Pierre Dorion is having one of the most productive months in Ottawa Senators’ managerial history. Earlier this month, after a long off-season, Dorion was able to pick freely from the 2020 NHL draft crop. But the draft was only one of the asset bushels in Dorion’s October harvest. He also went to market. Some free agents were homegrown, while others were imports.
Key Dorion Signing highlights:
Acquired D Josh Brown from Florida, then re-signed him to a two-year, $2.4 million contract
Acquired G Matt Murray from Pittsburgh, then re-signed him to a five-year, $25 million contract
Acquired W Austin Watson from Nashville
Re-signed W Nick Paul to a two-year, $2.7 million contract
Signed unrestricted free agent W Evgenii Dadonov (Florida) to a three-year, $15 million contract
Re-signed W Connor Brown to a three-year, $10.8 million contract
Re-signed RFA’s Rudolfs Balcers, Joey Daccord both likely to star in Belleville (AHL) next season
With writer’s cramp setting in, Dorion got right back to work this week with three more signings: He re-signed restricted free agent forwards Chris Tierney and Filip Chlapik then agreed to a deal with unrestricted free agent forward Alex Galcheynuk, a former Montreal Canadien.
Galcheynuk’s acquisition is intriguing. Once a highly-touted prospect in Montreal (drafted 3rd overall in 2012), he played six seasons with the Habs, twice scoring north of 50 points, including 2016 when he finished with 30 goals. Two years later, the Habs traded him to Arizona and, since then, he’s become an NHL nomad, bouncing from Montreal to Arizona to Pittsburgh to Minnesota. After this season was over, the Wild wasted no time giving Galcheynuk’s number away to newcomer Nick Bjugstad, a full month before Galcheynuk officially became a free agent.
To get the full story on the player, the Senators called around the league this month, contacting at least one of Galcheynuk’s former head coaches. Once the intel was gathered, Dorion felt comfortable that there’s still potential there. As with Galcheynuk’s former Penguin teammate Matt Murray, Dorion is hoping he’s landed a pair of 26-year-olds whose recent struggles were only short-term. In the case of Galcheynuk, now on a one-year deal worth just over $1 million, it’s a very low-risk gamble.
“Alex’s signing represents another good addition for us at forward,” said Dorion. “He’s versatile in that he can play both left-wing and centre. He’s gifted offensively, has been a solid power-play contributor and is a proven goal scorer in this league.”
Meanwhile, Chris Tierney was all smiles this week, agreeing to a two-year, $7 million contract and avoiding the unpleasantness of arbitration.
“We’re pleased to reach an agreement with Chris that will see him under contract here for multiple seasons,” said Dorion. “He’s a reliable veteran who has very good hockey sense and who is consistently among our best centres in faceoff success rate. That he’s accumulated significant NHL experience in a short period of time is also of considerable importance to our lineup.”
Not unlike Connor Brown, who signed last week, Tierney is a hard-working chameleon up front. He’s ideal in a second or third-line role but can play well wherever you need him. That’s handy because right now on the Senators’ depth chart, there’s no shortage of centre ice uncertainty.
The club has four young centremen – Colin White, Logan Brown, Josh Norris and Tim Stuetzle – all former first-rounders, all with everything still to prove at the NHL level. In the unlikely event they all show up, make the team and thrive at centre next season, the club could easily find a new home for Tierney, thanks to the reasonable deal he just signed. More likely, Tierney will be at least this club’s second-line centre until younger teammates find their NHL legs.
Like Balcers and Daccord, Chlapik is an excellent young prospect, who’ll probably wind up in Belleville as one of the leaders of that team. Like White, he’s likely to find an NHL home someday by shifting over to the wing.
“Filip’s a competitive player who works hard,” said Dorion. “He has applied himself to becoming an important player for us in Belleville. We’re confident that work ethic will be equally as effective for him as he strives to become the same type of player in Ottawa.”
These are good times for Dorion, who seems to be making all the right moves right now. Like anyone in sports who is riding a hot streak, he probably doesn’t want October to end.
By Steve Warne