The Ottawa Senators came into the 2023-24 NHL season with much promise and high expectations. As a team on the rise, they added pieces before the season started to make them, on paper, a better team and ready for a playoff push.
With the additions of goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, defenseman Jakob Chychrun, and forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Dominik Kubalik, they felt they have a well-balanced team ready to compete this season and take the Atlantic Division by storm. My, how things have changed.
In the off-season, the Senators would have new management after the passing of Eugene Melnyk, and that new management would be a group of investors led by Michael Andlauer.
He would make an immediate impact by welcoming back Cyril Leeder as the CEO and club president, as well as Steve Staois as president of hockey operations and General Manager.
The Ottawa Senators have gone through a lot so far this season
The club also had a new Head Coach D.J. Smith and Assistant Coach Davis Payne was let go Jacques Martin was appointed as the new coach and former Senators player, Daniel Alfredsson, was named to be the new assistant coach.
Ottawa sits with a record of 19-25-2 for 40 points and is in last place in the Atlantic Division. They are 31 points behind division leaders, the Boston Bruins for first and are last for a wild card spot, two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Not only is the second half of the season massive for the franchise to turn things around but it is as crucial for the players in the Senators organization.
Many players are either unrestricted or restricted, free agents at the end of the season. Below are the free agents separated by the status of the free agency and their totals this season.
Unrestricted free agents
Forward Vladimir Tarasenko (13-19-32), Forward Dominik Kubalik (9-3-12), Defenseman Jacob Larson (AHL Belleville Senators 5-9-14), and defenseman Dillon Heatherington (Belleville captain 3-2-5)
Restricted free agents
Defenseman Erik Brannstrom (2-9-11), defenseman Lassi Thompson (Belleville 4-7-11), goaltender Mads Sogaard (1-1, .825, 5.09), defenseman Donovan Sebrango (Belleville/ Allen Americans ECHL 1-2-3), forward Egor Sokolov (1-1-2), forward Shane Pinto (1-1-2), and forward Parker Kelly (4-6-10).
While there are current Senators players on the list, there are some younger players who, if re-signed, could impact the future of the Ottawa organization positively.
The Senators do not have a deep prospect pool and any of the players listed above that are with the Belleville Senators of the AHL or Allen Americans of the ECHL that are not re-signed could be a big loss.
The results of these players, and the team win/loss record, could determine if those players are brought back or given permission to seek a contract elsewhere.
The Ottawa Senators have already gone through several changes over the past year but if things do not turn around, this off-season could be another season of change.