Senators Weekly: Melnyk, Anderson, Hogberg & More

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.

As we enter the holiday break, it will be an uphill battle if the Senators have any hopes of making the playoffs. Seeing that they are still without a first round pick for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, they will want to do the best they can to avoid giving the Colorado Avalanche the first overall pick.

This week, the Senators blew a 3-0 lead over the Nashville Predators but still managed to win 4-3 in overtime, fell 5-2 to the New Jersey Devils and lost 4-0 to the Washington Capitals.They currently sit 15-18-4 and are nine points out of a playoff spot. They have let in the most goals in the NHL at 144.  Here are the notable headlines and stories from the past week.

Melnyk, Senators Drama Continues

It seems that every week there’s an update to owner Eugene Melynk, the Senators and the bid to move the team to downtown Ottawa. The only problem is that it’s never a good update for those who want to see the club move to the LeBreton Flats location. This past week, the National Capital Commission moved to terminate the deal with the RendezVous LeBreton Group, the group led by Melnyk and John Ruddy.

Related: Senators Melnyk Facing $1 Billion Counterclaim

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk
Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

Melnyk is suing Ruddy for $700 million and the latest news has Ruddy counter-suing for $1 billion. The counterclaim states that Melnyk expects a “free arena” and that Capital Sports Management Inc. (CSMI) is not financially well. The NHL is reportedly keeping a close eye on the situation in Ottawa, as David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period reports. He states that CSMI didn’t keep Gary Bettman and the NHL in the loop that the deal was falling apart and referred to the situation as “dire” and “complicated.”

Even the players are disappointed by the setback. Mark Borowiecki, who appears to have become the go-to media guy for issues surrounding the team, gave his thoughts to reporters:

“There’s definitely some uncertainty right now,” Borowiecki said. “I get it. It’s tough probably for the city and this community. You probably look at a place like Edmonton, they got a beautiful new rink downtown, and Detroit just got one. I think it would be nice to have a part of that too, but it really is beyond me, the negotiating side of things. I wasn’t following it super closely. I was excited about the new rink and when I heard the news, it was disappointing for sure, but obviously, there’s more to the story.”

It seems unlikely that Melynk is able to get the team downtown, but according to Pagnotta, there are two groups who have inquired about purchasing the team. One group has already made a pitch to Melnyk, which was declined, and a new one has emerged as well. Also, the second-place bid for the LeBreton Flats development project, Devcore, has expressed interest in bringing Melnyk and the Senators in their plans. Jean-Pierre Poulin, the president of Devcore which is one of the principals behind the runner-up bid, gave hope to the team moving to the downtown location.

“We believe Mr. Melnyk is the hockey man and we believe the future of the Senators is to play hockey on LeBreton, so there’s a placeholder there for him.”

This situation is far from over still as the RendezVous Group has one month to try and mend the relationship before the deal is officially called off. It doesn’t seem likely at this point, but it appears that there are other ways that the team can move downtown, whether it be with a different partner or the team is sold.

Anderson Goes Down, Hogberg Gets the Call-Up

In the 5-2 loss to the Devils, goaltender Craig Anderson took a hit to the head from Miles Wood and missed the game versus the Capitals the following night. The team hasn’t put him on the injured reserve yet, which is a good sign. Holding him out of the game may have just been a precaution before the team heads into the holiday break. The team doesn’t play until Friday, giving Anderson lots of time to rest.

Craig Anderson 41, Ottawa Senators
Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Anderson has earned his paycheck so far this season, although his numbers might not show it. He’s 14-13-3 with a 3.58 goals against average (GAA) and a .905 save percentage (SV%). But, he’s also faced the most shots in the NHL with 1,095. On a young rebuilding team, he’s done exactly what he’s supposed to in net. The 37-year-old has played more than most goalies this season, playing in 31 games, second only to Vegas Golden Knights’ Marc-Andre Fleury’s 33.

“(Anderson’s) played really well for us this year, but he (Mike McKenna) is playing really well for us too,” said centre Matt Duchene. “We’ve got depth at that position right now. We want our starter back and it’s a big loss for our team, but anytime (Anderson) hasn’t been in and (McKenna) has gone in lately, he’s played three or four really solid games for us.” (From “The Senators Hope Craig Anderson Makes a Quick Return,” – Ottawa Sun – 12/23/18).

The injury tests the Senators’ depth in net though as the club called up Marcus Hogberg to back up McKenna. Hogberg has seven starts in the AHL, going 2-3-1 with a 2.55 GAA and a .906 SV%.

For the Belleville Senators, Mike Condon is out with an injury and both Hogberg and Filip Gustavsson have shown potential. The call-up shouldn’t be looked into too much as Gustavsson remains the top goaltending prospect and they likely don’t want to expose him to the NHL just yet. Hogberg was immediately sent back to Belleville as the club was shorthanded, which may mean the Senators will be in the market for a goalie after the holiday roster freeze is lifted.

McKenna is still the clear-cut number two on that list, looking better every time he plays. He’s currently 1-3-1 with a 3.79 GAA and a .902 SV%. A healthy Condon may be the number three on the list but has played just one game since being sent down to the AHL. Gustavsson is the starter in Belleville and holds a 7-10-1 record with a 3.52 GAA and .889 SV% and should remain the top prospect over Hogberg.

Senators News and Notes

  • Former assistant general manager Randy Lee pleaded guilty to harassment charges from the incident with a 19-year-old male hotel shuttle driver. He was given one night in jail and a $120 fine. The incident took place in Buffalo before the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and led to Lee’s resignation from the team in August.