In a year in which hockey teams across Canada
disappointed, it seems appropriate that one of the bigger disappointments was
the nation’s capital’s Ottawa Senators. While not thought of as a true Stanley
Cup contender, the team was looking to build on its playoff appearance in the
2014-2015 season. Instead, they dropped from 99 to 85 points and missed the
playoffs. After the season, Ottawa hired former Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach
Guy Boucher to fill the same role in their organization.
Senators’ star player is defenseman Captain Erik Karlsson, the first defenseman
in over 40 years to lead the league in assists (66). He also finished tied for
fourth among all skaters with 82 points. Another bright spot for the club was
second year forward Mark Stone who put up 61 points in 75 games. Assistant
Captain Kyle Turris was looking to build on two strong campaigns, but was
limited to only 57 games because of injuries. Two veterans occupying a ton of
cap space are winger Bobby Ryan and defenseman Dion Phaneuf. While both played
fairly well, their combined cap hit of over $14 million per season for the next
five years will limit what the team can do in the future.
Free Agents: The top two players up for
free agency are both restricted, and will almost assuredly be signed to long
term deals. Mike Hoffman led the squad with 29 goals and finished third with 59
points. 22 year old blue liner Cody Ceci had a solid season as well. These two
are part of Ottawa’s core moving forward. Fellow restricted free agent
defenseman Patrick Wiercioch will not be retained.
Picks: Even though Ottawa could use another top four defenseman, most of the
top players at that position will likely be gone when they have the 12th
pick in the draft. Several strong forward prospects should be available, and
adding some scoring punch is also needed. Centers Michael McLeod and Tyson Jost
along with winger Julien Gauthier could all be potential options.
Agent Additions: The Senators’ should have sufficient cap room to make a play
for a big name free agent. While top free agent Steven Stamkos could
potentially be wooed by his former coach, it is unlikely he would sign with
Ottawa. New York Islanders winger Kyle Okposo is a young and talented
unrestricted free agent that could immediately fill a role on the top line.
Defenseman Jordie Benn could be an interesting addition if they could get him
for the right price.
Labels: Eric Bokobza