• By: Dave Gross

All-star break gives Senators’ brass time to reflect and ponder plans

The Ottawa Senators’ bye week is upon us.

They won’t hit the ice again until Jan. 27th when they host the New Jersey Devils.

That’s a break the size of the one in our foundation wall (. . . but that’s another story).


A long, long time between games.

For a team doing a whole lot of nothing on the ice, your best bet is the Senators will be doing plenty away from it.

Planning, scouting, forecasting and taking the odd phone call (and making even more) from other NHL clubs looking to feast on Ottawa’s buffet of veterans is on the ledger. It’s another good bet the majority of inquiries will surround skaters with expiring contracts.

That list includes J-G Pageau who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. 

General manager Pierre Dorion must feel like a lottery winner in the case of the 27-year-old centre. Reportedly Pageau has already attracted a number of calls about his availability. Adding to the intrigue is that Pageau is having the best year of his career.

Dorion seems to have drawn another winning ticket with veteran blue-liner Mark Borowiecki.

Boro – a proud local boy – is also enjoying the best season of his career. Like Pageau, Borowiecki is an unrestricted free agent this coming summer.

At 30, he still has plenty of gas in the tank. If you’re a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs, wouldn’t the Kanata native be pretty enticing given his toughness and ‘playoff-calibre grit’ – something the Leafs are missing in a big way.

We’re pretty sure there will be feelers out involving a few other scheduled UFA’s: Vladdy Namestnikov and Tyler Ennis pop into mind up front while Dylan DeMelo and Ron Hainsey could gather interest on defence.

Dorion is sure to field some calls on Craig Anderson, although don’t expect much – Anderson’s almost 40 and although in good shape has had his share of injuries the past few seasons.

The trade deadline is fast approaching – set for Feb. 24.

Also keeping Dorion and his staff busy? Scouting, be it in Europe or the NHL and AHL level.

We’re pretty certain a big focus will be on what is happening in Belleville with the likes of Logan Brown, Josh Norris, Drake Batherson, Alex Formenton, Rudy Balcers, Vitaly Abramov and Erik Brannstrom.

Certainly looks like it’s going to be a busy ‘off-week’ for Dorion and his pack.

News, notes and notions: Eastern Ontario had a nice look at the Calgary Flames Saturday. What stands out – Calgary appears to be a superb puck-possession team and generates plenty of shots, but the lack of star-power finishing leads you to believe they’ll be hard-pressed to do much in the playoffs (if the Flames make it) . . . Kind of like last year when the Flames were eliminated opening round by Colorado and Calgary was the top seed in the West . . . Fun exchange between the Tkachuks, and nicely captured by TSN’s camera, at centre ice on Saturday. Looked to me like Brady was telling Matthew: ‘Keep your head up!’ . . . New drinking game that guarantees high inebriation levels. Every time TSN analyst Jamie McLennan says “Fantastic,” take a pull . . . Lots of heat collecting on Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas to do, um, something. With a lazy effort Saturday night against a beatable Chicago team, Toronto dropped out of a playoff spot for the first time in weeks . . . What is most impressive about Alex Ovechkin’s goal numbers, he’s accomplishing it during a much different and defensively-conscious era. The guys he just passed (Mario Lemieux and Luc Robitaille) and the guys in his sights (Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman, Phil Esposito and Mike Gartner) played when the game was more free-wheeling and loosey-goosey. Ovie just tied Yzerman for ninth in history in the goals-scored class.

The week ahead for the Senators:

(no games scheduled – all-star break and bye week)