Senators Watch: Looking back at the first half

Publish date:

The Ottawa Senators reached the halfway point of their season Tuesday night and the first 41 games of the campaign have made several things clear:

1) This team will not make the playoffs.

2) Brian Elliot just might be an NHL-caliber goaltender.

3) Martin Gerber is not.

As they embark on the second half of what has become a lame-duck season, let’s take a look at the first 41 games.

Most pleasant surprise: That’s a tough one, but we’ll go with defenseman Filip Kuba, whom the Senators received from Tampa Bay when they were forced to deal Andrei Meszaros. Going into last night’s game against Atlanta, he led the team at plus-9 and in ice time at almost 24 minutes a game.

Biggest disappointment:
Players often don’t change, but expectations do and that might be the case when it comes to Mike Fisher. Still, four goals from your second-line center at this point in the season is dismal no matter how much you’re paying him.

Most likely to be dealt:
You’re probably expecting me to say Jason Spezza. In fact, there are rumors out there that the Senators are in talks with the Columbus Blue Jackets to deal Spezza for a package that would include goalie Pascal Leclaire. But Spezza’s contract will be almost impossible to move, especially mid-season. A more likely scenario would see the Senators deal someone such as Chris Neil or Antoine Vermette before the trade deadline.

Most startling development:
That a team as talented as the Senators could have the most anemic offence in the NHL.

High point of the season:
Taking three of a possible four points against the Stanley Cup finalist Pittsburgh Penguins in the first two games of the season in Stockholm.

Low point of the season:
The moment the plane’s wheels touched the runway in Ottawa and every minute since then.

Reasons for hope:
Erik Karlsson looked pretty good at the World Junior Championship and the Senators have set themselves up nicely for a top-five pick in a deep draft.

Reasons for despair:
Once one of the top talent producers in the league, the Senators have hit something of a dry run in terms of young prospects and there’s not much on the horizon. And they have big-money, long-term contracts tied up in three players who are not producing commensurate with their salaries.

Head scratcher:
A team that allowed Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden to walk away for nothing and ran Joe Corvo out of town now needs a puck-moving defenseman.

This column also appears in the Ottawa Metro newspaper.

Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.


Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks Pledge to Release Findings of Abuse Investigation

The Chicago Blackhawks pledged to release the findings of an independent investigation into allegations that a then-assistant coach sexually assaulted two players in 2010.

Hlinka-Gretzky Cup Logo

Hlinka-Gretzky Cup Begins with Michkov Taking Center Stage

Top 2023 NHL draft prospect Matvei Michkov continues to dominate every tournament he plays in, with the Russian star recording four points on Day 1 of the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. Plus, Slovakia shocks USA, the Czechs have a perfect opener and Germany gave Sweden a run for its money.


Eichel's Agents Push For a Trade

The latest salvo in Jack Eichel's standoff with Buffalo Sabres management came Friday when his agents released a statement critical of the club's handling of his treatment for his injured neck. Now what?