As the Ottawa Senators close out their abysmal 2017-18 season, general manager Pierre Dorion offered his team’s fan base a bit of clarity regarding his off-season to-do list.
Speaking on a conference call to season ticket holders on Friday, Dorion laid out his plan to offer an extension to captain Erik Karlsson, whose name sat atop the pile of potential movers during the 2018 trade deadline.
“When we can offer Erik a contract on July 1, we will do so,” Dorion said on the conference call, according to Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch. “I hope this clarifies things. We don’t want to get into specifics on too many players but we think it’s important that we need to mention that.”
The Senators will similarly look to keep recent acquisition Matt Duchene in the fold — not a surprise given the steep cost the team paid to bring the former Colorado Avalanche star to Ottawa (Kyle Turris, Andrew Hammond, Shane Bowers, as well as 2018 first- and third-round picks).
Both Karlsson and Duchene are signed for the 2018-19 season, but become unrestricted free agents after that. Currently earning $6.5 million per year, Karlsson is set for a hefty raise that will likely see him become one of the league’s highest-paid players.
Duchene’s current deal pays him $6 million per season. The 27-year-old has found his footing after a slow start in Ottawa, scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace since the calendar flipped to 2018 (34 points over his past 36 games for the Senators).
Dorion also addressed questions of head coach Guy Boucher’s fate, after the veteran bench boss saw his club fall to the league’s basement in 2017-18, one year after nearly clawing its way to the Stanley Cup Final.
“When it comes to our coach, and our coaching staff, we all feel that Guy’s still a very good coach. But, in saying that, we didn’t meet expectations,” Dorion said, according to Garrioch. “So when the end of the year comes I think we’ll have to re-evaluate what we’re doing with our coaching staff.
“I think right now to give a vote of confidence or do the opposite isn’t the right thing. I think we still have nine games to play and at the end of the season we’ll sit down and definitely look at that.”
The Senators currently reside among the league’s bottom five clubs, sporting a 26-36-11 record as they head into the season’s home stretch.