Senators News & Rumors: Ownership Bids, Smejkal, Draft Lottery

After failing to make the playoffs this season, April and May will be two of the busiest months for the Ottawa Senators. There is no shortage of news and rumours surrounding the team, and with Snoop Dogg, The Weeknd, and an out-of-the-blue Czech signing, here is the latest on the organization.

Snoop Dogg Joins Sparks Bid for Senators

This is already old news, but Calvin “Snoop Dogg” Broadus Jr. joined the Neko Sparks group to help purchase the Senators. Snoop Dogg has been all over the media, joining ESPN’s First Take and doing an exclusive interview with Mendes at The Athletic (from “Snoop Dogg on bid to buy the Ottawa Senators: ‘This ain’t no joke,'” The Athletic, May 4, 2023).

“I’ve been watching hockey for about 25 years now, and I’m watching more and more kids who look like me play the game. But I’m not seeing it offered to the kids here in America…The kids need to know that there’s an option to play hockey”

He has a genuine interest in growing the sport and in Ottawa too. “I want Ottawa because Ottawa wants me,” he said. While Ryan Reynolds has been the front-runner for the celebrity spotlight in terms of the ownership group, nobody is upset about the added interest from the hip-hop superstar.

The Weeknd Wants His Piece of the Senators Too

More recently, Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye was announced as a part of the Kimel family’s bid to purchase the Senators. Tesfaye was originally rumoured to be interested in the team in November.

The Weeknd
The Weeknd (NRK P3 / Flickr)

Tesfaye has the top-streamed song on Spotify, “Blinding Lights”, and another song ranked 14th with “Starboy.” He also performed at the Super Bowl in 2021.

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A source close to The Weeknd told Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch that, “[Tesfaye] is going to be a great partner for Ottawa and the NHL…The team he works with grew up in Ottawa, so they know the market really well, but he’s the largest musician (on the) planet right now. He has the most views, the most streams, and he’s a hockey guy.”

Like Reynolds and Snoop Dogg, there is plenty of reason to be excited about having The Weeknd on board.

Senators Sign Jiri Smejkal

In an out-of-nowhere signing, the Senators inked Jiri Smejkal to a one-year, entry-level contract, and fans aren’t sure what to make of it. In a statement, Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said, “Jiri’s signing is a good addition for us; it improves our depth and provides us with an additional bottom-six option.”

The Senators’ bottom six was an issue last season. They were unable to produce at the level they needed to be at, and while Smejkal could be impactful, he doesn’t solve all of the problems.

Jiri Smejkal Team Czechia
Jiri Smejkal, Team Czechia (Photo by Vedran Galijas/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Smejkal isn’t a European superstar coming over to change the franchise, but he has been averaging close to a point-per-game pace over the last two seasons in the Swedish Hockey League and SM-Liiga and scored 48 goals in 93 games. He also has three Western Hockey League seasons under his belt, giving him some experience on North American ice.

Related: Senators Get More Competitive with Jiri Smejkal

It is a low-risk signing, and in a perfect world, he could pan out the way Andrei Kuzmenko did with the Vancouver Canucks this season, but a more realistic scenario would be Smejkal playing at an average third-line production level. Not only will he be looked at for production, but at the tail end of the season in Czechia, his coach looked at him for the top penalty-killing unit.

NHL Draft Lottery Tonight

The NHL Draft Lottery is tonight at 8:00 pm ET. Although Dorion traded their first-round pick to Arizona for Jakob Chychrun, if it ends up in the top five, they will get to keep it and transfer the 2024 pick.

The Senators have the 12th-best odds of winning the lottery. But there’s been a change to the format after the New York Rangers moved up in the lottery to select Alexis Lafreniere first overall. Now, due to the change, a team can only move up a maximum of 10 spots in the draft lottery, which means the Senators can only pick as high as second overall.

Alexis Lafreniere New York Rangers
Alexis Lafreniere, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

With a 2.5 percent chance of winning the second overall pick, it seems unlikely, but what happens if the Senators do move up?

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First, they would keep this year’s pick and almost certainly select Adam Fantilli. Make sure to check out his Prospect Profile here at The Hockey Writers if you want to learn more about him.