NHL News

Senators fill void, sign Tarasenko to 1-year deal

Replacing the void left by Alex DeBrincat was one of the biggest questions facing the Ottawa Senators this offseason and they used Thursday to address that concern by signing Vladimir Tarasenko to a one-year deal worth $5 million.

A six-time 30-goal scorer, the 31-year-old winger was one of the most notable names remaining in free agency. He was in the final season of an eight-year contract that saw him earn $7.5 million annually.

Tarasenko, who scored 18 goals and 50 points in 69 games last season, previously spent his entire career with the St. Louis Blues — the team that drafted him 16th back in 2010. He was part of a core that also featured Ryan O’Reilly, Alex Pietrangelo and Brayden Schenn, among others, that helped the Blues win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history back in 2019.

In recent years, the growing amount of friction between Tarasenko and the club created the belief he could be on the move which is what happened when he was traded to the New York Rangers around the NHL trade deadline.

Prior to the trade, Tarasenko had 10 goals and 29 points in 38 games with the Blues before scoring eight goals and 21 points over 31 games with the Rangers. His arrival coupled with the trade that saw them get Patrick Kane further amplified the Rangers’ Stanley Cup expectations.

Tarasenko scored three goals and four points in seven playoff games before the Rangers were eliminated in the first round by the rival New Jersey Devils.

His future was in question given he was both a pending unrestricted free agent and the Rangers had a little more than $11.7 million in cap space. Tarasenko and Kane were part of a four-player UFA class while Alexis Lafreniere and K’Andre Miller, who signed a two-year deal worth $3.872 million, were pending restricted free agents. While Miller is under contract, Lafreniere is still in need of a new contract.

Signing Tarasenko gives the Senators a top-six winger who will be expected to add another layer to a team that finished 18th in goals per game but also had the No. 8 power-play unit in the league with a 23.5 percent success rate.

The decision to sign Tarasenko comes several weeks after the Senators traded DeBrincat to the Detroit Red Wings. DeBrincat, a two-time 40-goal scorer who scored 27 goals last season, was expected to leave with Sens general manager Pierre Doiron telling reporters at the NHL Draft that they wanted to find the best possible trade.

DeBrincat’s departure brought back a return that saw the Senators get forward Dominik Kubalik, prospect defenseman Donovan Sebrango, a conditional first-round pick and a 2024 fourth-round pick. Meanwhile, DeBrincat signed a four-year extension worth $7.875 million with the Red Wings.

Adding Tarasenko along with Kubalik, who scored 20 goals and 45 points last season, gives the Senators a few more options with their forwards as they seek to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2016-17 season. They join a group that already featured players such as Brady Tkachuk, Claude Giroux, Tim Stutzle, Drake Batherson and Shane Pinto, among others.

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