Former Oiler Steve Staios has a big job ahead of him as Ottawa Senators GM

Photo credit:Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Gould
21 days ago
The Edmonton Oilers might have lost to the Ottawa Senators on Sunday, but there’s still plenty of distance between the two teams.
With the win, the Senators improved to 26th in the National Hockey League with a 30-36-4 record and 64 points through 70 games this year. They’re on track to miss the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season.
Meanwhile, the Oilers remain in 9th place in the league with a 43-23-4 record and 90 points in 70games. They’ve successfully shaken off a nightmare start to the year and are firmly in a playoff position with 12 games to go.
Despite missing the playoffs so often of late, Ottawa hasn’t had a string of No. 1 overall selections like the Oilers did in the early 2010s. If the season ended today, the Sens would be in line to pick seventh.
But while they might not have the cream of the crop-type players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in their organization, the Sens still have reasons for optimism.
One of them is the arrival of former Oilers defenceman Steve Staios, who joined the Senators shortly after Michael Andlauer bought them from the Melnyk family. The Sens officially named Staios their GM and president of hockey operations on December 31, 2023.
Staios has a huge task ahead of him. He was with the Oilers during their much-maligned “Decade of Darkness,” so he’s seen first-hand just how difficult it can be to drag a team out of the gutter. But he also has experience building the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs into a perennial contender and a league champion.
The Sens also don’t currently have a full-time head coach. Jacques Martin has served in that role in an interim capacity since the club relieved D.J. Smith of his coaching duties earlier this year, and he recognizes that the Sens still need to take one critical step that took the Oilers a long time.
“We have some good players,” Martin told Sportsnet’s Wayne Scanlan for a piece that went live on Monday. “I think we need more depth, I think that’s one area we have to look at.”
The Senators have high-end players, even if they’re not quite at the Oilers’ level. Jake Sanderson, Tim Stützle, Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson, and Thomas Chabot are solid starting points for a team with future playoff aspirations.
But it’s going to take time. Under previous GM Pierre Dorion, the Senators traded their first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 for Alex DeBrincat and Jakob Chychrun. Well, DeBrincat is already gone and Chychrun is a UFA in 2025. Oops.
The Sens also used their 2021 first-round pick on Tyler Boucher, who has just two goals in 21 AHL games this season, and will forfeit another future first-round pick for their role in the Evgenii Dadonov no-trade list scandal.
So, in a lot of ways, Staios is trying to dig himself out of a big hole. Guys like Chychrun and Claude Giroux won’t be around forever and the young players the Sens already have aren’t getting any younger. It won’t be an easy job.
The Oilers had their own attempts at rebuilding that didn’t get off the ground while Staios was playing for them. After all, who could forget when Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner, Robert Nilsson, Andrew Cogliano, Robbie Schremp, and Tom Gilbert were the future?
Ultimately, the calculation Staios will have to make in Ottawa is whether the players the Senators already have will be enough to make a difference — or if it’s just a team of Nilssons and Coglianos. But Stützle, who is clearly a cut above both those players, said he believes in the core and is committed to the process.
“We know how hard it is to win in the league, how consistent you have to play to get in the playoffs,” Stützle told Scanlan. “You need almost a hundred points. We’ve just got to keep believing in this group, in this core we have. We need to be way better, that’s our goal. Everybody’s going to work really hard this summer and hopefully achieve our goal.”

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