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Senators active early in free agency

July 3, 2023

Executives with the Senators’ organization spent the majority of Canada Day in negotiations, working to improve their roster. Their efforts have paid significant dividends, as Ottawa and Belleville were able to complete ten signings.   

The highest profile acquisition on Saturday came with the signing of unrestricted free-agent goaltender Joonas Korpisalo to a five-year, $20 million contract. 

Last season, the highly sought after veteran had an 18-14-4 record with a 2.87 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage in 39 contests with the Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets. He also appeared in six games in the postseason. 

His acquisition will only help to create stability throughout the organization, potentially allowing the Belleville Senators to keep goaltending prospects throughout the season. In total, both franchises combined to use thirteen different netminders. 

Ottawa bolstered their defence by retaining the services of promising rearguards Erik Brannstrom and Jacob Bernard-Docker, after they extended Jacob Larsson earlier in the week. 

Looking to build depth at forward, the organization was aggressive in their approach, agreeing to terms with five players with substantial experience in the American Hockey League (AHL) to one-year, two-way contracts. 

Josh Currie signed a new contract with the Senators, after spending the last two seasons with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), where he recorded 13 goals and 38 points in 96 games. He also has 22 games of experience in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Centreman Rourke Chartier is staying with the organization after another strong campaign in which he set a new career high in goals (20) and collected 28 points over 40 games in the Friendly City. Over the last two seasons, he has recorded 53 points (30 goals and 23 assists) in 73 career contests with Belleville. He also played in six games with Ottawa this season. 

In a bid to add more offense, the Senators penned a deal with Matthew Highmore, who finished last season with 61 points (19 goals and 42 assists) in 68 games with the Springfield Thunderbirds. The skilled pivot has skated in 139 NHL games across six seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues. 

Ottawa added Bokondji Imama, a player that can contribute a physical identity to any lineup. He arrives after skating in five contests with the Arizona Coyotes last season. He also appeared in 50 games with the Tucson Roadrunners, earning 15 points (five goals and ten assists), while finishing third on the team with 109 penalty minutes. 

After helping the Hershey Bears to a Calder Cup Championship last season, Garrett Pilon was certainly a coveted free agent heading into the open market. The hard-working forward registered 29 points (11 goals and 18 assists) in 53 games last season. The Senators opted for a deal with Pilon immediately on July 1st. 

To create more flexibility, the Belleville Senators got further into the action, signing both forward Brennan Saulnier and defenceman Ryan McKinnon to one-year, one-way American Hockey League contracts. 

Last season with Belleville, Saulnier set a career-high in goals (6), assists (9) and points (15) in 30 games. His plus-6 rating ranked tied for third among team skaters. He was acquired from the Laval Rocket in exchange for future considerations in November.  

MacKinnon skated in 20 games with the Bridgeport Islanders last season, registering three assists. He also appeared in nine contests with their ECHL affiliate, the Worcester Railers, where he recorded six points (two goals and four assists). But more importantly, he was named a recipient of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions in the community. 

After an eventful start to free agency, the franchise has made many moves that will certainly affect their fate in the coming year. 


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