Sens GM pessimistic about re-signing goalie Mike Condon

The Ottawa Senators general manager says he wants to have backup goalie Mike Condon back with the team next year. But he's not optimistic.

Team expects to protect starter Craig Anderson in upcoming June expansion draft

Ottawa Senators goalie Mike Condon, right, strengthened the team's goaltending this season. (Adam Hunger/The Associated Press)

The Ottawa Senators general manager says he wants to have backup goalie Mike Condon back next year. But he's not optimistic.

"If he doesn't like our offer, he can just say no," Pierre Dorion said at a season-ending news conference at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa on Monday.

"We'd like to bring him back, he wants to come back, but I've been around a long time and ... you know when talks are going nowhere and they haven't been very good so far."

Ottawa acquired Condon this past season for a fifth-round draft pick from the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team that beat the Senators in the eastern conference finals and ended their surprising playoff run. He had teamed with Craig Anderson — who missed some games this year to be with his wife while she successfully battled cancer — to give Ottawa consistency in net and an anchor for the team's defence.

Anderson to be protected in expansion draft

Ottawa Senators General Manager Pierre Dorion said talks with Condon's agent 'haven't been very good so far. ' (CBC)
But despite the uncertainty with Condon, Dorion said he feels goaltending remains a strength. If Condon doesn't return, the team could see Andrew Hammond return as the backup, he said.

Dorion also revealed the 36-year-old Anderson, a star of the team's 2017 playoff run, will be the goalie the team protects in the upcoming expansion draft.

A new team in Las Vegas will be able to pluck players from other NHL rosters during the expansion draft on June 20, but teams are allowed to protect between nine and 11 players, including one goalie. 

"Craig Anderson will be the goalie we protect, no ifs or ands about it," he said.

The team has until June 17 to submit their list of protected players, and Dorion said management would get together at the end of the week to figure out who else to protect.

Defence has hot prospects 

Though the expansion draft may rob the team of some key players, Doiron said he hopes to keep the core of the team intact and feels the team is headed in the right direction.

Defenceman Thomas Chabot is one of the bright prospects for the Senators and could make the team next year. (Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)
Dorion felt the defensive corps — led by Erik Karlsson — was a team strength, and said he had high hopes for 20-year-old Thomas Chabot, who was named the most valuable player of the World Junior Championships, and 22-year-old Ben Harpur, who was called up from Binghamton and ended up playing nine playoff games.

But he acknowledged the forward corps "got a bit older" and now faced some roster turnover, with forwards Viktor Stalberg, Chris Kelly, Tom Pyatt, Chris Neil and Tommy Wingels all unrestricted free agents.

He said he was encouraged by how the players figured out their roles and bought into coach Guy Boucher's system.

"Some guys who had been here the longest said it was the biggest culture change that we've ever had, and I think that was a part of the success, and they took it upon themselves to change, so you've got to give them credit," he said.

Next year like starting over, coach says

Boucher said he believes the playoff experience, and becoming, in his words "playoff players," will be invaluable. The big challenge will be to pick up where they left off when next season starts, he said. 

"The year you come back, sometimes you forget where you started and just like it is from game to game you've got to build it all back from scratch. And that's exactly how it's going to be next year," he said.

"The reality in the NHL is that making the playoffs is extremely difficult from one year to another. Teams are going to get better," he said.

"To come back, we've got to do it all over again."