After back-to-back playoff appearances under Paul MacLean,
the Ottawa Senators missed the playoffs with a 37-31-14 record in the 2013-14.
David Legwand – C Jason
Spezza – C
Alex Chiasson – RW Ales
Hemsky – RW
Aaron Johnson – D Joe
Corvo – D
Heading into 2014-15, things are not heading in the right
direction for the Sens. A season after they lost longtime captain Daniel
Alfredsson in free agency, they had to deal their new captain Jason Spezza
after he asked for a trade. They sent him to the Dallas Stars for Alex
Chiasson, a pair of prospects and a second round pick.
With Spezza out of the picture, that leaves Kyle Turris as
the teams number-1 centre. They brought in David Legwand via free agency to
take Turris’ spot on the second line, but their top-6 is not going to scare
many teams. The departure of Spezza also puts more pressure on 21-year-old Mika Zibanejad to pick up some of the offensive slack at centre. He had 16 goals and
33 points last season, but the 2011 sixth overall pick will need to continue to
grow his offensive game if the Senators are going to win some games. Joining
that group of centres are some fairly talented wingers. Bobby Ryan had a solid
debut season in Ottawa, but they need him to get back to his 30-goal form. He
had a tough time with a sports hernia last year, so if he is healthy this
season, he should get back there.
Milan Michalek is another player they need more out of. He
has had back-to-back disappointing seasons after scoring 35 in 2011-12. Without
Spezza at centre, his days of 30 goals are likely gone. Clarke MacArthur is not
a sexy name either, but he has been really consistent over the years and 20-20
should be no trouble for him.
OK, lets be honest, that forward group is below average, so
it all falls on newly named captain Erik Karlsson’s shoulders. If that is your
forward corp, I guess you should have the NHL’s best offensive defenseman. The
24-year-old is crazy good. A year after missing 31 games because of a severed
achilles tendon, it was nice to see Karlsson play all 82 games last year. He
had his first 20-goal season and paired that with 54 assists to lead all NHL
defensemen with 74 points. That is 13 points more than Duncan Keith who was
second in scoring, so he is the Sidney Crosby of defensemen. But, after him
there is not much to like about the Senators blueline, at least offensively. Cody Ceci, 20, has the
most upside of group. At 6-foot-3, 215 he is big enough to compete at this
level. He had nine points (3G / 6A) in 49 games last season, but should play a
more prominent role in 2014-15. Ceci should see a spike in power-play minutes,
giving him more opportunities to produce.
The key to Ottawa’s success will be stable goaltending. They
finished 2013-14 with the NHL’s fourth worst goals against average (3.15) and
you are never going to make the playoffs like that. Craig Anderson was really
bad after a great lockout shortened campaign. Robin Lehner is the goalie of the
future in Canada’s capital city. He was not great last season either, but that
should be looked at as a small bump in the road because he has a bright future
ahead of him. That said, the Sens just signed Anderson to a three-year contract
extension so there is no telling when Lehner will get his shot to be a full
Season prediction: The Sens are going to be bad, but not
Buffalo bad, they will finish seventh in the Atlantic division.
View the Senators’ entire roster and cap space heading into
the 2014-15 season.