The Ottawa Senators are intent on competing for a playoff spot next season, and their offseason moves have reflected that intention. The team spent major resources in both cap space and draft picks to add some star talent, and the result of those expenditures is that Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat will be wearing red and black this upcoming season. But while the team’s offensive attack is significantly improved from last season, less attention has been paid to their defense.
In an interview with Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch, Senators coach D.J. Smith revealed what his plans are for the team’s defense corps. Smith stated that he intends to pair top prospect and rookie defenseman Jake Sanderson with veteran blueliner Travis Hamonic to start camp. That pairing would go along with a more established pairing of Thomas Chabot and Artem Zub, one that will presumably handle the team’s toughest minutes. This news is not a major surprise, although it could be to those who are low on the current makeup of the Senators’ blueline. Much had been made about the Senators’ pursuit of an additional top-four defenseman this summer, but it seems that those pursuits have concluded, at least for the time being.
Now, for some other notes from across the NHL:
- While the San Jose Sharks’ new era under GM Mike Grier began with a trade of veteran defenseman Brent Burns, don’t expect a similar departure for other Sharks star veterans, namely Logan Couture. In speaking to Corey Masisiak of The Athletic, Couture said that when asked, as Burns was, about potentially being traded, Couture “didn’t think twice about it.” (subscription link) Couture is seemingly all-in on the Sharks returning to contention next season, and for the team to have any chance of success next season they’ll need their veteran centerman to continue to play like a quality top-six center.
- The Montreal Canadiens made some moves to shake up their team this summer, and their most significant move on defense came with the trade of Jeff Petry to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In addition to losing Petry, the Canadiens also dealt Alexander Romanov to the New York Islanders. The team added Mike Matheson in the Petry deal, but is still short one NHL defenseman from where they were last year. That has led some, including The Athletic’s Marc Antoine Godin, to suggest that the Canadiens add a veteran defenseman before this upcoming year. (subscription link) Godin specifically names veteran defenseman Anton Stralman as someone the Canadiens should target, given his experience and track record of reliability. Stralman skated in the third-most minutes per game of any Arizona Coyotes player last season and would compete for a role on Montreal’s right side with Chris Wideman, David Savard, and Justin Barron.