Senators suddenly find themselves deep in offensive prospects

For a team that was once wondering where its next goal was going to come from, the Ottawa Senators are all of a sudden swimming in top offensive prospects.

Senators suddenly find themselves deep in offensive prospects
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators handles the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — For a team that was once wondering where its next goal was going to come from, the Ottawa Senators are all of a sudden swimming in top offensive prospects.

It’s about to get very crowded and general manager Bryan Murray will have to do some delicate shuffling.

Brandon Wheat King right wing Mark Stone, Swedish centre Mika Zibanejad, and Swedish left wing Jakob Silfverberg are already more or less penciled in for next season.

Then there is Binghamton right wing Andre Petersson, who made his NHL debut on this road trip in Anaheim, and four forwards who were selected in last year’s draft: right wing Stefan Noesen, left wing Matt Puempel, left wing Shane Prince, and centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

Noesen, Puempel, Prince, and Pageau are at least a year or two away, maybe longer, but Stone, Zibanejad, Silfverberg, and Petersson will compete for spots next year. Not to mention Stephane Da Costa, who is toiling away in Binghamton but is viewed as an NHL-calibre player.

Murray has seen most of them so far this season and likes what he sees.

“We’re optimistic at this point,” he said.

“That’s what happens when you draft kids. You hope that they turn out. We’re optimistic that they’ll all turn out. We probably know from history that that may not be the case, but I’m pleased, obviously.”

That could be tricky because there won’t be many roster spots opening, unless, of course, Murray creates some through trades.

Next summer, there will be three restricted free agents: Nick Foligno, Peter Regin, and Kaspars Daugavins. Jesse Winchester and Zenon Konopka will be an unrestricted free agents.

There is the possibility that Daniel Alfredsson will retire, to open a roster spot, but if he doesn’t he has another year left on his contract.

You’d have to think that Murray would re-sign Foligno and Daugavins, but it’s also possible he might take a pass on Regin, given his history of injuries. The saga of Pascal Leclaire might be an object lesson to be embraced.

Winchester is useful player who is not expensive, so there’s a good chance he’ll be retained, but the guess is that Murray will pass on giving Konopka another year. The era of staged fights is ending.

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