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.

9 Responses to Senators' Season Preview

  1. -MJ- says:

    The Senators do look good this season. I think Spezza is going to see himself turned into the second line centre by the all-star break. Losing Arvedson will hurt them on LW, but maybe they can bring in somebody via trade or a FA signing.


  2. movingfire says:

    What about (C) Antoine Vermette. I hear great things about this prospect and I think he can play LW as well. Anyone hear any news on this guy??

  3. jofa says:

    The Sens are an incredible team, and should definitely challenge for the Cup next season. Like you say, the only “weakness” may be their left side. I’m thinking they will trade away one of their centermen and/or backup goalie in order to find a LW to play on the first or second line.

    Maybe a package of Fisher and Prusek. They need to move a center in order to get Spezza in the lineup, and Emery looks to be their goalie of the future above Prusek. The pair would be able to net a pretty decent LW I would imagine.

  4. jofa says:

    Yeah, Vermette sounds like he’s a decent prospect. I think he’s definitely NHL calibre, but injuries have slowed his progress a little (missed almost the entire season two seasons ago). However, the biggest problem has to be the glut of centermen in Ottawa, as he’ll have a tough time cracking a lineup with Fisher, Bonk, Spezza, Van Allen, and White ahead of him.

    I would think he’ll gradually work his way onto the roster spot in a year or two, to eventually replace Van Allen. I’ve never seen the guy play, but his stats are impressive and scouts and coaches are always pretty high on the guy. Should be interesting to see if he can take his game to the next level soon.

  5. wayne2 says:

    I wouldnt trade Fisher,he`s got grit,character which is what we lacked most for some time.I agree that Prusek can be packaged with someone to get a solid left wing,maybe had a high pick to get someone of value cause Melnyk said he was wiling

    to go to 40 million payroll.

  6. Petr89 says:

    While I agree that the Sens are very deep down the middle, I think they’re lacking a true number one center. Look at every cup winner since ’91, each has had either a.) a dominant, two-way center or b.) an insanely good goalie. ’91/’92= Mario, ’93=Roy, ’94= Messier/Richter = (weakest example) ’95, ’01, ’03=Brodeur, ’96, ’00=Sakic, Forsberg, Roy, ’97, ’98, ’02= Fedorov/Yzerman/ (02) Hasek, ’99 =Modano/Belfour.

    Anyway, I don’t think Radek Bonk and Patrick Lalime can really be compared to these guys. That being said, the Sens are one of the top two or three teams in the league in depth and overall skill level, and their depth could very well overcome their lack of top-end talent at these key positions. Still, I don’t bet on a team in the playoffs without both a number one center and dominant goaltender.

    Also, if I mixed up the years for the cup winners, don’t freak out: Once the wings are out of it I just feel kind of dejected and can’t bear to watch the rest of the playoffs. And, yes, I know, the Wings don’t have anything resembling a number one center (for now, I hope).

  7. Treva says:

    I think the Sens are one of the best TEAMS in the game, they are a total package, play good team defense and a sound system. I think that they need one more offensive defensemen, a real powerplay specialist. Redden and Chara are good, but they aren’t big goal scorers (10, and 9 goals). The sens can afford a defensive liabilty like a Tverdosky or Ozolinch as they have the team D to make up for it.

  8. Habfan1234 says:

    If I were to pick a pre-season favourite to win the Cup, Ottawa would be my choice. They came within a goal of winning the cup last year. Personally I believe they would have steam rolled over Anaheim due to the shear depth of the team. They have the abilility to play the game any way. If their opponents want to play a wide open contest than the Sens have the resources available to play that way. And if their opponents want to play a defensive battle than once again the Sens have the resources at hand to play that way. Another reason why I believe they will win the Cup is due to the fact that they are battle-hardened. They now know what it takes to win because of their loss to the Devils.

  9. meetak says:

    Yeah, the left side is the only weakness, but only in comparison to the other positions.

    Smolenski is the most logical choice for full duty on the left, as he’s done it throughout his career as i understand.

    If Shastlivy stays healthy, he could do well.He’s shown signs of it before, and could break out this year.

    As for Schaeffer and Varada, both know their roles, and play them well.I also think Schaeffer was a little snake-bitten last year, and should put a few more in this time around.

    They have the luxury of not really needing anything to start the season, and should stay put until the trading deadline.They will easily lead the east and be in contention for first place with their current roster.

    Definately the most undeniable “beast of the east” since the legion of doom days in Philly before Lindros got his head whacked up.

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