The Ottawa Senators had a strong outing last season, even getting to the second round of the playoffs. Unfortunately, they ran into the high-flying Penguins which cut their post season short. The team had been wrapped up in a lot of different incidents during the season, and that trend continued into the offseason. Between the legal investigation on Matt Cooke, and the mysterious blog hacking accusations, it’s easy to see that controversy has been following the team in recent times. Currently, the Senators have 11.3 million dollars in cap space with only a couple of players to sign. The big question for the Senators is what they will do without longtime favorite Daniel Alfredsson?
The Replacement – Bobby Ryan (5.1 mill): He is the catalyst for the loss of Alfredsson which makes his arrival a bit bumpy. Ryan’s signing was singled out as the sole reason for Alfredsson not getting his money, though it was later suggested that the team is losing a lot of money, and that was the true cause for them turning down Alfredsson. If I were a Sens fan, I wouldn’t hold anything against Bobby Ryan. You got a young, strong, offensive minded right winger on a team that sorely needed an offensive boost. Ryan put up 30 points in 46 games with the ducks, and his offensive output has been fairly consistent throughout his career. A one-two punch of Spezza and Ryan could be a very potent line for the Senators, and it just might be the key to their success in the 2013-2014 season.
The Brick Wall – Craig Anderson (3.187 mill): The man that was run out of town by the Avs has found a home in Ottawa. His numbers last season were just plain ridiculous. With a career high .941 save percentage to go along with an astronomically low 1.69 goals against average, it’s needless to say that he had a fantastic season. The defensive core hasn’t changed from 2012-2013 season. Barring any major injury, Anderson will have every opportunity to have another outstanding season. If he can pull off a similar record, you can expect a lot of Vezina talk going his way.
The Wolverine – Erik Karlsson (6.5 mill): The man not only has the ability to regenerate lacerated tendons in record time, but he also has some insane playmaking abilities. He may not be the defensive defenseman that some people want on their blue line, but he more than makes up for that with his offensive talents. He can skate, he can pass, and he can handle the puck extremely well. On a team that tends to struggle to consistently put pucks in the net, his value will only go up with the addition of Bobby Ryan. I mean, you don’t need all defensive defensemen on your team when you have Anderson between the pipes.
Prognosis: Strong. Sure Alfredsson’s loss will be felt, but Bobby Ryan is more than capable of filling that void. Their new division should give them a bit of an advantage over last season. Boston and Detroit will offer them the most resistance, especially Detroit. I think those games will be extremely fun to watch. Outside of those two teams, I believe everyone to be at the Sens’ level or below. I have a feeling that Montreal and Toronto will slip a little this season and that Tampa will remain unreliable. Buffalo and Florida don’t have much going for them, so really all that should be required of Ottawa is to simply play consistent hockey. I don’t see any major obstacles preventing them from making the playoffs again next season.