In a year in which hockey teams across Canada disappointed, it seems appropriate that one of the bigger disappointments was the nation’s capital’s Ottawa Senators. While not thought of as a true Stanley Cup contender, the team was looking to build on its playoff appearance in the 2014-2015 season. Instead, they dropped from 99 to 85 points and missed the playoffs. After the season, Ottawa hired former Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Guy Boucher to fill the same role in their organization.
The Senators’ star player is defenseman Captain Erik Karlsson, the first defenseman in over 40 years to lead the league in assists (66). He also finished tied for fourth among all skaters with 82 points. Another bright spot for the club was second year forward Mark Stone who put up 61 points in 75 games. Assistant Captain Kyle Turris was looking to build on two strong campaigns, but was limited to only 57 games because of injuries. Two veterans occupying a ton of cap space are winger Bobby Ryan and defenseman Dion Phaneuf. While both played fairly well, their combined cap hit of over $14 million per season for the next five years will limit what the team can do in the future.
Pending Free Agents: The top two players up for free agency are both restricted, and will almost assuredly be signed to long term deals. Mike Hoffman led the squad with 29 goals and finished third with 59 points. 22 year old blue liner Cody Ceci had a solid season as well. These two are part of Ottawa’s core moving forward. Fellow restricted free agent defenseman Patrick Wiercioch will not be retained.
Draft Picks: Even though Ottawa could use another top four defenseman, most of the top players at that position will likely be gone when they have the 12thpick in the draft. Several strong forward prospects should be available, and adding some scoring punch is also needed. Centers Michael McLeod and Tyson Jost along with winger Julien Gauthier could all be potential options.
Free Agent Additions: The Senators’ should have sufficient cap room to make a play for a big name free agent. While top free agent Steven Stamkos could potentially be wooed by his former coach, it is unlikely he would sign with Ottawa. New York Islanders winger Kyle Okposo is a young and talented unrestricted free agent that could immediately fill a role on the top line. Defenseman Jordie Benn could be an interesting addition if they could get him for the right price.