While the Senators players have gone their separate ways for the summer, the busy off season for Sens GM Bryan Murray is just beginning.
And while his top priority will be signing RFA defenceman Erik Karlsson to a new contract, there is no shortage of work to be done by Murray over the course of the off season. Also on Murray's to do list? Decisions on the teams unrestricted free agents.
While none of the UFAs to be can be considered "key" players, each present Murray with a unique and difficult decision. In total, there are three forwards, three defenceman and one goalie that are unrestricted and looking for new contracts this off season.
Start with an easy one in Alex Auld. A solid pro, Auld will get squeezed out in a numbers game with Anderson, Bishop and Lehner all looking for a spot on the roster.
Up front, the group includes Jesse Winchester, Zenon Konopka and Rob Klinkhammer. Winchester's season was hampered by injury but when he was in the line up, he was a valuable bottom six guy that could take a regular shift on the PK. The decision on Winchester will likely come down to health.
Konopka, who spent many games in the press box during the regular season, was a key player come playoff time. His ability to win crucial draws, both in the offensive and defensive zone, made him an extremely useful player during the Sens series against New York. Konopka is well liked in the locker room and has enjoyed him time here in Ottawa.
Klinkhammer had a strong season in Binghamton and played well during a brief stint up in Ottawa. If he's willing to take a two way deal and is interested in returning, I could see the Sens bringing him back.
On the blueline tthere are some tougher calls to be made. Filip Kuba, Matt Gilroy and Matt Carkner will all be looking for new contracts.
After being a whipping boy in previous seasons, Kuba became an extremely valuable defender under Paul MacLean. Kuba played in all situations and spent the majority of the season partnered with Erik Karlsson, who obviously had a massive season. At 35, there's a chance Kuba will be signing the last contract of his career and I could see him getting better offers on the open market.
Acquired at the deadline in exchange for Brian Lee, Matt Gilroy never seemed to get comfortable in an Ottawa uniform. We saw flashes of the player the Senators hoped he could be but just not on a consistent basis. Would be shocked if Gilroy returns.
Matt Carkner is another guy that was a healthy scratch regularly during the regular season but took his game to another level during playoffs. Well liked in the locker room but hampered with persistent knee issues, this will be a tough decision for Murray to make. Personally, I'd like to see Carkner return.
Will continue to update the status of the players mentioned above as the off season moves along.
What do you think the Senators should do with the UFAs?