|David Legwand – C||Jason Spezza – C|
|Alex Chiasson – RW||Ales Hemsky – RW|
|Aaron Johnson – D||Joe Corvo – D|
After back-to-back playoff appearances under Paul MacLean, the Ottawa Senators missed the playoffs with a 37-31-14 record in the 2013-14.
Heading into 2014-15, things are not heading in the right direction for the Sens. A season after they lost longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson in free agency, they had to deal their new captain Jason Spezza after he asked for a trade. They sent him to the Dallas Stars for Alex Chiasson, a pair of prospects and a second round pick. With Spezza out of the picture, that leaves Kyle Turris as the teams number-1 centre. They brought in David Legwand via free agency to take Turris’ spot on the second line, but their top-6 is not going to scare many teams. The departure of Spezza also puts more pressure on 21-year-old Mika Zibanejad to pick up some of the offensive slack at centre. He had 16 goals and 33 points last season, but the 2011 sixth overall pick will need to continue to grow his offensive game if the Senators are going to win some games. Joining that group of centres are some fairly talented wingers. Bobby Ryan had a solid debut season in Ottawa, but they need him to get back to his 30-goal form. He had a tough time with a sports hernia last year, so if he is healthy this season, he should get back there. Milan Michalek is another player they need more out of. He has had back-to-back disappointing seasons after scoring 35 in 2011-12. Without Spezza at centre, his days of 30 goals are likely gone, so look for a 20-20 season. Clarke MacArthur is not a sexy name either, but he has been really consistent over the years and 20-20 should be no trouble for him either.
A couple of young forwards to keep an eye on in Ottawa this season are Curtis Lazar and Mark Stone. Lazar was the 17th overall pick in 2013 and spent last year wrapping up his junior career with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He had 41 goals and 35 assists (76 points) in just 58 games. He could work his way onto the Senators’ roster on effort alone. He like to battle, but also brings a lot of offence to the table. He will likely start the year in the AHL, but should move up quickly. Stone is the more likely candidate to make the team out of camp. He had eight points (4G / 4A) in 19 games with the Sens last year. He is a big body (6’3″ – 200lbs.) who will go to the dirty areas to get goals. He is a good passer with a strong shot so a full season in the NHL could produce a 20-20 season for him as well.
OK, lets be honest, that forward group is below average, so it all falls on Erik Karlsson’s shoulders. If that is your forward corp, I guess you should have the NHL’s best offensive defenseman. The 24-year-old is crazy good. A year after missing 31 games because of a severed achilles tendon, it was nice to see Karlsson play all 82 games last year. He had his first 20-goal season and paired that with 54 assists to lead all NHL defensemen with 74 points. That is 13 points more than Duncan Keith who was second in scoring, so he is the Sidney Crosby of defensemen. But, after him there is not much to like about the Senators blueline from a fantasy perspective. Patrick Wiercioch has had 42 points in 95 games over the last two seasons, so if he stays healthy there is a chance he gets to 30 points, but he will be a waiver wire addition. Cody Ceci, 20, has the most upside of group. At 6-foot-3, 215 he is big enough to compete at this level. He had nine points (3G / 6A) in 49 games last season, but should play a more prominent role in 2014-15. Ceci should see a spike in power-play minutes, giving him more opportunities to produce. Like Wiercioch, he is not worth drafting in standard leagues, but keep an eye on the young D-man, especially in deep keeper leagues.
The key to Ottawa’s success will be stable goaltending. They finished 2013-14 with the NHL’s fourth worst goals against average (3.15) and you are never going to make the playoffs like that. Craig Anderson was really bad after a great lockout shortened campaign. Expect some improvement, but he is a fantasy back-up. Robin Lehner is the goalie of the future in Canada’s capital city. He was not great last season either, but that should be looked at as a small bump in the road because he has a bright future ahead of him. That said, the Sens just signed Anderson to a three-year contract extension so there is no telling when Lehner will get his shot to be a full fledged starter.
Look to the Draft (Ranking Senators’ Fantasy Players)
- Erik Karlsson – D
- Bobby Ryan – RW
- Kyle Turris – C
- Clarke MacArthur – LW
- Craig Anderson – G
- David Legwand – C
- Milan Michalek – LW
- Mark Stone – RW
- Mika Zibanejad – C
- Cody Ceci – D
Click HERE for the Senators’ potential line combinations heading into the 2014-15 season.
Season prediction: The Sens are going to be bad, but not Buffalo bad, they will finish seventh in the Atlantic division.
Other Season Previews: Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames,Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars,Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers