Saturday: The Senators announced that they’ve signed Brannstrom to a one-year, $2MM contract. GM Pierre Dorion released the following statement:
Erik took a big step forward last season. Over the year’s second half of games especially, he demonstrated a strong ability to raise his game to the level where he’s using his confidence as an asset. We’re happy to have him under contract for another year.
Friday: Earlier today, the Senators tendered defenseman Erik Brannstrom a qualifying offer to retain his rights. While that makes him a restricted free agent, he might not be one for long as Chris Johnston of NorthStar Bets and TSN reports (Twitter link) that the two sides are making progress on a new deal.
The 23-year-old was acquired by Ottawa as one of the centerpieces of the Mark Stone trade back in 2019 with the hopes that he’d be able to become an impact offensive defender in the NHL. That hasn’t exactly played out as planned, however, as Brannstrom had just two goals and 21 points over his first 116 career games as of the end of 2021-22. Unsurprisingly, that yielded a low-cost one-year bridge deal worth $900K back in September.
However, things went a little better for Brannstrom this past season. He played in a career-high 74 games with the Sens, picking up a career-best 18 points along the way while averaging just over 16 minutes a night. Clearly, it’s not the type of production they were hoping for when they got him a few years ago but he has at least now shown he can handle a full-time workload which is an important step for a young blueliner to take.
Brannstrom’s qualifier checked in at $945K but he should be able to land more than that this summer. He’s eligible for arbitration for the first time and the fact that he has nearly 200 NHL appearances under his belt now along with 49 points should be enough to get at least a small raise from an arbitrator if it was to come to that. Based on this report, however, it’s unlikely to get to that point.