Silver Seven Sens Mailbag: Looking Ahead To Next Season

There was plenty to discuss in the second edition of the Silver Seven Sens mailbag, with most of the focus being on the future.

The mailbag is back for it's second time, and it's a monster edition. Thanks to all those who asked some interesting questions!

How much of a shake-up do you see of the team's roster in the off-season? I know it's hard to project, but given the rift between Hoff and Cameron do you see him traded and what would they get for him? Also, do you see Ryan being around next year? Sorry that's a few questions. Thanks for your time---Badnorthman

Honestly, I don't expect too many changes to happen. Some real change should happen, but I have no reason to be confident with management right now. However, I can certainly see Hoffman being dealt for a defenseman since they can't afford him, which would qualify as a big move. I really don't know what sort of caliber defenseman they could get, but it better be a top 2-3 guy if he's being dealt. Other than that, what can they do? They'll be on a tight budget once more for free agency.

As for Ryan, I can't see him being dealt at all. He's still a productive player, and I doubt many teams want that contract. In a perfect world I'd try to see if we could get a good defenseman in return, but that would probably be very hard. -TS

What can we hope for, management wise??? With Murray and Cameron (hopefully) on the go, who could be a good match for us as GM? A Head Coach?? I know next to nothing on that topic...---Cylia2104

For GM's, it seems like a shoe-in that AGM Pierre Dorion will take over. But if not, I'd be all over Assistant GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning Julien BriseBois. He's respected league-wide, and I'm shocked he hasn't gotten control of a team yet. For coaches, Bruce Boudreau would be a great candidate if he gets fired by Anaheim (which is a good possibility if they get bounced early). Elliotte Friedman has connected him to Ottawa recently as well. Other names like Guy Boucher, Marc Crawford, and Luke Richardson will come up as well I'm sure.

If it were me, Boudreau would be at the helm if the Ducks fired him. At the moment though, I can certainly see Cameron staying on a short leash for next season. -TS

Do you think management will trade for a top 6 centre and winger? Or tinker with the D? Or trade for a young goalie on the rise?---gee.mo3

For top-6 centres, there won't be many available. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will probably be out there on the fringes, and if the Oilers are souring on him, I'd try to pounce and fleece them. That seems like a pipe dream though. I would love if they could get a 2nd/3rd line tweener on the left or right side, although I don't know if they have the money to do that.

The defense seems set as well, unless they go for a Hoffman trade with a defenseman coming back. As for a goalie, I don't see them addressing that this coming year, although it is worrying that the future for that position is extremely murky. -TS

Who should be the next Senator on the outs? Who will be the next Senator on the outs?---Colin4000

Mark Borowiecki should be the next Senator on the outs. Instead it will be Alex Chiasson and Patrick Wiercioch. -TS

Why does Ottawa make so many decisions based on emotion and not enough based on what is actually best for the team?---SensWin

Well to be fair, we don't exactly know what they base their decisions off of. But yes, it would be nice if they had a bit more of a methodical approach to things, and not rely so much on the eye test. -TS

Few questions. What do you think the roster will look like on the season opener next year? Do you think the Sens will land Drouin? Will we see Chabot and White make their NHL debuts next season? And lastly, will Hoffman be in a Sens jersey next season?---Ek65x

I'll predict that the roster will be pretty similar except for a Mike Hoffman trade that nets them another top-four defenseman. Then perhaps they could sign a cheap left-winger like they did with Clarke MacArthur a couple years ago. It's too hard to give exact names, but my gut tells me that they'll make a big Hoffman move but not too much else.

I really thought Ottawa was going to get Drouin earlier in the year, but now I doubt it. If they were willing to give up Cody Ceci, it would be a done deal already. But it seems like Tampa Bay wants one (or both) of Colin White and Thomas Chabot plus something else like another prospect or a high pick. Speaking of those two, I think Ottawa is going to keep them off the team for another year, because hopefully they have learned from Ceci and Curtis Lazar that rushing players isn't always the best thing. They could be real difference makers, but I'm not sure they would be as early as next season. -TS

So this season has been a disappointment in a lot of ways, but was also more or less what many of the faithful predicted after the miracle run last year. But outside of Karl/Stone/Hoff, who has pleasantly surprised you this year? For me, Pageau's play has elevated, and he seems to be rounding nicely into a fan favourite (and great for Quebecois outreach)---@mbarber86

Pageau has certainly looked good, although I still peg him as a 3rd line centre, with the ability to occasionally play on the 2nd line. Of his 17 goals, 6 are shorthanded, so he's probably more of a 15-goal scorer every year, which is certainly fine for this team. He's clearly very good on the penalty kill, and I love the way he plays. It was incredibly hard to come up with anyone else who has overachieved other than Zack Smith.

I'm sure you could have won thousands if you had bet that the guy with 2 goals in the previous season was going to score 21 (at least). Even though this isn't going to last, he actually has played better on the ice. He isn't a top-six forward for next year, but we can at least appreciate that 21 goals is not an easy accomplishment. -TS

It seems that there is some disparity between fans. I wont name any names but it is quite obvious that we have two groups. We have one group that likes Karlsson, Wiercioch, Zibanejad and laments seeing Condra and Prince leave, who wants to see Smith traded when he has top top trade value since his production is unsustainable. We also want a huge shake up in management because we are sick of being a middling hockey team. I guess this group is best represented by Adnan and Trevor. The other group wants Hoffman gone because of attitude, talks about Zbad and Karlsson being lazy in the offseason, supports Boro's play because he is amazing in the locker room, thinks Smith is integral to the future and want a multiyear extension for him, and seem to support GMBM and CDC no matter what. Now it is obvious what side I am on but I am showing my bias because this is a closed letter. I guess I am just curious about why the gap between the two is so large. Why cant the eye test and analytics both be respected, why cant skill and hard work be equally important? Why can't we respect management for what they have done yet still ask for more? Why can't we realise all our players work harder then we do physically every day, yet expect it because they are making millions? It might be a difficult piece to write, since even I am not positive what I am asking for. I just think it is so interesting that when presented with all the same information, there is such a huge divide in opinion, despite the fact that in the end we all want the same thing. Thanks guys! You rock, sorry about the punctuation. Written in the back of a van going down a bumpy road haha---Karlssens

Wow, this takes the cake for the longest question ever. I'l do my best to answer. I mean, yeah it is very interesting that there's such a divide. One year ago there was no arguments in comment section or on Twitter because we were all enjoying the best run of our lives. But now I think we have all hit our breaking point, and it's just frustration that has been building up.

There is a divide like this in every fanbase though, because you will always have "old-school" guys who don't take numbers seriously, and it's not as if Senators fans are always going to agree on everything. I guess it is just extremely disappointing to see a team come so close to a Stanley Cup for more than half a decade, and then nine years after that they haven't taken a single step forward.

Also, the examples you give in your divide is essentially "stats people vs. eye test people," which is a "battle" for all hockey fans. It would be fantastic if we could all agree with the other sides takes sometimes, however it's rare to find rational people on the internet. I certainly don't agree with a lot of opinions from certain people, but it would be nice if we treated each other with a bit more respect. I'm not holding my breath on that though, since there will always be idiots online.

I hope that answers your question, I think that's sort of what you were getting at there. Thanks for the kind words though! -TS

What's the single most regrettable trade in Sens history?---Colin4000

Has to be the Dany Heatley one no? For two years that looked like a steal, but seeing the longevity of Marian Hossa makes that one look bad. Other than that the only other one that came to mind was Ben Bishop. -TS

I always come back to Pavol Demitra for Christer Olsson. The late Demitra would score 768 points in 847 NHL games, including 26 in 59 with the Sens. Olsson would score 16 points in 56 NHL games, 25 of them with the Sens. -RA

Making the playoffs every other year (and one series win since 2007) is frustrating. Is this team closer to starting or finishing a rebuild?---@ACEngbretson (AndrewSens)

Well, the core of Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris, Mike Hoffman (?), and Bobby Ryan et al. is very good. So unless they trade those guys, they won't be bad enough to go through a true rebuild. I still stand by my point that this team only needs 2-3 more pieces to be a very solid team, which is frustrating when they don't have enough money. -TS

There's been a lot of frustration about the Senators' penchant for bad decisions: dismissing analytics, bizarre deployment, valuing 'local' and 'grit' over skill, etc. Which teams, if any, are notable for making good decisions recently?---whereverjustice

Even great teams make a bad decision every four or five moves. But the team that has certainly made more excellent moves than bad ones is Dallas, as they acquired Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, and Patrick Sharp for pennies. Giving up a king's ransom for Kris Russell was Jim Nill's first head-scratcher, but other than that the team has been sharp. I know Ottawa fans don't want to hear this, but the Leafs have been doing a good job too of maximizing value on players like Roman Polak, Daniel Winnik, etc. to stockpile more draft picks. They aren't close to finishing the rebuild, but they've done it as perfectly as you can so far.

Anaheim has done a good job too on a similar internal budget to Ottawa's, so that's depressing. Certainly no team is perfect, but if you are getting 3/4 right, then that's good enough. -TS

Greetings from Binghamton! My question for you all is, what are your thoughts on Pierre Dorion as a GM? Do you think he will follow the same model as Murray? Or do you think he will take a different approach---StuckInBingo

I'll hold judgement until he makes some important moves in the summer, although I'm very worried that he thinks along the same lines as Bryan Murray. He has worked alongside him for years, and he definitely seems like an eye test sort of GM considering he was a Pro Scout earlier on. However, we've seen Brian MacLellan do well as the Capitals GM after there was fear that he would be similar to George McPhee. So who knows, I am hoping that he'll at least take some risks and not waste the prime years of this core. -TS

I am so sick of the coach and management decisions this year. Is there any hope for positive change on the horizon or are we stuck with this crap for the foreseeable future? I don't see how the team will even get better until they embrace some level of analytics and stop throwing away ingrown like Prince for chump change. The cupboard in Bingo is bare!---LuckofTheIrish

I'll agree that it is so imperative that there's a top-down change for how the organization views analytics. They are way behind the curve, and for a team that operates on a tight budget, you would think that they would try to gain every little advantage that they can. They certainly need some fresh faces in the front office, because the plan has not been working for years now.

I have some hope that Dorion may bring some change, but I still think another person needs to be added to the front office to at least give a different perspective on the organization. If Dave Cameron isn't fired by the summer, then he'll have a very short leash to begin next year, so there is hope on that front if you want to see him gone. I agree that it has been extremely frustrating, but I'd like to see where the team goes in the next year to see if we are completely lost or at least getting close to the right track. -TS

Just a question on Karlsson's potential Norris campaign. I know the media seems to be hyping Drew Doughty something fierce, and there always seems to be some new argument as to why EK is somehow lesser. The latest metric I've seen is an advanced stat I'm not familiar with, relative GF/GA per 60 or something like that. The implication is that the Sens have more goals scored against when he's on the ice vs. off, and DD is much better in this regard, therefor EK can't play defense. Is this really a thing?---anonymous

If you're asking whether he's on the ice for more goals than Doughty, the answer is certainly yes. But that's not a fair stat to use since the LA Kings have a chance to win a 3rd Cup in 5 seasons, whereas the Senators are...the Senators. Playing with other elite players certainly helps suppress Doughty's goals against numbers, and the opposite is true for Karlsson. He should still be a landslide winner, but I bet it will somehow be close. -TS

If the goal of an NHL team is to win a Cup, or build towards winning one, what did the 2015-16 Sens accomplish this year? -  @Alexthegoalie

That's a very tough question. Most of the best performances of the season (Erik Karlsson chief among them) were by players already here. An extra year of development for players like Mark Stone and Mika Zibanejad but it was going to happen regardless of the season's outcome. One big move the Sens did was to shore up the defence a bit by acquiring Dion Phaneuf. That's definitely a move designed to help in the next couple seasons, though it will probably come to hurt the team after that. Offloading problems contracts like Colin Greening and Jared Cowen should help them to retain someone like Mike Hoffman. But the Sens essentially took a year to let younger players develop, hoping that the team will get better next year thanks to everyone having a year more of experience. -RA

Considering players in the system and avail roster spots, what moves can fans expect to get the team into the '17 playoffs? - @Alexthegoalie

My default is to assume the Sens won't make a deal, though three hours after I said that in the last mailbag, the team made their move for Phaneuf. If Chiasson is gone but the other RFAs are re-signed, the Sens will have 10 forwards on one-way contracts plus Puempel, Dzingel, Paul, and the potential of Colin White. Similarly on defence, assuming Wiercioch is let go, the Sens will have six D on one-way contracts and will probably try to retain Fredrik Claesson. The team is overcrowded already, and I have a hard time seeing the team sign any free agents unless other players can be offloaded. The Sens will definitely push to acquire Jonathan Drouin though, which depending on your perspective could be a move that will help the team make the playoffs next year.

Should the have given Colin Greening a better chance here in Ottawa? - @ShotsSams

No. Greening showed he was a fourth-liner who could put up 30 points on Jason Spezza's wing. The team bet he could produce like that in a bottom-six role, and he couldn't. I still think he's probably a marginal NHL player, but Ottawa can't afford to pay marginal NHL players more than they're worth. There's already too many marginal players on the payroll.

Would you rather keep Bobby Ryan or Dion Phaneuf? - @ShotsSams

Great question! Many people look at both of these players as dangerous long-term contracts, being paid $7-million until 2021 in Phaneuf's case and 2022 in Ryan's case. The way the Sens' defence has been this season, I think I'd rather keep Phaneuf. Ryan's ~60 points will be easier to replace by committee than Phaneuf ~22 minutes per night. However, as Clarke MacArthur made pretty clear this year, Ottawa's forward depth is pretty thin, and I may regret the Ryan comments later.

What would Cody Ceci be asking for in his next contract? And how would it affect Mike Hoffman? Will he be a Senator after the next trade deadline? - @ShotsSams

I don't think Ceci will be asking for a tonne. If Mark Stone could sign for three years, $3.5-million per year, Ceci should ask for less. I think it's also in Ceci's interest to sign shorter term and try to prove his ability. He's looked better with Phaneuf, and he may be able to squeeze more money out of the Sens in a couple seasons if he continues to play with the former Leafs captain. I predict Ceci signs for two years, $2.5-3-million per year.

As such, I don't see Ceci negotiations affecting Hoffman too much right now. Hoff is about to go UFA, and will be looking for a longer term payday. He's gonna want his next salary to start with at least a 5. (And no, $500,000 doesn't count.) As for Hoffman being a Senator by next year's deadline? As Bruce Garrioch said on the weekend, either yes or no. We really don't know. The Sens value Hoffman as a goal-scorer (probably not as much as they should), at least enough to know they can't afford to lose him for nothing. I think the team keeps him unless he can be traded for a piece management really wants. I don't see why Tampa would trade Drouin for a package based around a player seven years older, but that's the kind of deal I could see the Sens trying to make. I expect the team keeps Hoffman unless there's a great trade offered.

Will the be pursuing top college FAs? If so who or what type of player would it likely be? - @ShotsSams

Full credit for submitting four interesting questions. Thankfully we don't have to answer all our own questions. Sometimes the nice folks on Twitter do it for us:

Troy Stecher is a right-shooting defenceman who has played three seasons with the University of North Dakota (UND). He had 27 points in 39 games this season. Drake Caggiula is a left-shooting forward who has finished four full seasons for UND. He just scored 44 points in 35 games this season. As Max mentioned above, after Binghamton's disappointing season, bringing in a couple strong college prospects should only help the Sens. Unfortunately, as SensChirp said last week, many NHL teams are looking at these two.

If you somehow got to the end of this, congratulations! If you have any questions for our next mailbag, be sure to send them in next time we have another edition. Any feedback for this new segment would also be appreciated, thanks!

Not everyone can afford to pay for sports coverage right now, and that is why we will keep as much of the site's content free for as long as we can.

But if you are able to, please consider subscribing to help keep our articles free (and get a few extra perks).

Erik Condra
  • Ability to comment and participate in our community
  • Twice monthly newsletter available only to subscribers
  • Ad-free reading
  • Our undying love and appreciation
Brady Tkachuk
  • Everything from the Erik Condra tier
  • 10% discount on all merch
  • Access to any future paywalled content
  • A personal thank-you from the Silver Seven staff
Daniel Alfredsson
  • Everything from the Brady Tkachuk tier
  • Inner peace knowing you are supporting quality, independent coverage of your favourite sports team