Which free agents do Senators want?
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|If the price and term of contract is right, Tim Connolly could be a good fit for the Senators. (QMI Agency file photo)
OTTAWA - The Senators likely wonít be big spenders when the free-agent sweepstakes begin July 1.
After being first out of the gate last July 1 by signing defenceman Sergei Gonchar to a three-year, $16.5-million deal, the Senators could take a wait-and-see attitude.
While the Senators have only $43 million committed in salary to 15 players, theyíll be working harder to get to the $48.3-million floor than even coming close to the $64.3-million cap thatís been set for the final year of the CBA.
The needs are simple:
No. 1: The Senators could use another forward, maybe one who has scored 20 goals in the NHL. The decision to get Nikita Filatov from the Blue Jackets for a third-round pick was a good one that could pay dividends.
The Senators hope to have a healthy Daniel Alfredsson after off-season surgery. It would make sense for winger Bobby Butler to get the chance to start on a line with Jason Spezza, but the second line is a work in progress.
One of the priorities is character. Brooks Laich could have been a good fit, but decided to re-sign with Washington on Tuesday.
No. 2: The Senators have decided to walk away from backup goalie Curtis McElhinney.
Since Craig Anderson is signed to a four-year deal and the Senators want Robin Lehner to spend another year in Binghamton, the Senators could look to the free-agent market for a backup.
With or without Filip Kuba and Sergei Gonchar, both of whom are available in trade talks, the Senators are pretty much set on defence.
Youngsters David Rundblad and Jared Cowen will get a chance to play in Ottawa. With several young players ready to make the jump, itís unlikely the Senators will chase any free-agent defencemen.
Here are some players the Senators may chase:
C THOMAS FLEISCHMANN (Col)
Made $2.6 million last season and is going to get plenty of attention.
C MICHAEL HANDZUS (L.A.)
Has a history with coach Paul MacLean from his days in St. Louis.
C TIM CONNOLLY (Buf)
Wonít get anything close to the $4.5 million he made last season. Maybe heíll take a one-year deal.
G JOSH HARDING (MIN)
Young and recovering from a season-ending surgery. There is risk here.
G MIKE SMITH (TAMPA)
Heíd be able to battle Craig Anderson for playing time. Would have to accept his role.
G ALEX AULD (MONT)
Has been here before. Canít play a lot, but wonít rock the boat either.
G JOSE THEODORE (MIN)
Likely wonít be looking for anything more than a one-year deal.