Ottawa Senators: Offseason Plans (part 2/3)

By Matthew Kirkpatrick

The Ottawa Senators got a lot of production from their back end last season. Led by Norris Trophy candidate Erik Karlsson’s 78 point campaign, the Senators had one of the highest scoring defensive corps in the NHL.

Paul MacLean was also able to coax tremendous bounce-back years out of his veteran rear guards, and it looked like Sergei Gonchar and Filip Kuba were enjoying themselves at the rink again.

Priority number one for general manager Bryan Murray must be getting Karlsson to sign a long-term contract. After the season he had Karlsson will be due a huge bump up in salary.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but Karlsson has said that he wants to stay in Ottawa long term, so hopefully he will be willing to leave a few bucks on the table for Murray to spread around.

I would not be surprised to see the young Swede command a $5.75-7 million dollar price tag.

Clearly the term is entirely up to him, but I’m sure the longer the better when it comes to the club. Somewhere between $30 million for 5 years, or $50 million for a 7-10 year pact seems fair to me.

Matt Gilroy, Matt Carkner, and Kuba are all pending UFA’s, and not all of them will be back with the club, but two out of three have a chance.

Gilroy was a disappointment after coming over in a trade at the deadline with the Tampa Bay Lightning for Brian Lee.

He was an adventure in his own end that reminded me of Joe Corvo, and his offensive production did not off set his poor defensive play enough to warrant a new contract in my opinion.

Carkner spent the majority of the season in the press box, but he earned his pay check in the post-season when he was asked to take care of business and send a message to New York Rangers big man Brian Boyle, and believe me, Boyle will not forget his run in with Big Country anytime soon.

Carkner is a local boy who can be brought back on the cheap. He is decent enough in his own end, and provides the Ottawa Senators with an element of toughness that most clubs cannot match.

Kuba may head for greener pastures in the summer, but if Murray can get him to take a hair cut on his $3.7 million salary, and bring him back between $2-2.5 million it could be a good fit.

If Kuba is resigned I would look for Murray to try and move Gonchar and his $5.5 million price tag.

The Russian is coming off a good season that saw him score 37 points, and is heading into the final year of his deal so it will make moving him that much easier.

If Murray is able to get Gonchar off the books I expect him to bring in a stay at home defenseman to pair up with Chris Phillips.

Phillips has thrived in the shut down role in the past when he was paired with Zdeno Chara, and Anton Volchenkov, and if the Senators can persuade a Barret Jackman, or Bryan Allen to come to Ottawa they could do worse than playing with the steady Phillips.

MacLean may also decide to use youngster Jared Cowenin that role. Cowen had a good rookie year, and showed flashes of brilliance. I see him as a player in the Chris Pronger mold: big, tough, with a mind for offense, and able to log a lot of minutes.

Come back to Rant Sports tomorrow to read my take on what could happen with the Ottawa Senators forward group.



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