The excitement is back Canada’s capital and the Ottawa Senators will be ready to win to again.
The disappointment of missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for five straight seasons, including by 27 points last season, has been overrun by the joy and hope the Senators have given their fans previously 8 weeks, further fueled by another big headline they authored Wednesday.
Tim Stutzle became the most recent to go all-in on the Senators once the 20-year-old forward, the No. 3 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, signed an eight-year, $66.8 million contract ($8.35 million average annual value) which will start out with the 2023-24 season.
Ottawa previously signed 23-year-old restricted free agent forward Josh Norris, who scored 35 goals last season, to an eight-year, $63.6 million contract ($7.95 million AAV) on July 14, 1 day after adding potential future Hall of Fame forward Claude Giroux, who signed a three-year, $19.5 million contract ($6.5 million AAV).
In addition they acquired 24-year-old forward Alex DeBrincat, two-time 41-goal scorer, in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on July 7 and goalie Cam Talbot in a trade with the Minnesota Wild five days later.
“It’s a thrilling time for the fans, exciting time for the players,” general manager Pierre Dorion said Wednesday after announcing Stutzle’s contract and handing him the pen to sign it. “I believe the business has suffered, but moreover the fans have suffered. And today the fans are pumped up. Everywhere I went come early july in Ottawa it had been great.”
Dorion joked that had to apologize to 1 of the professional golfers he used to start out the Canadian Women’s Open on Aug. 22 in Ottawa because he was taking more selfies with fans than she was.
“I believe people are worked up about the merchandise that we will wear it the ice and we’ve seen it in ticket sales,” Dorion said. “Just how many amount of fans we’ve here I believe they will be fully up to speed using what we’ve done this season.”
The players undoubtedly are.
Dorion said the majority of the Senators players are back town despite the fact that training camp doesn’t officially open for another fourteen days.
“To possess nearly every player here fourteen days before camp, that probably may be the biggest indicator of anything,” Dorion said. “You understand that sometimes guys can be found in several days [before]. Everyone is here now now fourteen days before camp, therefore i think that’s a sign of how our players are worked up about this upcoming season.”
Stutzle joins Norris, forwards Brady Tkachuk and Drake Batherson, and defenseman Thomas Chabot as Ottawa’s five core players that are signed for at the very least another five seasons.
Stutzle could have the best NHL salary cap charge on the Senators when his contract kicks in in the beginning of next season. Tkachuk’s cap charge of $8.214 million for another six seasons happens to be the best.
Chabot’s is $8 million for six more seasons, Norris’ is $7.95 million for eight, and Batherson’s is $4.975 million for five.
“They might have maybe got a little more, but I believe they’re buying in to the team concept,” Dorion said. “Let’s not fool ourselves, $66.8 million is additional money than anybody will ever see, but I believe it shows their commitment to us creating a special team here.
“They would like to win here.”
Stutzle said it had been very important to him to sign a long-term contract now, with one season remaining on his entry-level contract, to prove that he’s all-in on the Senators and winning in Ottawa like Norris, Tkachuk, Chabot and Batherson.
“It generally does not really matter to play yet another year and perhaps get some additional money,” Stutzle said. “It’s nearly using the team sufficient reason for the people, and I simply desire to play my best hockey.”
Stutzle gets the potential to function as best of the bunch, another reason the Senators were so excited to obtain him locked in through the 2030-31 season.
He previously 58 points (22 goals, 36 assists) in 79 games last season, when he transitioned from wing to center. Thirty-one of his points (10 goals, 21 assists) came in 27 games from March 5 through the finish of the growing season.
“I believe Tim could be a superstar,” Dorion said. “You look at all of his game, he’s competitive, he’s dynamic, he’s got speed, he’s got skill, great hockey instincts. He’s learned how exactly to check. He’s learned how exactly to play center. This league can eat you up sometimes also it did sometimes when he was 18 yrs . old. Now when he’s on the market he’s so dynamic that I believe he can be considered a future superstar in this league.”
For another Stanley Cup contender, that is what this offseason has allowed Senators fans to trust this team is.