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Five Thoughts For Friday: Rumour Has It...

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Things are heating up around the Ottawa Senators.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Ottawa Senators Photo by Andrea Cardin/NHLI via Getty Images

If you’re not a fan of rumours and speculation, the next couple of months are not going to be for you.

The eyes of the NHL are slowly turning away from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and to the Ottawa Senators. The sacred chalice has yet to be awarded, sure, but with two top five picks in the upcoming draft, and Pierre Dorion reportedly working the phones already, it’s shaping up to be a highly interesting offseason for the team.

There’s also a rebrand happening at some point (?), so that should be fun. Here are Five Thoughts for Friday, September 18th, 2020.

Captain? Plan-it

NHL: DEC 19 Predators at Senators Photo by Steven Kingsman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The debate regarding who should be the next captain of the Ottawa Senators has been raging for some time. Though many folks, myself included, have made the case for Brady Tkachuk to take up the mantle, it seemed like the writing was on the wall for Thomas Chabot to be handed the ‘C’ leading into next season — a poised, well-spoken French-Canadian star who’s locked in long-term.

Even Ottawa Sun columnist Bruce Garrioch had previously reported Chabot to be the favourite, but now, it appears as if things have shifted.

While this comes as a bit of a surprise, D.J. Smith’s reasoning is understandable:

“It’s real tall order for a young guy to be a captain in a rebuild situation,” Smith said. “You’re constantly being asked the questions and you may not have the answers, you haven’t been through it. It’s not fair for a 21-, 22-, 23-year-old kid to have to answer those questions. That’s why I think you see a lot of times these guys who are captains have been through it and have been through the experience.”

Given the hesitancy, it’s possible that the Sens are waiting to have Tkachuk locked up long-term and make him the new captain, but time will tell. Perhaps they’re committed to Chabot, and just want to give him one more year of less pressure.

Un-Kuemp’t Appearance

Arizona Coyotes v Colorado Avalanche - Game Five Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

A couple weeks ago, we were talking about a potential Matt Murray trade. Since then, it appears that the goalie market has expanded, with multiple teams offering up their netminders to teams looking to bolster their own creases.

The Arizona Coyotes are one of those teams, with roughly $1M in cap space before any potential Taylor Hall extension, and two capable netminders. Darcy Kuemper has two years left on his deal at a cap hit of $4.5M. He’s a name that’s been thrown around Ottawa, but any return is hard to gauge based on the market. If Murray commands a first round pick, then Kuemper could do the same.

It’s also possible that the Sens could take on some more salary in return. This is all speculation, but the ‘Yotes could be looking to move players such as Derek Stepan or Jason Demers.

If the Sens lose out on Murray, or the price gets too high, expect them to take a hard look at Arizona.

That’s Chlappie

NHL: FEB 13 Coyotes at Senators Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Ottawa Senators played their last game on March 11th, 2020, and it will be December at the absolute earliest before they take to the ice again. While this isn’t an issue for everyone — some guys could use the rest — some of Ottawa’s younger players will need to find playing time elsewhere in order to continue their improvement.

Filip Chlapik has emerged as a likely candidate, with rumours surfacing about him being loaned to the Czech Extraliga’s HC Sparta Praha.

While Chlapik’s RFA status could complicate things, it’s likely in his best interest to gain some valuable playing time in Europe. It could be awhile before Ottawa, and especially Belleville, hit the ice again.

2D or Not 2D

Ottawa Senators v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images

That is the question.

The Athletic’s Hailey Salvian first broke the news that the Sens are rebranding to their 90’s look, but since then, it’s been all quiet on the Eastern front. The team has remained mum on the matter, save for Anthony Leblanc saying that the new look would be revealed around Labour Day, but nothing has happened since.

Well, almost nothing.

There has been this continuous leak of random merchandise since Hailey’s story broke, and man, it’s just getting bizarre. This is the new logo — you can tell by the gold trim on the cape — but still, no announcement or even indication of an announcement has been made.

At this point, it’s hard to understand why the team continues to sit on this. The cat and the bag haven’t even been since in the same area code in months, so what does the team have to gain by making their fans wait?

Maybe I just don’t get it, but maybe my friend SENSTALK is on to something:

The Final Countdown

Tampa Bay Lightning v Dallas Stars Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The stage is set. The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dallas Stars will play for the 2020 Stanley Cup, beginning Saturday night.

Anthony Cirelli was the hero of the Eastern Conference Final, scoring in overtime to eliminate the Islanders, and send his Bolts to their second championship series in five years.

I have no idea how the Stars could win this, but I also had no idea how they would beat the Colorado Avalanche or the Vegas Golden Knights. Hockey is weird, 2020 is weirder. Be prepared for a clash of styles in this series, but also expect the unexpected.

If we’ve learned one thing this year, it’s that.