With free agency now just a few days away, teams are preparing for a frenzy of action. There will be several prominent players set to hit the open market while many teams have key restricted free agents to re-sign. The Senators have several restricted free agents to deal with this offseason while one of their top scorers is now set to hit the open market.
Key Restricted Free Agents
F Connor Brown – The move from Toronto to Ottawa last offseason gave the 26-year-old the opportunity to take on a much bigger role which is something that wouldn’t have happened had he stayed with the Maple Leafs. He responded quite well, posting career highs in assists (27) and points (43) while finishing just one point behind Brady Tkachuk for the team lead in scoring. He also was called upon to play more than 20 minutes a night which will certainly help bolster his arbitration case. Brown is a year away from UFA eligibility but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Sens try to try to sign him to a medium-term deal to have him as one of the veterans as they come out of their rebuild.
F Chris Tierney – Had it not been for the pandemic, Tierney might have had a shot at three straight seasons with 40 points or more which is pretty consistent production for someone that isn’t too far removed from being a role player in San Jose. Between that and his penalty killing acumen, he has become a useful middle-six pivot for Ottawa which should help him earn a small raise on his $2.975MM qualifying offer that the team tendered. Tierney is eligible for arbitration and is also a year away from UFA eligibility.
G Matt Murray – Before he puts on an Ottawa sweater for the first time, GM Pierre Dorion will need to reach a contract with his newly-acquired goaltender. Murray’s numbers dipped considerably with Pittsburgh this past season and his .899 SV% was a career-low and Pittsburgh turned around and committed to Tristan Jarry as their new starter. He’s a year away from UFA eligibility but expect the Senators to try to work out a long-term deal which could wind up approaching the $6MM range. With no prospects that are ready to take over as the number one in the near future though, it’s a price tag that’s justifiable to pay.
Key Unrestricted Free Agents
F Anthony Duclair – In a move that came as somewhat of a surprise, the Senators opted to non-tender the winger after they weren’t able to come to terms on a new contract with Duclair representing himself in negotiations. The 25-year-old had a career year offensively with 23 goals and 40 points but on the other hand, only two of those tallies came in his final 23 games as he struggled in the second half of the season. Nevertheless, while he is a streaky player, he has established himself as a better scoring threat than he was when he entered the UFA market as a non-tender player two years ago. Whether that’s enough to earn him a bigger raise than Ottawa was initially offering him remains to be seen.
D Mark Borowiecki – The fan favorite was unable to agree to terms on a new deal with the Sens and instead will hit the open market for the first time in his career. The 31-year-old surprisingly posted 18 points in 2019-20; that’s only the third time in his career that he has hit the double-digit mark. Borowiecki isn’t known for his offensive prowess but rather his leadership, physicality, and willingness to block shots. That combination should generate a fair bit of interest as an upgrade on a third pairing somewhere.
G Craig Anderson – Prior to the Murray acquisition, Dorion had already confirmed that the 39-year-old wouldn’t be returning. While Anderson’s days as a starter are done, he has still played in at least 34 games in each of the last seven seasons. Considering the 2020-21 season (now targeted to start in January) is expected to be a bit more compressed than normal, the fact that he can handle a larger than average workload could make him appealing to teams as a backup. Coming off of a season that saw him post a 3.25 GAA and a .902 SV% though, he’s looking at a substantial pay cut from the $4.75MM he played under the last two years.
D Ron Hainsey – Ottawa has expressed an interest in retaining Hainsey who was one of the few veterans on a relatively inexperienced back end this past season. Given that he’ll turn 40 next season though, it’s likely that the Senators will be looking to bring him back in a more limited role, not one that will have him averaging more than 20 minutes a night again. If so, they’re certainly offering less than the $3.5MM he made in 2019-20.
Projected Cap Space
With just over $42MM in commitments to 10 players for next season per CapFriendly, cap space isn’t an issue here. However, Ottawa has historically been a budget team so they’ll likely come in well below the $81.5MM Upper Limit when their offseason spending is completed.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.