The Ottawa Senators have released their list of restricted free agents they’ll be qualifying this offseason. The list includes Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ryan Dzingel, Chris Driedger, Patrick Sieloff and Mikael Wikstrand, and omits Jyrki Jokipakka, Matt O’Connor and Ryan Rupert. Any player not extended a qualifying offer today will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.
Although players like Pageau and Dzingel were guarantees to be qualified, the list contains a few surprises. Nobody would’ve guessed Patrick Sieloff to be qualified after last year’s incident with Clarke MacArthur, as well as some questionable play in the AHL. Mikael Wikstrand also brings back shady stories of the past, as it seemed his ties with the organization were severed after he left training camp in 2015 much to the displeasure of Bryan Murray. At 23 years old and playing well in the SHL, Wikstrand could be a potential trading chip to a team for which he may reconsider leaving Sweden.
Or maybe past conflicts have been healed! Who knows?
Chris Driedger being qualified confirms that the organization is holding out hope after a sub-par 2016-17, as he’ll most likely be sharing the crease in Belleville next season with rookie Marcus Hogberg.
Pageau and Dzingel will be eligible for arbitration should negotiations reach that point. Driedger, Sieloff and Wikstrand will need one additional year playing professionally before they can become eligible.
As for the players not qualified, all three were previously confirmed by management. Jokipakka will likely be heading back overseas, whereas O’Connor and Rupert will have to find work elsewhere.
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