No time to waste! There's five thoughts to be had!
Success With Signing Free Agents
It's the theme of the summer. The Senators have cashed in bargain after bargain.
Sens had 5 RFA's going into summer (Zbad, Stone, Hoffman, Chiasson, JGP). They are paying all 5 $8.15M combined next year. Unreal.— Tyler Ray (@DefenseMinister) August 3, 2015
Before the offseason began, it was actually up in the air that the number of significant free agents in Ottawa might force the Senators to spend almost to the league's salary cap.
Well, now, after basically saying "I can't believe he signed for that little," all season long, the team has signed five of their six free agents and still has a whopping $7.9 million left in cap space. (Numbers from General Fanager)
Regardless of term, arbitration or any relationships that might've been damaged during the negotiating process between management, agents and players, Bryan Murray has dealt rather well this offseason with the internal budget that forever haunts this franchise.
I don't know how you can't be satisfied with this team's ability to save money all while keeping the core players locked up for the next little while.
There. I got through that without even mentioning Erik Condra once.
The Third Pairing
Ottawa's defensive situation goes like this: there's a solid top four featuring a Norris-winning superstar, and then four other bold question marks. The first two pairings are a sure thing.
Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson
Cody Ceci - Patrick Wiercioch
Then you've got three underachievers and the AHL's best defenseman who has yet to play a game in the NHL. It's a tricky situation, but at least there will be a clean bill of health for all mentioned come October.
"(Phillips) actually looked good today, so we’re looking forward to making sure he’s going to be good once training camp comes around. (Mark Borowiecki)’s surgery went well. (Jared) Cowen is 100 percent as I’m told." - Pierre Dorion. TSN 1200.
It's always difficult determining what line combinations the Senators will go with because there are normally three different roads to choose from. What I think they will do, what I think they should do and what they ultimately end up doing.
Bryan Murray has already shown a great deal of confidence in Jared Cowen to bounce back and mould into the reliable, sturdy defenseman the organization has begged him to be for so long. And after he somewhat demanded Dave Cameron increase the 24-year-old's ice time, it's becoming more and more likely that Cowen will be an almost every day fifth defenseman, while Mark Borowiecki and Chris Phillips will switch in and out of the lineup as the sixth man.
What I'd like to see is Chris Wideman have a fair chance to become a continuous contributor to this team. Enable him to win a spot on the roster and if he does so, reduce the amount of press box defensemen by one.
As for the the final road, the one everyone will be forced to travel on after preseason, it could include Cowen playing on the second pairing, who knows. It's an absolute mystery and a frightening one too.
What if the Internal Budget Ceased to Exist?
I'll be short and to the point. As I mentioned earlier, Ottawa has $7.9 million in cap space. In a world where Murray is allowed to spend that money, here are some players whose current cap hit would fit with the Senators.
1. Shea Weber $7.85M
2. Rick Nash $7.5M
3. Ryan Suter $7.53M
4. Pavel Datsyuk $7.5M
5. Six Erik Condra's $7.5M
6. Jason Spezza $7.5M
Opportunity to Come Out of the Gate Running
Have you looked at the Senators' first month and a half? You should.
It may be over confidence, but I'm foaming at the mouth just thinking of the chance Ottawa has to really take advantage of their somewhat easy schedule from the start of the season until mid November.
Looks to me like a large amount of those games are extremely winnable.
And they need to be, because December and January are downright scary.
Pierre Dorion Speaks, The 6th Sens Writes
The final thought isn't really through my own brain. It's from a man much smarter than I (than me?).
Graeme Nichols, or as you probably know him, The 6th Sens, did a fantastic job with his latest thoughts on Pierre Dorion's interview on TSN 1200. In fact, I nodded so much while reading it, I had to make an appointment to see my chiropractor.
All your offseason questions to Senators management are answered by Dorion, and all your thinking is done by Nichols.
Read it here. Seriously. Read it.