Anders Nilsson is feeling better, but it’s not known if he’ll be ready for the regular season.
Slotted in to be the Ottawa Senators’ top goalie with the organization not renewing the contract of veteran goaltender Craig Anderson, Nilsson, who hasn’t suited up since Dec. 16 last season because of a concussion, has made improvements, but he hasn’t skated yet near his home in Sweden.
Speaking on a Zoom call with the local media Wednesday, Senators general manager Pierre Dorion remains hopeful Nilsson will be ready to start the season and he has been in regular contact with goalie coach Pierre Groulx.
“We’ve talked and Pierre Groulx has been in weekly contact with Anders,” Dorion said. “I’ve talked with his agent. We think Anders will be ready when the season starts. He hasn’t been on the ice, but he feels better and once we get him to Ottawa here we’ll have a better indication on his recovery and his path.
“Right now, I’d still put him as possibly injured.”
With plenty of picks in this draft and lots of prospects in the system, there has been no shortage of speculation about what the Senators might do this season. The belief is Ottawa has dipped its toe into the NHL’s goaltending trade market which will be active around the draft. It includes Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray, Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper, Carolina’s Petr Mrazak and Toronto’s Frederik Andersen.
If the Senators do a deal for a goalie, they wouldn’t want one with a lot of term, so they could see if they could get someone on the free agent market when it opens Oct. 9 as well.
GOALIES IN THE SYSTEM
It may make sense for the Senators to bring in a veteran for a couple of seasons so the organization can determine where the likes of prospects Joey Daccord, Filip Gustavsson, Kevin Mandolese and Mads Sogaard are going to fit in down the road. All have shown promise, however, they need time.
“We feel that we have depth and quality at the goaltending position,” Dorion said.
“First, and foremost, we had a plan for (Daccord), we wanted him to spend a year in the ECHL and then come to the American league. We went from a worst-place team to a first place team with Joey Daccord in our net and we feel he’s very talented.
“Gustavsson was a highly-touted prospect, and he’s had ups and downs in the minors, but we feel he’s a goalie that has a high upside. Mandolese was the goaltender of the year in QMJHL and I would argue there wasn’t a better goalie in the second half of the season.”
Sogaard, selected last season, is expected to play another year of junior.
“When you’re 6-foot-7 and you have the skating ability or lateral ability of a Sogaard, he’s a bit raw but we feel we have four good goaltending prospects coming through our ranks,” Dorion added.
THANKS TO BOROWIECKI
This was the first time Dorion has spoken publicly since defenceman Mark Borowiecki announced he’s headed to unrestricted free agency next month.
Choosing his words carefully on what happened with talks, Dorion indicated the two sides weren’t on the same page when it came to discussions.
“We’ve seen that Mark is going to test the free agent waters,” said Dorion. “Mark has been a great member of this team for a number of years. If he’s going to go to the free agent market, we thank him for everything that he’s done.
“I don’t think you’ll ever meet a better person than Mark Borowiecki, someone who has great values, and he’s a great human being. At the same time, we have to respect a player’s wishes. If he wants to go free agency, we have to look at it through the negotiations with his agent Steve Bartlett. We probably saw that we didn’t want to see the same things and we’ve got a lot of good defencemen coming up.”
Dorion said talks continue with UFAs Matthew Peca, Scott Sabourin and defenceman Ron Hainsey.
THE LAST WORDS
Last year at this time, the Senators signed defenceman Thomas Chabot to an eight-year, $64-million extension. If the timetable was normal, the club likely already would have started those talks with winger Brady Tkachuk. “The landscape is changing, and is going to be changing. We have to conduct our business in a very responsible manner but we know the world has changed,” Dorion said. “We understand that Brady is a very important piece in our future and run to the Stanley Cup. We know he’s under contract for a year, but at the same time we know we have that year to negotiate a contract with him.” … Dorion on whether he’ll bring in veterans to help bolster the lineup this season: “We need to add the right veterans to work with our younger players,” Dorion said. “We’re going to go with a team of all young players. We’re going to look at adding key veterans that will make sure to solidify the progress of our young players.” … Talks are taking place with the club’s restricted free agents which include Connor Brown, Anthony Duclair, Chris Tierney, Jayce Hawrluk, Rudolfs Balcers, Nick Paul, Filip Chlapik, Christian Jaros and J.C. Beaudin. It wouldn’t be surprising if the club didn’t give defenceman Andreas Englund a qualifying offer when they’re due on Oct. 7. The reality is most of them will be signed.
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