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Silver Seven Mailbag, Part 1: This Summer

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We got so many mailbag submissions, we're splitting it into three parts!

Dave Sandford/Getty Images

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:

MacArthur-Turris-Stone

Hoffman-Zibanejad-Ryan

Smith-Pageau-Lazar

Dzingel-Kelly-Neil

Blunden

Methot-Karlsson

Phaneuf-Ceci

Chabot-Wideman

Borowiecki

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

Seeing we signed Chris Kelly does that mean Bryan Murray 2.0 will now push to sign other former Sens that are past their prime like Alexandre Daigle or Brian Lee? Submitted anonymously

I think signing Chris Kelly was less about bringing back a former Sens player (although that was part of it), and more about bringing in a cheap/low-risk fourth-line centre to give the team some depth down the middle.

Now, with Turris, Zibanejad, Pageau and Lazar (and Smith if they move him back to centre) it doesn't look like the Sens need any depth in this area. But Dorion made it clear that he's not opposed to sending Curtis Lazar down to the AHL next season. Lazar hasn't exactly lived up to expectations during his time in the NHL, and he could have used more minor-league time last season. Not that it's going to turn Lazar into a top-six forward overnight, but sending him down certainly will not hurt his development at this point. Adding Chris Kelly gives management this option. -MS

Do you think Chris Kelly is too old, can he keep up with the game nowadays? Submitted anonymously

At 35, Chris Kelly is certainly not a spring chicken anymore. He only played 11 games last season, so we can't judge his current level of play on that year alone. But the year previous (2014-15), he played 80 games and had 28 points. His career best, with Boston in 2011-12, was 39 points. In his six seasons with the Senators, Kelly averaged 29 points per season. So his most recent full season was not that far off from this. There is no reason to think he won't fill the role of fourth- (or third- at best) line centre this season. -MS

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