September 16, 2013 by andymisek
It is a promising time to be an Ottawa Senators fan. The young and talent they have been building through the draft over the last few years will be dynamic down the road. Also acquiring Bobby Ryan will add a prolific goal scorer to the line-up. Ottawa still made the playoffs in 2013 after having injuries to Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson and Craig Anderson. However, with good, you must take the bad. Ottawa lost their leader and face of the franchise over the off season when Daniel Alfredsson signed with the Detroit Red Wings. A youthful Ottawa Senators finish 15th on our NHL Season Countdown.
A bit of a changing face in Ottawa over the offseason. They made some noise by trading Jakob Silfverberg in exchange for Bobby Ryan. Ryan scored 30+ goals the last four years before the shortened 2013 season. It would be a dramatic let down if he didn’t continue to score 30+ goals each season now playing with Jason Spezza. Ottawa drafted Curtis Lazar with the 17th overall pick in the 2013 entry draft. He put up a respectable 61 points in 72 games for the Edmonton Oil-Kings. Expect Lazar to build on those number this year.
It was free agency where Ottawa made their biggest changes. The loss of Daniel Alfredsson was the largest. He maybe 40 years old and his play isn’t at the same level as it was five years ago, but for a young team, a leader like Alfredsson is needed. It is a huge loss that won’t be easily mended. It is a major culture change. Ottawa added Joe Corvo and Clarke MacArthur for depth. MacArthur is talented enough to play in 2nd or 3rd line role depending on the development of the younger guys. The skill is there, but the leadership is in question.
Bobby Ryan, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek are a formidable top line that is able to score 60+ points per player. After the veteran first line, the youth of Ottawa begins to show. Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau are Ottawa’s depth at center. Also Cory Conacher and Zach Smith are wingers on 2nd and 3rd lines. Zach Smith is the oldest of that group at 25 years old. Zibanejad and Pageau are younger than myself! Zibanejad and Conacher both had solid rookie seasons while Turris has been developing into an above average second line center since coming over to Ottawa. The potential for these kids is through the roof. It also helps that all have played into the 2nd round of the playoffs.
Sand paper and grit is Ottawa’s biggest issues up front. Chris Neil and Erik Condra are their big guys on offense. Matt Kassian also can play a physical game, but he needs to crack the line-up first. These young guys might get pushed around a little bit when playing teams like Boston and Philadelphia who have experience and physicality.
Erik Karlsson is one of the game’s best defensemen. There isn’t much more one can say about Karlsson; 78 points and a Norris Trophy in 2011-2012 speaks for itself. Alongside Karlsson, Jared Cowen and Patrick Wiercioch are all under 22 years old. Developing and building bonds together will be key to Ottawa’s success down the road. Rounding out with Marc Methot is an impressive top four defense. Chris Phillips and Joe Corvo add depth and experience to the blue line.
Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner make one of the league’s best goaltending tandems and they are doing it very quietly. Anderson has established himself as a top goalie during his days back in Colorado. He was snubbed from Vezna Trophy voting due to an injury, but the league is taking notice of his immense talent
Robin Lehner is a younger tender who has torn up the AHL with Binghamton Senators. At only 22 years old, Lehner posted an impressive .938 save percentage in the AHL last year. He is a more than capable back-up and will be the future for the Senators.
Promise is the key word for Ottawa. They have a very talented team today, but the potential to be a dynamic contender down the road. Many of the young players on the roster have proved they can play in the NHL, but at what capacity is still in question for some. With a Jack Adam Trophy winning coach, the sky is the limit! The loss of Alfredsson might be a culture shock for Ottawa though. Leadership is taken for granted and it will be interesting to see how Ottawa responds with new player leaadershp.