The Senators were prominently featured throughout tonight’s ‘Insider Trading’ segment on TSN and based on the circumstances, one of the items – which really hasn’t been discussed at length in too many places — has the potential a sticking point throughout the 2017-18 season.
On the subject of Kyle Turris’ impending unrestricted free agent status, the amenable Bob McKenzie had this to say about Ottawa’s first line centre.
“I don’t think that there’s any question that the Ottawa Senators want to extend Kyle Turris. I don’t think there’s any question that Kyle Turris would like to get extended by the Ottawa Senators. But, it might be one of those situations where it could be easier said than done. Now there’s lot of time to figure it out, but there have been some preliminary discussions between Kurt Overhardt the agent for Kyle Turris and the Senators. What I think is going to happen here is Turris is going to be looking and putting a premium on security – that is, maybe try and get a seven or an eight-year deal. It remains to be seen whether the Senators will be prepared to commit that far to Kyle Turris. Now, if at some point the Senators realize that it might be difficult to get a deal done, the question then becomes: ‘Do we allow this guy to skate into free agency in the offseason?’ The wrinkle being of course being, this is a very important player on the Ottawa Senators – a 1A or 1B centre with Derick Brassard. They went deep into the playoffs last year and they want to repeat that and Kyle Turris is a big, big part of the immediate plans of the Ottawa Senators. So, this is going to be a negotiation and a situation that I’m going to be monitoring carefully.”
Considering the playoff mandate from ownership, it sounds bizarre to hear that the Senators may consider moving Kyle Turris during the season. Doing so would represent such a deviation from the norm. With the exception of Daniel Alfredsson, this organization has repeatedly been able to lock up its impending unrestricted free agents without much difficulty and I can’t imagine this Turris situation playing out any differently.
Barring some unforeseen set of circumstances — like a Turris camp decision not to negotiate a contract during the season — it’s hard not to see this kind of mutual interest in a long-term deal not result in something that make both parties happy.
For me, the only way a trade involving Turris makes sense down the road is if it involves him being part of a package to bring in a more talented upgrade.
The New York Islanders are faced with a similar contractual situation regarding John Tavares and if a contract extension can’t be made there, maybe there’s weird future reality out there where the Senators package Turris with some absurd combination of players, prospects and picks to land the big fish.
They probably won’t though, which means that fans should reasonably expect Turris to sign a contract that closely resembles what Bryan Little signed with Winnipeg.
Just last week the soon to be 30-year old Little signed a six-year extension worth an average annual value of $5,291,666.
Although he is older, the production is eerily similar.
Granted, Kyle Turris is more of a volume shooter while Little’s the more efficient shooter who scores on a greater percentage of shots, but it’s easy to rely on these players putting up more than 20 goals and 40 to 50 points.
Turris’ age should work in his favour during negotiations. Having just turned 28-years old, the hope is that his decline as a player will be further down the road, so his future salary will probably reflect that.
It’s no surprise to hear the Senators are balking at the idea of a seven or eight year deal. Turris’ point production isn’t commensurate with that kind of term and he isn’t exactly renowned for his defensive aptitude or ability to tilt the ice in his team’s favour from a puck possession standpoint.
He has simply carved out a niche as a good top-six centre on a middle of the pack team. If the Senators can get him at five or six years at less than $6-million per season, they will have made out well.
On the subject of Matt Duchene, Darren Dreger made the obvious connection that the Senators’ interest in the Colorado centre could be linked to the uncertainty regarding Turris’ future.
“And of course there has to be a Matt Duchene connection to all of this. There are some within the National Hockey League that believe, at least in part, that Ottawa’s trade interest in Matt Duchene is (as) a backup plan or at least an addition to the possibility of bringing Matt Duchene in as some help if the Turris situation doesn’t go the way that Ottawa management or the coaching staff is hoping. I believe that Guy Boucher is a big fan of Matt Duchene and I believe that he’s pushing for Matt Duchene. He wants him, but I know this: that if the Turris situation doesn’t go well and the possibility of (trading) Turris has to be explored by Pierre Dorion, then most definitely, Boucher is going to need the help. But, the ask from Colorado for all teams remains very high for Duchene. It’s a player, a prospect and it’s a pick. At least in the discussions that Ottawa is having, there’s not a fit at this stage.”
If a Duchene trade doubles as a short-term move and a contingency plan to guard against the possibility that Turris’ days with the organization are numbered, it makes sense.
On its own, my hesitation is not only the uncertainty regarding Duchene’s future – he has two years left on his contract that pays him $6-million per season – but I’m not entirely convinced that Duchene is good enough on his own to help lift the Senators from their middle of the pack status.
Moving significant assets to bring Duchene into the fold is the kind of all-in move that the organization may make and general manager Pierre Dorion isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on a bold move, but doing so risks sacrificing the depth and future assets that this organization needs to keep their competitiveness sustainable.
Moving a bevy of young assets for what could only amount to two seasons of Duchene (or fewer if the organization isn’t convinced that Duchene would sign an extension) could create the kind of top-heavy roster that doesn’t match up as well against some of the deeper and more talented teams.
At the same time, Pierre Dorion also has to be mindful of Erik Karlsson’s impending unrestricted free agent status in 2019. He needs to weigh all of the factors against the reality that he needs to ice a competitive team so that Karlsson feels compelled to remain part of the long-term future in the nation’s capital.
Without even getting into the LeBreton Flats redevelopment issues, strictly looking at the Senators from the roster construction and on-ice perspectives, the next 12 months here are going to be incredibly fascinating.
Personally, I can’t wait to see how it plays out.