Senators could consider ‘drastic’ roster changes if they miss playoffs

The Hockey Night in Canada panel break down some of the big news from this week in the NHL. That included the Ottawa Senators situation and next year's outdoor games and the possible exclusion of Canadian teams.

If the Ottawa Senators’ 2017-18 season continues to spiral, there could be some significant roster shuffling in the nation’s capital.

The Sens have won two straight after blanking the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 in the NHL 100 Classic, however the team has lost 12 of the past 16 games and franchise owner, Eugene Melnyk, has drawn criticism from the fan base after suggesting he’d be open to moving the team.

“If, and I use the word if, the mandate for the Ottawa Senators is to shed some money off that $68-million payroll that Eugene Melnyk alluded to [Friday], the easiest way for them to do that is to trade Mike Hoffman,” Nick Kypreos said during the Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada Saturday night. “Some have suggested to me that the Ottawa Senators and the Edmonton Oilers have had conversations on Hoffman.”

Kypreos added that a potential deal for a player like Hoffman wouldn’t necessarily require the Sens to take salary back, unlike if the team tried to move veteran skaters with lucrative contracts like Dion Phaneuf or Bobby Ryan. Hoffman, 28, has three years remaining on his contract with an annual salary cap hit of $5.1875 million.

A team in the Oilers’ position would be more likely to participate in a trade built around draft picks and prospects. That way the Oilers wouldn’t upset the current roster they have as the team works to get back into the playoff race, according to Kypreos.

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported Ottawa head coach Guy Boucher delivered a message to his players on behalf of management following a seven-game road trip earlier this week that the organization was considering the possibility of changes.

“My understanding from the management side of things is that they’ve looked at some deals,” Johnston said. “Right now, short term, they haven’t been able to find anything but if they are certainly out of the [playoff] race by the [Feb. 26 trade] deadline they’ll be sellers and if they don’t make the playoffs they’re going to consider something very drastic around here. A real big shakeup if [making the playoffs] doesn’t come to fruition.”

Elliotte Friedman added that if there is a major shakeup with the Sens, Mark Stone is unlikely to be made available for a trade. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, on the other hand, could garner some interest from teams looking to add depth down the middle.

Stone is in the midst of a career year and if the pending restricted free agent continues his impressive output he could command upwards of $7 million per year on a new deal, according to Kypreos, who added contract talks might not take place until the end of the season. Stone’s cap hit for this season is $3.5 million.