The Ottawa Senators hope to keep forward Stephane Da Costa in the mix, but his status as a restricted free agent doesn’t make him that much easier to keep him in the fold.
Senators assistant GM Pierre Dorion told TSN 1280 that Da Costa (pictured representing France) is also being wooed by the KHL, and from the sound of things, there might be more lucrative offers overseas. The Press & Sun-Bulletin’s Max Weinstein transcribed some key quotes from that interview:
“We’d like to keep him but it has to make sense for both parties,” Dorion said. “It’s no secret that the KHL is offering him big money and it’s up to Steph if he wants to pursue his NHL dream or not. I think we’ve made a very fair offer. (Ottawa general manager Brian Murray) feels that way, I feel that way, I think his agent feels it’s a fair offer and we’ll just see where we go from there.”
Da Costa, 24, hasn’t made a huge impact at the NHL level (four points in 12 games this season; 11 in 47 career NHL games spread over four campaigns), yet he’s had a great tournament for France at the 2014 World Hockey Championship so far. His nine points in seven games matches the efforts of Alex Ovechkin, Seth Jones and Joel Ward in this tournament, helping France finish in the top eight.
While the likelihood of a big offer sheet is slim to none, a KHL team could indeed put forth an offer that Da Costa couldn’t refuse.
In other interesting Senators contract considerations, Dorion indicates that the haggling with backup/1B goalie Robin Lehner could very well take a while.
“There are a few different scenarios,” Dorion said. “We made two types of offers to Robin without getting into too many details. They came back with three types of offers. It’s not a contract that will be done tomorrow.”
Combine those interesting negotiation processes for young players and some tough calls regarding veterans like Ales Hemsky and Milan Michalek and it could be an interesting summer for the Senators.
The hype surrounding Connor McDavid couldn’t be much greater, but finally expectations will start to give way to results.
The NHL career that’s been talked about for years will begin tonight when his Edmonton Oilers face St. Louis.
“It’s something that you dream of for so long,” McDavid told NHL.com. “The draft is one thing, but to finally be in this situation is another, so I’m really excited. It’s been a long road; it’s been a lot of hard work. I think a lot of guys’ stories are different in how they get here, but the one common theme is hard work and my story is not any different that way.”
McDavid has transformed the Oilers with his mere presence. Its breathed fresh optimism into a city that have watched this team struggle in its efforts to dig out of the NHL basement. One also has to wonder if Peter Chiarelli would be the team’s new general manager and Todd McLellan its new head coach if Edmonton hadn’t won the draft lottery.
But where will he lead Edmonton? Will he be just the sixth 70-point rookie of the salary cap era? Will he struggle out of the gate, putting the hype into question? Perhaps he’ll draw comparisons to Steven Stamkos, who had a modest rookie campaign by the standards of a highly regarded top pick, but has nevertheless gone on to become a superstar.
That would surprise Stamkos as the Lightning captain feels McDavid is better than he is currently. Just further proof that those lofty expectations are coming from all sides.
“You don’t want to put too much weight on his shoulders; he’s an 18-year-old kid,” Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I don’t care how good he is or how good he’ll be, it’s a lot to shoulder if you’re supposed to be the guy and you’re the only guy. Fortunately we have a lot of high-pedigree players that are high picks who have gone through similar situations that he’s going through.”
Edmonton certainly has no shortage of first overall picks, but none as highly regarded as McDavid. But then, few ever are.
Related: There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight
Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.
Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per NHL.com. “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”
The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.
Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.
But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.
“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.
“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”