Make no mistake about it, the Ottawa Senators mean business. On Thursday, the team made two very integral moves that will shape the future of their franchise.
The Senators organization has announced the signing of forward Bobby Ryan to a seven-year $50.75 million contract extension. In addition, they have also named Eric Karlsson as the ninth team captain in franchise history.
Karlsson will take over the captain role for the departed Jason Spezza, whom the team traded to the Dallas Stars this offseason.
One could argue that Karlsson has been the team’s most important player over the last three years. His 74 points last season were the highest for a defenseman in the NHL, and his unique play-making ability makes him an essential team asset.
While his defensive skills lack behind some other elite defenseman, he more than makes up for it with a style of play that is not seen by most men at his position. His innate ability to pass the puck combined with his offensive instincts put him at the head of his class.
When asked about his new-found role as captain, Karlsson had the following to say.
“I’m a little bit nervous actually, as I don’t know what to say, It’s a good feeling.
“It’s an honor to be a captain of a Canadian team and it’s not something that I could have hoped for when I came here, but I embrace it and I’m very much looking forward to the responsibilities”
Meanwhile, the signing of Ryan comes at a pivotal point in the team’s slight rebuild. When the Senators traded for Ryan at the beginning of the 2013-14 season, it was expected to be the final piece to put them over the edge.
However, things did not work out that way as the team failed to make the playoffs.
During that year, Ryan endured one of the worst NHL seasons of his career, only accumulating 48 points. Despite Ryan disappointing in his first year at Ottawa, the team feels there is still something left for him to give.
The forward is only four seasons removed from a 71 point season with the Anaheim Ducks, and Ottawa is banking on him to have similar success this season.
He will be on a line with Karlsson and new top center Kyle Turris.
When asked about the extension that will keep him in Ottawa for the next seven years, Ryan stated the following.
“I’m thrilled to make a long-term commitment to the team and the city of Ottawa.We were immediately embraced by the city. We felt we found a place we could call home.When it came to this decision, it was fairly easy. It was almost a no-brainer.”
Ottawa has certainly made their commitment to developing a winning culture for their team, and hopefully these moves are the beginning of something special.