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Senators GM Dorion: 'We're almost as good a team as we had last year'

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports / USA TODAY Sports

The Ottawa Senators hope to fly under the radar once again.

After coming one win short of the Stanley Cup Finals last season, it has been a relatively quiet summer in Ottawa, as the Senators appear poised to return with much of last year's successful squad.

While the Senators saw a key loss in defenseman Marc Methot, who the team was unable to protect in the expansion draft, few other significant moves have occurred during this offseason.

Forward Viktor Stalberg, added at last year's trade deadline, has since signed in Switzerland, while the Senators also walked away from longtime tough customer Chris Neil. When free agency opened July 1, Ottawa made one low-key addition, recruiting former Anaheim Ducks center Nate Thompson.

"We're very close to being the same roster that we finished the year with," Senators general manager Pierre Dorion told Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Citizen. "We feel we're almost as good a team as we had last year, and last year we were an overtime away from being in the Stanley Cup Finals."

While Dorion didn't rule out the possibility of more moves, his roster seems mostly set. According to Cap Friendly, the Senators have just one player left to sign: restricted free agent Ryan Dzingel.

The 25-year-old, who chipped in 14 goals and 18 assists for the Senators last season, has filed for salary arbitration, although Dorion appears prepared for that possibility, as a hearing could come July 21.

"While we'd like to avoid arbitration and (Dzingel's agent) Don Meehan would like to avoid arbitration too, but, at the same time, we understand it's a process," Dorion said in a Monday conference call, according to Garrioch. "If we can't come to an agreement, we'll just go to arbitration Friday at 9 a.m."

While Dzingel's future remains up in the air, expect the Senators to take a similar approach to this coming season as they did in 2016-17.

"I think, if we can continue on the same path we were last year, I think we proved a lot of people wrong," Dorion said. "Not many had us going into the playoffs (last season). This year our goal is the same: get into the playoffs and build upon that."

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