The Ottawa Senators may have benefited long-term from trading off its expected big-name free agents at the trade deadline, but the franchise must still answer to its fans. With a number of young players on their roster, the team must prove to their fan base that it has no intention of just trading away all of their players once their contracts come up. There are rumblings that suggest the Senators are ready to commit to one such player, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman writes in his “31 Thoughts” column that the Senators are going to attempt to lock up defensive cornerstone Thomas Chabot to a long-term extension. Chabot, who broke out with a big season in his sophomore year with 14 goals and 55 points in 70 games, would be the ideal signing for the organization to prove to its fans that they intend to compete in the future.
Friedman also writes that owner Eugene Melnyk has been humbled by his lack of success in finding a President of Hockey Operations with top candidates showing no interest to the point of refusing to even meet with the team. The hope is that Melnyk will now find a way to please the fans by rewarding one of their young players. Chabot is the most likely fit as he will be eligible for an extension on July 1 as he is entering the final year of his entry-level contract. Perhaps the move will also turn around the team’s presidential search.
- NBC Sports Brian McNally writes that while the team was thrilled that 23-year-old Jakub Vrana put up 24 goals and finally broke out as a consistent top-six winger, the team now has to pay for him. Vrana, who becomes a restricted free agent this summer, could look to sign a long-term deal as a young piece to a veteran team or opt to sign a bridge deal that could take him towards unrestricted free agency in a few years. Of course, Vrana struggled in the playoffs which could count against him, as he didn’t register a point during the team’s seven-game series to the Carolina Hurricanes. We’ll have some decisions to make,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We’ll find out which direction we’re going on Vrana with a term deal or a bridge deal. Some of it is money decisions. Some of it’s we need to make a couple changes.”
- The Carolina Hurricanes are ready for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals with the Boston Bruins and while there will be no lineup changes, News & Observer’s Luke DeCock writes that the team still hopes that forward Saku Maenalanen, who has been out since Apr. 28 after having surgery on his hand, could return to the team soon as he practiced with the team Saturday in a non-contact jersey. The surgery was expected him to miss 10 to 14 days, which has already passed. While he’s tallied just one assist throughout the playoffs, the 6-foot-4 winger had given the team a physical element that it needed. The team hopes he might return later in this series
- Jonathan Bombulie of TribLive writes that while it will be Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford job to move out some defensemen, figuring out which defensemen to move could be more challenging that most might think. Looking at Olli Maatta, who is coming off a poor season, the scribe writes that while he struggled when on the ice with bottom-line centers like Derick Brassard, but was more even-keel when Evgeni Malkin was on the ice, while he was solid when playing with Sidney Crosby, suggesting that the problem may not totally fall on the team’s defense.