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As we continue with the dog days of the off-season some questions still need clarity. Many have argued that the Senators may be in their best interest to target a bottom 6 forward such as Suter or Ritchie before training camp. If Pierre Dorion feels the same way, it is likely he is figuring out a Pinto extension before using more cap space. After Pinto is dealt with, we may see the Sens look to add another piece. In this article, I will look at some intriguing remaining free agent options for the Sens to consider.
The first name to look at is Pius Suter who just finished his season with the Red Wings. This season, Suter put up a respectable 14 goals and 10 assists for 24 points in 79 games. The 27-year-old would most likely not break the bank for the Senators and could be serviceable in the bottom 6. Suter is a reliable defensive player, but he can also contribute some depth scoring which has been lacking recently for the Senators.
Suter is coming off of a contract that paid his $3.25 million. I would be surprised if he was able to demand this much on his next contract. I would expect Suter’s contract to be somewhere in the $1.5-2.5 million range on a 1 or 2-year deal. If this is the case, he is the kind of player the Sens should look at bringing in.
The second player to look at is Nick Ritchie who split last season between the Arizona Coyotes and Calgary Flames. Ritchie put up 13 goals and 13 assists for 26 points in 74 games last season. Ritchie, like Suter, is 27 years old which means he still has quite a few years in the tank. Ritchie is coming off of a contract where he was paid $2.5 million per season. I would expect Ritchie to be paid similarly to Suter ($1.5-2.5) on a 1 or 2-year deal.
Ritchie would be another good option to have in the bottom 6. Ritchie would fit right in with the Dj Smith play style as he has no problem using his size on the forecheck. If the Sens were to target Ritchie, he could provide some secondary scoring while also the physical intensity to wear down opponents.
The next player to look at is Danton Heinen who most recently played with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Heinen finished this season with 8 goals and 14 assists for 22 points in 65 games. However, the season before this past, Heinen scored 18 goals for the Penguins in 76 games. If Heinen was to score somewhere in between these totals, the Sens could have a very nice piece in their bottom 6.
Heinen is coming off of a contract that paid him $1 million per season. I would expect Heinen to get a slight raise, perhaps in the $1-$2 million range on a 1-year deal. As mentioned before, this would fit nicely in the Senators’ cap structure and would provide them with better forward depth. Heinen also has plenty of post-season experience which would be valuable in the Senators locker room.
The final player to discuss is Zach Aston-Reese who most recently played with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Aston-Reese finished this last season with 10 goals and 4 assists for 14 points in 77 games. The offence is not the A game of Aston-Reese. He is a player who plays a solid defensive game, while also finishing every checking opportunity he has. Aston-Reese would be a great addition to the 4th line of the Senators.
Aston-Reese is also a player who will not break the bank. He is coming off of a season where he was earning $840 thousand as his AAV. I would expect Aston-Reese to be paid in a similar range this year. I believe his salary ceiling would be $1 million which would mean the Sens would have no problem fitting him under their cap.
Check out this article explaining my thoughts on the Senators targeting Vladimir Tarasenko in free agency!
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