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It will be business as usual for the Ottawa Senators as they head into the off-season.

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While there has been speculation about the club’s future since the untimely passing of Senators owner Eugene Melnik on March 28, general manager Pierre Dorion said Sunday he has been reporting to a three-person board and that structure isn’t about to change.

That board is made up of Sheldon Plener, a partner in the business law group at Cassels, Melnyk’s longtime business associate Lawrence Zeifmanand John Miszuk, the club’s chief administrative officer.

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The group has been in place a long time, wants Ottawa to have success, and is there to help support Melnyk’s daughters, Anna and Olivia, who were in town for the club’s final home game last Thursday at the Canadian Tire Centre.

“I’ve answered to a board for several years and that will continue,” Dorion said. “The board has the same vision as I think we have here. Things have changed in the last few weeks but in all my dealings over the last few years, my first call was always to Mr. Melnyk.

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“I spent 2.5 hours with the board (Thursday) and they know that this team is on the right path.”

The salary budget will increase. Dorion said the Senators wo n’t spend to the $81.5 million cap in 2022-23, but he believes down the road the organization will get there.

“It’s no secret where we’ve spent the last four years and you can figure that out for yourself, but that was part of the rebuild,” Dorion said. “I think as we move forward, we’re going to start spending more money.

“Are we going to be a team that spends $81.5 million next season? Do not.”

Dorion jokingly said he could spend to the cap if the Senators knew they would sell out all their home games in 2022-23.

“Unless you can guarantee me we’ll sell out the 41 games, I think I can push that through to spend $81.5 million,” Dorion said with a chuckle. “If we’re not going to sell out the 41 games, I don’t think we’re going to be where we were in the last four years, but I think we’re going to bridge a certain amount to go after higher quality free agents or higher quality players.

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“We talked to the players and that’s direction we feel we should be going.”


The Senators won’t waste any time holding discussions with center Josh Norris’ Toronto-based agent Craig Oster of Newport Sports about a new long-term deal.

Dorion said he offered to sit down with Oster two days after captain Brady Tkachuk signed in October, but Norris wanted to wait until after the season.

Both sides are motivated to make this happen quickly.

“(Oster) phoned me back a week (after offering to talk in October) and he said it’s (Norris’) wish to do something most likely right after the season or after the season,” Dorion said. “With players, I never talk contract during the year, but it came up and Josh and I talked about it (Saturday).

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“The agent didn’t lie to me. That was the truth and Josh would like to get something done. We hope we can do something quickly. He’s not going to the world championships because of that. In the near future, I’ll reach out to Craig or he’ll reach out and we’ll try to get something done.”

The club has already held talks with Oster about defenseman Erik Brannström.


Dorion provided an update on the status of some players who weren’t able to play at the end of the season.

  • G Matt Murray: As noted Saturday, he’s still recovering from post-concussion syndrome. Dorion said he “battled hard to come back and he wanted to go to the worlds. I’m not sure if he had a setback, but he’s not going because he’s not going to be 100%.”
  • RW Connor Brown: He has injuries to both wrists and that’s why he won’t play for Canada. “I think I have played 10 games with a broken wrist,” said Dorion.
  • C Shane Pinto: He wanted to play and the Senators wanted him to return, but the surgeon wouldn’t give the green light to him suiting up.
  • LW Mathieu Joseph: The shoulder/sternum fracture he suffered would have kept him out until the second round of the playoffs if the Senators had still been playing.
  • D jake sanderson: He re-injured his hand training to try to play in the last two games of the season after signing from the University of North Dakota. He’ll be in a cast for six weeks and will be at development camp in July. He also will participate in the rookie tournament with Pinto in September.

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forwards austin watson and Adam Gaudette will be the among the participants for Team USA at the IIHF world championship … Defenseman Michael Del Zotto cleared waivers Sunday. He has one year left at $2 million and that move may have been made to give him the option to join the club’s AHL affiliate in Belleville for the playoffs … Dorion said the club had “a productive meeting with Matt Murray” on Saturday with goalie coach Zac Beerk in the room. If anyone thought buying out Murray was an option, you may want to forget it. “He knows he’s coming back next year,” said Dorion. “There is a chance we will have three goalies next year and all three guys know.” Dorion called goalie Anton Forsberg the club’s MVP … The Senators will have a 6.5% chance of winning the NHL draft lottery, scheduled to be held on May 10.

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Twitter: @sungarrioch

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