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Thursday Links, News, and Notes: Points for Paul + Injury Updates

Just another piece of evidence that Nick Paul does it all.

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Buffalo Sabres v Ottawa Senators Photo by André Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

With two wins in a row, the Ottawa Senators have been riding through a pretty busy week with a ton of momentum. Will they be able to keep things going in spite of an injury to one of their best players?

  • On Tuesday, one day prior to Bell Let’s Talk, forward Nick Paul launched the Points for Paul initiative, partnering with the Royal Ottawa Foundation to raise money in support of mental health. Here’s Paul on the focus and background of the initiative, how you can donate/help, as well as the reason he’s decided to become an ambassador for youth mental health.
  • A pending UFA, Paul’s contract is due to expire at the end of the season, and he’s made his position clear regarding where he wants to play long-term.

Paul will likely require a multi-year extension to stay in the nation’s capital, one which could have a cap hit twice that of his current one ($1.35M). The last time Ottawa signed one of their own UFAs to a contract extension of more than one year, was Mark Borowiecki in 2017 — a two-year deal worth $1.2M anually.

  • In Belleville Senators head coach Troy Mann’s weekly appearance on TSN 1200, he discusses the development of Lassi Thomson, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Erik Brännström, and Roby Järventie, as well as the challenge of dividing playing time between Filip Gustavsson and Mads Søgaard.
  • According to head coach D.J. Smith, Drake Batherson will be out long-term with an ankle injury after being pushed into the boards by Buffalo Sabres goaltender Aaron Dell in the first period of Ottawa’s 5-0 victory on Tuesday. Dell was handed a 3-game suspension yesterday by the Department of Player Safety, which seems pretty fair. Though I do wonder if a stronger deterrent would be to let the opposing team choose which player serves the suspension. I can’t think of a better punishment for the Sabres than to be forced to sit out someone like Tage Thompson or Rasmus Dahlin for three games, as opposed to a their fifth-best goaltender — that would really get them to rein in their more problematic players in the future.
  • Dylan Gambrell was also injured on Tuesday and will be out for a week, according to Smith.
  • With Batherson’s injury, he, unfortunately, won’t be able to play in the NHL All-Star Game this year. Taking his place will be Ottawa captain Brady Tkachuk, who’ll make his second career appearance at the annual event.
  • In a more positive (no, not Covid-positive, good-positive) update, Colin White skated with the team for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury during the preseason. He’s nowhere near a return, but I’d expect a boost in morale upon seeing an injured teammate take a large step forward towards returning to play.
  • And speaking of that 5-0 victory against Buffalo, Ottawa’s postgame celebration was made all the more special, as Austin Watson, who previously entered the NHL’s substance abuse program during his time with the Nashville Predators, celebrated three years of sobriety.
  • Scott Wheeler of the Athletic is in the midst of his annual ranking of each NHL team’s prospect pool, and the Senators, having graduated the likes of Batherson, Tim Stützle, Josh Norris, and Alex Formenton, have dropped from 3rd all the way to 17th. If you’re subscribed to The Athletic you can read Ottawa’s entry here — Wheeler is still high on several of Ottawa’s B-level prospects, such as Tyler Boucher, Roby Järventie, and Tyler Kleven, but a lack of star power beyond Jake Sanderson and Erik Brännström is why their pool is floating around the middle of the league. Wheeler also held a recent live chat with Ian Mendes, which can be accessed by Athletic subscribers.
  • Lastly, a wild stat from yesterday’s action — the Calgary Flames won 6-0 against the Columbus Blue Jackets while tallying 62 shots on goal. I’m not sure what’s more surprising, that shot total, or the fact that Erik Gudbranson had four of them, plus a goal!