Welcome to Senators’ Weekly, where you can catch up on the past week of the Ottawa Senators throughout the 2018-19 season. From trending topics to surging prospects to news and notes, this is your weekly roundup on all things Sens.
The Senators entered the break on a sour note, falling 3-2 to the Arizona Coyotes. That loss leaves the club last place in the NHL with 32 games left on the schedule. There is now less than a month to the trade deadline and many changes are expected as the team will be in full sell mode.
Here are the notable headlines and stories from the past week.
Latest News on Pending Free Agents: Duchene & Dzingel
Most of the time when a team is facing trade rumours around a star player, the common cliche is that the team “drowns out” or they “just focus on what they do on the ice.” For the Senators, that’s not quite the case. Veteran Mark Borowiecki, who has become the face to the media for any issue the Senators are having, spoke to reporters about the rumours surrounding the team.
“Arguably, the core of our team, two guys especially (Mark Stone, Matt Duchene) are big, huge names on this team — foundational pieces — they’re in contract years where, we haven’t had quite the team success we would have liked to have had and that leaves a lot of questions unanswered,” Borowiecki said. “As a player you work and work and get that chance at free agency and what do you do? It can be a distraction personally, individually, but as a group too. Whatever happens, we have to do what we can as players to help this team grow and win more games.”
With so many core pieces of the team engrossed in rumours, it seems to be getting to the team. It may only get worse as the trade deadline gets closer. Here’s the latest on the pending free agents.
Mixed Reports on Duchene Contract Negotiations
There seems to be some conflicting news about where the Senators are with Duchene’s contract negotiations. On Monday, TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted out that discussions are ongoing and gave ranges of where the numbers may be. Yet on Thursday, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that there are no firm numbers yet in play, but the two parties will continue the conversation after the break.
Talks between Duchene camp and the Sens expected to continue this week. The range for Duchene on 8 yr term is believed to be between $65 and $75 mil. So, either in the 8’s or 9+ aav. Still ballpark discussions.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 20, 2019
The interesting point here is the dollar value for Duchene. In a previous report, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported that general manager Pierre Dorion has offered somewhere near an eight-year deal worth $64 million, averaging $8 million a year. Dreger is saying that the number could potentially be significantly higher than that if the total value is closer to $75 million. That’s an average of $9.375 million per year.
LeBrun told Ryan Rishaug that, “Pat Brisson, Duchene’s agent, is going to reach out again to the Senators next week after the all-star break and continue their previous conversation. At some point here, time is becoming of the essence. I believe what the two sides have discussed is that, about a week and a half out, maybe two weeks out, there’s got to be a fish or cut bait period here for both sides, in terms of the Senators needing some time to explore the potential trade market if they can’t come to an agreement with Duchene.”
With the trade deadline getting closer and closer, Dorion and the Senators will need to know what Duchene’s camp wants to do sooner rather than later. The last thing that the Senators, and Senators fans especially, want is a John Tavares-New York Islanders situation in Ottawa.
Dzingel Drawing Interest, More Players on the Trade Block
He doesn’t get talked about nearly as much as Duchene and Stone, but Ryan Dzingel is about to be for the next month. David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period reported that multiple teams have been inquiring about the winger.
Among the teams calling about the 26-year-old are the Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche. In fact, he says that a team has already made an offer for Dzingel but it was turned down by the Senators. Dzingel makes $1.8 million this season and should be looking at a decent raise on July 1 when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. This season, he has 20 goals and 18 assists for 38 points in 48 games, mainly playing on the wing of Duchene.
Pagnotta also mentions that the Senators’ trade block is growing beyond the pending free agents. Craig Anderson and forwards Bobby Ryan, Magnus Paajarvi, Zack Smith and Mikkel Boedker all join Dzingel and the others as names to watch up until the trade deadline.
Senators’ All-Stars Provide a Glimpse to Future
While Thomas Chabot may have been the only member of the Senators to attend the NHL All-Star Game, down in the AHL, prospects Drake Batherson and Christian Wolanin were participants of the AHL All-Star Game. In the first season of the rebuild, this is a great sign for the team. All three are very young and should be core pieces of the club moving forward.
Chabot is going to be the biggest star on the team, and he has already made that known in his sophomore season. In his 42 games, the 21-year-old has 10 goals and 29 assists for 39 points. Even more impressive, on a team that has a minus-31 goal differential, he is a plus-two. His impressive season continued into the All-Star Game, scoring one of the nicest goals of the weekend on Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby.
ICYMI: 💀 pic.twitter.com/M8aQ7pb3fP
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) January 26, 2019
The Senators’ Week Ahead
The Senators will get a little bit more of a rest than some who aren’t attending the All-Star Game. The team is off for the rest of January, picking it back up on Feb. 1 to face off against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. They play the next night as well, against the Detroit Red Wings. This will be the third match-up between the Senators and both opponents, with the Senators currently undefeated against both.
Other than the two games, Senators fans will be anxiously waiting for any bit of news on the team’s free agents, Duchene and Stone in particular. With less than a month until the trade deadline, expect the rumours to pick up fast as the team considers its options moving forward.
Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.