Senators' Season Preview
The Ottawa Senators are one of the elite teams in the NHL. With all of their financial problems solved, this team is inching closer to hoisting Lord Stanley’s Mug. This year looks more promising than ever, and the city of Ottawa is already experiencing hockey fever.The Senators are finally financially stable. With new owner Eugene Melnyk coming in, Sens’ fans don’t have to worry about losing their stars to teams like the New York Rangers. They can also count on Melnyk to bring in a player if needed at the trade deadline. Melnyk’s fingerprints are already all over this team, with the signing of Bryan Smolinski and Wade Redden to deals that Rod Bryden wouldn’t have been able to make. However, there is one key player who remains unsigned. Martin Havlat has stated that he wants to be in Ottawa for training camp, but is not sure if that will happen. If he is at training camp or not, i’m sure that he will suit up for Ottawa in October.
For the first time in several years, the Senators are very deep and happy about their center position. Todd White proved that he isn’t a one year wonder, Radek Bonk finally showed that he can produce in the playoffs, Mike Fisher is turning out to be a great leader and a force on the ice, Bryan Smolinski will get you 20-25 goals, Jason Spezza will be on one of Ottawa’s top 2 lines, and Shaun Van Allen is a great depth guy. However, there is an excess of centermen on this team. You can expect either Bryan Smolinski, Mike Fisher or Todd White to play left wing next year. All in all, the Senators are set at center.
Ottawa’s right wingers are among the best in the league. For scoring, you have Daniel Alfredsson, Marian Hossa and Martin Havlat (if signed). However, someone has to protect those elite players. That is where Chris Neil comes in. He has developed well over the past 2 years, and he is turning out to be more than just an enforcer. He can score 10 goals a year. Ottawa’s right wingers are not a problem.
Left wing is more of a concern. Nobody knows how one of the centers will play at left wing, Petr Schastlivy has had injury problems, Vaclav Varada is more of a pest then scorer, but he gets the job done, and Peter Schaefer is a good penalty killer and third liner. The Senators don’t have many weaknesses, but left wing is a question mark. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Defence is great. Wade Redden, Zdeno Chara, Karel Rachunek, Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov, Curtis Leschychyn, Shane Hnidy, and Brian Pothier. One of the best defensive cores in the league. Not much more to say here.
Goaltending is very solid. Patrick Lalime has proved that he is a very capable number 1 goalie, and he can play in the playoffs, Martin Prusek is an up and coming back-up, while prospect Ray Emery should challege him for that role.
The Ottawa Senators are one of the elite teams in the league, and barring any injuries they should win the east and play in the Stanley Cup Finals. We’ll just have to wait for the result of that series.