2011-12 NHL Season Preview: Ottawa Senators

Offseason Losses: Ryan Shannon

Offseason Additions: Zenon Konopka, Nikita Filatov, Alex Auld

Last Season Ranking: 13th in the East

Erik Karlsson becomes a RFA after this season. Can Ottawa wrap him up long term if they miss the playoffs again?


Offense: The Ottawa Senators are one of those unique teams who missed the payoffs by quite a bit and have decided to make minimal changes to their roster. Wishful thinking perhaps?

The offense still rests on the shoulders of superstars Daniel Alfreddson and Jason Spezza. Alfredsson is coming off of a back injury that took him out for a quarter of last season. Still, he was capable of marking 31 points in 54 games; 14 goals and 17 assists. A healthy Alfredsson will booster the club with his typical 70 point range production. Spezza will be a player most appreciative of a healthy Alfredsson, that is if he is capable of staying healthy himself. Spezza suffered a right shoulder injury taking him out of 20 games last season. The injury did not seem to hinder him, once returning to the lineup, Spezza had a respectable 21 goals and 36 assists in 62 games played.

Still, with healthy superstars, the team lacks any depth to be competitive. Milan Michalek should wing the top line with both Alfredsson and Spezza, but after that, who are these guys?

Bobby Butler looks to complete a full season and has potential to be a good player. Mika Zibanejad might be a fun name to attempt to say, but he is a rookie drafted in the first round, 6th overall in the 2011 draft. Playing only 26 games in the Swedish league, his NHL caliber of play is still unproven. Oh yeah, he is only 18. Sticking with the young guys, the team has signed trouble maker Nikita Filatov from the Columbus Blue Jackets. I won’t lie, I thought Filatov was supposed to be the real deal, hence me drafting him later last year for my fantasy team. He turned out to be a young Sergei Fedorov without the talent.

Defense: Ottawa has a mediocre defensive squad to match the mediocre offense. Veteran Sergei Gonchar looks to prove his worth after only contributing 27 points. Comparing to the year previous, Gonchar helped the Pittsburgh Penguins with 11 goals and 39 assists for 50 points. To his defense, 20 of his 27 points with Ottawa last year did come on the power play, something he should meet and hopefully beat this year. Note to team, learn to dive like the Vancouver Canucks to gain more man advantage time.

The future of the organization rests with young and talented Erik Karlsson. Karlsson is only in his third year, with his first totaling 26 points, and his second, 45 points. Don’t expect him to jump to 60 points, but it is likely he will slightly increase his last year’s point total. Karlsson becomes a restricted free agent after this year, which the Seantors will of course do everything to keep him in Ottawa. Still, with Nick Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings possibly retiring after this year, expect the Wings to put in an offer if Ottawa cannot wrap him up.

Goaltending: Craig Anderson and Alex Auld are expected to split time until one proves to be the number one goalie. Both have potential of taking that spot, so expect a goalie war throughout the whole season. This, for Senators’ fans, is a positive.

HWB Playoff Prediction: Not playoff bound.

New Head Coach Paul MacLean, coming from the Detroit Red Wings, will have his work cut out with a depth deprived, young, unproven squad. For Senators fans, don’t expect too much this year.

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