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We have officially entered the month of September, the month that will finally bring back Ottawa Senators hockey. As fans eagerly wait to see the team hit the ice, the shadow of Shane Pinto’s contract continues to loom. Recently we got an update on where these negotiations appear to be standing, and it does not sound good. On the brighter side of things, insiders working for the NHL Network have been raving about the Sens and their potential for this season. While Pierre Dorion sounds as though he wants to get a Jake Sanderson extension done sooner rather than later.
Latest News On The Shane Pinto Contract Negotiations
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like a Shane Pinto contract is nearing completion any time soon. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun recently reported:
This is certainly concerning for fans of the team as Pinto has become a vital piece to the Senator’s centre depth. It’s unfortunate to hear that the two sides are not close on a contract especially when it should not be a relatively large one. Without Shane Pinto, the Sens centre depth would look like Stutzle, Norris, Greig, and Kastelic. While this doesn’t look bad on paper, it is extremely thin and makes the Senators vulnerable if one of the top 6 centremen goes down long term again.
My fear without having Pinto signed is history repeating itself with Stutzle or Norris missing significant time once again. We all saw how quickly the team could go off the rails without these guys, and with no Pinto, the depth would be a huge problem. With reaching the playoffs being an absolute must for the Sens this season, Dorion needs to find some way to get Pinto in uniform before the season starts.
The final piece of Garrioch’s quote does discuss that the hope is the deal is done soon, which gives the fan base something to grasp. If both sides are pushing for a deal to be done by the season starts, hopefully, a compromise can be made.
But in the worst-case scenario, if a deal isn’t reached the Senators will have to look for a temporary replacement for Pinto. Given the cap situation, it would be very surprising if they searched for a replacement externally, meaning it would likely be a Belleville Senator who gets the first look. For more on some temporary Pinto replacements, check out this article below.
NHL Network Shows Sens Appreciation
It feels as though the Senators franchise is finally starting to receive the national/international recognition that has been lacking for years. Members of the media have been much more bullish and vocal about their expectations for the Sens. For the most part, the team has quite high expectations which are to make the playoffs in a loaded Atlantic Division.
Mike Johnson recently spoke about the team and why he believes they have the potential to push to the playoffs. During the segment, Johnson listed off numerous compliments to the Sens team most notably including Tim Stutzle being a superstar in the making who could get 100 points this season and Jake Sanderson possibly being the best U-22 defenceman in the entire NHL.
Johnson listed his criteria for the team to make the post-season as, “If they get health, a good start, and decent goaltending, they could be the guys that make a push for the playoffs.” The good start is what I am most concerned about for this season. November has been the Achilles heel for this team throughout the rebuild and they need to find a way to start hot. If they can find consistency early on, I believe the sky is the limit.
Dorion Looks To Extend Sanderson ASAP
While fans wait for one former North Dakota Senator to sign a contract, could Dorion already be working on another? In the interview referenced earlier with DJ Smith, Garrioch made another interesting comment regarding defenceman Jake Sanderson.
As I am sure Mike Johnson would agree with, the Sens should try to extend Sanderson for as long as possible as soon as possible. Hearing the team is hoping to extend Sanderson long-term “soon” is really exciting news. Given how strong his rookie season was, I expected Sanderson to hold off on extension negotiations until the end of this upcoming season to maximize his market value. If the team can lock him up before he reaches his full potential they will save tons of valuable cap space long-term.
If you would like to hear my thoughts about what a potential Sanderson extension could look like, check out the article below.
With the season opener just over a month away, hopefully, we will have more contract answers sooner rather than later.
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