Senators’ Dorion Is Clear Early Offseason Winner

The Ottawa Senators have taken the NHL by storm in the month of July. We haven’t even started free agency yet and they have already made enough good moves that they would be one of the winners of the entire offseason.

Morning Skate newsletter Click To Subscribe

That’s not bad for a team desperately looking to become competitive in the Atlantic Division. The Senators are just getting started too. As we countdown to the start of free agency, there is no team that has improved more so far than the Senators. That means their GM Pierre Dorion is the clear early offseason winner.

Sign up for our regular 'Senators Newsletter' for all the latest.

Dorion Is Not Messing Around

Dorion has made three huge moves to better position the Senators now and in the future. When you are competing with the likes of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs in your division, you have to make big moves.

The Senators have spent the last few seasons building up their prospect pool. But the time has come to shift away from that and to start making a serious effort to win. As soon as they made the deal for Alex DeBrincat, it was a sign the Senators were all-in this offseason.

Pierre Dorion Ottawa Senators
Pierre Dorion’s big moves make him the early offseason winner. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

All it took for Dorion to land DeBrincat was three draft picks, the 7th and 39th picks at the 2022 NHL Draft and a third rounder in 2024. They didn’t have to give up a roster player. That’s almost unheard of for a 40-goal scorer.

DeBrincat comes to the Senators as an RFA. He will be due a huge raise in which Dorion seems primed to make happen. To add him to the likes of Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle and others gives them a new dynamic look that their opponents will have to take seriously.

You Might Also Like

If the DeBrincat trade was Dorion’s only move, he would be applauded for a job well done. But not only did he make one good move, he made two good moves after.

The first was getting rid of Matt Murray’s contract. They retained 25% of his contract in the trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs. But to open up that cap space and find a team who was willing to take him on is a huge win.

Then to put the icing on the cake, Dorion was able to acquire goaltender Cam Talbot from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Filip Gustavsson. Talbot and Anton Forsberg are now expected to be the 1-2 punch in net.

Great Start But More Work Coming

The Senators added a 40-goal scorer. They shredded an awful contract. Then they added a capable starting goalie. Dorion is making all the right moves so far. But his work is far from over. Our Senators’ contributor Devin Milks-Wendt says that the team is still missing key elements to being a Stanley Cup contender.

Related: Senators Still Lack Key Elements of a Stanley Cup Contender

Dorion can now go to work signing his key RFAs in Erik Brannstrom, Josh Norris, Alex Formenton and Mathieu Joseph. Then Dorion can turn his attention to adding a defenseman to really cap off his brilliant offseason.

The Senators are armed with plenty of cap space, a GM who is not afraid to make a big move if it helps his club now and a burning desire to leave the land of mediocrity.

Senators – Playoffs?

Dorion and the Senators are 1-2 big moves away from creeping into the serious playoff contender conversation. Just think about that for a moment.

Before this offseason began, the Senators had a multitude of questions to answer. How could they close the gap on the contenders? Who was available for them in trade? How would they handle a three-goalie rotation?

But now? The conversation around the Senators has completely changed. Everyone in the organization is excited from top-to-bottom. The 2022-23 season is a fresh start for this team. DeBrincat for one is excited to join an up and coming team.

Dorion is having an offseason to remember. We may come to look back at this offseason as the eventual turning point for the Senators on their way up.

For now though, Dorion is by far the winner of the offseason. Given the magnitude of the moves made, it’s very likely it’s going to stay that way too even after all the free-agent dust settles.