aPRIL 9, 2018 | 8:12PM ET
TheFourthPeriod.com

SENATORS LOOKING FOR ANSWERS HEADING INTO OFF-SEASON

 
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Pierre Dorion, GM

 

It was less than a year ago that the Ottawa Senators were one goal away from the franchise’s second ever Stanley Cup Final, and first since 2007. It all came down to Game 7 in overtime in the Eastern Conference Final against the eventual Stanley Cup winner Pittsburgh Penguins, but eventually fell just short.

A lot can change in a year, and that cannot be truer when it comes to this organization.

Heading into this season, riding the coat tails of a remarkable playoff run in Guy Boucher’s inaugural season behind the bench in Ottawa, the Senators were coined as team as on the rise. Much was expected, as the club looked to build off of an incredible run. 

On the back of All-Star defenceman Erik Karlsson, coupled with the team’s group of forwards, who seemed to have bought in with Boucher’s message, there was reason for optimism.

But all of the positivity began to fizzle away as the season went on, starting with the Kyle Turris contract negotiations (or lack thereof), which ultimately wound up with the player being traded. Matt Duchene was brought in, which management urged was an upgrade, and it all began to spiral out of control from there. 

By late November, panic had begun to set in.

It only got worse as the season dragged out, as centre Derek Brassard and defenceman Dion Phaneuf (each had played less than two full seasons with the club) got traded to the Penguins and Los Angeles Kings, respectively.

But it was only once Karlsson’s name was brought up that everything completely got turned upside down. The disconnect between Karlsson and owner Eugene Melnyk became public, as the late Brian Murray seemed to serve as a buffer between them as the club’s GM. 

The toxic situation resulted with Karlsson almost being moved to the Vegas Golden Knights, along with right wing Bobby Ryan, with a reported deal falling through right before the trade deadline – a trade that may be revisited in the summer.

With so much uncertainty still hovering, there are more questions than answers for Ottawa. While the Karlsson situation was not resolved, but rather delayed, will the team continue to explore trade scenarios for the current captain? After all, Karlsson only has one-year remaining on his current deal and while he’s said he’d like stay in Ottawa, the team may not be able to afford him.

“With what we went through this year there is going to be a few changes and hopefully I’m not one of them,” Karlsson told reporters earlier today, as quoted by the Ottawa Sun.

“I’m going to deal with that as we move along this summer, but I’m still hopeful that the puck that I picked up is not going to be the one that’s going to be the last.”

According to the Sun, the Senators plan on presenting Karlsson with a contract extension offer July 1. Citing a source, the Sun claims the offer will be “fair market” value.

“That’s something we’re going to have to deal with here moving forward and it’s not something that I’ve been concentrating on or thinking about,” Karlsson said. “I still have another year on my deal and I’m really happy about being in the position I am and that this isn’t the last year of my deal.”

Will Ryan continue to be shopped and be a added into any deal involving Karlsson? What will become of the players whose names were involved in trade rumor; Zach Smith, Mike Hoffman and Alex Burrows were all apart of never-ending trade speculation. What will become of the young talent in Thomas Chabot and Logan Brown? Will they make the team next season in light of the projected on-roster subtractions?

The storm is Ottawa seems to have just started, and it looks like it will be getting worse before it gets better.