One week ago, we looked at the potential makeup of the forward corps for the Senators' 2019-20 season. Today, we're moving on to the defensemen and goalies.
Starting with the defensemen, we have four guys under contract who are NHL players of varying degree: Thomas Chabot, Dylan DeMelo, Christian Jaros and Mark Borowiecki. Christian Wolanin, with 12 points in 28 games this year, has done more than enough to earn a 1-way deal next season, and should be on the 2nd pair come October. The third pair will be manned by Jaros on the right, but there's going to be a competition between Borowiecki, Ben Harpur, Max Lajoie and Erik Brannstrom. The Senators have been reluctant to make Borowiecki a healthy scratch throughout his career, but they should be prepared for the very real possibility that either Erik Brannstrom or Max Lajoie win a permanent spot on the roster and push Borowiecki to the 7th spot. In this case, Ben Harpur could be moved for an AHL D on a 2-way deal, a similar trade to the one that sent Max McCormick to Colorado for J C Beaudin. If such a trade can't be made, it's not a huge deal if Harpur is playing in the minors on a 1-way deal. If he is claimed off waivers, all the better.
The remaining issue is to figure out what to do with Cody Ceci. Many people would like to see him moved, for good reason; he's never reached his potential as a 2nd pair two-way defender in the NHL, at least as far as his defensive game goes. When Bruce Garrioch reported that the team was looking to sign him long-term, it made me audibly groan, something I hadn’t done all season. Overpaying him for 1 more year is no big deal, in fact it may be necessary to do so, in order to reach the cap floor. It may be worthwhile to look for other options via trade, however if we can’t find a deal that makes sense, I’d rather sit through one more year of Ceci (by the deadline next year, hopefully Jaros can step in as the 2nd pair RHD and Ceci can be moved), than overpay somebody else for multiple years. So, here are the pairings for next season:
Chabot - DeMelo
Wolanin - Ceci
Lajoie - Jaros
So yeah, it’s pretty much the same as it is now, and it isn’t very good at all. But that’s no big deal for this team, I’d love a Top 5 pick in the 2020 draft. And the season after next, we can ice something like this:
Chabot - Wolanin
Brannstrom - Jaros
Lajoie - DeMelo
That could be something special; legitimately the best defensive corps we’ve had since the 2007 edition that reached the Stanley Cup Final, provided the young players can all comfortably step into their respective roles.
Moving on to the goaltenders, Craig Anderson and Mike Condon are both under contract, and neither of them inspire much confidence at all. As much as I hope that Condon will get healthy soon and play again, I don’t think there will be room on the roster, as Marcus Hogberg looks like he will win the #2 NHL job next season. The team should have the two battle for a spot, and send down whichever one is outperformed. Should Condon fail to regain his form from 2017, he can be loaned to an AHL team similarly to Andrew Hammond in the 2018 season, and allow Filip Gustavsson and Joel Daccord to get the lion’s share of starts in Belleville next year. Of course, this is all assuming the team does not sign Anders Nilsson, who’s done enough to earn a decent contract, albeit one with another team due to the goaltending logjam.
With Defence and Goaltending out of the way, the next post will cover the Belleville lineup, as well as the possible options the team has to reach the cap floor with this bare-bones team. Thanks for reading!