Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk claims changes are coming to his club this summer.
ESPN.COM: With the Ottawa Senators’ playoff hopes dimming, team owner Eugene Melnyk told reporters yesterday “key changes” were coming this summer. “I’m looking at all of it — right across the board. There’s no one that’s safe when you’ve had a year like we just did. There’s no way,” Melnyk said.
He questioned some of the moves made this season by head coach Dave Cameron. GM Bryan Murray, who’s battling Stage 4 colon cancer, is expected to make a decision about his future this summer. There’s speculation former Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, now a senior hockey operations adviser with the club, could be his replacement. However, Alfredsson recently claimed he hasn’t had any formal discussions about the management job.
OTTAWA SUN: Don Brennan believes a coaching change would make sense, speculating Melnyk’s recent second-guessing of Dave Cameron’s decisions this season doesn’t bode well for his return next season. If Boston’s Claude Julien or Calgary’s Bob Hartley become available, Brennan believes they’ll be at the top of the list as Cameron’s replacement. Bruce Garrioch suggests Julien would be the top choice to replace Cameron. He also lists Anaheim’s Bruce Boudreau (if the Ducks fall short again in the playoffs) or former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle as options, but not Ken Hitchcock if the St. Louis Blues give him his walking papers.
On Sunday, Garrioch reported the Senators must decide if they’ll re-sign pending RFA winger and leading goal scorer Mike Hoffman to a long-term deal, take him to arbitration where he’ll get a one-year deal between $3-$4 million or trade him. He speculated winger Alex Chiasson and defenseman Patrick Wiercioch, also pending RFAs, either won’t receive qualifying offers or will be traded.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Melnyk’s warning that “no one is safe” rings hollow to me. Sure, the coaching staff is under the gun, some of the management folks (except for Murray) are probably feeling nervous, struggling players like Chiasson and Wiercioch are goners and Hoffman could be dealt if his contract demands prove too expensive. But superstar defenseman and team captain Erik Karlsson is safe. So are goaltenders Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond, defenseman Cody Ceci and forwards Kyle Turris, Mark Stone, Zack Smith and probably Mika Zibanejad. High-salaried Dion Phaneuf and Bobby Ryan are also unlikely to move.
While I expect some roster changes, don’t expect a massive overhaul. The bigger changes will happen behind the bench and in the front office. I anticipate Murray will either step away or move into an advisory role. Alfredsson will take on a bigger role (though his lack of management experience could prevent him from taking the GM role) and there will be yet another coaching change. Since 2011-12, the Senators have consistently ranked among the NHL’s worst defensive teams. That has to change if they hope to become a perennial playoff contender again. As for possible new head coaches, don’t expect Julien or Hartley to be available, and I doubt they’ll bring in Carlyle.