Mikkel Boedker

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What is the Senators’ long-term outlook?

With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the long-term outlook for the Ottawa Senators.

Pending Free Agents

The Core

Outside of Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot, the Senators will be searching for a new core in the coming years. Due to the failures of the San Jose Sharks this past season, the Senators have two premium picks in the upcoming draft, including the second-and third-best odds to land the top selection per the current standings. In addition, they have six picks in the second and third round if they want to move up in the draft or acquire additional talent.

Similar to other rebuilding franchises, the tough decisions are looming. Their farm system has a number of potential pieces, but general manager Pierre Dorion needs to find a few difference makers.

Ottawa wisely signed Chabot to a long-term extension prior to the season and will most likely try to lock up Tkachuk this upcoming summer.

Colin White, a 23-year-old, has five years remaining on his contract upon the conclusion of this season and will likely play a central role in the years to come. For the next few seasons, the primary focus will be on player development not on-ice results.

Outside of Bobby Ryan’s contract which lasts until the end of the 2021-22 season, the Senators do not have a salary cap issue. Dorion could wisely use his cap space to acquire additional draft capital, or overpaid NHL players on the cheap as long as he does not exceed the internal budget.

While the Senators will not be making the Stanley Cup playoffs in the immediate future, they do have endless potential with a treasure trove of draft picks and valuable cap space. The biggest question ownership will face is if Dorion is the right general manager to lead them out of the abyss.

Long-Term Needs

The Senators have a need at every position. Chabot has proven himself to be an elite defenseman and Nikita Zaitsev is an NHL-caliber blueliner, but the team will need to develop or acquire a lot more talent.

Anthony Duclair is the type of player the Senators should be currently looking to fill their roster with for the short-term future. Ottawa could give players ample ice-time and special teams opportunities that other teams do not have patience for. Think of players such as former first-round pick Joshua Ho-Sang that are looking for a chance to prove themselves after a rough start to their career.

Long-Term Strengths

It was mentioned above, but the greatest strength of the Senators organization is the arsenal of draft picks and salary-cap flexibility. They have three first-round picks in the 2020 NHL Draft and 10 picks in the second and third round over the next two seasons. The decisions made this offseason and next will likely define the success of the franchise in the next decade.

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Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Golden Knights survive late Sharks attack to take 3-2 series lead

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Vegas Golden Knights fans, are your heart rates returning to normal yet?

The Golden Knights hopped back on their magical playoff ride on Friday night in Sin City, but they sure didn’t make it easy on themselves after amassing a 4-0 lead through the first 50 minutes of the game.

Few figured the Golden Knights were going to roll over and die off after getting shutout in Game 3, and while they showed no signs of any lingering effects in Game 5 early following their worst loss of the playoffs two days earlier, things certainly got shaky in the third period.

Vegas was on cruise-control until the final 10 minutes, when the San Jose Sharks began their all-out assault on Marc-Andre Fluery’s net.

In a span of 6:09, the game went from a comfortable 4-0 rout to an uncertain 4-3 scoreline thanks near-epic comeback effort from the Sharks.

Earlier in the game, Alex Tuch scored two goals, including a third-period marker — a slick redirect that spelled the end of Martin Jones‘ night. Tuch’s goal proved to be an ever-important, being the fourth strike in what ended up being a 5-3 win and a 3-2 series lead for Vegas.

Jones allowed four goals on 31 shots while Fleury, who appeared to be on his way to his fourth playoff shutout this season alone, ended up stopping 27-of-30.

Kevin Lablanc, Tomas Hertl and Mikkel Boedker provided the quick strikes for San Jose, but with the Sharks’ net empty, Jonathan Marchessault slid a shot from his own blue line into the open cage to seal San Jose’s fate.

The Sharks are now in must-win mode as the series shifts back to the Shark Tank on Sunday night.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Boedker open to staying with Coyotes, but ‘it’s their turn to show what I mean to the team’

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After failing to agree to a long-term pact, Arizona and Mikkel Boedker agreed to a one-year, $3.75 million deal in early July. The deal allowed the two sides to avoid arbitration and extend their relationship — but it remains to be seen if Boedker will remain with the Coyotes beyond this season.

“I’m open for anything,” the Danish speedster told Fox Sports Arizona this week. “It obviously puts a lot of pressure on me this season but I think it’s their turn to show what I mean to the team.

“In some ways, it will be interesting to see, but I have to perform on the ice.”

According to agent Jarret Bousquet, Boedker, 25, was hesitant to sign long-term because of the constant uncertainty of the Coyotes’ future in Glendale.  Bousquet also suggested that Boedker could score as high as $5 million annually on the open market as a UFA, which could be why the camp was content to ink a one-year pact (Boedker will be a UFA when this current deal expires).

The expectations are for Boedker to reach new offensive highs this year, especially after a good ’14-15 campaign in which he scored 14 goals and 28 points in 45 games, missing the second half of the season with a ruptured spleen.

Should he post big numbers, an equally big payday could be in his future.

The Coyotes can begin to negotiate an extension with Boedker in January.

Coyotes want long-term deal with Glendale

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Last week, the Coyotes and Glendale resolved their contentious arena lease dispute.

Now, the Coyotes want to extend the deal.

“I would like to see us structure something with the city of Glendale on an extended basis sometime over this next year,” team president Anthony LeBlanc said, per the Arizona Republic. “Because I don’t want to go into free agency next year having Don [Maloney, Arizona GM] dealing with the same uncertainty he was dealing with this year.”

That uncertainty, according to the Republic, affected negotiations with RFA winger Mikkel Boedker, who opted to sign a one-year pact rather than a long-term extension.

The Boedker negotiations, in turn, apparently played a role in the Coyotes’ decision to target long-term with Glendale, rather than wait for the renewed lease — which went from a 15-year agreement to a two-year — to expire at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.

The desire for a long-term pact isn’t surprising. Though the Coyotes were able to land free agents like Steve Downie, Anders Lindback, Brad Richardson and ex-Coyotes Zbynek Michalek and Antoine Vermette, none of them signed on for longer than three years. The Republic reports that “a number of players [were] uninterested in the Coyotes because of their drama.”

If the club is going to be a significant player in free agency moving forward, Maloney needs to sell potential targets on a number of things.

Like, y’know, where they’re going to play.

“We will begin in earnest in the month of August having discussions about what we need to see on both sides to extend this,” LeBlanc explained. “Nobody benefits from a short-term deal like this, in particular, our hockey department.”

In ‘trying to fast-track’ prospects, do Coyotes risk rushing them?

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You know how they warn against rushing prospects into the NHL?

Well, the Arizona Coyotes should be an interesting team to watch in that regard.

“We’re trying to fast-track some people to the NHL,” coach Dave Tippett conceded at the team’s recent development camp, per The Arizona Republic.

Said GM Don Maloney: “We’ve got some unreal talent coming. We just have to hurry it along.”

Top prospects include forwards Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Dylan Strome and Christian Dvorak. Domi is the eldest of those four, at just 20 years old.

Now, the optimist will say that the NHL is a young man’s league, where youth is actually an advantage, not a disadvantage.

But the skeptic will argue that the Coyotes have tried this before, and it didn’t turn out so well.

You’ll recall the Wayne Gretzky-coached teams that featured top draft picks Mikkel Boedker (eighth overall in 2008), Viktor Tikhonov (28th overall in 2008), and Kyle Turris (third overall in 2007).

Today, only Boedker remains with the club. And he first needed to be returned to the minors for more seasoning. The consensus, in hindsight, is that the Coyotes forced their prospects to bite off more than they could chew.

Not that there’s anything wrong with giving the youngsters a chance. If they’re ready, they’re ready.

The question the Coyotes will have to ask come the start of next season is, are they really ready?

Related: Coyotes praise Duclair’s ‘outstanding’ playmaking skill