It seems we’ve reached a bit of a standstill in the offseason, as there hasn’t been too much to talk about since the flurry of moves Pierre Dorion pulled off early in the summer. The biggest items of note are Jacob Chychrun’s name keeps coming up in trade rumors, and Ottawa Senators' prospects continue to dominate in the World Juniors. Among this week’s Five Thoughts, we’ll check in on a few other teams that have made headlines (for both good and not-so-good reasons) with their work this summer:
The Path to the Playoffs
When I first considered the situation, I believed the Senators best shot to unseat a team from the playoffs next season would be the Boston Bruins. However, now that the B’s brought back both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci on bargain contracts, it would seem that a wild-card spot is most likely. The Carolina Hurricanes are a safe bet to make the playoffs again, and I don’t see the Senators finishing ahead of the New York Rangers unless Igor Shesterkin suffers an injury — which leaves the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. Of those teams, I’d say the Capitals are most likely to regress. Most of their core is on the wrong side of 30, and they’ll be without Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom to start the year. A 27-point gap between the two teams seems like a really big climb in theory, but if we look at it another way, the Capitals won 44 of their 82 games last year, which seems doable for a team like the Senators that have improved significantly this offseason.
Keeping the Flame Lit
It was reported yesterday that the Calgary Flames signed forward Nazem Kadri, who had 87 points in 71 games with the Colorado Avalanche last season, to a seven-year deal worth $7M annually. The move caps off the second-most impressive offseason for an NHL GM this summer, as Brad Treliving has seemingly kept the Flames competitive on paper despite losing their two best forwards in Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk to Columbus and Florida, respectively. Adding Kadri while moving a first-round pick to shed Sean Monahan’s contract, along with bringing in Jonathan Huberdeau and future Senator Mackenzie Weegar, is about as good a job of salvaging a potentially bad situation as you could hope for. They might even be better than the teams that their two former star players left for.
Speaking of teams paying to shed bad contracts, what a job by Pierre Dorion, am I right? Matt Murray wasn’t the worst goalie last year, but he was owed $15M over the next two seasons, and all the Sens had to give up to move 75% of his salary was a 3rd and a 7th. I’m bringing this up now because since then we’ve seen some straight-up egregious overpayments from other teams in the service of clearing cap space. The Flames gave up a lot to move Monahan’s salary, but his production had dipped and injuries also contributed to him not being the player he once was. What’s worse in my opinion, is what the Vegas Golden Knights did with Max Pacioretty. Recall that the Knights acquired him in exchange for Tomas Tatar (previously acquired for a 1st, a 2nd, and a 3rd), Nick Suzuki, and a second-round pick. This summer, he was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes along with defenseman Dylan Coghlan for future considerations to create cap space. When I first saw that trade I assumed that Coghlan was an ECHL-level player who was just taking up space on the roster, but no — he’s a 24-year-old right-shot who had 13 points in 59 NHL games last year. The kind of player many NHL teams including the Senators are in the market for, and the Knights used him as a sweetener to offload a forward who had 88 points in his last 87 games. Makes the Sens’ cap shedding maneuvers look inspired by comparison!
Lazy Lou Lamoriello
If there’s any team that was as unlucky as the Senators with COVID last season, it would have to be the New York Islanders. They’re in a precarious situation right now, and while they have quality players at all three positions, they have quite a few older guys with several years left on bloated contracts. Their team was constructed with the goal of being competitive in the past three seasons, and back-to-back ECF appearances are obviously fantastic. But their lack of cap space has limited Lou Lamoriello from doing much of anything at all, save acquiring defenseman Alexandar Romanov from Montreal. We could see them approach the same territory we saw the San Jose Sharks swim into back in 2019-20.
Kyle Turris’ Impact in Ottawa
Forward Kyle Turris has retired from the NHL at 33 years of age, and it’s hard to imagine a player who was more clutch during his time as an Ottawa Senator. From joining the team in the 2011-12 season to his last full season in 2016-17, the Senators made four playoff appearances, enjoyed three series wins, and scored 10 overtime goals in the process. Three of those goals came off of the stick of Turris, and I’m proud to say I was in attendance for the best one (and as always, shout-out to Jim O’Brien for making that first-rounder worth it with a single drop pass!).
In 407 regular-season games for Ottawa, Turris ranks 11th in goals as a Senator with 117, and 13th in points with 274. He also contributed 24 points in 42 playoff games, 9th on the all-time list.
He was also a huge presence in the local community during his tenure — he served as the honorary captain for the Capital City Condors for six years, and he and his wife Julie have continued to support them since moving to Nashville.
Congratulations to Kyle on a fantastic career!