Just one season removed from an Eastern Conference Final appearance, the Ottawa Senators found themselves at the bottom of the NHL standings. The Sens finished the 2017-2018 season with 67 points and a 28-43-11 record which was second to worst in the league. They have had a turbulent offseason and our 2018 Ottawa Senators Season Preview looks at how this will affect their attempt at having a comeback season. It could be a rough road for this team in the Atlantic Division of the NHL.
The Ottawa Senators finished 25th in the league in scoring last season, and don’t look to be in much of a position to improve in this area during the 2018 season. Mark Stone returns this season as the teams’ highest scoring forward. He had a very impressive season for the Sens scoring 20 goals and adding 42 assists in only 58 games played.
He will be counted on the carry the offense again this year after the team dealt one of their most talented forwards, Mike Hoffman to Florida. Hoffman was moved due to off ice concerns surrounding alleged harassment by his fiancee of former captain Erik Karlsson’s wife. He had the third most goals on Ottawa last season putting 22 pucks in the net. The only immediate return the club received was forward Mikkel Boedker, who is certainly a downgrade from Hoffman. Boedker had 15 goals and 22 assists as a member of the San Jose Sharks.
Matt Duchene will center the first line for Ottawa. He had 59 points last season as a member of both the Colorado Avalanche and the Ottawa Senators. Duchene’s 27 goals led the Senators last season. He is an extremely talented player and should be one of the team’s leading scorers again.
Ottawa should also get offensive contributions from Ryan Dzingel, Bobby Ryan, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Dzingel had 23 goals and 41 points last season while playing second line minutes. Bobby Ryan had 33 points in 62 games while dealing various hand injuries. Pageau finished the season with 14 goals and 15 assists, but will start the season on the IR.
The biggest loss on the Senators roster, according to our team who prepared this 2018 Ottawa Senators season preview, came by trading away franchise defenseman Erik Karlsson. Karlsson has been not only the best player on Ottawa for the last nine seasons, but one of the top defensemen in all of hockey since joining the NHL in 2009. Overall this loss might be more impactful to the Ottawa Senators, than losing John Tavares was for the New York Islanders. New York had a decent young player to replace their star center on the top line, but the Sens have absolutely nobody close to Karlsson in terms of skill on their roster.
Our 2018 Ottawa Senators season preview does find that the team still has two solid defensemen in Thomas Chabot and Cody Ceci. Chabot played his rookie season for the Sens last season and had a decent year. He had 25 points on the year which was second among the team’s D-men behind Karlsson. He is regarded as a have the potential to be a top defenseman in the NHL, and should see improvements in his game this season. Ceci finished second on Ottawa in time on ice in the 2017-2018 season. He averaged 23:20 minutes per game and is currently the second best defenceman on the team. While already playing big minutes he will likely see even usage due to the trade of Karlsson.
The Senators will return the same goaltending duo that they utilized last season. Craig Anderson played in 58 games last season but had a rough year. He finished the year with an abysmal 3.32 GAA and .898 save percentage. He had been very good for the club just one year prior when he had a .926 save percentage and a 2.28 GAA. Unfortunately it will be tough for him to put up numbers like that this year even if he sees somewhat of a bounce back in 2018-2019. The roster in front of him just looks too weak to help him out.
Mike Condon will back up Anderson. He played in 31 games with a 3.25 GAA and a .902 save percentage. Much like the case with Anderson, Condon likely won’t see great increases in these numbers with the weakness of the skaters playing in front of him.
2018 Ottawa Senators Season Preview: Outlook
Our 2018 Ottawa Senators season preview concludes that the Ottawa Senators do not currently look like a strong hockey club. While they already looked weak on paper, the recent trade of Erik Karlsson might have made Ottawa the worst team in the NHL. The immediate return for their franchise defenseman won’t help the club for years to come and every position on their roster is shaky at best. Look for the Ottawa Senators to finish in the NHL’s basement for the second straight season.
2018 Ottawa Senators Season Preview: Prediction
Finish: 8th in the Atlantic Division