Atlantic Division 2014-15 Preview: Ottawa Senators
COACH: Paul MacLean
2013-14 RECORD: 37-31-14, 88 points (fifth in Atlantic, missed playoffs)
VITAL SIGNS: 2.88 goals-for per game (9th); 3.23 goals-against per game (27th); 18.4 power play pct. (14th); 80.9 penalty kill pct. (22nd); shootout record: 7-7 (11th)
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
Clarke MacArthur — Kyle Turris — Bobby Ryan
Milan Michalek — David Legwand — Alex Chiasson
Colin Greening — Mika Zibanejad — Chris Neil
Mike Hoffman — Zack Smith — Mark Stone
Carter Camper, Erik Condra
OUTLOOK: This will be the Senators’ first season without Jason Spezza since 2002-03, and replacing their captain and second-leading scorer will not be easy. Kyle Turris will slide into the space vacated by Spezza on Ottawa’s top line, but can he handle the added pressure? And what about Alex Chiasson, the most visible piece acquired in the trade with Dallas? He has 25-goal potential, but also runs very hot and cold. That wasn't a big deal in Texas, but it'll be harder to hide from the criticism in Ottawa. If the offense runs cold, there should at least be some improvement from a defense that wildly under-performed last season. Erik Karlsson is still one of the best defensemen in the league, and he's proved (aside from a freak injury two years ago) to be extraordinarily durable. Marc Methot's contract battle could be an issue, especially if he fails to rebound after a sub-par 2013-14. Cody Ceci adds some pop to the back end, but the kid has to stay healthy to contribute. And there's some intrigue between the pipes. Will 23-year-old Robin Lehner unseat incumbent starter Craig Anderson? Paul MacLean has already said that Anderson is his No. 1, but for how much longer?
PLAYER TO WATCH: Bobby Ryan
His first season in Ottawa was not a total disappointment, but the Senators expected more than 48 points out of Ryan when they traded for him prior to last season. Ryan, though, also expects more out of the Senators. He says he's looking for a larger role on the team. Now he's got it along with the pressure of living up to his new seven-year, $50.75 million extension.
PREDICTION: 88 points, sixth in Atlantic