At a press conference this morning at Canadian Tire Centre, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and General Manager Bryan Murray made two significant announcements concerning the future of the Ottawa Senators. Norris trophy winning defenseman Erik Karlsson, arguably the best defenseman in the entire National Hockey League and by any measure one of the most entertaining players in the league, was named captain of the team. Meanwhile, sniping right winger Bobby Ryan inked a seven-year deal with the Ottawa Senators.
Young Karlsson, who turned 24 years old in May, is the ninth captain in Senators history, following a one-year stint by playmaking centre Jason Spezza and an impressive 14-year stint by Karlsson’s mentor and Swedish compatriot, Daniel Alfredsson. Veteran defenseman Chris Phillips‘ was also vying for the position, but though Phillips was deserving, the choice reflects a determination for stability in the position. The organization likely does not want to repeat this process in a year or two when Phillips retires, so opting for the young Karlsson, who has another five years remaining on his $6.5 million per year deal, makes sense.
Despite playing defense, Karlsson was the Senators’ leading scorer last season, where he marked 74 points in 82 games. He also broke the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career. Outside of Ottawa, he won a silver medal with Team Sweden at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, notching 8 points in 6 games. The offensive wizard projects to yet again threaten point-per-game pace this season, though he will need support from his forwards to make this happen – including Bobby Ryan.
Bobby Ryan broke the hearts of fans of his hometown Philadelphia Flyers this morning when his signing was announced. The seven-year, $50 million contract, which averages out to $7.25 million per season, makes Ryan the highest-paid player on the Ottawa Senators (new captain Erik Karlsson is next on the list). Ryan was acquired in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks last season, and acquitted himself quite well in the first half of the season before struggling with a hernia injury. Though he attempted to play through the pain, eventually he was shut down by the team and underwent surgery. This injury, coupled with his omission from Team USA at the 2014 Olympics, made it a frustrating year from the American sniper.
With the security of a new contract, and the rejuvenation following hernia surgery, Bobby Ryan is looking to bounce back and lead the Senators offensively. He will continue to play on a dynamite line with Clarke MacArthur and Kyle Turris, and returning to his standard 30+ goal pace is a realistic expectation.
It is a big day for Senators fans, and Karlsson will wear the captain’s C in his first official game as captain on opening night, October 9th in Nashville. Hometown fans will be able to welcome their new captain and cheer Ryan’s extension on October 16th, when they host the Colorado Avalanche.