NHL free agency begins on July 13th at 12:00pm EST. The Ottawa Senators are certainly not ones to spend big in free agency, but considering that Pierre Dorion keeps talking about a top-6 forward that he wants to acquire, it’s at least something to keep an eye on. Furthermore, trades are allowed to happen before and after that date, meaning the Senators could theoretically be acquiring a player any day now.
Ottawa has been linked to a lot of names on the trade block and in free agency, although who knows if any of them are actually realistic. They have been mentioned more by the mainstream media than they have in the past, so perhaps there’s something to this. Kevin Fiala is the first name off the board, as his name popped up a bunch in connection to Ottawa but he was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings.
The weekly question is: factoring in contract, age, assets needed to acquire them, and overall fit for the team, who is your favourite forward target for the Senators?
DeBrincat is definitely the big fish here. I’m not sure why the Chicago Blackhawks are even entertaining trading a 24-year-old who has twice scored 41 goals, but here we are. He’s averaged 36 goals and 68 points in his first five seasons, which is exactly the kind of production Ottawa could use. The only problem is, he’s easily the most expensive on this list, as the Blackhawks would be asking for a lot compared to other names on this list:
If this is what it's going to take to get Alex Debrincat, the deal should be done immediately. pic.twitter.com/NnwWxbju2N— Mac Miller Forever (@SassySaslove) June 29, 2022
In the grand scheme of things, that still isn’t that much. Greig will probably never be as good as DeBrincat, 7th overall picks are far from guaranteed to be stars, and Jacob Bernard-Docker might be a good depth piece at this point. It’d be a difficult trade to make, but DeBrincat would completely transform Ottawa’s top-6. His qualifying offer is also $9M in the summer of 2023, so he’ll be expensive from a contract perspective as well.
We’ve talked a lot about Giroux over the past several months so we don’t need to say much more. Giroux will almost surely be making at least $6-7M on a multi-year contract, which might be tough for Ottawa to swallow. He’s at least free in terms of assets, plus he’d be a great leader to have for the team and can easily slot on the first or second line right wing spot. The 34-year-old has averaged 67 points in the past three seasons, although you have to worry about his age showing up soon.
Keller is in the same category as DeBrincat as he is seven months younger, although he isn’t quite as impactful. This past season was definitely Keller’s best as he was on pace for 77 points in a full season (he played 67), and I can’t imagine the Arizona Coyotes want to sell him off easily. Keller is signed for another 6 years at a cap hit of $7.15M, which is probably fair but also not cheap.
His age and cost certainty would make him expensive in a trade, with Ottawa probably having to move the 7th overall pick, someone like Ridly Greig, and one or two more good pieces (just like with DeBrincat). The Coyotes only have five players signed beyond the next two seasons (with Jacob Chychrun likely gone too), so they aren’t going to move Keller if they don’t have to. Still though, he’d fit excellently well in the Senators top-6 on either the left or right side.
According to Mark Spector, Puljujärvi seems to be on his way out of Edmonton:
Jesse Puljujarvi has very likely played his last game as an Edmonton Oiler.— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) June 30, 2022
Both he and the team are ready to part ways, and he is being actively shopped.
And according to scouts he has spoken to, he will probably only fetch a 2nd or 3rd round pick in return. That’s pretty cheap for a player who was on pace for 45 points this season and has room to grow. Despite his pedestrian point totals, his overall impact on other players has been magnificent, which has been outlined before:
Sens getting puljujärvi would be a great idea. He won't score himself but he would create /so/ many goals for other people. pic.twitter.com/cb7EorZYf8— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) June 30, 2022
He seems like a great low-risk high-reward type of acquisition for Ottawa, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him have a Nichushkin-type breakout at some point.
Mikheyev has averaged 40 points per season in his 3 years in Toronto, which isn’t a top-6 fit for Ottawa, but he’d be very useful on the third line. Furthermore, he only made $1.645M on his last deal and I can see him getting around $3M or so on his next one. That $3M is quite cheap compared to the other options here (and other players in the top-9 mould), plus he’d only cost money. Is he the sexiest option? No, but he plays a strong two-way game and would add some solid depth.
There are some names in free agency who could be fits but also expensive and unlikely to come to Ottawa. Ondrej Palat, Valeri Nichushkin, and Andre Burakovsky come to mind, although I’d be shocked if any of them sign with the Senators. Nevertheless, there could be others who are your favourites, and let us know in the comments!
For the poll below, remember that the question is not who is the best player on here, but which player makes the most sense when considering all external factors:
Who is your favourite forward target for the Senators?
This poll is closed
Other (comment below)