The Ottawa Senators swung their axe Sunday to get to their final roster by making three significant cuts and it may be a good sign for the return of captain Erik Karlsson.

Less than 24 hours after closing out the pre-season with a disgraceful 9-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre, the Senators sent top prospect defencemen Thomas Chabot, the club’s 2015 top pick and Ben Harpur to the club’s AHL affiliate in Belleville along with winger Max McCormick.

That leaves the Senators with 23 players in camp – including Karlsson and centre Derick Brassard – although it appears both players have a chance of being ready to start the season against the Washington Capitals Thursday night at the Canadian Tire Centre.

Karlsson hasn’t been cleared for physical contact yet but he’s trending in the right direction after foot surgery and the club now has seven defencemen in camp which means he is closing in on a return.