In this article I will be looking at three potential Sens gm’s for the upcoming season, these include current gm Pierre Dorion, former Leafs gm Kyle Dubas, and former Hamilton Bulldogs gm Steve Staios. I will be breaking down some of the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates and I will discuss who I believe is the most likely to have the position come training camp.
Strengths: Contract Negotiations, Amateur Scouting,
Weaknesses: Pro Scouting, Coaching Evaluations
Pierre Dorion’s tenure as the general manager of the Ottawa Senators has been marked by notable strengths and weaknesses. One of his significant strengths lies in his ability to successfully negotiate contracts. Dorion has demonstrated a keen ability to secure favourable deals for the team, ensuring cost efficiency and salary cap flexibility. Noteworthy examples include securing long-term extensions for key players such as Tim Stützle and Brady Tkachuk as well as some bargain contracts such as Drake Batherson’s. His proficiency in contract negotiations has played a pivotal role in building a solid foundation for the Senator’s future success. There are some outliers to this, but generally speaking, Dorion does a great job.
Another area of strength for Dorion is his commitment to amateur scouting. Under his management, the Senators have placed a heavy importance on their amateur scouting department, leading to promising draft selections and prospect acquisitions. Players like Josh Norris, Shane Pinto, Drake Batherson, etc have emerged as key contributors to the franchise. I specifically chose players who have exceeded original expectations but it is worth noting that Dorion has done very well selecting his very high-end draft picks (Stützle, Tkachuk, Sanderson). Dorion’s focus on amateur scouting has played a vital role in the team’s rebuilding efforts, laying the groundwork for a talented and competitive roster in the years to come. There are definitely some picks that he missed, but that is the case with almost every gm in the NHL.
Dorion has faced challenges in pro scouting, where his decision-making has come under scrutiny. The team has struggled at times to identify and acquire impactful players through trades or free agency. This weakness has limited the team’s ability to add experienced talent to the roster and address specific areas of need. In addition, Dorion has faced criticism for his evaluation of coaching personnel. The lack of success with current coach DJ Smith should bring Dorion’s decision-making into consideration.
Dorion has a mixed bag in terms of his trading ability. He has made some elite trades but also fumbled some valuable assets in the past. Recently, he has turned a page into becoming a buyer and made a couple of impactful trades for DeBrincat and Chychrun. It is tough to say how these will age so I will stay away from scrutinizing/praising the trades, although I guiltily would like to praise the two of them. In the past, Dorion made some solid rebuilding trades, including moves like the Karlsson, Pageau, Dzingel trades etc. That being said he has made some unappealing trades including the recent Talbot/Gustavsson trade as well as the Mark Stone deal.
Strengths: Creativity, Pro Scouting
Weaknesses: Contract Negotiations
Kyle Dubas’s is quite a different gm compared to Pierre Dorion, the two share different strengths and weaknesses as gm’s. Unlike Pierre Dorion, Dubas has proven to have a keen eye for pro scouting. He quite consistently identifies talented players from across the league who he targets for his team. This has allowed the Leafs to make some key trades and signings, bolstering the team’s depth and competitiveness. Dubas’s ability to uncover impactful contributors through pro scouting has been a significant asset to that organization.
Moreover, Dubas has showcased an innovative approach to roster construction, prioritizing skill, speed, and offensive creativity. This philosophy has resulted in a thrilling, high-scoring brand of hockey that has become the identity of the Leafs. Some of Dubas’s more effective, creative moves include signing goaltender Ilya Samsonov and forward Michael Bunting who heavily out-played their contracts.
However, Dubas has encountered some criticism in the realm of contract negotiations. While he has secured long-term deals with key players like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, there have been concerns regarding the balance between player salaries and overall roster construction. The team’s high-priced core has restricted flexibility in terms of adding depth to the roster, potentially impeding the Leafs’ ability to truly compete with the top cup contenders. The most notable of these is the John Tavares contract, Tavares is a very good player but there is no doubt he is overpaid and is only going to get older.
Dubas has also shown that he is not afraid to make a blockbuster trade to try and win with his core. Some of the more memorable deals include acquiring Ryan O’Reilly, Jake Muzzin, and Jake McCabe. These players fit the team well and helped Toronto to compete although it didn’t result in any deep playoff runs. He has made some lackluster deals as gm as well including giving a first to acquire Nick Foligno as well as using a first to shed the Patrick Marleau contract he once signed.
Strengths: Builds Winning Teams
Weaknesses: Lack Of NHL Experience
The final gm to discuss is former Hamilton Bulldogs general manager Steve Staios.
Steve Staios has established himself as a respected figure in the hockey world. While he has not held the position of an NHL general manager, Staios possesses several notable strengths that make him a compelling candidate for such a role. One of his key strengths is his ability to build winning teams. Throughout his career, Staios has demonstrated a keen understanding of what it takes to create a competitive and successful roster. During his time with the Hamilton Bulldogs in the OHL, he played a significant role in building the team to be OHL champions as well as putting up valiant efforts in several Memorial Cup’s. Staios’s experience in team management and leadership lends itself well to the task of assembling a winning team at the NHL level.
However, one potential weakness for Staios is indeed his lack of experience as an NHL general manager. While he has shown well at the Junior level, it is not set in stone that his abilities will be able to translate to the NHL level. The unknown is the biggest concern with Staios, which may not be fair for evaluation but until he proves himself at the highest level it is a question mark.
Given Staios’s relationship with Andlauer, it will be interesting to see whether the two reconvene in Ottawa. I think Staios’s potential position as gm of the Senators is contingent on Andlauer winning the bid for the Senator’s organization. If that happens, I could very well see a scenario where Andlauer wants to bring in his guy who he has had tremendous success in the past.
I had put out a poll to Sens fans on both Twitter and Reddit asking who would be most preferred as the Senators gm this season. After nearly 500 votes, the results were as follows.
Dorion: 288 Votes (58%)
Dubas: 169 Votes (34%)
Staios: 39 Votes (8%)
The overall consensus from the poll is that Senators fans would like to see Pierre Dorion return as gm of the team. If you were one of these fans, I have a feeling you will be happy with what happens as I predict Dorion will remain with the team. This could be recency bias given Dorion has made some recent attractive moves, but I am confident with his ability to add quality players. I also feel that Dorion deserves to see his rebuild through. The Senators finally have a competitive core, and I would feel for Dorion if he were to lose his position as his players enter their competitive window. That being said, I would have Dorion on a very short leash and if the team is underperforming early in the season, major changes would need to come.