After a surprisingly quiet draft weekend, the Senators now shift their focus to July 1st and the start of free agency. With a lengthy To-Do list sitting on his desk, these should be a busy couple days for Sens General Manager Bryan Murray. Here’s a look at some of the things Murray has on his plate this Canada Day.
1) The Jason Spezza Trade
After all the rumours and speculation this weekend, Jason Spezza is still a member of the Ottawa Senators. Murray had conversations with a couple teams and even had a deal in place with the Predators. The deal was believed to include forward Patric Hornqvist, the Predators first round pick and possibly defenceman Mattias Ekholm. Of course that deal was nixed by Spezza as Nashville is one of the 10 teams on his no-go list. Dealing Spezza remains a priority for Murray this week. The thinking is that teams that miss out on Stastny in free agency will shift their focus to Spezza. St. Louis, Chicago, Dallas and even Colorado are all involved. An interesting thing to keep an eye on- CapGeek seems to suggest that Spezza can submit a new list of 10 teams on July 1. Does he leave the same teams on there or adjust the teams based on who he knows is interested?
2) Adding a Free Agent Forward
The Senators have talked to a couple forward options already and seem reasonably confident they’ll land at least one free agent when the market opens tomorrow. With Hemsky gone and Spezza on the way out, there are openings in Ottawa’s top six. It also looks like Michalek could head elsewhere although he’ll give the Senators a chance before signing elsewhere. Plenty of interest in Michalek though so the 2-3 year deal at $3. to 3,5 mil a season likely doesn’t get it done. But if Michalek leaves, it means that money is available to spend on another forward. I’m expecting Ottawa to come away with a couple players through free agency. The market isn’t overly loaded this year but there are some decent options out there. Some of the name I’ve heard speculated include Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin (although he’s likely headed to Pittsburgh) and David Booth. Bruce Garrioch mentioned Matt Moulson and Martin Havlat in his most recent article.
3) An Extension for Bobby Ryan
This one has people on edge and rightfully so. Ottawa fans have watched star players walk in previous years but Ryan leaving would really sting. Especially when you consider the handful of assets Ottawa gave away to land him last summer. People I’ve spoken to seem to be a little bit divided on this issue but I do expect the Senators to get this done. This will be a priority for Murray and his staff on July 1. The big thing from Ryan’s perspective is seeing that the team is making a commitment to building a competitive hockey team. The Senators have had far too much negative PR recently could use some good news. A long term extension for Bobby Ryan would certainly qualify.
4) Conversations with MacArthur, Methot and Anderson
Like Bobby Ryan, these three are all eligible for extension beginning July 1st. Ottawa would certainly like to keep MacArthur and Methot around but have to make a decision on Anderson. With Lehner waiting in the wings, another lengthy deal for Anderson probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The conversations with MacArthur and Methot will be anything but straightforward. MacArthur will be looking for a raise from the $3.25 on his current deal and same goes for Methot, who is earning $3 million a season on his current contract. Both players have shown an interest in coming back and you would expect Murray to at least start those conversations once the window opens tomorrow.
5) RFA Robin Lehner
This one has been a work in progress for the last month or so. The two sides have talked about a few different options on an extension for Lehner but in the end, it really seems like a bridge deal makes most sense. Lehner may be the back up right now but over the next couple seasons, he’ll be expected to take over the starting role in Ottawa and will be looking for a contract that acknowledges that elevated role. Pierre Dorion has mentioned on a couple of occasions that this contract is going to get done but that it may take a little more back and forth.