The Ottawa Senators were vindicated in a way last night when their 2019 first-round pick fell to fourth overall in the draft lottery. As the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks moved up the board, the decision to select Brady Tkachuk last year looked better and better. The Senators’ pick this year infamously belongs to the Colorado Avalanche, who will have to settle—if you can call it that—for the fourth selection in a year that they made the playoffs.
While GM Pierre Dorion and his front office staff can now put the original Matt Duchene trade behind them and prepare for their own draft, the organization is still looking for a new President of Hockey Operations to install alongside him and take over some of the direction of the franchise. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet touched on this search in his latest 31 Thoughts column, explaining that the Senators are “prepared to play the long game” and wait for the right candidate to appear. They basically have no choice, as Friedman also reports that the team has already contacted Ron Francis, Trevor Linden, Dean Lombardi, Joe Nieuwendyk and Steve Yzerman, only to have been turned down by each executive.
It makes sense to not rush into a decision like that, especially for a franchise that has operated without a person in that role for several years. While the Senators have been the butt of many jokes since coming a goal away from the Stanley Cup Final in 2017, they do now have several promising young players to build around and a history of draft success under Dorion’s guidance. The GM recently said “the worst is behind us” in reference to the complete tear down that has occurred in Ottawa over the past year, and he’s probably right—you can’t get much worse than trading away all the stars on your team amidst a pair of sub-30 win seasons and continual off-ice incidents.
There’s no clear timeline for when the Senators will install someone in the new position, but it’s easy to tell what kind of person they are going after for the role. All of the names listed in Friedman’s piece have a long history of success in the NHL either as a player or executive (or both). If they can eventually land a big fish like that to bring some stability to the organization, perhaps that “five-year run of unparalleled success” that owner Eugene Melnyk promised will actually come to fruition.