Patience will pay off for the Ottawa Senators
After a surprisingly successful season, the Ottawa Senators will likely allow for further development of young players. Don’t expect them to spend a lot of money on free agency this summer.
While everyone expected the Senators to finish last this season, they refused to comply. They finished in 8th place, made the playoffs and took the best team in the East, the New York Rangers, to game seven. By all accounts, this was a very good season.
So what’s next? Bryan Murray’s first priority will be to sign defenseman Erik Karlsson. With 78 points and a Norris Trophy nomination, Karlsson established himself as one of the best defensemen in the league.
There is no doubt he will remain an Ottawa Senator, but he will come at a price. The Sens have a lot of cap space to play with, so it probably won’t take long to get the deal done.
Signing Nick Foligno will probably be high on the list. He had a great season as well, and proved himself as a solid second-line winger. But he is just that, a second-line winger.
With the possibility of Daniel Alfredsson retiring, the Sens will need a first-line winger to take his place. The team solved their depth needs on centre last season, now they need to do the same for the wing. Unless the Sens want to go after Alexander Semin, and we all hope they don’t, a trade might be their best option here.
From a development perspective, this team looks pretty good. They have a potential star goaltender, Robin Lehner, just waiting to get a full-time NHL position. Prospects Mark Stone, Jakob Silfverberg and Fredrik Claesson had great seasons with their respective teams and will likely compete for spots with the big club at training camp.
Overall, things look good for the Senators. They just need to wait for their young players to develop and gain more experience. But in the NHL, it’s easy to go from being good one season, to tanking the next. Just ask the Canadiens.
The Sens need to ensure they do not get too comfortable. Expectations will be higher next season, and only time will tell if the Sens can live up to them.