of an overpay. However, as Stützle continues to develop and become the player fans believe he can be, this move will start to look like a steal. Stützle is one of the better young talents in the league and it is a very exciting feeling to know he is committed to Ottawa for AT LEAST the next nine years, wow who would have thought…
All in all, this has been one of the most exciting off-seasons in Senators’ history. The team was aggressive in making moves and also did well to keep their young stars in house. The team is now just missing that top four defenseman fans have been clamoring for. If the team can bring in a player that fits that description soon then this will truly be the perfect off-season. Nevertheless the moves they have made to date have all but guaranteed this will be a much more exciting team to watch this year. As a fan of the team, that’s really all you can ask for. It’s been nice to see the Senators become relevant for positive reasons again, hopefully they will be able to still address the blueline and really put the cherry on top.
Final Grade: A-