2018-19 Season Preview: Ottawa Senators

Updated: September 24, 2018 at 12:24 pm by Dylan Berthiaume

Ottawa suffered through a dismal year in 2017-18, posting a 28-43-11 record and finishing second-last in the league. Their 67 points was a substantial 31-point drop off from the year before and led to some serious turnover in the organization.

Just two years removed from an Eastern Conference Finals appearance, the Ottawa Senators are well on their way to a full rebuild. The team traded franchise cornerstone and Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks just weeks before the start of the 2018-19 season. First-line winger Mike Hoffman was shipped to the Sharks in June before being flipped to the Florida Panthers. Owner Eugene Melnyk said fans should expect to see a roster loaded with rookies and promising young players this season. In other words, it’s going to be a long season for Senator fans.

In/Out

➕ Brady Tkachuk (Draft)

➕ Mikkel Boedker (Trade)

➕ Chris Tierney (Trade)

➕ Dylan DeMelo (Trade)

➖ Erik Karlsson (Trade)

➖ Mike Hoffman (Trade)

➖ Fredrik Claesson (Free Agency)

➖ Alex Burrows (Buyout)

Projected Forwards

While the roster is dropping assets by the day, the Senators’ top-six still holds a pair of prominent players. Matt Duchene was acquired from the Avalanche last year in a three-way trade that sent Kyle Turris to Nashville and Ottawa’s first-round pick in 2019 to Colorado. Regardless of how you feel about what Ottawa gave up to get him, there’s no denying Duchene’s production. He put up 49 points in 68 games with the Senators last season, totaling 27 goals and 59 points between the two teams. He is far and away the Senators’ top centreman and has a shot at breaking 60 points this season for the first time since 2013-14.

Mark Stone was well on his way to a career year last year had injuries not limited him to just 58 games. He put up 20 goals and 42 assists, an 88-point pace over a full 82 games. He might not produce quite at that level this season but he’s a legitimate 70 point-threat. He should see plenty of minutes as an integral part of Ottawa’s depleted top-six.

An injury to second-line centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau­ has all but guaranteed  the newly-acquired Chris Tierney a second-line role to open the season. Despite Melnyk’s prediction of up to 10 rookies skating for the Sentaors this season, prospects Logan Brown and Drake Batherson have already been cut from the NHL roster. Of their top prospects, only the highly-touted Alex Formenton remains in competition for a spot.

Projected Defensemen

After years of being carried by Karlsson, the blueline’s lack of depth will be exploited by teams left and right in the 2018-19 season. Thomas Chabot projects to be the No. 1 defenseman on this team. He was limited to just 17 minutes a night as a rookie in 2017-18, shadowing Karlsson in almost all situations. He’s now the uncontested quarterback of the Senators’ top powerplay unit, and he’ll skate alongside Cody Ceci at 5v5 to start the season. Ceci played 23 minutes a night last season and should lead the team in even strength ice time again in 2018-19. His play does not justify that kind of usage, posting a 43.8 CF% for his career (-4.3 CF% rel). Unsurprisingly, Corsica ranks Chabot and Ceci as the worst top-pairing in the NHL.

The bottom-four doesn’t get any prettier for the Senators. Dylan DeMelo, acquired as part of the Karlsson trade, projects to start on Ottawa’s second-pair despite an ATOI of just 14:12 last season. He’s been a passable NHL defenseman to this point in his career, but it’ll be interesting to see how his game holds up in a much larger role. Aside from Chabot, there’s not a whole lot of upside on this blueline. Ottawa could very well be leading the league in shots against come season’s end.

Projected Goalies

After a miraculous 2016-17 season in which he posted a .926 SV% and a 2.28 GAA, Craig Anderson had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2017-18. The 37-year-old netminder recorded a lowly .898 SV% and won only 23 games in 58 appearances. His play has fluctuated from year to year before, so don’t be surprised to see him experience somewhat of a bounce back in 2018-19. Still, the age is as much of a concern as the poor play. At this point in his career, you wonder how much gas he has left in the tank.

Mike Condon faired little better than Anderson last season. The perennial backup rocked a .902 SV% and a 3.25 GAA. If he has a more solid season in 2018-19 he could certainly challenge the aging Anderson for playing time, but don’t expect either of them to win a lot of games.

Projected Scoring Leaders

Goals Assists Points PPG PPP
Mark Stone (25) Mark Stone (40) Mark Stone (65) Mark Stone (5)
Mark Stone (15)
Matt Duchene (24) Matt Duchene (31) Matt Duchene (55) Matt Duchene (5)
Matt Duchene (13)
Bobby Ryan (20) Thomas Chabot (29) Bobby Ryan (47) Bobby Ryan (4)
Thomas Chabot (12)

Senators in the DFO Top 300

  • 82. Mark Stone — RW16
  • 142. Matt Duchene — C34
  • 169. Thomas Chabot — D46
  • 202. Craig Anderson — G33
  • 297. Bobby Ryan — RW60

2018-19 Outlook

Predicted Atlantic Standings

1. Tampa Bay Lightning
2. Toronto Maple Leafs
3. Boston Bruins
4. Florida Panthers
5. Buffalo Sabres
6. Detroit Red Wings
7. Montreal Canadiens
8. Ottawa Senators

The Senators were the second-worst team in the NHL last season and got considerably worse this off-season. Luckily for them, the bottom half of the Atlantic Division is chalk full of basement-dwelling teams, so they could very well avoid finishing in last place. Regardless, they seem like a lock to be a lottery team once again this year. With Colorado possessing their first-round pick, Senator fans are going to have a hard time finding any sort of meaning behind their games this season.

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Dylan Berthiaume

Dylan has been an Associate Editor of DailyFaceoff since 2018 and a co-host of the DFO Podcast since 2015.

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