2023 NHL Free Agency, Adam Erne, Detroit Red Wings, Free Agents, Magnus Hellberg, Ottawa Senators, Pius Suter

Senators’ 2023 Offseason Free Agent Targets: Detroit Red Wings

The Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings find themselves in a similar place after narrowly missing out on a playoff berth last season. As the offseason unfolds, both franchises are eager to improve their rosters and bridge the gap to playoff contention.

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The Senators showed flashes of improvement last season, with general manager (GM) Pierre Dorion’s young core showing genuine promise. Led by the likes of Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot, Ottawa showcased its ability to compete with some of the best teams in the sport.

Related: Senators’ 2023 Offseason Free Agent Targets: Calgary Flames

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However, they still fell short of breaking their playoff appearance drought. The Senators will be active in the free agent market as a result.

The Red Wings faced a similarly disappointing outcome last season, as they also failed to achieve their playoff breakthrough. Armed with a talented crew of youngsters, including Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond, Detroit GM Steve Yzerman will spend the offseason trying to surround his key players with complementary pieces.

In this article, we will focus on three pending unrestricted free agents from Detroit who the Sens should consider this offseason. Let’s dive into it.

Pius Suter: A Budget-Friendly Gem for Ottawa’s Forward Group

Pius Suter has shown promising potential since returning to North America in 2021. Last season, while playing for the Red Wings, he recorded 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists) in 79 regular-season games. He also showcased his skills on the international stage, potting eight points (three goals, five assists) in eight appearances for Team Switzerland at the IIHF Men’s World Championship.

Despite these respectable numbers, Suter’s performance last season can be seen as a slight downturn compared to his initial burst onto the scene in the NHL and final season in the Swiss National League, when he produced offence at a point-per-game rate.

Pius Suter Detroit Red Wings
Pius Suter, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

This makes him an intriguing target for the Senators, with his expiring two-year contract valued at $3.25 million per season. Suter’s price point has dipped in recent months, which creates an opportunity for teams to recruit him at a discounted rate.

At 5-foot-11, Suter is a versatile centre and would provide the Senators with middle-six depth. His offensive capabilities and ability to contribute at both ends of the ice make him an ideal candidate for a renaissance year in Ottawa. While his production dipped slightly last season, it also presents an opportunity for the Senators to capitalize on his potential bounce-back campaign.

As a diamond in the rough, Suter has the potential to surpass expectations and become a valuable asset for the Senators’ playoff push. His skill set, combined with his experience playing against top competition, could elevate Ottawa’s offensive capabilities and provide a much-needed boost to their scoring depth.

Adam Erne: A Sturdy Bottom-Six Forward to Bolster the Sens

Adam Erne, a left-shot winger, produced as a reliable bottom-six forward during his time with the Red Wings last season. In 61 appearances, he tallied 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists). As a former second-round pick, the 6-foot-1 attacker brings a level of experience and maturity to the ice.

Adam Erne Detroit Red Wings
Adam Erne, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

For the Senators, who are seeking to diversify their lineup with size and physicality, Erne would be a valuable addition to their bottom-six group. His sturdy frame and physical playing style make him well-suited for a depth role (from ‘Selfless Adam Erne jumps onto top line, provides ‘heavy game’ for Red Wings’, The Detroit News, 30/10/22).

By adding the American to their roster, Ottawa would benefit from his size, experience, and ability to provide a physical presence. His contributions would help round out their forward depth and bring an element of toughness to the team.

Magnus Hellberg: A Familiar Third-Choice Option for Ottawa’s Goaltending Stable

Magnus Hellberg has enjoyed a journeyman career, spanning Sweden, Russia, and North America. Despite being paid the league minimum and passing through waivers last year, the 32-year-old brings valuable experience and depth to the goaltending position.

In his limited NHL appearances last season, he displayed signs of quality. Hellberg made one appearance for the Senators after he was claimed off waivers to cover for the injured Cam Talbot and recorded an impressive .935 save percentage (SV%).

Magnus Hellberg Ottawa Senators
Magnus Hellberg, Ottawa Senators (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Although his subsequent 17-game stint with the Wings yielded a lower .885 SV%, Hellberg’s familiarity with the Senators organization makes him a suitable third-string goalie option. His past exposure to the team’s systems and coaching staff could provide stability and insurance in case of injuries or unforeseen circumstances.

Adding Hellberg to the roster would offer Ottawa a reliable presence between the pipes and bolster their goaltending depth chart.

Looking Ahead for the Senators

As the Senators and the Red Wings seek to make strides toward playoff contention, their pursuits in the unrestricted free agent market will be crucial.

Suter would be a savvy pickup for the soon-to-be-sold Senators, potentially offering a diamond in the rough for their middle-six forward group. Hellberg’s familiarity with the organization also makes him a fine third-string goalie option in Ottawa. Erne could also contribute at the Canadian Tire Centre.

As both teams navigate the offseason, these potential signings hold the key to enhancing their respective rosters, adding experience, depth, and physicality. The decisions made in acquiring these free agents will shape the trajectory of the Senators and the Red Wings as they strive to achieve their future playoff aspirations.

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