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With the Season fastly approaching the Senators waived several players while they finalize their roster
The Ottawa Senators officially waived 7 players today, after they waived Max Lajoie the day prior.

The most surprising being the inclusion of Rudolfs Balcers Jersey and Filip Chlapik but these still shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise as they would be hard-pressed to beat out some key veterans. They’re most likely top candidates for the taxi squad which carries 4 to 6 players at a time and allows the players on the squad to practice with the team, of course, a new regulation to help teams combat potential Covid-19 exposures.

While moving close to a set roster, it’s important to understand the roster construction that will be required in this odd season. Each team will carry a 23-man roster entering the season, with the aforementioned taxi squad offering more versatility to the roster construction. Teams must have their roster set by 5 pm Eastern Time tomorrow.

Players who aren’t waiver eligible will likely be sent down tomorrow before the deadline, likely including players such as Lassi Thomson, Jonathan Aspirot, Parker Kelly and Jonathan Aspirot. These players will most likely be sent down to the AHL and will await the start of the season on February 5th.

It’s a little early to anoint the arrival of “Timmy Franchise.”

Give the kid a chance to settle in before we measure him for his bronze statue.

Still, there was no mistaking the excitement in town, and online, as rookie forward Tim Stuetzle took part in his first practice with the Ottawa Senators.

Stuetzle, after spending a week in quarantine in Ottawa following his participation in the world junior championships in Edmonton, was picked up by one of his new teammates at 6:40 a.m. Sunday and after meeting members of the team and staff, was on the ice for a morning skate.

At the urging of Brady Tkachuk Jersey, Stuetzle led the stretch.

“That was kind of funny,” Stuetzle said in a Zoom call with reporters. “But I liked to do it.”

Stuetzle, who doesn’t turn 19 until the day of the Senators season opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Canadian Tire Centre on Friday, was smiling as cameras caught him stepping onto the ice for the first time. He was beaming again on the Zoom call.

“It was very exciting just getting here and getting to know everybody, getting to know all the boys,” Stuetzle said.

“It was just an unbelievable day until now. It was a great practice and I am so excited to be here now.”

Veteran Derek Stepan, who was also in quarantine this past week after his wife gave birth in Arizona on Dec. 30 to the couple’s third, has already earned the name “Step-dad” for his role as mentor to Stuetzle. The two got acquainted through physically-distanced workouts at the hotel. Stepan was also centre on a practice line Sunday flanked by Stuetzle on his left and Evgenii Dadonov Jersey on the right.

“I got to know him a bit,” Stepan said of Stuetzle. “He’s a good kid. I was joking with my wife that I have three little ones at home and I adopted a German 18-year-old.”

Interestingly, Stepan used part of his time in quarantine to study up on this young forward from Germany who dazzled his way to being named the top forward by the IIHF Directorate at the tournament for a German team that punched above its weight. Ottawa of course, made Stuetzle the third overall draft choice on Oct. 6.

Stepan has been researching clips of Stuetzle in action, and noted his obvious skill at Senators practice on Sunday. More than anything, though, Stepan has been impressed by Stuetzle’s character as expressed over the past week.

“I kind of got the sense even before I got on the ice with him that he carries himself in a mature way, which is a great thing for an 18-year-old,” Stepan said.

Acquired in a Dec. 27 trade with the Arizona Coyotes, Stepan likes the fact that despite all the buzz preceding him, Stuetzle didn’t arrive here acting like he owned the place. Stuetzle is confident, brash in his play, especially playmaking, but brings a measure of humility to all this fanfare.

“He’s a kid, you can see just in one practice, has a lot of talent,” Stepan said. “And it was good to see that he was nervous, too. He was a little nervous before practice, so he eased his way in and did a good job of making himself comfortable.

“Like I said, he’s a good kid. It’s really easy to work with him.”

Stuetzle is getting used to all the attention, first as an 18-year-old playing with men in the German League. Then, the top three-selection, followed by his WOW factor at the world juniors. Even the way he tapes his stick — bare at the bottom, with a band of tape horizontal across the blade — sparked a fire. The Spittin’ Chiclets Twitter feed called the stick tape a “crime scene” and made other references not suitable for a family audience.

This could become a thing in Ottawa — minor hockey players doing ‘The Stuetzle’ with their stick tape. Or, ‘Timmy Tape’ style.

Stuetzle takes all the hype in that long stride of his.

“It’s great for me, but first I need to prove myself at this level,” he says. “And that’s my goal. I hope I’m going to have a good training camp and play a good season. It’s great to have everybody excited but first I have to prove myself at that level and play good hockey.”

Senators head coach D.J. Smith was thrilled to finally have his full roster available for the first time in camp. Along with Stuetzle and Stepan, defenceman Erik Brannstrom came out of quarantine. He was held out as a precaution after having been in the vicinity of someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Smith’s first impression of Stuetzle:

“His skating is exceptional,” Smith said. “He can make plays. He’s good on the power play.

“For a young guy you just don’t want to give him too much, just give him the things, the absolute do’s and absolute don’ts. But I think part of development is learning on the fly and (Sunday) he was with Stepper, who was in the hotel with him and is helping him.

“The kid looked excited to be out there and it’s great when you get young guys with energy like that.”

Smith intimated that veteran centre Chris Tierney Jersey may also work in with Stuetzle, to help insulate him a little as he begins his NHL career. The head coach is already thinking about matchups with a pair of upcoming games against John Tavares, Auston Matthews and company.

“He’s responsible,” Smith said of Stuetzle, “and at some point, he’s going to play in all situations.

We want to put him where he has the best chance to succeed and obviously how he’s doing will dictate that. He’s a young player and we want him to develop properly.”

While Stepan may be his “Step-dad,” Stuetzle won’t be living with a family. He will be sharing living quarters with a pair of 21-year-olds — Tkachuk and Josh Norris.

“They asked me and it’s nice,” Stuetzle said. “It’s going to make it much easier for me to get to know everyone.”

The last we heard of Tkachuk’s living arrangement, he was the quarterback in an indoor tackle football game with Norris and Colin White Jersey during quarantine.

Now it’s game on with Stuetzle.

Hopefully, they have good house insurance.

Camp cutdown coming
Smith said the roster would be separated after Monday’s scrimmage.

“After (that) we’ll have a real good idea who’s going to be here, who’s going to start against the Leafs on Friday,” Smith said.

By Tuesday, Smith plans to have his lines and defence pairings more or less set for the rest of the week. After home games against the Leafs Friday-Saturday, the Senators host the Winnipeg Jets for a pair (Jan. 19, 21) before going on a seven-game road trip.

After waiving defenceman Max Lajoie on Sunday, the Senators made a series of additional waiver moves prior to Monday’s scrimmage. Waived were: D Christian Jaros, F Micheal Haley Jersey, F Filip Chlapik, F Jean-Christophe Beaudin, F Logan Shaw Jersey and F Matthew Peca Jersey.

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On the Bubble
It’s likely that at least one of Josh Norris and Logan Brown has made the final roster, likely leaving one of them as a quality option at the top of the taxi squad. Another interesting player to watch is top prospect Erik Brannstrom who joined the team on Sunday along with Tim Stuetzle and Derek Stepan, it seems as though Brannstrom is on the outside looking in as of now but if he can keep his confidence high as he did in Switzerland he still has a great chance.

Fingers crossed that the Senators don’t lose Rudolfs Balcers for no return on the waiver wire, it could be a huge lapse in roster management.

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The futility is finally paying off. Too harsh? Maybe, but the Senators have had a rough go of it since the 2017 Eastern Conference finals. Immediately becoming a bottom-end team, the Senators have taken a long and winding road to what has become a steady and solid rebuild. Most teams do things in a fairly simple and straightforward manner in a rebuild. Realize you’re bad, get worse by trading for picks, use those picks to play the lottery in the middle rounds of the draft, hit on your top picks each year. The Senators aren’t most teams. So before we can evaluate the offseason and get to what they’ve done for their prospect pool, it seems necessary to lay out how they got there.

November 5, 2017: Matt Duchene Trade

This set the table for everything to come after. This trade was made at a time when the Senators were coming off an improbable conference final run and a hot start to the season despite analytics showing that they were likely not going to be able to keep up the facade. The price was an impediment to a team that would be in a rebuild by season’s end. Shane Bowers, a first-round pick in either 2018 or 2019 (They kept the 2018 pick and took Brady Tkachuk Jersey), Kyle Turris Jersey and Andrew Hammond were all exiting the Canadian capital with just Duchene coming in.

February 26, 2018: Trade Deadline sell-off

The Senators had realized the error in their belief that they were a contending team and began the sell-off. Trading Derek Brassard and flipping Ian Cole were smart moves that brought in some assets that were desperately needed. Finishing the day with Pittsburgh’s 2018 first-rounder and possible goaltender of the future, Filip Gustavsson, the Sens began to look to the future.

June 19, 2020: Mike Hoffman Trade(s)

The situation had clearly gone too far and there were fences that were unable to be mended. For the details on why Hoffman had to go, you can check out the Ottawa Citizen report. Why this is significant was that the Senators looked to have been fleeced by the San Jose Sharks. Here’s how it went down. The Senators traded Hoffman, Cody Donaghey, and a 2020 5th round pick to the Sharks for Mikael Boedker, Julius Bergman, and a 2020 sixth-round pick. Just hours later, the Sharks flipped Hoffman to the Panthers for a 2018 fourth and fifth-round pick and a 2019 second-round pick. The Sens HAD to trade Hoffman, the Sharks knew that and took advantage. They didn’t need the scoring help at the time and they knew they could recoup the assets and use the trade to clear Boedker from their books. Tidy work by the Sharks, as long as karma doesn’t come back for you.

June 22, 2018: Draft Pick Decision Day/Brady Tkachuk

The day had arrived and the Senators had to make a choice as to whether they would keep their 2018 first-round pick and send their 2019 pick to Colorado to help complete the Duchene trade or get the pain out of the way immediately and forfeit their 2018 4th overall pick. The team elected to make their 2018 selection and announce the pick of Brady Tkachuk. This would mean they would forfeit their 2019 first-round pick to Colorado.

September 13, 2018: Erik Karlsson Trade

I’m going to let our good friends at CapFriendly take this one. There was a lot. Did they win the trade? Not the day they made it. Some luck helped them win it in the end though. We’ll get to that.

Erik Karlsson Trade courtesy of CapFriendly

February 25, 2019: Trade Deadline sell-off of Duchene, Dzingel, and Stone

They didn’t have their own first-rounder because of acquiring Duchene in November 2017 but they did what they had to do. They traded Duchene, effectively admitting the mistake, collecting the Columbus first-round pick, and Vitaly Abramov who has shown some promise. For Ryan Dzingel Jersey, the Senators were able to add two second-round picks. Mark Stone Jersey, the biggest prize of the bunch, brought back highly touted prospect Erik Brannstrom and a second-round pick. Overall it was a solid step forward for a team in a rebuild that needed to add draft capital as they approached a draft where they were on track to give up a top-five pick.

June 21, 2019: Watching Colorado make their pick

The 2019 draft is still up in the air in terms of the results the Senators generated but they look to have found something interesting in Shane Pinto who is impressing in with the University of North Dakota. Lassi Thomson has had an up-and-down development with some playing time woes with Ilves of the Liiga, but he will look to make the team in the coming year. A decent haul. The problem? They watched the Avalanche walk up to the podium at fourth overall and select defender Bowen Byram.

July 1, 2019: Ceci for Zaitsev and Brown

The Senators traded Cody Ceci Jersey, Ben Harpur, Aaron Luchuk, and a third-round pick in 2020 for Connor Brown Jersey and Nikita Zaitsev Jersey. This trade got them a good player in Connor Brown who can help play in the middle-six and has the experience from being around the Leafs rebuild and a defender who provided negative value on what Ceci was providing. For a longer-term. Head scratcher to say the least.

February 24, 2020: J.G. Pageau traded to NYI

The Senators sent one of their most productive players to the Islanders for what resulted in a first and a second-round pick in the 2020 draft. The first was used to select Ridly Grieg and the second was used to trade up for Tyler Kleven. Pageau proved valuable for the Islanders and re-signed with the club long term. The Sens also sent out Tyler Ennis and Vlad Namestnikov for late-round picks as well.

October 6, 2020: The Game-Changing Draft

Although they may not have won the draft in the eyes of many like they were expected to with their glut of picks, they added some very good talent to their prospect pool. Tim Stuetzle, Jake Sanderson, Roby Jarventie and Tyler Kleven have all gained fans in the Senators’ fan base with their play thus far in the early going of their draft+1 year. For a more in-depth breakdown of their 2020 NHL Draft, check out the November 31-in-31!

Lady Luck was on their side!

There were a few moments where luck played a major role. The first time we saw luck play a role was when the Colorado Avalanche were awarded the Senators pick, it had fallen out of the top-two to the fourth overall pick, giving up Byram rather than Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko. This little gift of luck was enough to make the loss of the pick, and the decision to take Tkachuk the year prior, look much better in hindsight.

The Karlsson trade looked like one gold bar for a pocket of change when it was made. Now it looks like that gold bar was fake and the change had a few coins worth some money. Josh Norris has turned into a legitimate top-six prospect who should be a valuable piece to the Senators’ rebuild over the next couple of years. The first-round pick they acquired netted them Tim Stuetzle at third overall in the 2020 draft. They also collected a couple of second-round picks, including one in the upcoming 2021 draft. Chris Tierney Jersey filled a role and gave the Senators some valuable minutes to get through their rebuild. Rudolf Balcers looks to make the jump full-time this upcoming season.

As for Erik Karlsson Jersey? Let’s just say that his Ottawa highlights will be what we all remember unless something drastically changes as the aging blueliner has been decimated by injuries. Not only that but the wheels fell off for the San Jose Sharks this past season as the team finished in the bottom three after being a perennial contender to make deep playoff runs. Maybe the karma from the Mike Hoffman Jersey trades came back to bite them. Whatever happened that made all this lineup, that’s a decent bit of luck.

Had those two lucky twists of fate never occurred, the Senators may still be looking to kickstart this rebuild. So here we are. The Senators have a top-10 prospect pool, the roster is young and improving and they will likely get a couple more high draft picks. At least this upcoming season should be fun with the injection of youth.

Graduating
This is an interesting area for the Senators. The general threshold for this group is 35+ NHL games in the previous season. For the purpose of this exercise and the circumstances around the Senators, prospects play last season with a shortened year due to COVID and their desire to ease prospects into the lineup, we will focus on players who are on the cusp of graduating and who should be stepping into the lineup fulltime this year.

LHD Erik Brännström
The prize piece of the Mark Stone trade, Brännström will look to take the step into the NHL that many looked for him to take last year. He started the year off well, playing in the Senators opening night lineup against the Maple Leafs where despite the loss, he played well and made an impact on a full-effort play by stopping Auston Matthews’ hat trick goal with an empty net and taking a beating because of it.

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The reports come from TSN’s Shawn Simpson, host of the Ottawa-based sports radio station TSN 1200.

The potential for a trade between the Coyotes and Senators for Stepan is something that has been considered before, with the two sides seemingly well-suited to making a deal happen that can benefit both parties.

For the Senators, Stepan would be a strong leadership player that costs very little in terms of real dollars – accounting for just $2 million in actual salary while holding a cap hit of $6.5 million.

Stepan’s $3 million signing bonus was paid months ago, meaning that the biggest issue around the deal is his cap hit, which the Senators currently have plenty of with the majority of their roster expected to be made up of young, promising prospects.

The Sens do have a plethora of center options, with the likes of Artem Anisimov Jersey, Chris Tierney Jersey, Colin White Jersey, and even Logan Brown knocking on the door, so it could be expected that a player in that position is sent in the opposite direction.

However, the Canadian club could opt to go veteran-heavy during this 56-game season and keep prospects in the minors to over-season before calling up the very best the season after.

Thomas Chabot Jersey was just leaving the Canadian Tire Centre Wednesday afternoon when he picked up the phone and talked about the upcoming season.

As the Ottawa Senators’ defenceman prepares to spend Christmas at his Ottawa home, he can finally see the finish line to the longest off-season he’s ever experienced and he’ll be quite happy to enjoy this short break from skating to prepare for the opening of training camp New Year’s Eve at the rink.

The 23-year-old Chabot, who’s expected to serve as one of the alternate captains along with Brady Tkachuk Jersey and a couple of veterans, is excited about the changes made by general manager Pierre Dorion as coach D.J. Smith heads into his second season behind the bench.

“We always talk about the fact that we’re in a rebuild and we want to be a better team for the upcoming years,” Chabot told Postmedia. “To see the players and the pieces that we added, and you look at the draft, and all the young guys that are gaining another year by gaining experience and getting a bit older, if you combine everything I feel we’re going to do well.

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“We’re happy with what we have. We’re going to face some teams that are better on paper than us. Everyone is just excited. Everybody we went and got is excited to be here. Everyone wants to start winning games and turning things around.”

Chabot’s eight-year, $64 million contract extension will kick in this season and down the road you’d have to think he’s the top candidate to be named the club’s captain. Of course, Tkachuk will also get consideration.

Chabot has been back in Ottawa for just over three months. He was skating at his home near Quebec City, but left there in the fall when the rinks were closed because the city was designated as a red zone. He’s been working with strength coach Chris Schwarz and until a couple of weeks ago was skating at the Bell Sensplex with local pros.

It’s nice to have a target and knowing Opening Night will take place Jan. 15 with a Battle of Ontario against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“The working out part has been fine but it’s been hard gauging when are we going to start,” Chabot said. “Anybody would tell you that we always try to peak at some point to get ready for camp. This summer has been different because there’s been a lot of different peaks, a lot of different times you’ve let down a little bit and maybe you’ve worked out a little bit lighter because we’ve been at it for so long.

“At the end of the day, it’s part of what we were dealing with. We knew that coming into this situation. Now, that we know we’re back. Everybody’s excited. We’ve got quite a few guys here and it’s good to see how many guys are in town, excited to get going and to get know each other. The skates have been hard, high-paced and they’ve been great.”

For the Coyotes, parting ways with Stepan would mean a few things. It would potentially free up $6.5 million in cap space, allowing the team to target some other preferred players while leaving more gaps through the middle of the offense.

The Coyotes need more centers in their line-up, so parting ways with a player that is proven at the position would be a surprise, if not for the former New York Ranger’s decreasing offensive production in Rick Tocchet’s system.

After registering a healthy 56 points in his debut season in the desert, his season totals have plummeted to 35 and 28 respectively – not great numbers for a player that often plays on the team’s top offensive line.

Under Senators head coach D.J. Smith, Stepan would likely regain his strong offensive touch and become an extremely valuable piece in their North Division campaign.

Stepan isn’t likely to put up big numbers under Tocchet again, unfortunately, meaning that the fan-favorite and alternate captain of the team is more than likely out of the door if the Coyotes can get value for him.

GM Bill Armstrong will be determined to add more draft picks, with the team making one pick in the first three rounds of the 2021 Draft – something that the Senators may be willing to accommodate with the potential value Stepan could give them.

This is still an early report, but with the NHL season now just around the corner, it wouldn’t be surprising to see things move much faster than they previously would have, especially if teams are required to stick to strict bubbles – something that could impact trades this upcoming season.