NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Ottawa Senators.
The Ottawa Senators had a quiet offseason following their unexpected trip to the Eastern Conference Final and will be looking to prove their success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs wasn't a fluke.
The most significant challenge heading into training camp will be finding a partner for defenseman Erik Karlsson. The Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot, who played mostly with Karlsson for the past five seasons, to the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft before he was traded to the Dallas Stars.
Ottawa signed veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya to a one-year, $1 million contract July 24 with bonuses that could add up to another $1.25 million. Oduya, who turns 36 Oct. 1, played for the Stars and Chicago Blackhawks last season.
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The decision to expose Methot was made because the Senators have several candidates on the left side who could potentially replace him, and Odyua's signing can buy some time for Karlsson's potential partners to get experience. Among them are top prospect Thomas Chabot, 20, who looks ready to make the jump after an impressive junior career; Fredrik Claesson, 24, who saw some shifts when Methot missed time because of an injured finger near the end of the regular season; Ben Harpur (22) and Andreas Englund (21).
"That'll be up to [coach] Guy Boucher," general manager Pierre Dorion said of Karlsson's partner. "The coach decides who plays with who, and we've said that since I've been GM here. He has carte blanche to play whoever he wants with whoever he wants. But at the same time, I think without divulging any secrets here, Erik is very happy about us signing [Oduya]. He knows that it helps our brand and our culture. We're bringing in someone who's a true pro, and you can never know if guys can play with each other until they are paired together in the NHL."
Karlsson, 27, who was the runner-up to San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns for the Norris Trophy last season, had surgery June 14 to repair torn tendons in his left foot but should be ready to start the regular season. Karlsson played the postseason with two hairline fractures in his left heel.
Besides the loss of Methot, the roster will mostly look the same. Goaltender Craig Anderson, 36, will return for his eighth season and will be backed up by Mike Condon, who signed a three-year, $7.2 million contract June 28.
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The only changes at forward were in the bottom six; Viktor Stalberg (Kontinental Hockey League) and Tommy Wingels (Blackhawks) left as unrestricted free agents. Chris Neil, who played 15 seasons with the Senators and ranks third on their games-played list (1,026), was not offered a contract.
Forward Nate Thompson, 32, signed a two-year, $3.3 million contract July 1. He won 52.6 percent of his faceoffs with the Anaheim Ducks last season and can help kill penalties. The Senators also signed restricted free agent forwards Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Ryan Dzingel, and Tom Pyatt.
Forward Colin White, 20, will get a chance to win a job. The No. 21 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, White played two regular-season games and one playoff game after leaving Boston College.
The Senators' top-six forward group remains unchanged, but they could use an offensive boost after finishing 22nd in goals scored last season (206). That could happen if veteran Bobby Ryan, 30, plays like he did in the postseason. After scoring 13 goals and 25 points in the regular season, Ryan had 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 19 playoff games.