The Senators had another very poor season during their 2019-2020 campaign. They finished with the second worst record in the NHL going 25-34-12 over the shortened season. Their 62 points led only Detroit and made them one of seven teams not to make the qualifying round for the playoffs. The Senators made a lot of moves over the offseason. Our Ottawa Senators preview 2021 looks at how these transactions will impact their standing during the upcoming season.
The Senators made a few big acquisitions up front. Their biggest offseason signing came when they inked Evgenii Dadonov to a three-year contract. Dadonov spent the past three years playing for the Florida Panthers compiling a total of 182 points in 225 games. During the 2019-2020 season he had 25 goals and 22 assists for 47 points. His goal and point totals were more than any player on the Senators had last year. He should see himself among the team leaders in scoring. His addition will definitely help an Ottawa club that finished 22nd in goals for.
The Sens also traded for center Derek Stepan from Arizona along with Drafting German winger Tim Stuetzle third overall in the NHL Entry Draft. Stepan had a career low 28 points last season but will likely slot into the second line center position for Ottawa in 2021. He will provide a veteran presence for the youth in Ottawa’s lineup. Stuetzle projects to be a very skilled player next season. The forward has the ability to lineup both at center and on the left wing. During his draft year he put up 34 points in 41 games while playing with Adler Mannheim in his home country. He will likely be a Calder trophy candidate this season, and will make an immediate impact in 2021.
Tkachuk and Norris
Brady Tkachuk returns as the club’s top point producer from last season. He enters his third professional season in 2021 after scoring 21 goals and finishing with 23 assists. Tkachuk is projected to be centered this season by rookie Josh Norris, who was taken 19th overall in 2017. Last season Norris played his first three NHL games failing to record a point. The majority of his year was spent in the AHL where he finished tied for third in scoring while potting 31 goals and adding 30 assists. Overall, the Senators upgraded at forward over the offseason. Despite this they are still likely to be one of the lower scoring teams in 2021.
Ottawa Senators Preview 2021 – Defense
While the Senators didn’t make drastic moves to improve their blueline, they should see dividends from promoting Erik Branstrom to the NHL full time. The prospect played 31 games in the NHL last season as well as 27 in the AHL. He had 23 points in the AHL along with four assists during his NHL stint. Brannstrom projects as an elite offensive-defenseman, and should be expected to take on a decent workload in 2021.
The most impressive player on Ottawa’s roster is Thomas Chabot. In his third season the left-shot blueliner led all players in time on ice averaging 26 minutes per game. While he did see his offensive production dip last year, he still managed to put up 39 points. Chabot is an elite defenseman and gives the Senators a solid presence on the backend.
NIkita Zaitsev and Brayden Coburn are also expected to be a key member of the Sens’ backend. Zaitsev averaged 22:09 minutes per game for Ottawa last season. He is expected to be used in a similar manner this season. Coburn was acquired in December via trade. Last season while playing for the Stanley Cup Champion LIghtning Coburn was used as the team’s seventh defenseman. He was a stable presence while in the lineup and will see more usage on an Ottawa team that has less depth on the backend. Much like with the Senator’s forwards group, the team has upgraded on D. Despite this, it is still one of the weaker bluelines in the NHL.
The biggest upgrade that the Senators made this offseason comes in net. The Sens acquired two-time Stanley Cup Champion Matt Murray from the Pittsburgh Penguins. While he had a rough 2019-2020 season, there is a very good chance that he bounces back in 2021. He finished last season with a .899 save percentage and a 2.87 GAA but is one season removed from stopping .919 percent of the shots he faced. Ultimately Murray knows what it takes to win, and will provide a solid backbone that Ottawa can build around.
Ottawa Senators Preview 2021: Outlook
Our Ottawa Senators Preview 2021 sees the Sens as being one of the most improved teams compared to last season. They not only added some solid pieces up front in Derek Stepan and Tim Stutzle, but they also added a very solid goaltender in Matt Murray. As their young players continue to improve, Ottawa could be somewhat competitive this season. Despite this, The Sens shouldn’t be expected to make the playoffs.
Ottawa Senators Preview 2021: Prediction
Record: 20-30-5, 45 points
Finish: 7th in the North Division