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The Senators have added the biggest remaining free agent on the market by signing Vladimir Tarasenko to a 1 year, $5 million contract. The signing comes with a full no-trade clause as well. Tarasenko is likely to be the top 6 replacement for DeBrincat unless the Senators run a more balanced top 9.
Thoughts On The Contract
This is a contract that has very little risk for the Senators with its 1-year term. I was skeptical of signing Tarasenko originally because I was expecting him to be looking for a multi-year deal. But at $5 million for one season, I have absolutely no complaints! Unless everything falls apart on this team, I wouldn’t expect them to trade Tarasenko, which makes the no-trade clause little to no concern.
Projecting The New Top 6 With Vladimir Tarasenko
There are a couple of different ways that the coaching staff could set up the opening night lines with Tarasenko. I expect we will see a line of Tarasenko, Norris, and Batherson to start the season. This line has the potential to be deadly for Ottawa and could be one of the very best second lines in the league.
On paper, the Sens’ entire top 6 looks stacked. They have another two-headed monster going into next season with a healthy Josh Norris and Vladimir Tarasenko. But the other benefit to adding Tarasenko to the top 6, is that Kubalik can be moved to the third line to bolster the bottom 6 scoring. The Senators will have two players with Kubalik and Pinto on the third line who just scored 20 goals this season.
Looking At Tarasenko’s Recent Numbers
Vladimir Tarasenko has been one of the best offensive wingers in the NHL over the last decade. He is coming off a “down” year for his standards this season but is only one year removed from a 34-goal, 82-point season (75 games played). GM Pierre Dorion spoke to the media regarding the Tarasenko signing and described him as a “natural goal scorer” and “a dynamic player who can score from anywhere in the offensive zone”.
- 2017-2018: 33 goals, 33 assists, 66 points in 80 games
- 2018-2019: 33 goals, 35 assists, 68 points in 76 games
- 2019-2020: 3 goals, 7 assists, 10 points in 10 games
- 2020-2021: 4 goals, 10 assists, 14 points in 24 games
- 2021-2022: 34 goals, 48 assists, 82 points in 75 games
- 2022-2023: 18 goals, 32 assists, 50 points in 69 games
The statistics speak for themselves, Tarasenko has shown he can score with the very best of them in the NHL. Not to mention, he has the third most wrist shot goals in the NHL over the last decade (181) only behind Patrick Kane, and Connor McDavid.
The list above should be evidence enough that Tarasenko has been one of the premier wingers in the NHL for a long time. The Sens buying in on a down year for him could pay dividends for this season.
The advanced statistics show exactly what Tarasenko is going to provide your top 6. A whole lot of offence, with little to no defence. While this isn’t exactly ideal, it’s hard to complain when you look at the pure goal-scoring/finishing ability of Tarasenko. He ranks in the 78th and 89th percentiles for finishing and goals per 60 minutes in the NHL, which would have been even higher if this just represented his 2021-2022 season.
What Does This Mean For Shane Pinto
After signing this deal, the Senators have been left with 32k in cap space with both Shane Pinto and Egor Sokolov still unsigned. The writing is on the wall that somebody from the roster is likely on the way out, and there are two names that I would keep an eye on.
The most obvious candidate to be shipped out of town would be forward Mathieu Joseph, who has a cap hit of 2.95 Million for the next 3 seasons. The problem with doing this is that Joseph likely has either no, or negative value around the league. The Sens would likely have to ship him out for future considerations and send a draft pick to move his contract. While this is probably the best move for the roster, it may not happen because of Joseph’s lack of value.
If Brannstrom ends up being moved out as a cap sacrifice the Senators will be losing a heavily underrated player. Erik Brannstrom just signed a new deal this summer that pays him $2 million for just the upcoming season. If he is shipped out, the Senators would be looking to receive some sort of draft compensation in return. I would be hoping for a 2nd round pick plus a late pick or C-level prospect in return. I wouldn’t expect Brannstrom to fetch a first (even though I think he would be worth it for some teams), but if he did, I would be happier with that return.
If Brannstrom were to be moved out, I believe Tyler Kleven would be the guy to replace him on the third pair in Ottawa.
No Excuses To Miss The Playoffs
As someone who already believed the Sens had a playoff-caliber roster before this signing, they now have no excuses. With the current makeup of the roster and the past 6 years of non-playoff hockey, the Sens must take a step. The roster now has high-end forwards and defence, with great depth. If they are unable to make the playoffs this season, major changes will come to the team both on and off of the ice.
Get excited Sens fans, Tarasenko is here and the team is poised to take another step forward.
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