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Warning to Kent Hughes: Senators could miss out on rebuilding for accounting reasons
Credit: May 9, 2016; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion attends a press conference to introduce Guy Boucher as the new head coach of the Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The salary cap next season will be $83.5 million. With this money, each general manager must try to assemble the most successful team possible. That’s pretty basic in this salary cap era. Theoretically, you get the same budget as everyone else, and you have to find a way to maximize every dollar invested.

I say theoretically, because we all know that some teams have internal limitations on their operating budget. No one here would lead me to believe that the Arizona Coyotes are playing around with a ton of contracts on the long-term injured list just for fun.

To believe that would just be naive!

In an article published earlier today on The Athletic, Ian Mendes, who covers the Senators for the site, answered a reader’s question about the status of Shane Pinto’s contract negotiations.

Pinto is a 22-year-old center who was selected 32nd overall in the 2019 draft. At the end of the 2020-2021 season, he was a finalist for the title of best college player in the United States, the famous Hobey-Baker Trophy. He didn’t win it, because a certain Cole Caufield did.

Above all, he’s a very complete forward who plays extremely well defensively. In Ottawa, we see him as a third-trio center, potentially one of the best in the league in the future.

I know I’m praising him a lot, but he’s that good.

But Pierre Dorion just can’t get along with him right now. Why can’t he?

Because he doesn’t even have $900,000 available under the cap and, above all, he’s spending a lot of money on guys who aren’t even wearing his club’s jersey.

According to Mendes, nearly $5 million is being spent on Matt Murray, Bobby Ryan, Colin White and Michael Del Zotto.

During the rebuild, as the journalist so aptly puts it, it didn’t bother too much to have money misused like that. The goal wasn’t to win yet, but now it’s starting to stink. The Senators must show signs of improvement now or Dorion will be visiting the unemployment office sooner rather than later.

This lame rebuild is a serious warning to Kent Hughes.

He can’t afford to waste money that will block him when he wants to take the next step in his plan.

Until now, this had always been the case, but the Jeff Petry trade changed all that. For the first time, he has thought about the present and not the future in one of his actions, and for the next two seasons, he will have to assume $2.34 million of his payroll for him.

We’re crossing our fingers that he’ll have learned from Shane Pinto and the Senators, because it could happen to him one day.


The Pinto case is also interesting for the Montreal Canadiens for another reason. The New York native is eligible for a hostile offer, as he is a restricted free agent.

With his 35 points last season, it certainly wouldn’t take a huge offer to get him to sign a deal with another team and pin Pierre Dorion down even more.

I could see Shane Pinto complementing the Nick Suzuki, Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook already in Montreal. With these four, the Habs would have a very solid center line to go to war with for ten years, easy.

For $2.1 million, you’d get him back and the compensation would only be a small third-round pick.

Would the Senators tie?

To do so, they’d have to find a way to free up space on their roster quickly, and with only 18 players under contract, I don’t see how they could do it, at least through a trade.

For Montreal, that means finding a new team for Jake Evans. We like him here, but with a salary of $1.7 million, he’d be hard to trade with his injury history.

It’s definitely a missed opportunity for an upgrade.

What a shame!

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