Silver Seven Sens Mailbag, Part 1: Off-Season Moves

Part 1/3 where we answer your questions! These questions focus on what the Senators will do in the off-season

Last week, the staff writers at Silver Seven Sens asked you to submit any questions you have for us. You came through in a big way as there were plenty of thought-provoking questions! Unfortunately, we are not able to answer all of them, but we did our best to answer as many as we could. Some of them were very similar to others, so we may have combined your question with someone else's. We apologize if yours did not get answered! Then again, we can always try to answer them in the comments.

We split up this mailbag into 3 parts, with part 1 focusing on questions related to the off-season. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 later this week!

If the sky is the limit, what UFA or player likely to be traded would be the best fit for the Sens to go out and get? What would the Sens have to give up to get said player?—Mikeec67

The obvious answer here is Jack Eichel. In an ideal world, the Ottawa Senators have an elite number-one centre. The Sens would have to pay a hefty price to bring him in though. I’m thinking the Sabres would want two firsts and a bona fide NHL centre (likely Josh Norris), and a top-four defenceman, which likely ends up being JBD or Zub. That’s a lot, and we’d want the price to come down a bit. Personally, in a weak draft year, and hoping to get better, I have no problem with the Sens giving up a couple of firsts for a player of Eichel’s calibre.

You likely don’t want to give up to NHL-level players though, and with the Sens thin on D, especially on the right side, maybe you see if you can do Alex Formenton and Jake Sanderson as a downgrade from Norris and JBD. The other, recently-floated option is Matthew Tkachuk. The Flames seem to want prospects and picks, so maybe some combination of a first, a second, maybe one of the goalies, and a high-calibre prospect (think Ridly Greig) gets it done. Either way, it’s a big risk going after one of these players, but not everybody you draft can play in the NHL. At some point, quantity should be converted to quality to compete—Ross A

There has been lot of talk about the Sens acquiring a top 6 centre for next season. Who do you think would be the best fit for them to acquire and what do you think they would be giving up to acquire said player—C_Veselovsky

Let’s take “best fit” to factor in Ottawa’s organizational situation, and budget, given the fact that I can’t see Jack Eichel coming to Ottawa, despite what a great fit he’d be hockey-wise. The truth of the matter is that this is a somewhat difficult question for me to answer because I’m not sure who’s available and what the Senators are willing to give up. I think if they’re looking for a short-term option, Adam Henrique might actually be a good fit, provided Pierre Dorion can get the Anaheim Ducks to retain salary. I feel like Ottawa could come out of that trade maybe giving up a pick or two between rounds three and five, and perhaps a reclamation prospect like Logan Brown.

In a perfect world, I’d be willing to give up a pretty penny for Sam Reinhart’s negotiating rights from the Buffalo Sabres. It may be worth giving up 10th overall pick for, but given the Sabres’ organizational tirefire, perhaps the Sens could escape by giving up a couple of seconds over the next few years - they have five over the next three - and maybe a player like Ridly Greig. The trade market is still wonky due to the COVID effect, but Reinhart would be high on my list, and Henrique could be a cheaper, short-term option—Brandon Maki

Who are the untouchables in a potential Sens-Sabres deal involving Eichel? Would you consider trading any of Tkachuk, Chabot, Batherson, Stuetzle, Norris, Branstrom, JBD, Pinto, Formenton, or Sanderson?—Anonymous

I will start off by saying, I really hope the Sens don’t go anywhere near Eichel. He may be a talented player and fills a need the team is desperate for but there are way too many risks associated, starting off with his recent injury. That being said, I am sure Pierre Dorion will explore his availability and to start off Tkachuk, Chabot, Batherson, Stützle, Norris and Sanderson should be off the table. I would argue JBD and Pinto as well but the Sabres will want something very valuable for Eichel even if they’re dealing from a position of weakness.

You’re also going to have to part with some more picks and possibly another prospect like maybe Lassi Thomson or add Erik Brannstrom to one of JBD or Pinto alongside one or two high picks? Overall, I think Eichel is a very risky acquisition with a higher price and unless Dorion swings a deal that is an absolute steal, I am wary of his impact on the current team dynamic—Nada Alg

We all know the sens need to add some quality veterans to the mix to help the youth out and add to the depth. Where do you see Pierre Dorion making moves in the offseason to adress the team’s needs?—Eldur00

I think the most likely place the Sens will add is in the form of salary cap casualties, like Coburn and Paquette last year. One good option could be Loui Eriksson, who is in the final year of a $6M-cap-hit contract that only pays $4M ($3M if they acquire him after his signing bonus). Eriksson is far from a solid NHL player at this point in his career, but he’s been around and could be a useful mentor for a fairly young group. Another option is looking at teams in cap trouble and targeting slightly overpriced veterans in the of their contracts. I’m thinking Calvin de Haan ($4.55M) in Chicago, Lars Eller ($3.5Mx2 years) in Washington, or Anton Stralman ($5.5M) in Florida.

On the UFA side, we’re not targeting guys who want money and term like Taylor Hall or David Savard. I think someone like Marcus Johansson or Mathieu Perreault could be available on a one-year deal in a mentorship/bottom-six role. The most important thing is to not give up assets for albatross contracts and to not sign or bring in any deals that mess up the team’s cap structure indefinitely—Ross A

Why have we not heard about Victor Mete ‘s contract? He is a needed asset and better than Brown except in street fighting—Paul Montpetit

I was hoping we’d see a Victor Mete deal come through the news feed sooner rather than later - if only because he’s obviously going to be re-signed and I don’t think the negotiations, based on his status and level of play, will be overly complicated. That being said, the Sens have a history of showing patience with contract negotiations, particularly with RFAs. Those who are restricted free agents and aren’t absolute superstars tend to be done well into the offseason, usually after the draft. I don’t expect to hear anything about Mete until late July but it’s not a cause for concern. The deal will come and the terms will be favourable—Spencer Blake

Do you think Jani Hakanpaa would be a good addition to the right side of our defence? He seems to be the big, hard to play against type that we seem to want as our core identity. That and he’s a UFA and made $750K last year. If he can get ice time with the Carolina Hurricanes in the playoffs, I would imagine he could at least push Josh Brown for the bottom pairing?—Bob

This is a really interesting question, so kudos to you! Jani Hakanpää is something of an enigma when it comes to his true NHL ceiling. He’s played 62 games over the past two seasons, split between the Anaheim Ducks and Carolina Hurricanes, scoring three goals and two assists across that span. Hakanpää posted a cumulative Corsi rating of 47.79% last season, and while he’s an extremely low-event player offensively (with an expected goals percentage of just 14.99 last year), Hakanpää is fairly efficient in his own zone.

He surrendered just 16.55 expected goals against last season, making him an efficient bottom-pairing option. Hakanpää still surrenders chances, but as far as bottom pairing options go, the Senators could do a lot worse. I don’t know how likely it is, based on the chances of Carolina retaining him, but I think you’re right in saying that he could be a cheap option to make the Sens deeper on the right side. He’s 29, so maybe not a long-term option, but I think he’d be a good fit—Brandon Maki

Should Ottawa go after Zach Hyman or Philip Danault in free agency?—Pistol Pete/CC Sens (similar questions)

The Sens should be in the business of adding as many good, proven player as possible, so in that sense yes, they should be going after players like Hyman and/or Danault. The issue to me is one of fit, particularly with Hyman; if there’s one area where Ottawa has built up a bit of depth it’s on the wings, and Hyman is likely to command a hefty price tag in free agency. The money would be better spent elsewhere. Danault is more compelling as the Sens are thinner down the middle, but his primary skillset is as a defensive stopper. Ottawa is short on goal-scoring talent, so I don’t think Danault would be maximized on this version of the team. Long story short: good players, but given their likely price and imperfect fit I don’t see either as worth pursuing—NKB

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 later this week! Thanks again for all of your questions.

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