Even with training camp almost here, Tyler Ennis remains a free agent and is looking for a new home. Although his days of being a top-six forward are gone, he is still a decent depth option who can occasionally chip in offensively. As a result of this, there’s certainly a good chance that the veteran will end up getting signed before the 2022-23 regular season is officially here. Let’s look at three specific teams who should consider the possibility of pursuing him.
Could the Ottawa Senators decide to bring Ennis back for another season? It wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea. He proved to be a solid secondary scorer for them this past season, as he had eight goals and recorded 24 points in 57 games. Although those aren’t dominating numbers, it’s apparent that the 32-year-old still produces when called upon. After their big offseason, the Senators are also heading into the year with higher expectations. Thus, adding another decent forward like Ennis could be beneficial.
When looking at the Senators’ lineup, one could argue that Ennis has the potential to compete for a spot in their bottom six. His versatility allows him to play all three forward positions, so he also would work smoothly as the club’s 13th forward. Furthermore, due to his offensive ability, he could even fill in on the second power-play unit if needed. Overall, he has the potential to fit several different roles for Ottawa, just like he did in 2021-22 for them.
It’s hard to believe that Ennis would expect more than a league-minimum contract at this point of the offseason. With the Senators having plenty of cap space still available, they can give him this kind of deal for the 2022-23 campaign. Let’s see if this reunion is something general manager (GM) Pierre Dorion is interested in pursuing. It wouldn’t hurt to have another veteran around to mentor the team’s younger players, too.
Although Ennis has played in 700 career games over his 13-year NHL career, he has only appeared in 24 playoff games and never has been a part of a long postseason run. Naturally, every NHL player wants to hoist the Stanley Cup before their career is over, and the clock is surely ticking for him to do so. Therefore, if he wants one potential last chance to do that, his best bet could be signing with the Colorado Avalanche.
Avalanche GM Chris MacFarland could see Ennis as a potential fit for the team, too. When looking at the Avalanche’s bottom six, it’s fair to argue that the team would benefit by adding another option to it. Players like Ben Meyers, Jayson Megna, and Anton Blidh are expected to compete for fourth-line spots, but it’s hard to determine if each of them is ready for full-time roles. Perhaps adding a proven player like Ennis would be worthwhile because of this.
Unlike many contenders, the Avalanche still have a decent amount of cap space left to use, too. Due to this, adding a player like Ennis on a cheap contract would not be difficult for MacFarland to complete. Let’s see if something can potentially come from this.
I do wonder if the Minnesota Wild could also make a late-summer push for Ennis. Even with the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyout penalties, they still have available cap space and have no remaining restricted free agents (RFA) left to re-sign. As a result of this, GM Bill Guerin is in a position to make another move, and bringing in Ennis on a league-minimum deal would be easy to finalize.
Even after being forced to trade Kevin Fiala this offseason, the Wild still look like a team who could compete for the Stanley Cup. This element could be enough for Ennis to consider reuniting with the Wild if he is sent an offer. He would be a good addition to their bottom six, and this is especially true if he can continue to produce decent offensive totals. Still, at worst, he would be a serviceable 13th forward to utilize when injuries inevitably arise.
Although the Wild bought out Ennis after his rough 2017-18 season, I do wonder if he could find more success during a potential second stint with the club. It is important to note that he has bounced back since then pretty nicely. Overall, there could be a decent match here for both parties.
Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what happens with Ennis. The 2022-23 season will be here soon and based on his production last season, I’d argue that he would be a good depth forward for just about any NHL team to add. Let’s see if one of these three clubs ends up giving him a chance.