Posts Tagged ‘Ottawa Senators’

The Ottawa Senators have signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Capital Commission (NCC) and other investors to build a downtown arena at LeBreton Flats, the team announced Thursday.

“Today’s announcement marks a significant move towards our long-term vision, a downtown arena at LeBreton Flats. We believe that this development will have a major impact on both the Nation Capital Region and our franchise, one that will help to shape the future of the city. We thank the NCC for their collaboration and look forward to working alongside them as we take the next steps on this exciting journey,” the Senators’ statement read.

Several steps remain before finalizing the deal, including working on a lease deal for the land by January.

The Senators were given preferred bidder status to build an arena at LeBreton Flats in 2016, but the agreement fell apart as negotiations between late owner Eugene Melnyk and business partner John Ruddy soured, resulting in ongoing lawsuits.

Securing a bid for the new arena was believed to be one of Melnyk’s final acts before he died in March, according to Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch.

The Senators’ current arena, the Canadian Tire Centre, is located in Kanata, approximately 25 minutes from the downtown core of Ottawa.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza announced his retirement after 19 NHL seasons.

Additionally, the 38-year-old Spezza will immediately join Toronto’s front office as a special assistant to general manager Kyle Dubas.

“I love hockey. Since the age of three, I’ve been lucky enough to live out my dream and do what I love for so many years,” said Spezza. “I eat, sleep, dream hockey, and it’s always been there for me.

“There are too many people to thank individually, but I’m forever grateful and indebted to the Ottawa Senators, Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Hockey Canada for their support and belief in me as a player and person.”

Spezza finishes his playing career with 995 points in 1,248 games split between the Senators, Stars, and Maple Leafs.

Ottawa drafted Spezza second overall in 2001, and he went on to become one of the best players in the franchise’s history. He ranks second to Daniel Alfredsson on the Senators’ all-time list for goals (251), assists (436), and points (687) despite placing sixth with 686 games played.

The best stretch of Spezza’s career came in the first three seasons after the lockout. Centering a line with Alfredsson and Dany Heatley, Spezza averaged 105 points per 82 games from 2005-06 to 2007-08. He ranked third among NHL skaters with 1.27 points per contest during that span, trailing only Sidney Crosby and Joe Thornton.

Spezza helped lead the Senators to their lone Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2007, though they fell to the Anaheim Ducks in five games. However, Spezza, Heatley, and Alfredsson all tied for the league lead with 22 points during that playoff run.

With Spezza set to become an unrestricted free agent, Ottawa traded him to Dallas in 2014. He spent five years with the Stars, recording 228 points in 379 games.

The Mississauga, Ontario native went home in 2019, signing a one-year deal for the league minimum with the Maple Leafs. He went on to play three years in Toronto, all for the league minimum, compiling 80 points in 183 games in a fourth-line role. He was also a valuable veteran leader for the Leafs.

“It is difficult to describe just how much of a lasting and positive impact that Jason Spezza made in his three seasons with the Maple Leafs,” Dubas said. “Jason’s passion for the game of hockey, his desire to continuously push himself and his teammates to improve, as well as his capacity to make strong connections with all members of the organization, have been invaluable.”

Spezza represented Canada on the international stage numerous times. He captured gold (2015) and two silver medals (2008, 2009) at the IIHF World Championship and won a silver (2002) and two bronze medals (2000, 2001) at the world juniors. He was also a reserve for Canada’s 2006 Olympic team.

Prior to the 2021-22 campaign, Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said “the rebuild is done” and “it’s time to start winning.” Now, after another year of missing the playoffs, it appears he’s putting matters into his own hands.

Dorion said Wednesday that he’s willing to trade the seventh overall pick in the upcoming draft if it nets an “impact player.”

“I think we got to look at everything,” Dorion told TSN 1200 when asked if the team’s first-round pick is in play.

He added: “Maybe this is the year that we move pick seven to get an impact player that can help us right away. We’re not going to get a guy that’s a pending (unrestricted free agent) in a year’s time. I don’t think that would be really smart for us to do. But if we can get a guy that we know we will have some control over for more than a few years, that’s something we’d definitely look at.”

The Senators have made seven first-round picks in the last four years, including four in the top 10. The organization is ripe with prospects and young talent, but the club has yet to get over the hump. Ottawa hasn’t finished better than sixth in its division since 2016-17.

“It’s no secret that we have a lot of good young players,” Dorion added. “But adding an impact player, someone that can help us get to that next level, that’s something we would definitely look at.”

Dorion said the Sens’ needs include a top-four defenseman and depth and scoring up front.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala is one player that fits the bill. The 25-year-old restricted free agent recorded 33 goals and 52 assists this past season. However, Wild GM Bill Guerin recently said he was unsure if Minnesota could re-sign Fiala due to the team’s cap crunch.

The Senators have several RFAs to re-sign, including Josh NorrisAlex FormentonMathieu Joseph, and Erik Brannstrom, but the club projects to have over $23 million in cap space available, per CapFriendly.

Pierre McGuire is no longer a member of the Ottawa Senators‘ front office, the club confirmed to Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch on Monday.

The Senators hired McGuire last July on a three-year contract to be their senior vice president of hockey development. He primarily focused on scouting and the club’s AHL affiliate in Belleville.

“We thank Pierre for his contributions and wish him the best in his future endeavours,” the club said in a statement.

McGuire had a lengthy stint as a television analyst with TSN and NBC before joining the Senators organization.

The 60-year-old won a Stanley Cup as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991-92. He went on to become the head coach of the Hartford Whalers for three seasons. McGuire also had a stint as a Senators scout and assistant coach in 1994.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the Ottawa Senators are not looking for a new ownership group in the wake of Eugene Melnyk’s death.

“The franchise is being professionally run,” Bettman said Friday night, according to the Canadian Press’ Joshua Clipperton. “The club’s not on the market. There’s no urgency. The club’s not unstable.

“There are no problems.”

Melnyk died March 28 at 62 years old after dealing with an undisclosed illness. He helped the Senators franchise escape bankruptcy when he bought it in 2003.

Bettman said that it’s up to Melnyk’s two daughters – aged 19 and 23 – to decide what to do with the team.

Melnyk was a polarizing figure during his time in ownership. One of the main issues he faced was the Senators’ arena situation: The club has played in suburban Kanata since 1996, but there has been immense pressure in recent years to build a new rink in downtown Ottawa.

Bettman added that a new arena isn’t off the table, but that it isn’t the main focus.

“That door opens, it closes, it opens and closes,” Bettman said. “I’m hopeful that maybe at some point it’ll happen.

“Right now we’re just focusing on the family’s wishes and being supportive of the family at a very difficult time.”

Chris Kreider scored twice, Artemi Panarin added a goal and two assists and the New York Rangers routed the Ottawa Senators 5-1 on Saturday night to clinch their first postseason berth since 2017.

Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp also had goals and Igor Shesterkin needed just 21 saves to thwart the Senators as the surging Rangers improved to 7-1-1 in their last nine and moved into a tie with Carolina atop the Metropolitan Division with 100 points.

The Rangers have nine games left, while the Hurricanes have 10. The teams meet Tuesday night in New York after Carolina hosts Anaheim on Sunday.

“It feels great. … We got that accomplished,” said first-year Rangers coach Gerard Gallant. “From start to finish, it was an excellent game. We came to the rink wanting to win and get into the playoffs.”

Shesterkin improved to 34-10-4, becoming the fourth goalie in franchise history with 34 victories in a season, joining Henrik Lundqvist, Ed Giacomin and Mike Richter.

“Shesty was really sharp,” Gallant said.

The Rangers continued their stellar play at home, improving to 24-7-4 including an 11-3-2 mark in their last 16 contests at Madison Square Garden. An appreciative and raucous crowd gave their team a sustained ovation at the end of the game as Rangers players saluted their fans at center nice with a traditional stick raise with the playoffs assured.

“We have a long ways to go, but we will enjoy it tonight, for sure,” Strome said. “The building was unreal tonight, the energy in the building. It’s just a good feeling. We’ve come a long way as a group. This was a good job from the top down. Now the fun stuff starts.”

New York is eight points ahead of Pittsburgh and 12 points ahead of Washington in the division race and the chance to host the opening round of the playoffs at the Garden.

After Ottawa’s Austin Watson scored his seventh goal at 2:22 of the first, Panarin tied at 12:32 with his 21st goal to send the teams into the first intermission tied at 1.

The Rangers outshot Ottawa 13-3 in the first and continued that domination in the second, outshooting the Senators 12-6.

Copp notched his 17th goal at 6:56, beating Anton Forsberg from the right circle with a high wrist shot. Copp has 11 points in 10 games since joining the Rangers in a trade from Winnipeg on March 21.

Kreider then rifled the puck post Forsberg at 9:05 to give the Rangers a two-goal cushion. Mika Zibanejad and Ryan Lindgren assisted.

Strome made it 4-1 for the Rangers at 17:27 of the second, scoring his 17th with assists to Panarin and Lindgren before Kreider scored again at 17:31 of the third for his 49th goal of the season. That tied Kreider with Mike Gartner for the fourth-most goals in a season in Rangers history.

Kreider, who has nine goals in his last 11 games, is now one goal shy of becoming the fourth Ranger to reach the 50-goal mark, joining Vic Hadfield, Adam Graves and Jaromir Jagr, who has the franchise record of 54.

Asked if he had even briefly mulled the prospect of joining such elite company, Kreider deferred to his teammates.

“The whole year the whole team has played incredibly well. And a rising tide lifts all ships,” he said. ”Ultimately, us making the playoffs and having an opportunity to win home ice is the primary focus.”

Forsberg made 28 stops in defeat. Ottawa lost for the second time in a row after winning three straight.

“There was just not enough of what we usually have,” Senators coach D.J. Smith said. ”They came out hitting, give them credit. That’s a team that is rolling right now. They were the better team wire to wire.”

Panarin, who also assisted on Copp’s goal along with K’Andre Miller, has points in four straight contests and 26 points — six goals and 20 assists — in his last 16 games.

Gallant, who took over after the Rangers fired David Quinn last May, said he sensed the Rangers were coming together around Christmas. Gallant said the leadership core has proven especially key.

“From coaching against that team, I knew there were character guys here,” Gallant said. ”And the younger guys had another year under their belt to get better.”

The Senators, mired in seventh place in the Atlantic Division, haven’t made the playoffs since 2017 when they reached the Eastern Conference finals.

The Rangers won all three games against Ottawa, sweeping the season series for the first time since 1994-95.

RETURNING RANGERS

Rangers forwards Kaapo Kakko and Kevin Rooney returned after lengthy absences with injuries. Kakko had missed 31 games, having last played Jan. 21, while Rooney hadn’t played since March 2.

NOTES: New York scored three or more goals for a fourth straight game and have three or more goals in nine of its last 10 games. … The Rangers were without forwards Tyler Motte and Filip Chytil — both absent with upper-body injuries — and New York also scratched forwards Julien Gauther, Greg McKegg and Johnny Brodzinksi plus defenseman Libor Hajek. … The Senators scratched forwards Tim Stutzle and Drake Batherson in addition to defensemen Jake Sanderson and Victor Mete.

UP NEXT

Rangers: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

Senators: Return home to host the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk died Monday at 62, the team announced.

“It is with great sadness that the family of Eugene Melnyk and the Ottawa Senators hockey organization announce his passing on March 28, 2022, after an illness he faced with determination and courage,” the team’s statement read.

Melnyk purchased the Senators in 2003 when they faced bankruptcy. The team earned nine playoff berths during his tenure, reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2007.

“The National Hockey League mourns the passing of Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk,” commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

“The words ‘passion’ and ‘commitment’ define the man who has owned the Ottawa Senators since 2003. Whether it was in the boardroom with his fellow governors, at the rink with his beloved Senators, or in the community with his philanthropy, he cared deeply about the game, about his team, and about bettering the lives of those in need – particularly underserved children, organ donation, and, most recently, with his commitment to his parents’ home country of Ukraine.”

Senators captain Brady Tkachuk offered his condolences.

“Mr. Melnyk provided me, my teammates, and many Sens players who came before us with an opportunity to live out our dream. The Ottawa community will miss you greatly. Condolences to your family,” Tkachuk wrote in a tweet.

The Ottawa Senators inked top prospect and defenseman Jake Sanderson to a three-year, entry-level pact on Sunday that takes effect immediately.

Sanderson will join the Senators this week and may play in NHL games within the month.

The 19-year-old posted eight goals and 18 assists over 23 games in his recently concluded sophomore season at the University of North Dakota. He ranked third on the team in points despite missing 16 contests due to injury.

Sanderson is currently working his way back from a hand ailment.

The Montana-born blue-liner represented the United States at the Olympics in Beijing and the World Junior Championship. Ottawa selected him fifth overall in 2020.

The Ottawa Senators dealt defenseman Josh Brown and a 2022 conditional seventh-round pick to the Boston Bruins in exchange for forward Zach Senyshyn and a fifth-round selection in this year’s draft, the Senators announced Monday.

Brown played on Ottawa’s third pairing. He collected six points – all assists – while averaging 13:59 of ice time over 46 contests this season. He was in his second campaign with the Senators after playing his first two with the Florida Panthers.

The 28-year-old is a pending unrestricted free agent whose contract carries a $1.2-million cap hit, according to CapFriendly.

Senyshyn has some NHL experience but didn’t suit up for Boston this season. The winger, who’ll turn 25 on March 30, produced 19 goals and 12 assists over 51 games with the club’s AHL affiliate in Providence in 2021-22.

He appeared in 14 games with the NHL squad over the previous three seasons, notching one goal and two assists. The Bruins selected him 15th overall in the 2015 draft immediately after selecting Jakub Zboril and Jake DeBrusk with the two prior picks while future stars Mathew Barzal and Kyle Connor were still on the board.

Senyshyn is a pending UFA with a $750,000 cap hit.

The Ottawa Senators have extended goaltender Anton Forsberg on a three-year pact carrying an average annual value of $2.75 million.

Forsberg was a pending unrestricted free agent whose current deal carries a cap hit of $900,000, according to CapFriendly.

The 29-year-old has taken and run with the Senators’ starting job, posting a .918 save percentage and a 14-12-2 record over 31 games.

The Senators claimed Forsberg off waivers from the Winnipeg Jets in March 2021. It was the third time in a three-month span a club nabbed him off the wire. Ottawa is his sixth NHL team.

Forsberg is in his seventh season in the league. The Columbus Blue Jackets selected him in the seventh round of the 2011 draft.