The Ottawa Senators made a big splash earlier this off-season, first trading for Matt Murray then signing him to a lucrative long-term contract. Murray is the present and the future in net for the Senators, but he is not the only goalie in their plans. Ottawa has announced a three-year extension with restricted free agent Joey Daccord, who just wrapped up his first pro season. The deal carries an AAV of $750K with the following breakdown:
2020-21: Two-way, $700K NHL salary, $175K AHL salary
2021-22: Two-way, $750K NHL salary, $300K AHL salary
2022-23: One-way, $800K salary
This seemingly minor contract actually speaks volumes about the Senators’ plans in goal. Ottawa has a deep stable of prospect goaltenders, but have opted to extend a multi-year contract to 24-year-old Daccord. The pact also includes a commitment to giving Daccord an NHL shot by at least 2022-23, when his NHL salary becomes fully guaranteed as a one-way deal. Meanwhile, Anders Nilsson played well after coming over to Ottawa last year and looks like Murray’s backup when healthy and is an impending UFA, 25-year-old Marcus Hogberg is also on a one-way contract this year and will be a restricted free agent next summer, promising 22-year-old prospect Filip Gustavsson is currently dominating the Swedish minor leagues and is looking for NHL time in the final year of his entry-level deal, 20-year-old Kevin Mandolese just signed a three-year entry level contract of his own, and the club has 2019 second-round pick Mads Sogaard and 2020 third-round pick Leevi Merilainen in the pipeline as well. There are many mouths to feed in Ottawa when it comes to future net share, yet Daccord is now the only name other than Murray with a long-term commitment that includes NHL opportunity.
The Senators clearly like what they have seen from Daccord and believe he will at least be an option to backup Murray in a few years. Daccord has improved dramatically since he was a seventh-round flier out of Cushing Academy in Massachusetts back in 2015. After a so-so season in the USHL, Daccord struggled out of the gate at Arizona State University. Only in his junior year did he finally take off, recording a .926 save percentage and 2.35 GAA for a surprising Sun Devils squad. But that was enough for the Senators to offer a contract and for the young keeper to turn pro early. He then held his own in his first pro season, playing two-thirds of his games in the AHL to the tune of a .915 save percentage and 2.61 GAA. For a net minder with very limited experience against top talent, he handled the jump to the competitive minor league level very well and should only improve with time.
Ottawa clearly expects his game to continuing growing as well. With bigger names and higher draft pedigrees in the system competing for the spotlight, the Senators have made it clear that they believe in Daccord. Murray may be the big name in net now and likely will be for the long haul, but at the current time Daccord looks to be the closest thing to next in line.