Was the Ottawa Senators’ 23-4-4 streak late last season a sign of how good they can be in 2015-16?
COACH: Dave Cameron
2014-15 RECORD: 43-26-13, 99 points (fourth in Atlantic, lost to Canadiens, 4-2, in first round)
VITAL SIGNS: 2.83 goals-for per game (9th); 2.53 goals-against per game (13th); 16.8 power play pct. (22nd); 82.9 penalty kill pct (11th); PDO: 101.2 (6th); Corsi For pct.: 51.1 (15th); Fenwick For pct.: 49.6 (20th); face-off pct.: 48.2 (24th)
NOTABLE ARRIVALS: F Eric O’Dell, D Michael Kostka
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
Clark MacArthur – Kyle Turris – Mark Stone
Mike Hoffman – Mika Zibanejad – Bobby Ryan
Milan Michalek – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Curtis Lazar
Alex Chiasson – Zack Smith – Chris Neil
Colin Greening, Shane Prince
Erik Karlsson – Marc Methot
Cody Ceci – Patrick Wiercioch
Jared Cowen – Mark Borowiecki
Chris Phillips, Chris Wideman
OUTLOOK: After last season, it’s difficult to decide what the Ottawa Senators are. Are they the team that was in the middle of the Connor McDavid sweepstakes until mid-February? Or the club that was surely one of the best in the league during the last 30 games of the regular season? There is some doubt that the Senators are for real and that they will make the playoffs without another miracle-like run, but was that hot streak really just a fluke? Any team can win a bunch of games in a row, but ending the season on a 23-4-4 roll with a roster that has received an infusion of youth seems like more like a sign of some real promise, and coach Dave Cameron will be trying to make the most of it during his first full season behind the bench.
The roster has remained largely the same. No one’s expecting Andrew Hammond to put up the same kind of numbers he did last season (20-1-2, 1.79 GAA,.941 save pct.) but if he can be a solid backup for 25 games, the Senators should be in good hands with him and a (hopefully) healthy Craig Anderson in net. On the backline Cody Ceci and Patrick Wiercioch must step up, otherwise the only reliable pairing will be Norris Trophy-winner Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot, who came on strong after recovering from back and hip injuries. With no additions to the defense this summer, there will be a lot of pressure on the forwards to score enough goals each night. Fortunately, the Senators have a bunch of young guns in Mika Zibanejad, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Curtis Lazar who appear poised to break out, along with a couple of very promising sophomores in Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman who could actually improve on their stellar rookie seasons. If veterans like Kyle Turris (at 26, he’s a good example of how young this team is becoming) and Clark MacArthur, 30, can put up similar numbers to last season’s, offense won’t be an issue.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Bobby Ryan
After two disappointing seasons with the Senators, Bobby Ryan needs to justify the seven-year, $50.75 million deal Ottawa gave him last October. With just 41 goals in 148 games as a Sen, he hasn’t shown the team what he’s really capable of doing. Ryan is so skilled that it has to be only a matter of time until he scores 30 goals again, or depending on the play of his linemates Hoffman and Zibanejad, it isn’t exactly a stretch to think he could score 40. If everyone including Ryan plays to their full potential, the Senators have a very dangerous group of top six forwards.
PREDICTION: 96 points, fourth in Atlantic
— Charlie Arsenault writes for the Senators site Senshot on FanSided