The Ottawa Senators may still end up in last place in the new Scotia North Division. That said, they certainly aren’t as bad as people might think that they are. A rebuilding team that has a lot of good young pieces, there’s a lot to like in Ottawa and it shouldn’t shock anyone if the Sens make some noise in 2020-21, the continue to bang the drums in the 2021 NHL offseason. Will they be a playoff team this year? Maybe not. Could they be? Sure.
With all the hype surrounding the all-Canadian division this season, virtually every hockey writer has made their predictions as to who will finish where in the standings. While you can make a case for 6 of the 7 teams to win land in the top four, you’ll find one thing in common among all the predictions: nearly everyone put the Senators at the bottom of the list.
There are reasons to start believing that doing so this quickly might have been premature.
The Sens were the second-worst team in the NHL last season, with a win percentage of .437 over 71 games. That’s pretty bad. However, they had a great off-season, drafting three players in the first round of the draft, and signing several key players in NHL Free Agency.
Most notably, the Senators took German forward Tim Stützle — who has already made noise with his incredible goal on Jack Campbell the other day — and American Defenseman Jake Sanderson. They also added Canadian forward Ridly Greig at number 28, and seven more players in the following rounds. Senators General Manager Pierre Dorion called draft night “one of the biggest nights in this franchise’s history”.
Dorion and his crew continued to add several key pieces as the offseason rolled along, sometimes waiting for players who failed to land the contract they wanted, other times sneaking in and scooping up someone who missed the radars of teams who were strapped for cash. Most notably, Ottawa acquired Alex Galchenyuk, Evgenii Dadonov, Matt Murray, Erik Gudbranson, Derek Stepan, Braydon Coburn, and Cedric Paquette.
Although some of these guys, such as Galchenyuk and Gubranson, have taken a step back from what they once were, these are players who could have rebound seasons and they bring NHL experience: something that the team lacked in the 2019-20 season.
The Senators did lose several key players, such as Anthony Duclair and Mark Borowiecki, as well as some of their more experienced guys, such as Craig Anderson and Bobby Ryan. In some cases, this might have been addition by substraction as the Senators were rumored to have offered Duclair far more money than he eventually accepted with the Florida Panthers and the deals the Senators did sign seem to be of better value.
Overall, the net sum of what the organization did means they’ve gotten much better by adding skill, experience, depth, and toughness.
The Senators Depth Chart
Here’s how Ottawa’s depth chart now looks:
- LW- Brady Tkachuk C- Josh Norris RW- Drake Batherson
- LW- Tim Stützle C- Derek Stepan RW- Evgenii Dadonov
- LW- Nick Paul C- Chris Tierney RW- Connor Brown
- LW- Cedric Paquette C- Artem Anisimov RW- Austin Watson
- LD- Thomas Chabot
- RD- Erik Gudbranson
- LD- Christian Wolanin
- RD- Nikita Zaitsev
- LD- Braydon Coburn
- RD- Josh Brown
- Goalies: Matt Murray, Marcus Högberg
Healthy Scratches: Alex Galchenyuk, Colin White, Mike Reilly
Taxi Squad: Filip Chlapik, Matthew Peca, Micheal Haley, Artem Zub, Jonathan Aspirot, Joey Daccord
The Senators Are Deeper Than People Expected
This was a team that had so few players locked into long-term contracts, one could have wondered how they were going to ice a full roster in 2020-21. Yet, somehow, not only have they put a decent team together, they’re deeper than expected with room to work next offseason too.
While there are still definite holes in their lineup, not only could the Senators play well this year, but they’re going to have one of the best weapons available when the season closes — space and money.
Owner Eugene Melnyk and his crew have worked hard this off-season to re-brand the team but they’ll have even more chances to do so in a few months time when teams are strapped for cash and the Senators can pluck more value off the free agency market after a strong season.
Even if the Senators finish last in the North Division, all they have to do is prove they’re extremely competitive. With a core of Stützle, Sanderson, Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot and others, they’ll be a bit more attractive a team than they’ve been in the past.
Just ask the Toronto Maple Leafs how tough they are to play against.
Guest Post by Brogan Houston, Portions and Contributions by Jim Parsons
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