No time to waste. Thoughts! Five of them! Now!
The Biggest Problem
It all starts with Eugene Melnyk.
Regardless of how you feel about Bryan Murray's tenure in the nation's capital, despite what you will criticize about Pierre Dorion's reign as Senators general manager, and ignoring any future executive's record while in Ottawa's front office, the first thing you must consider is the fact that they are, without any doubt, handcuffed from the very beginning.
For a long time now, Senators management hasn't had the ability to go after any player they desire. They haven't had the same luxury as teams in big markets have to bring in whoever they want to coach their squad.
The number one thing is money.
Now, it might not be the most important attribute of an organization - many teams do fairly well strapped to a budget, just look at the Florida Panthers - but it should always be the initial criticism of any franchise in the NHL.
Without Melnyk handing out blank cheques, so to speak, the entire operation has to function differently from the start.
And you've heard it countless times, but the Senators' owner has some choice words for people that think you absolutely must spend to win in this league.
He calls it baloney. He says that any idiot can spend to the cap. He calls it baloney, again.
There's no doubt that Melnyk would be throwing money at players and coaches if he was able to, but for a moment, let's consider the notion that you don't need to spend money to win in this day and age.
Yes, ever since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in the 2006-07 season, the Senators have been far behind (or simply just behind if we're only talking about the 2007-08 season) in spending with every single team that has won the final game of the year.
It's pretty much black and white at this point. Or blue and red if you're still looking at the chart.
Give Dorion a Shot
No, the Senators new general manager shouldn't be praised - or even recognized - for the rightful firing of Dave Cameron and his coaching staff. Yes, it had to be done and it was the correct decision to move on from the men behind the bench, but it was as much a layup as Steph Curry heading down main street, uncontested and gently rolling the ball off his finger tips into a hoop with the circumference equal to that of a kiddie pool.
Let's wipe the slate completely clean.
By the end of the summer - heck, you could probably garner an opinion before July - we'll have seen enough from him to realize whether or not this team is headed in the right direction.
There are free agents to be signed, trades to make, drafts to pick from, coaches to hire and much more to accomplish.
He's got a lot on his plate, but Dorion has the opportunity to make a meaningful impact this summer.
This won't even come close to what the final product is going to look like at the end of the summer, but if I had to describe a perfect offseason, this is what it would consist of:
1. Sign Mike Hoffman long term
2. Trade Cody Ceci + prospect + pick for Jonathan Drouin
3. Do not extend a qualifying offer to Alex Chiasson
4. Extend a qualifying offer to Patrick Wiercioch
5. Sign Ryan Dzingel to a two-year contract
6. Acquire a top-four defenseman
7. Hire Guy Boucher or Mike Yeo (this could change if certain coaches, currently in the playoffs, are fired in the coming months)
8. Sign Drake Caggiula
Speaking of Mr. Caggiula. In case you haven't been formally introduced to the 21-year-old NCAA star, please consider the following.
"We are in. We are one of the finalists. We met with the kid after the regular season. He’s a dynamic, small player … a really good player. He’s someone that could challenge for a spot, starting next year." - Pierre Dorion. TSN 1200.
As it stands right now, Dorion says there are five teams, including the Senators, that are finalists in the Caggiula sweepstakes.
Though I've barely had the chance to watch Caggiula on a consistent basis, with 51 points in 39 games, he's obviously an extremely talented player offensively. Any time you get a chance to add a young player like that, you're just hoping he picks you.
And you never know. Matt O'Connor seemed to think Ottawa was a good enough place to begin his professional career. Maybe Drake will, too.
Working Together: An Analytics Story
The Carolina Hurricanes' front office has been more than open to the thought of analytics. They hired stats guru Eric Tulsky in August of 2015, and it's clear to see that Tulsky has fit in just fine.
What we see from Francis and Peters here is that, not only have they done the obligatory acknowledgment of the relevance of analytics in hockey, but they've obviously taken it seriously and attempted to learn more.
For a coach to say that analytics has been "an unbelievably valuable asset to our organization," it's clear that the Hurricanes have been able to put aside any old-time hockey thinking that frames analytics as unprofitable.
The most important aspect of a healthy relationship between analytics and NHL front offices has to be respect. If the general managers, scouts and stats brainiacs understand that everyone can bring something to the table, it makes it so much easier to communicate, learn new ways to evaluate players and carry out the best possible decision.
Egos need to be checked at the door. Every person with valid input needs to have the chance to speak, and not just be heard, but have their ideas considered.
For the Senators, though, the first step will be the sheer acceptance of analytics. It's not enough simply having an advanced stats person for the sake of being able to tell people that you have an advanced stats person.