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GARRIOCH: The Ottawa Senators have done a lot of work putting together their roster

The Ottawa Senators' Connor Brown.
The Ottawa Senators' Connor Brown.

Pierre Dorion rolled up his sleeves and struck a lot of names off his to do list for the Ottawa Senators.

After signing winger Connor Brown to a three-year, $10.8 million deal Thursday, the only restricted free agents the general manager has left to sign is defenceman Christian Jaros and centre Chris Tierney.

Both have filed for arbitration with hearings scheduled for Nov. 1 and Nov. 8 respectively.

You have to give Dorion and Senators’ owner Eugene Melnyk credit because it’s been a busy month and both have stepped up to get pieces in place. Not only has the club gotten most of its RFA’s signed, the club also inked unrestricted free agent winger Evgenii Dadonov to a three-year, $15 milliion deal.

The Senators have made no shortage of moves and they’ve added $24.4 million in salary cap hit this season with the moves thus far. Melnyk has always said he’s willing to spend to help improve this team and he’s backed every move Dorion has made to help this club.

All this concern about the club reaching the salary cap floor was unfounded.

“We’re really happy with the support Mr. Melnyk has given the hockey operations group to go ahead and make these signings and trades,” Dorion said on a conference call after Dadonov agreed to a deal here last Thursday. “We’ve invested a significant amount of money to make this team better and get on the right path.”

The belief is if Dorion could make a trade for another forward he would.

His moves started with the NHL draft on Oct. 6 when the club selected Mannheim forward Tim Stuetzle with the No. 3 overall selection, University of North Dakota defenceman Jake Sanderson at No. 5 and centre Ridly Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings at No. 28.

The organization is hopeful Stuetzle, who confirmed Friday he will wear No. 18, will be able to suit up for the club this season while Sanderson and Greig are both strong prospects with big upside.

The club acquired goaltender Matt Murray from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a second round pick and prospect Jonathan Gruden. The organization then signed him to a four-year, $25 million extension so he can stabilize the net.

Winger Austin Watson, who is just starting a three-year, $4.5 million extension, was brought in from the Nashville Predators in a trade and he’ll be a strong addition. Forward Nick Paul, an RFA, avoided arbitration by signing a two-year, $2.7 million contract.

Defenceman Josh Brown was acquired from the Florida Panthers for a fourth round pick and then signed a two-year, $2.4 million extension. In another move, Dorion brought home blueliner Erik Gudbranson from the Anaheim Ducks to play the final year of his contract which has a $4 million AAV.

Coach D.J. Smith and Dorion felt this team had to be tougher to play against and the addition of those two blueliners plus Watson should help address that area. Centre Colin White told Postmedia this week he’s also put on muscle because he believes he has to be more difficult to play against and to win battles.

Winger Bobby Ryan was bought out of the final two years of his $7.5 million deal and that’s only going to result in $4 million in cash savings.

“We feel we’re significantly better,” Dorion added last Thursday. “You start off with goaltending and we’ve added a guy that’s won two Cups. We feel we’ve improved our defence with the addition of Josh Brown, who we feel is just scratching the surface and Erik Gudbranson who brings in a veteran presence and leadership qualities.

“And, now we add the draft, and a guy like Tim Stuetzle, who we feel can have an immediate impact. Plus, the offensive impact of Evgenii Dadonov, who’s in his prime. He’s just a piece that’s going to help us score goals. I’m excited for our fans, the product we’re going to put on the ice and how we’re going to be harder to play against and as talented.”

Two-way deals have also been signed by goalie Joey Daccord along with Rudolfs Balcers, Matthew Peca and Logan Shaw.

The players are buoyed by these moves. This team will be built around the likes of defenceman Thomas Chabot and winger Brady Tkachuk. The hope is prospects Drake Batherson, Josh Norris, Alex Formenton, Logam Brown, Erik Brannstrom and Vitaly Abramov can all push for spots.

That’s why the players are looking forward to getting next season under way.

“I want to be part of a team that’s trying to build something and I think we’ve taken a lot of good steps forward,” said Brown after signing. “I’ve always admire Dadonov as a player in Florida. Watson and (Josh( Brown and Murray, and all the guys we’ve acquired here, I think we’ve done a really good job solidifying things we needed to shore up.

“We brought in guys that are going to play the way we want to play and we’ll be a tough team to play again. It’s going to be about scoring enough goals and hopefully we can take steps forward with our power play and stuff like that. The guys we brought in and the guys coming up can have a hand in that.”

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Twitter: @sungarrioch

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