Yesterday we finally got one of the very big updates from the Ottawa Senators that we had long awaited, and now all eyes shift back to the Shane Pinto negotiations with pre-season hockey less than 72 hours away. We also received an unexpected feel-good storyline to buoy our week courtesy of Djibril Toure who inked his entry-level contract with the Sens, fresh off an amateur try-out with the team. Congrats and welcome to your Andlauer years!
To discuss some of the on-ice happenings in Ottawa, let's start with some line and pairing observations (courtesy of Murray Pam):
Apparently DJ Smith agrees that we don't need to fix what ain't broke and will thus try to keep his top line in tact at least for the time being. Although not noted in Pam's post, we also have reports that Josh Norris centred Vladimir Tarasenko and Drake Batherson on day one. Obviously with two-thirds of last season's failed second line unavailable, we'll take this necessary upgrade. We'll discuss Norris' tentative return more at length later on.
Even with Jiri Smejkal as a total wild card, and with no guarantees that any of the three will make Ottawa's roster out of camp, you have to find the idea of Ridly Greig and Egor Sokolov somewhat intriguing. By process of elimination, this also sets up a line of Mathieu Jospeh, Josh Bailey, and Dominik Kubalik (until Pinto gets to town) with Parker Kelly, Mark Kastelic, and Zack MacEwen slotted as the fanbase's sacrificial lambs when things eventually go sideways.
Again, although not noted in the prior post, we have reports that Thomas Chabot has skated on the right flank of Jakob Chychrun thus far, with the inevitable reality that to get all of Ottawa's best defenders into the lineup simultaneously, someone will have to play on their off-side. Most of Ottawa's defenders have expressed that they don't mind switching it up and I certainly get the impression that armchair coaches and GM's like myself put way too much stock into handedness anyway.
We can also extrapolate a pairing of Erik Brännström Travis Hamonic tentatively by process of elimination. As we've discussed at length, players on two-way contracts will have a whale of a time cracking the opening-night roster unless something drastic goes down in the coming days.
As promised, we have to discuss Josh Norris' latest setback. In fairness, Norris has said all the right things so far about his recovery and eventual return and barring the unforeseen, we will see Norris back in action sooner than later. Obviously given the context some folks will feel apprehensive but I feel I have a lot more to gain by listening to the involved parties than by giving voice to my own underlying anxieties about things I can't control either way.
I imagine we'll have plenty of new details to dissect between now and Sunday, especially with the official press conference of the sale of the team today, and we'll so our best to keep you posted as information becomes available. Everyone, enjoy your weekends!