In his latest 30 Thoughts blog post, Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman has devoted a plethora of digital ink towards items that should pique the interest of Senators fans. But, rather than just copying-and-pasting some of the information related to impending UFA Justin Schultz and free agency, I'll encourage you to go to his blog and check it out yourself.
Here are the direct Senators-related thoughts however. As always, my thoughts are in bold.
20. Do believe the report that the Ottawa Senators is not on Rick Nash's list, but this would be a really good fit. He'd look great with Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson creating opportunities. The Senators will need a top winger to replace Daniel Alfredsson (how could Alfredsson retire if Nash actually did show up?). This is a team with the assets to close a Columbus deal. Don't know how flexible Nash is willing to be, but it wouldn't hurt to consider this.
Dear Elliotte Friedman, please refrain from trying to convince Rick Nash that Ottawa is a good fit for him. Everyone should recognize it, but it'd be better for this organization in the long run if he didn't. Thanks in advance.
21. Another attraction to Ottawa would be that the team is on the rise. Senators GM Bryan Murray didn't want to discuss Nash, but did slightly temper things: "We've got a lot of good young players, but we have to see which ones take the next step and which ones 'flatten out.'"
Please stop Elliotte. Please. For. The. Love. Of. God. Just. Stop.
22. One of the keys for Ottawa will be finding a new partner for Karlsson. Filip Kuba, as it stands now, is unlikely to return. Jared Cowen would be a good fit, but Murray doesn't see any reason to split up the successful Cowen-Sergei Gonchar pairing.
Interesting. If Ottawa is looking for that first pairing fit and isn't willing to move Cowen, the player who was called upon to fill in during Kuba's absence from the lineup last season, perhaps a player like Jason Garrison could be a good fit. Of particular interest is the comment that Bryan Murray made when inquiring on Zbynek Michalek's trade price and trying to include Gonchar in such a deal. Regardless of what you may or may not think about Z. Michalek, Murray essentially balked at bringing in a $4.0 million per annum defenceman who plays 20+ minutes per night. I mentioned on Twitter the other night that it was interesting that Murray would balk at absorbing Michalek's salary but not Rick Nash's. Some people interpreted this as me comparing Nash's talent level to Michalek's (which is hilariously preposterous) but for me, this lends itself to the interpretation that Murray already has an idea of who he wants to bring in on the back end. If anything, it speaks to a quiet level of confidence in bringing in a defenceman who can play in the top four, hopefully with Karlsson. (As an aside, I've seen a few people mention that Phillips is an internal candidate who may be able to replace Kuba. I'm personally not a fan of the idea. After some struggles matching up against the opposition's best players, MacLean utilized the Big Rig in a sheltered role and he seemed to thrive. I'd like to see him be used in a similar fashion next season.)
23. A lot of questions about Karlsson's new seven-year, $45.5-million contract. It was a bit of a surprise because there was a minimal bonuses and no lockout protection. Karlsson did the Senators a favour by taking less cash with Gonchar's and Spezza's current contracts still on the books, providing flexibility. Murray and Senators owner Eugene Melnyk repaid him with a longer term than they initially wanted. Plus, if the age of unrestricted free agency rises in a new collective bargaining agreement, they'll be forced to qualify Karlsson at $7.5 million -- the final-year salary of this deal. Fair deal for both sides.
I'd be shocked if UFA rose to 30.