Bobby Ryan has one of the worst contracts in the NHL and will be helping lead the tanking Ottawa Senators this season. Free use photo from wikimedia commons.

The Atlantic Division has a lot of competitive teams this upcoming season. Today’s featured team, the Ottawa Senators, is not one of them. For previews on the other divisional teams, however, follow the links for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, and Detroit Red Wings.

The Ottawa Senators head into the 2019-2020 in full rebuild mode. After taking on three long-term injury reserve contracts just to hit the NHL cap minimum, the Senators are spending the least amount possible in what is clearly a “tank” year. GM Pierre Dorion has used his cap space to recoup draft picks and other young assets with the hope of rebuilding a Senators’ core in the near future. New coach D.J. Smith, a former Toronto assistant, was instrumental in bringing in some of his former players in. However, they are unlikely to have any noticeable difference. The Sens will likely be the worst team in the league next season, without exception.

Goalies

  1. Anders Nilsson
  2. Craig Anderson
  3. Magnus Hogberg
  4. Filip Gustavsson
  5. Joey Daccord

The Sens come into the 2019-2020 season with a below average tandem of Anderson and Nilsson. Craig Anderson is likely the starter again this season, but this is based upon past performance and salary. Anderson has not been a consistent number one for years now, but he is still cast in this role. He will also likely face an insane number of shots against, so it wouldn’t surprise me if his numbers drop again.

Anders Nilsson is the better goalie at this stage in his career. Nilsson honestly gives the Sens the best chance of success, though even he has average, if not below average, statistics. Some of this is likely playing for a terrible team, but overall, this tandem is unlikely to give the Sens a net positive.

If there is an injury, Hogberg may get the call. Hogberg had an excellent AHL season. He will likely fight for a backup role next year.

Defense

  1. Thomas Chabot
  2. Eric Bannstrom
  3. Dylan DeMelo
  4. Ron Hainsey
  5. Nikita Zaitsev
  6. Chris Wolanin
  7. Mark Borowiecki
  8. Andreas England
  9. Christian Jaros
  10. Max Lajoie
  11. Cody Goloubef
  12. Nick Ebert

The Sens defensive group heads into the 2019-2020 as one of the worst assembled. However, they do have two standouts: Thomas Chabot and Eric Bannstrom. Chabot has proven he is a number one NHL defenseman. His defensive game needs work, but offensively speaking he is a solid offensive contributor. Chabot is also entertaining, an element the Sens are missing through out their roster. Similar to Chabot, rookie Eric Bannstrom will likely play in the NHL next season. He was the key piece to the Mark Stone trade and has the potential to be a top pairing defender at the NHL level. Bannstrom is quick, agile, and electrifying on the rush. Some have even compared him to former Sens captain Erik Karlsson (thought this is a bit of a stretch; Bannstrom will be good, but not that good). He will be given opportunity to run the second power play unit.

Outside of those two, the rest of the Sens’ blueline is mostly a hodge-podge of veterans and should-be third-pairing types. Nikita Zaitsev and Ron Hainsey both came over from Toronto. Zaitsev had an excellent rookie season a few years back, but has struggled since. He will likely play a top four role. Ron Hainsey is a seasoned veteran. He is a decent penalty killer, but he is starting to lose a step as he approaches 40 years-old. He will likely play big minutes next season. DeMelo could also find his way in the top four, though he would likely be a third pairing guy on most teams.

Mark Borowiecki will most certainly make the top six, even if his underlying numbers show otherwise. Pierre Dorion has singled him out as a leader as the team transitions and rebuilds. Wolanin managed thirty games last year and didn’t look out place. He also has a bit of an offensive flare. He too will likely find himself in the mix. One of Englund, Jaros, and Lajoie (who started the year with the Sens last year before being demoted) could all find themselves in the mix. Overall, outside of Chabot and Bannstrom, this group is in for a long season. They will be busy and unfortunately, lack of depth and skill in their top four will cost them.

Forwards

LW C RW
1. Brady Tkachuk 1. Colin White 1. Anthony Duclair
2. Drake Batherson 2. Chris Tierney 2. Bobby Ryan
3. Mikkel Boedker 3. J-G Pageau 3. Connor Brown
4. Alex Formenton 4. Artem Anisimov 4. Tyler Ennis
5. Vitaly Abramov 5. Logan Brown 5. Max Veronneau
6. Michael Carcone 6. Nicholas Paul 6. Rudolfs Balcers
7. Morgan Klimchuk 7. Josh Norris 7. Jonathan Davidsson

Similar to their defense, the Sens’ offense leaves much to be desired. They do have some players with some high potential, which at least should help the Sens’ watchability this season. Brady Tkachuk had an excellent rookie season. He plays with tenacity and grit overall and also has a scoring flare. He should finish with around 50 points this season. Colin White had over 40 points last season and signed an extension in the offseason. His production is likely to go up judging by his default position as a number one center.

Anthony Duclair has bounced around quite a bit in his career due to inconsistencies and an inability to play defense. Duclair may have a career year this season due to ice time increase alone. He is the best option for the Sens on the right side. Drake Batherson, a rookie, was over a point-per-game in the AHL as a rookie last year. He managed 20 NHL games and didn’t look out of place. He will be relied upon in a top six role.

Outside of these four players, most of the rest of the roster will be filled with middle six forwards, many in decline. Bobby Ryan, who has one of the NHL’s worst contacts, will find himself again in a top six role. He will likely end up with around 40 points, which may not seem so bad except for the fact he makes over $7 million a year. Tierney had a career year last season and may repeat another 40 point season if he finds himself as a number two center again. Pageau was injured for much of last season, but when healthy, he is a solid third-line center. He could also end up with around 40 points.

Mikkel Boedker managed only seven goals after being traded from San Jose last summer. His game is in decline, and there shouldn’t be much, if any, total offensive increase there. Connor Brown is a recent acquisition from Toronto. After a 20 goal rookie season, Brown has struggled offensively the last two seasons. However, he played more of a bottom six role the last two seasons, so there is a hope that he could return to form with increased ice-time on the Sens.

Tyler Ennis had an excellent season with the Leafs last season after a few abysmal ones in Minnesota and Buffalo. This was likely the result of playing with higher talent in Toronto, but he does possess excellent speed and showed flashes of his past creativity. Artem Anisimov was acquired from Chicago in a salary cap dump by the Blackhawks. Anisimov can still contribute a little offensively. However, he has been a defensive liability and net negative over the past two years. He is unlikely to move the needle much, if at all, for the Senators. Alex Formenton likely has a spot on the roster as well. Formenton is a big fast rookie winger. His top speed is elite, though he truly lacks the finishing skills to be a top six forward. He should be an exciting element of the Sens roster.

To round out the roster, rookie Logan Brown may also break into the lineup. Brown, a former first rounder, had a decent first AHL season. He played with Batherson for much of the year, and they had great chemistry. They could start the year together on the roster. Balcers, who also played some games for the Sens, could see himself in a bottom six role. He has limited upside but has shown some skill. This group, overall, is lacking top end talent. There is some potential here, but lots of question marks and only a few “sure things.” This group will struggle this score this season.

Bottom Line

The Sens head into this season knowing they will be one of the worst teams in the league, and their roster is reflective of it. As a whole, this group is lacking top end skill, talent, and depth. Anything above a last place finish would be considered an over-achievement.