The Ottawa Senators are a rebuilding team. As such, they need to make good choices about how they utilize their salary cap limits to create the best team on the ice while, at the same time, preparing for a different future.
As the team looks towards next season, general manager Pierre Dorian needs to make some tough choices. There are, to my count, four unrestricted free agents on the team. These are Craig Anderson, Mark Borowiecki, Ron Hainsey, and Mikkel Boedker. Honestly, all have been good soldiers and have offered solid service to the team.
However, NHL hockey is a tough business and – good soldier or not – it’s sort of a what-can-you-do-for-us-now and how-much-will-it-cost-us-to-have-you-do-that? That means that, for a rebuilding team, there simply won’t be enough resources to sign all these players.
And that’s the point of this post. Here I want to look at these four players and assess whether I believe the team should re-sign them or not.
Each Player’s Contract Situation
Goalie Craig Anderson earned $4.75 million last season. He just completed his 10th season with the team and is 38 years old.
Defenseman Mark Borowiecki earned $1.2 million last season. He just completed his ninth season with the team (although he’s been up and down between the NHL and the AHL) and is 30 years old.
Defenseman Ron Hainsey earned $3.5 million last season. He’s only completed his first season with the team and is 39 years old.
Right-winger Mikkel Boedker earned $4 million last season. He just completed his second season with the team and is 30 years old.
Should Each Player Be Re-signed?
Goalie Craig Anderson
This season Anderson had an 11-17-2 record, a 3.25 goals-against average, and a .902 save percentage across 31 starts and 34 appearances before the pause. He had a great goals-against-average of 2.28 in 2016-17; but, over the past few seasons, the veteran’s goals-against-average has been 3.25 or higher. During his last three NHL seasons, he’s made 133 starts and 142 appearances. He can be a workhorse.
Re-sign him or not? Sadly, the answer is No. Unless Anderson simply wants to remain in the nation’s capital on the Senators team because he’s home and signs a team-friendly contract to become an insurance piece behind two other goalies, it’s time to pass the torch to Marcus Hogberg and Anders Nilsson. He’s been a great player for the team, but his time is up.
Defenseman Mark Borowiecki
Borowiecki’s a physical presence on the ice. This over-achieving hit machine beats on the opposition and blocks shot after shot. Although he’s not much of a scorer, that’s not his job. Still, he did score seven goals and 11 assists before the NHL season was suspended. He’s also has a modest plus-1 rating. Borowiecki is one of only nine NHL players to have at least 120 hits and 120 blocked shots during the 2019-29 season.
Re-sign him or not? The answer is a definite Yes. For anyone who’s read my other Senators’ posts, you might realize how much I value Borowiecki’s character. In fact, so there’s no nuance, I believe he should be a Senator for life. He’s already on a team-friendly contract and deserves a bit of a raise, something just over $2 million. That said, I might not go long-term on him simply because his game is so high-risk. An injury could put him out of the NHL after about three seasons. But, yes. Re-sign Borowiecki.
Defenseman Ron Hainsey
As iconic coach Mike Babcock used to say about his former defenseman when he was with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Hainsey knows where to stand. Hainsey is smart, has some offensive upside, and is a good on-ice mentor. Still, his salary level is too high to support his limited production. Hainsey only scored a single goal (a game-winner on November 4) and 12 points (three short-handed) in 64 games during the season.
Re-sign him or not? The answer is a definite No. Although Hainsey had a plus-10 rating in the games that he’s played, he’s simply too expensive. Furthermore, I can’t imagine Hainsey signing anything team-friendly. I think he’ll retire.
Right-Winger Mikkel Boedker
Boedker was injured for much of the season, which lowered his production significantly. During the season, he scored only two goals and four points. In addition, he only averaged less than 10 minutes per game in the 20 games he played. He simply hasn’t produced even when he’s been on the ice.
Re-sign him or not? The answer is a definite No. His production was the lowest it’s been since 2009-10 when he played for the Phoenix Coyotes. He’s too expensive and his production could be handled easily by one of the many prospects with the Senators’ AHL affiliate in Belleville who are chomping at the bit to show their stuff.
Of the four UFAs the Senators, my call is that the team only re-signs one – and that’s defenseman Mark Borowiecki. It’s simply time to move on towards what will be a new generation of Senators players. Good luck to the team as it moves forward next season.
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