Looking Ahead: The Next Offseason

Hey all. Seeing that our roster is pretty much set, barring a trade of one of the current roster players (*cough* fucking Kuba *cough*), I thought that I'd look into a crystal ball and see what the next offseason may bring for the Sens. Using Capgeek to look into the contracts expiring, the next offseason looks like it will be a very important one in Sens History. 

Many contracts are set to expire next season, including 6 Current Ottawa Senators as RFA's and 4 UFA's. Including the Binghamton Senators, these totals are brought up to 10 RFA's and 9 UFA's.

Also important to note is the fact that Captain Daniel Alfredsson only makes $1 million in actual salary next year, and if the injury bug kicks in this year, it may be the last that we see of #11 on the ice. 

Part One of this Fanpost will include information about the NHL club's RFA's and UFA's, if you wish to see the second part about Binghamton, feel free to mention it in the comments section. 


RFA - Ottawa

There are 4 key forward RFA's for the Sens next season: Nikita Filatov, Stephane Da Costa, Nick Foligno, and Peter Regin

  • Filatov may only get one season with the Sens to show the offensive ability that he was projected to have when he was drafted 6th Overall by Columbus in 2008. Under the new coaching staff here in Ottawa, it looks as the Russian will get his chance to shine on the top 2 lines, and will get the opportunity that he didn't receive in Columbus. If he fails to live up to expectations with his increase in ice-time, Filatov may bolt back to the KHL, as I don't think that Bryan Murray will give him another shot, especially with Silfverberg and Z-Bad definitely challenging for top 6 roles with the club. 
  • Stephane Da Costa will, barring an impressive training camp, start the year with the Binghamton Senators. The Sens will be looking for him to display the ability that made him one of the most sought after college free agents this past season, and hopefully produce some strong offensive numbers while being reliable in his own end. If Da Costa can do that, look for him to possibly be a call-up during the year, and have his name on a contract a la Bobby Butler

Things get interesting from here on out, as Nick Foligno and Peter Regin will have already seen an extended period of time with the big club. 

  • Foligno was given a shot to produce in the Top 6 this past year, but didn't quite produce as we all expected him to. However, he did increase his point total by 2, compared to his 81 game full rookie season in 08-09, where Furby had 17g, and 15a for 32p. He looks to start the year in a Top 9 role, probably alongside Z. Smith and C. Neil on Ottawa's 3rd line, which had chemistry at the end of last year. If there is an injury to a Top 6 Winger, look for Foligno to fill in. I think he's more likely to get a contract extension that Regin, just due to the fact that Foligno is more versatile. He can play in a scoring role, or a checking role, and doesn't really need skilled players to feed him the puck. He's a strong worker along the boards, and no one has questioned his work-ethic, it's just whether the offensive ability will come. 
  • Regin will probably start the year as Ottawa's second line center, and will need to produce if he wants to stick with the club next year. Everyone has heard about the massive disappointment that was 10-11 for Peter, especially after his outstanding playoffs the year before. Regin was stuck with 4th line duties, and under Clouston, he didn't really have a set role, or stable linemates. His production increased as his ice-time did, especially later on in the season, and the injury really put an end to a disappointing season. He looks to be fully healed, and will hopefully come to training camp ready to work, and in good physical condition. He looks to line up alongside Milan Michalek and Daniel Alfredsson, both who can score, and Regin needs to play next to skilled players in order to really shine. If he can put up a stat line around 15g, 30a, 45p, Ottawa may just resign him next year, or let him walk to another team looking for a reclamation project. 
The next offseason will probably focus around getting a deal for the next big RFA, Erik Karlsson, who is the offensive sparkplug of our defence, and one player that Ottawa needs to retain. I really don't want a situation like the Meszaros situation from a couple years ago surfacing, and I don't think it will. 
  • EK65 had a solid offensive season last year, and was the teams leading scorer for most of the season, until Spezza's offensive outburst near the end. No one has questioned his offensive ability, but his defensive game needed work, and hopefully he shows up at this year's training camp looking as strong as ever. His -30 was one of the worst in the NHL, but he also played on one of the worst teams in the NHL last year, as well as a goalie that seemed to let everything go past him. The ability for goaltenders to make saves is key, and really helps the confidence of the D, and look for Karlsson to continue his pace at the end of the season last year, and improve his defensive numbers. Pivoting to the right was a major flaw in his game, but it is a fixable flaw, requiring strength and conditioning, both of which Karlsson should have done this summer. Hopefully Bryan Murray can get an extension done long before July 1st, so that he can focus on the other key free agents in the month of June. 
  • Brian Lee is the other defensive RFA for the big club, and a lot of the decision for Murray depends on whether Lee can improve and put up strong defensive numbers. I always remember when we drafted him, Pierre McGuire said that he could be the Wade Redden replacement in Ottawa, but the offensive numbers just hasn't happened for Lee throughout his time with the organisation. After being paired with Chris Phillips, Lee was one of the most stable D-men last season, and wasn't afraid to take the hit to make a play. He has a solid first pass out of the zone, and if he continues to play the body, I don't see why he can't be a 5th or 6th D-man in Ottawa. Unless he is outplayed by Gryba or Borowiecki, I can see him being resigned for a short term deal, to play a stable, reliable, defensive game. 
UFA - Ottawa 
Other than the aforementioned Daniel Alfredsson, the other two forward UFA's for Ottawa are Jesse Winchester, and the newly signed Zenon Konopka
  • He put up nearly a PPG during his career in the ECAC with Colgate University, but Jesse Winchester can't brush his teeth - I mean put up the same numbers in the NHL. He's been a solid grinder, and was probably the best player along the boards last season for Ottawa, and for this reason, I think that he may be one of the players being shipped out at the deadline. He's still young (27) and is the type of player that a contender would love. He's easily coachable, a hard-worker, can play on the PK, and is reliable in his own end. If he can't be traded, Ottawa may consider resigning him, but it depends on the players in Binghamton, as we have a plethora of bottom 6ers in our organisation. 
  • Zenon Konopka was signed to be our 4th line center, and I fully expect him to fill that role admirably. I don't really know if newly signed players are often traded at the deadline (please correct me in the comments section), but if Winchester isn't traded, he may be. If he isn't, I don't expect him to be resigned in the Offseason. 
The two defensive UFAs, Filip Kuba and Matt Carkner, are two that I can see being traded this coming season. I'm not going to expand much on either of them, as Ottawa's prospect strength is Defense, especially with Rundblad and Cowen pushing for a spot this year.
  • Kuba may still be an option for a contender if he can regain his previous form, and I expect him to be traded around the deadline for a mid-round pick, in order to open up a spot for the aforementioned prospects
  • Carkner is a more interesting case, as a contender would love to add his physical component at the deadline, and his toughness may make him a valuable asset. Even if he isn't traded, I don't really see him being resigned, just because of the depth of the D-system, but he CAN be a useful 7th D-man. 

This FanPost was written by a member of the Silver Seven community, and does not necessarily reflect the beliefs or opinions of the site managers, editors, or Sports Blogs Nation, Inc.

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