This is the most recent record in THN.com’s ongoing breakdowns of the NHL’s 32 offseasons. Today we watch the Ottawa Senators.
2021-22 review: 33-42-7
Finish in the Atlantic Division: 7th
Salary cap space available (according to CapFriendly.com): $11.6 million
Restricted Free Agents: Alex Formenton, F; Mathieu Joseph, F; Erik Brannström, D
What senators have: Two of the best acquisitions of this offseason with forwards Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat; a new motivated and veteran goaltender in Cam Talbot; enough salary cap space to make a significant addition during the regular season; a star defenseman in Thomas Chabot and a promising young defenseman in Jake Sanderson; the elite young forwards of Tim Stutzle, Drake Batherson, Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris and Shane Pinto.
What senators need: More offense across the board; a vastly improved home record (they were 15-22-4 last season); a better power play; depth for their body of defense; good luck on the health front
What’s realistic for the Senators next season: The Senators finished the 2021-22 regular season on a 7-2-1 streak, but were still 34 points from a playoff spot. That should illustrate how bad they’ve been for much of the season – and while some of that can be attributed to the injury bug which has bitten them badly, the truth is they didn’t have enough of experience and overall depth of talent at all positions to race with the top four teams in the Atlantic Division.
However, Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion has addressed that issue in a big way this offseason by being one of the biggest players on the trade and free agency front, landing a pair of forwards at high octane in former Flyers and Panthers star Claude Giroux and ex-Blackhawks sniper Alex DeBrincat. Giroux had long been rumored to be interested in playing for his hometown Sens, while Chicago didn’t want to pay 24-year-old DeBrincat big money when he becomes a restricted free agent in the summer of 2023. Still, the acquisition of either star was easier said than done, and Dorion deserves credit for acting aggressively to improve an offense that needed a lot of help (they only generated than 227 goals – for last season, the third-lowest total in the Eastern Conference and the seventh-worst total in the league).
Following those moves, Dorion addressed his goalie by first moving veteran Matt Murray to Toronto and then adding former Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot to form a credible tandem with returning veteran Anton. Forsberg. Ottawa’s goaltenders will always play behind a defensive corps with obvious depth and skill issues, but now that they can produce above-average amounts of attack, wins should be easier to come by.
That said, just about every Atlantic team intends to be a playoff team in 2022-23, and the Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabers will push the Boston Bruins’ aging core to the limit. for the last post-season spot in the division. . The daughters of late Senators owner Eugene Melnyk still have financial control of the franchise, but so far have proven willing and able to spend more salary money to provide for suffering Ottawa fans a long time a winning product. For that reason, anything short of a playoff appearance — which would be the Senators’ first since the 2016-17 campaign — will be a huge disappointment for the organization.
For now, however, there is legitimate hope that the Senators can emerge as one of the most improved groups in the entire league. There will be pressure on head coach DJ Smith, but it’s positive pressure, and now it’s up to Ottawa’s young core to prove Dorion was right to be patient with this and reap the rewards. fruit this year.