Houston Ottawa Senators are approaching 2019-20 in a new light, while looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2018-19 season. With proper hockey not far away, let’s take a fresh look by previewing what the team’s season might look like.
First Key Game: New York Rangers – October 5th
Odds to win the division
300:1 (8th overall) (via Betway)
Is this a bet worth taking?
In the spirit of Eugene Melnyk, save your money… The top three in the Atlantic are incredibly strong, the Habs & Panthers should challenge for a wild card spot & Detroit & Buffalo have improved. The Sens finished 8th last season, 10 points back of Detroit and haven’t done a lot to improve those odds.
The Sens are in full rebuild mode, turning things over to the kids, and padded their roster with cost effective veterans like Tyler Ennis and Ron Hainsey to surround their young core. These kids are the future (at least until their entry level deals come up) so handing them the reigns means playing meaningful minutes in what will likely be a long season is pivotal.
If you’re going to commit to them (the recent signing of key RFA Colin White suggesting that’s the plan, and a glimmer of hope for Sens fans) you need to give them every opportunity to learn, for better or worse. Craig Anderson is in the last year of his deal and so their young goalies in Daccord and Hogberg are likely to get a serious look, especially if he’s dealt to a contender near the deadline.
Keys To The Season
Story to watch
The development of their young D core under new coach D.J. Smith. Owner Eugene Melnyk ripped the Leafs D in an interview on Toronto radio last season, suggesting they’d forgot to address it in their own rebuild. His team then promptly went out and acquired several members of said defence core and the guy running things, in true Eugene fashion… the Sens hired an experienced hockey man, with a solid reputation in DJ Smith, albeit a rookie as an NHL head coach, primarily because they felt he’d work well with younger players.
They then signed Ron Hainsey to mentor the likes of Thomas Chabot, Christian Jaros, and prize acquisition Erik Brannstrom (who came over from Vegas in the Mark Stone trade) so they have some nice pieces to work with. Now it’s figuring out the puzzle.
Player to watch
With much of the old guard out after last season’s mass exodus, uh, rebuild, the team is now officially in the hands of Brady Tkachuck and co. The young forward’s quickly become a fan favorite, endearing himself with his workman-like attitude. He leads by example and brings as consistent an effort as you could ask night in and out.
Like his brother Matthew he’s shown he can do more than simply agitate opponents (potting 22 goals and 23 assists in 71 games as a rookie) and he’ll need to take that next step if the Sens are going to surprise this season.
Aside from a new owner, a new arena and repairing trust with an increasingly alienated fan base…? How about a top six forward? The Sens have some solid prospects on the back end in Chabot, Brannstrom and Jaros, a bit of goaltending depth, and the likes of Batherson and Brown have looked great in the AHL.
Aside from White and Tkachuk, Ottawa’s forwards at present are comprised of plenty of ‘depth’ type guys, the likes of Tierney, Duclair, Pageau & Boddeker who can play a solid two way game and contribute somewhat consistently, so someone to become a legitimate producer up front would go a long way. I’ve heard that Lafreniere kid in Rimouski is pretty good…
If the Ottawa Senators were an animal, what would they be?
Goldfish: They’re cheap, often ignored, and owners rarely spend much money on them…