So last week we asked for your questions in our mailbag, and you delivered. Did you ever deliver. We had so many submissions, we're splitting it into three days, based around very loose themes. So welcome to Day 1, where the theme is the most recent moves by the Ottawa Senators. As always, share your own thoughts in the comments below!
Who from the writers will be at Sens Summer Fan Fest? Submitted by Colin4000
The short answer is we're not sure. I (Ross) won't be, because it's a long drive from Calgary. Michaela will be there for sure as a panelist, Callum will try depending on his work schedule, and B_T would like to but likely won't know if he can until the day of. You should definitely all go though! -RA
What's one free agent that you really wish the Sens had signed? Submitted by Colin4000
He may be signed by the time this goes up, but Brandon Pirri is someone I was/am all over. Ottawa has now signed Chris Kelly, making it unlikely they go after Pirri, but he could have been an absolutely perfect addition to the bottom six. In 166 games, the 25 year old has averaged 24 goals and 16 assists per season, which makes him quite a solid third line centre.
The fact that he was traded for a 6th round pick and that Anaheim didn't even tender him a qualifying offer makes me think he can be signed for extremely cheap (around $1 million or so), and he would have given the team some serious depth at centre. The Senators were reportedly in on him at the deadline, so I was holding out hope that he would be coming. Kelly is a fine signing, although it would've been nice to see them go after a guy in his prime who can easily put up 30 points while playing anywhere from the 2nd to the 4th line. -TS
Concerning a partner for Wideman, what do you think about acquiring Mike Weber? He's a free agent left-handed shot and could be signed for relatively cheap. If the senators don't sign anyone for that spot who do you think claims it internally? Claesson? Boro? Chabot? Submitted by @Salim_Dion
Weber would be cheap, but I'm not sure he's much of an upgrade honestly. He's a 6th/7th defenseman, and I'd rather them go after somebody else or give the job to Thomas Chabot. I think Ottawa is banking on Chabot making the team, and he can probably come into the league and be one of the Senators better defensemen.
Having a top-six of Methot-Karlsson, Phaneuf-Ceci, Chabot-Wideman wouldn't be too bad, so I hope that Borowiecki gets scratched the majority of the time. It looked like they were going to go after a third pairing veteran guy in free agency (and they still might), but they may not have the money to do so. -TS
Realistically, should I keep hoping for an NHL free agent signing? Even a third or fourth liner? Submitted anonymously
Hopefully Chris Kelly was enough – if not, it really doesn’t seem likely that the Sens will sign someone else at forward. With Kelly signed, the Sens currently have Zack Smith, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Kelly, and Chris Neil locked into bottom-six forward spots. That doesn’t even include four players who had a decent chunk of NHL action last year in the quartet of Curtis Lazar, Matt Puempel, Ryan Dzingel, and Nick Paul. Only Puempel requires waivers, so it seems to me that he’s a lock to make the team on a one-way deal, much like Shane Prince last year.
That leaves two of Lazar, Dzingel, and Paul for the final forward positions, assuming that the team is going to carry 13. Given the organization’s tendency to "open up" spots for younger forwards, I think they’ll be happy with carrying two of those three for now, and potentially making a trade later in the season if the depth forwards struggle like they did in 2015-16. -AM
What do you guys think the opening night line up will look like/want it to look like, and where do you think the team will finish next year? Submitted by Stonecoldmarkstone
I think the lineup will look something like:
I think Paul and Puempel will be given some more AHL time, and I'm not really expecting many more moves this off-season, which is depressing. I want the team to look drastically different, but there's really no point in even going through that exercise, since there aren't many good free agents left and they don't seem to be very active on the trade front.
As for next season, I can't see how they're a playoff team. Tampa Bay and Florida are now clearly better. Buffalo finished four points behind Ottawa and is getting better. The Canadiens have Price healthy and will at least be competitive. The Red Wings and Bruins are going down a bit, but they will at least be in contention for a playoff spot. So I could honestly see them finish as low as 7th, and in the best case scenario they get 4th.
However, we all know getting 4th wouldn't be that great since a first round exit would be likely. Let's just say I can't see next year being too much fun. -TS
I have heard that Hoffman would only get a one year deal by signing a contract thru arbitration, which would result in him being a potential UFA next off season. Would he be returning for the 2017-18 campaign in your opinion? Submitted by @ShotsSams
If Ottawa goes to arbitration again with Hoffman, I'll lose a lot of faith in the front office staff. He's had back to back fantastic seasons, and I see no reason why they shouldn't be giving him at least a 4-year deal. If he is going to be a UFA next summer, I can't see him staying because I think he's going to be even better under Guy Boucher. Being even better is going to make him more expensive, and then Ottawa won't be able to pay him.
I can't imagine his price is too exorbitant, and they need to get a deal done sooner rather than later. -TS