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As the NHL summer progresses, the Senators are still looking for ways to improve their forward group. Vladimir Tarasenko is one of the top remaining UFAs from this class and has been rumored to be potentially interested in the Senators. The Ottawa Senators are looking to add a top-6 winger who will provide high-end offensive production. Could the Russian sniper be the solution the Senators are looking for?
Tarasenko’s Fit In The Lineup
If the Senators were to bring in Tarasenko, he would most likely play on the second line with Josh Norris and Drake Batherson. He would most likely appear on one of the powerplay units as well where he would feast with the playmakers Ottawa has. Ignoring finances/injury history, I do like this fit on paper, but I am hesitant given his previous season.
Past 2 Seasons
2021/2022 – 34 Goals – 48 Assists – 82 Points – 75 Games
2022/2023 – 18 Goals – 32 Assists – 50 Points – 69 Games
There is no questioning that Tarasenko knows how to put up points when he is healthy and playing. If he was able to give the Senators the production he had in the 2021/2022 season, it would be a no-brainer for the team. The biggest worry however is whether or not this past year was an indication of him about to be regressing. After a 32-point decrease this season from last, the Senators should be wary about any sort of contract they offer him.
What Could His Contract Look Like
It is always difficult to gauge the market for a player who is in free agency. There are some context clues however that make me believe that Tarasenko may sign for less then many expect. While not always the case, it seems that usually the longer-term contracts are signed within the first couple of days of free agency. Today it is July 5th, and still, there is not a contract set in stone for the winger.
One contract that I look at and think could be a good comparable for Tarasenko is the Tyler Bertuzzi contract. Bertuzzi got a one-year $5.5 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs after initially being expected to get much more term around the same or higher AAV. Both players are quite similar in terms of production, Bertuzzi is 3 years younger, however, and brings more of an agitation aspect to the ice.
With this contract in mind, I believe there are two ways a possible contract could go. The first would be a similar 1 year $5 million range contract. The other would be signing him short term 2-3 years at a salary within the $5.5-$6.5 million range.
Do These Options Work For Ottawa
If these are to be the options for the Senators, I would consider bringing in Tarasenko on a 1-year deal of around $5 million. However, this would have to be under the condition that the pieces brought back in a DeBrincat trade would be near league minimum or entry-level contracts. The Senators would still need to re-sign Shane Pinto, who I would prioritize higher.
While I think Tarasenko coming to Ottawa would be exciting, I also believe it is unlikely to happen. With the ongoing trade situation, I can’t see Dorion and the Senators making a big free-agency signing before knowing what will come back in the trade. If he is still available after a trade, the Senators have the cap space, and he is willing to sign between 1-3 years, I would do the deal.
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