Welcome back for part two of our mailbag. You can check out part one here. As ever, thanks so much to all of our readers for submitting some great questions!
Question: Will the Sens get a new owner sooner rather than later? If so, will we finally see a culture change within the organization? — Derek
nkb: It’s important to acknowledge right up front that everyone involved with Eugene Melnyk’s estate has been extremely tight-lipped. We can make educated guesses, but that’s all they are: guesses. Will the Sens get a new owner sooner than later? My guess is that nothing happens for the rest of the calendar year because estates are messy at the best of times and Eugene Melnyk’s estate just cannot be simple to resolve.
That being said, there are already some encouraging signs in terms of culture shift: be it the the more engaged, progressive social media account, the willingness to work with other local businesses — it’s all been pretty good. Now, culture is a tricky thing that takes a long time to change and frankly there probably needs to be a little more personnel turnover. I’ll be optimistic, though, and say that once the team changes hands that we will see a lot of energy from the organization invested in moving things forward.
Question: Is TIm Stutzle’s dog called Mochi or Archie? The breakaway introduced the puppy as Mochi but in Faces magazine it was called Archie! — Fab Five no 1 Fan
Beata: This is an excellent question, and a very important matter. I did some digging, and I’ve concluded that Faces probably got it wrong. In the Breakaway video, Stützle doesn’t just name his dog; he gives us an explanation for the name. He says specifically that he named his dog after the type of ice cream because he thinks she looks like mochi. Josh Norris also definitely calls her “Mochi.” I can kind of understand why you might mistake “Mochi” for “Archie,” so I’m guessing Faces just misheard him and accidentally spread false information about the name of Timmy’s dog. The dog’s name is Mochi!
Question: If the Sens can somehow get a coveted top 6 forward and a top 4 defenceman in the off-season that they desperately need and have been looking for (without somehow trading away key pieces currently on roster), will it be enough to become a playoff team? — Al
Spencer: I’m nervously inclined to say yes. With the additional 50+ points from the top six forward and a steady partner for (probably) Jake Sanderson on the second pair, that not only adds much needed experience but pushes other players down the lineup. For example, if Connor Brown is your third best RW, that’s a fantastic thing. It means you’ve got something like Alex Formenton, Shane Pinto and Connor Brown playing third line minutes and, while I don’t know that that makes you a Cup contender, it certainly makes you competitive enough for a playoff spot.
The caveat, however, is the top six forward and top four defender have to actually be at that level currently. The Sens have a bit of a history with bringing in players who may have, once upon a time, been middle or top of the lineup players but haven’t played to that level in a few years. In order for this team to be a playoff contender in 2022-23, they need to follow through on these acquisitions and get them right.
Question: How many people work exclusively in the professional scouting department? — Gates Rod
Owen: Three work exclusively and two others also contribute. Chief professional scout Jim Clark has previously held various coaching, scouting, and managerial roles with the Capitals, Red Wings, Panthers, and Blue Jackets.
John Perpich worked on coaching staffs with the Kings and Capitals, and as a scout for the Thrashers/Jets.
Rob Murphy played for the Canucks, Senators, and Kings.
Steve Stirling, who also coordinates Ottawa’s NCAA recruitment, coached in the NCAA, AHL (including a stint with the Senators), and briefly for the Islanders.
Pierre Groulx, although the team does not specify his specific scouting role, has a background in goaltending.
Question: Who’s the funniest person on the team? —Drake Super Fan
Ross: Ask pretty much anyone on the team, and they’ll tell you the same guy: Colin White. Everyone from Brady Tkachuk to Nick Holden is in agreement that “Whitey” has the best one-liners and is the best buddy to have along for a drive. He seems to keep everyone laughing. I think it also helps that White is often the butt of the joke, so everyone’s laughing at him one way or another.
Unless your question was who’s the funniest on the S7S team. In that case, it’s probably Owen or Spencer or Beata. They each have their moments.
Question: It may be the case that Johnny Tychonik will not be offered a contract. What other players that the Sens drafted a few years ago will end up not being signed? — Vitesurlespatins
Shaan: Ottawa’s reserve list, which is composed of players acquired through the draft and trades who have yet to sign their entry-level deals with the clubs, is available on CapFriendly. Typically, players drafted out of college and the Scandinavian leagues can play up to four full seasons before signing, CHLers can play up to two, and those drafted out of Russia are able to sign at any point in their career. The rights of four players are set to expire prior to next season. Defenseman Olle Alsing, one of the exceptions to the above rules, signed as an undrafted free agent a few seasons ago, will see his signing rights expire as he turns 27 during next year. 2018 draft picks Jonny Tychonick and Jakov Novak will also be free to sign with any club after four years of college. Eric Engstrand, a 2020 pick, was actually first eligible to be drafted back in 2018, so since four years have gone by since then, he’ll also become a free agent this offseason. I wouldn’t expect deals for any of them.
Question: There’s been a lot of talk about Fiala, but assuming the Sens are not able to pull off that trade, who else is a true top 6 talent that they could target and reasonably acquire and what would be the cost? — Rockoblue
Spencer: Enough has been said about the likes of Fiala, Giroux, etc. so I will go with a few other players to target. Enough has been said about the likes of Fiala, Giroux, etc. so I will go with a few other players to target.
Through free agency, the two at the top of my list are Filip Forsberg and Andre Burakovsky. The former feels pretty unlikely to be available when the clock strikes noon on July 13th but a fan can dream. As for Burakovsky, he’s been producing at a 60+ point pace for three seasons now and with the Avalanche needing to make a decision on both Burakovsky and Nazem Kadri, while also having a pretty decent extension looming for Nathan MacKinnon coming next summer, it’s possible Burakovsky falls out of their plans. At 27, he’s coming off a deal that pays him $4.9M per year, so you can assume he’ll be someone the Sens could have a chance to lock up for 4-5 years at a reasonable rate for this core.
Cost of acquisition: $6M AAV, 5 years
Through trade, I’ll add Travis Konecny and Nick Schmaltz to what I’m calling The Fiala+ List™. Neither the Flyers nor the Coyotes are near contention - no matter the “retooling” narrative the Flyers front office is peddling - which means the idea of moving a package of picks and prospects will be more attractive to these teams than others. Both Konecny and Schmaltz can play right wing, have historically produced at a top six rate, are 26 or younger and are cost controlled under $6M for the next few seasons. On top of that, while Schmaltz is a few years older than the American contingent of the Sens, he’s another USNTDP player who played for North Dakota so he checks off the Team Friendship boxes.
Cost of acquisition: These two players will cost a first round pick and at least one other A level piece. Remember, in dreaming up trade scenarios, if what your favourite team is sending out doesn’t break your heart a little (or a lot), it’s probably not realistic. I’d put the price of these players at a first, one of Jacob Bernard-Docker or Lassi Thomson and an Egor Sokolov level prospect, as well. If Ottawa wants to keep their seventh overall selection and offer up their 2023 first - since they shouldn’t be near the top of that draft order - they’d probably have to upgrade to include Ridly Greig instead of JBD/Thomson as the main prospect in the deal.