Friday, July 19, 2024

Senators trying to make changes, are listening on No. 7 pick

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The Ottawa Senators held their first Spring Summit for season-ticket holders Wednesday night at the Canadian Tire Centre.

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All options are on the table for the Ottawa Senators.

Steve Staios, the club’s president of hockey operations and general manager, has been working the phones to try to help the Senators get back to the playoffs, and he’s even listening on the club’s No. 7 overall selection in the National Hockey League draft that will be held June 28-29 in Las Vegas.

Speaking at the club’s first Spring Summit for season-ticket holders Wednesday night at the Canadian Tire Centre with president Cyril Leeder, senior vice-president Dave Poulin told the crowd of more than 1,500 fans he speaks with Staios “eight times a day” and the club is working hard to make changes.

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Poulin told the crowd the Senators could have made short-term deals at the March trade deadline, but after spending last season evaluating where this club is at, the organization is trying to make changes.

“We spent time evaluating our hockey club, evaluating all aspects, and really trying to really trying to get a pulse for what we had,” Poulin said. “We didn’t make major moves during the season and we had one player transaction (by dealing Vladimir Tarasenko to Florida).

“That was very pointed, that we weren’t going to rush into making any decisions. We had lots of opportunity at the trade deadline to make moves for the short-term that might have looked good. But we’re going to do what’s in the best interest of the Senators in the long-term. We’re really excited about this next stage that we’re moving into.”

The Senators wrapped up the NHL Combine in Buffalo last week, where they met with prospects in preparation for the draft. While top prospect centre Macklin Celebrini will go No. 1, it’s anybody’s guess what might happen after he’s selected by the San Jose Sharks.

“We had interest in the (No. 7) pick. Teams will call you and say, ‘Are you interested in moving the pick?’ and you don’t know what that’s going to look like because you don’t know what’s going to be available there. You have to stay very flexible” Poulin said.

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That’s why Staios had studied the possibility of moving back in the draft, getting an asset who can help immediately for the No. 7 overall selection. The club has two first-round picks, including the No. 25 pick that originally belonged to the Boston Bruins.

“There are so many questions about this early group,” Poulin said. “It’s very hard to nail down. Very often you know who is going to go No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3. This group is all over the board. By all accounts, Macklin Celebrini will go No. 1 and after that it’s wide open,” Poulin said.

An area the Senators need to improve is in the net. Postmedia has reported that Staios has been “aggressive” in his pursuit of Calgary netminder Jacob Markstrom, but has also pushed hard on Boston’s Linus Ullmark and has kicked the tires on Nashville’s Juuse Saros.

Poulin said neither Joonas Korpisalo nor Anton Forsberg was pleased with the way they played last season.

“We’re not happy with the goaltending tandem, but I don’t think the goaltending tandem was happy with the goaltending tandem,” Poulin said. “If you talk to both guys, and we have, they weren’t pleased with their season. They weren’t pleased with it numerically, statistically or from an analytics standpoint.

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“We take it a step further, where the goals are scored, breakdowns on the ice, cross-ice passes, where the shots are coming from and the quality of chances. We didn’t help our goalies very much. We’ve studied from every detail possible. We have to improve our goaltending situation. Can that come from the two goaltenders we have? It can, but that’s still to be determined.

“We’ve chatted with people around the league who are in different situations. One thing with Joonas Korpisalo, you have to look at some off-ice factors as well. It was his first-long term contract, he came in, he had a new baby and, quite frankly, the defence in front of him wasn’t as good as it was in L.A. He played so well for them down the stretch. There’s a lot of different factors and we’re still working hard on it.”

This is the first time the Senators have done this event and it will be held annually. It was a chance for season-ticket holders, who team owner Michael Andlauer calls the lifeblood of the organization, to get a chance to hear about the club’s off-season plans.

The fans had the opportunity to use the same route into the rink as the players and coaching staff on game day. They entered through the loading dock and continued down the hallway, where they were able tour the dressing room, and then took a seat for the proceedings.

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“One of the ways to get better is to listen to your fans,” Leeder said. “One of the biggest perks for season-ticket holders is to get invited to special events, and secondly they love to get some inside, behind-the-scenes information they wouldn’t always get.”

The Senators used the event to announce the signing of winger Angus Crookshank to one-year, two-way deal that will pay him $775,000 in the NHL and $120,000 in the American Hockey League. He suited up for 13 games with Ottawa last season.

“Angus has established himself as a reliable point producer in Belleville,” said Staios. “He’s a strong competitor and a proven goal scorer who doesn’t back down, especially when it comes to getting to the opponent’s net. We’re pleased with his progress and expect further improvement from him.”

BGarrioch@postmedia.com

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