The Ottawa Senators could name a captain next season, coach D.J. Smith said Monday.
"We've talked a little bit about it," Smith told the Ottawa Sun of discussions he's had with general manager Pierre Dorion. "There's some tough choices to be made there, and are they ready? Is it now? Is it in another year? That's something and a discussion will go on throughout the summer.
"The big thing is you want to make sure the guy is ready and it's not too soon."
The Senators have not had a captain since defenseman Erik Karlsson was traded to the San Jose Sharks on Sept. 13, 2018.
Ottawa used three alternate captains this season: forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau and defensemen Mark Borowiecki and Ron Hainsey. When Pageau was traded to the New York Islanders on Feb. 24, defenseman Thomas Chabot replaced him as an alternate.
Chabot, who scored 39 points (six goals, 33 assists) in 71 games this season and led the NHL with an average of 26:00 of ice time per game, is one option to be the next captain. The 23-year-old signed an eight-year, $64 million contract extension ($8 million average annual value) on Sept. 19 that starts next season.
In four NHL seasons with Ottawa, Chabot has 119 points (29 goals, 90 assists) in 205 games.
Smith said the Senators must make sure whichever player they choose can handle the responsibility.
"If that player isn't ready, it could affect his game," he said. "The captain has to be a guy whose game doesn't waver regardless of the score and how you're playing. That's something we'll discuss with Pierre and the management and make that decision."
The Senators (25-34-12) finished next to last in the Eastern Conference with a .437 points percentage. Their season is over because they did not make the Eastern Conference Qualifying Round as part of the NHL Return to Play Plan that was announced May 26. It will be the third straight season Ottawa failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs since reaching the Eastern Conference Final in 2016-17.
The New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and Vegas Golden Knights are the other NHL teams without a captain.