The Ottawa Senators were not good in 2018-19, and may not be much better in 2019-20. But there are some facets about which to get excited. Here’s everything you need to know about the the Senators heading into the 2019-20 NHL season:
The current Vegas point total for the Ottawa Senators is 68.5, which honestly would be an improvement over their 64-point nadir last season. (One that, please recall, didn’t even result in them getting a lottery pick as Colorado owned theirs from the Matt Duchene trade).
This isn’t a team expected to contend, nor built to do so: a collection of veteran placeholders (Artem Anisimov, Mikkel Boedker, Ron Hainsey), promising young players (Thomas Chabot, Brady Tkachuk) and an organization waiting on a top 10 collection of prospects with a slew more on the way with their war chest of draft picks, including five in the first two rounds in 2020.
Otherwise, it was summer with some puzzling moves (that six-player trade that resulted in the Sens taking on Nikita Zaitsev‘s bloated contract) and some really smart ones for the future, like signing Thomas Chabot (eight years, $64 million) and Colin White (six years, $28,5 million) to frugal franchise deals. Ottawa has $11.8 million in cap space. They also have three players — Clarke MacArthur, Marian Gaborik and now Ryan Callahan — whose contracts account for $15.325 million on long-term injured reserve, helping to get the team over the salary floor. Thanks, NHL salary cap loopholes!
The Senators finish last in the NHL (but first for Alexis Lafreniere lottery odds!), but do so while hitting 70 points.
Without the benefit of Mark Stone‘s two-way talents on their line, both Tkachuk and Colin White weren’t nearly as good as they were with him. I felt like Tkachuk showed a bit more ability to drive a line than did White, and should graduate from his 22-goal and 23-assist rookie season to threaten the 30-goal mark.
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Patience. Absolutely nothing is expected from the Senators after the departure of so much talent (Erik Karlsson, Matt Duchene and Stone) in the last year. They can take their time with Tkachuk, Chabot, center Drake Batherson and blue-chip defenseman Erik Brannstrom, whom they acquired for Stone. They can take a couple of years to draft smartly.
No one, not even the most devout among Senators fans, expect the timer to pop on this team until at least two seasons from now.
You mean other than trying to build a successful franchise under the cloud of the most unpopular owner in professional hockey? We’ll go with the goaltending, where the diminishing returns of Craig Anderson and a decent Anders Nilsson continue to hold the fort for whoever emerges as the goalie of the future.
There is the aforementioned prospect pool (No. 9), but our panelists were not too jazzed up about the rest of the situation here: the NHL roster and owner/GM/coach finished dead last, while the cap/contracts ranking wasn’t much higher (No. 24).
Pipeline ranking: 10
Somebody is going to score for this Senators team, which means there will be some semblance of fantasy production flowing from the forwards. Colin White appears set to become the team’s new top pivot and Brady Tkachuk has a developing stat profile similar to his brother, but it’s not looking bountiful beyond those two.
Thomas Chabot had a scorching start to last season, but faded down the stretch. He’s still developing and absolutely warrants a spot in fantasy, just be wary of the cost in your draft. From Dec. 1 on last season, he had 26 points in 44 games.
Because there is so much opportunity for ice time and prime roles with this club, we have a few sleeper forwards that could carve out a niche. Connor Brown escapes from the bottom of the Leafs’ depth chart, Anthony Duclair gets to start the season with Ottawa rather than join them midway, and Drake Batherson should make the team full time as a scoring option. — Sean Allen