• By: Dave Gross

Subtraction not in Dorion’s vocabulary anymore

The final mystery is oneself.” — Oscar Wilde

Brainy quotes aside, if this is in fact the start of the final frontier for Ottawa Senators’ General Manager Pierre Dorion, even his toughest critics would have to admit that this is a guy who knows himself.

As a self-identifier, Dorion must believe he’s a guy who “goes for it, with gumption.”

The evidence has been right there for the past year and continued to be ‘right there’ late Thursday as the Senators boss added another big-ticket item to the pile in scoring winger Vladimir Tarasenko. The 31-year-old, six-time 30-goal scorer signed a free agent deal with Ottawa for one year and $5 million US.

“Vladimir’s a natural goal scorer,” Dorion said. “He’s a dynamic player who can score from anywhere in the offensive zone, as well as an underrated playmaker who’s made a career out of driving offence for him and his linemates.”

“An established performer in the regular season and in the playoffs, we’re thrilled to add a player of his calibre to our lineup.”

Safe to say the days of Johnny Oduya, Tom Pyatt and Micheal Haley are done. Finito.

Free agency for Dorion used to be like arriving at the neighbourhood Saturday morning garage sale around 11 and expecting anything decent was still up for grabs. Picking and plucking from the remaining stuff was tedious.

Dorion’s clearly getting up a lot earlier, even though this latest big fish didn’t land on the line until well into the UFA period.

Comparing Dorion’s work the past year-and-change with the five-and-change prior is night and day. In the 2022-to-2023 bracket, the GM signed Tarasenko, Joonas Korpisalo, Artem Zub, Claude Giroux, Josh Norris, Tim Stutzle, Erik Brannstrom, Tyler Kleven, Mark Kastelic and just before that – Brady Tkachuk and Drake Batherson.

That’s laying the foundation. Big time.

Long rumoured to being ‘invited to leave’ once Ottawa’s new owner takes over, Dorion’s done some very nice work here . . . full gunslinger mode.

Sure the Alex DeBrincat deal from Chicago never took hold and trading Filip Gustavsson to Minnesota for Cam Talbot was a stinker, but overall Dorion’s accomplished plenty – hey there Jakob Chychrun.

The timing is appropriate as well. Tkachuk, Stutzle, Norris and Thomas Chabot are now into their prime (this is a young man’s league nowadays) while Jake Sanderson is not far behind. Bringing in veterans like Tarasenko and Korpisalo tips Ottawa – and maybe to a larger degree Dorion – into a win-now approach.

Should be a fun team to watch grow in 2023-24.

THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: Seemingly Dorion’s replaced Austin Watson with a younger version of Austin Watson. Zack MacEwan’s a decent player but not a very good fighter. Hockeyfights.com had the 27 year old in eight scraps last season, going 2-6 . . . What can you say about retiring star Patrice Bergeron that’s not already been said? . . . So, I’m stopping right there . . . Giving credit here to a guy who could have, but didn’t, give up in former Ottawa first-rounder Stefan Noesen who, at the age of 30, finally gained NHL security. Noesen (21st overall, 2011 draft) morphed into a steady fourth-line grinder in Carolina last season after bouncing around the league for eight seasons. He’s found a nice niche with the Canes . . . Reports have Ottawa looking at trading away Mathieu Joseph and his $2.95 million US cap hit (three more years). This was not one of Dorion’s better signings. Joseph’s a great skater but so too was Tony Hawk . . . The UFA cupboard is a lot emptier after the Tarasenko signing. Pretty sure none if any of Tomas Tatar, Martin Jones, Patrick Kane or Matt Dumba fit in Ottawa.


Photo: Courtesy Sportsnet