No one expected the Senators to be that good last season. Most pre-season predictions had them finishing with a lottery pick or at the bottom of the totem pole.
But those same predictions, critics, whatever you want to call it, didn’t factor in Paul MacLean’s presence in the dressing room and on the bench. If it wasn’t for the Blues strong season in the second half, MacLean would’ve single handily won the Jack Adams award.
The team made some interesting acquisitions over the extended off-season, acquiring stay at home defencemen Marc Methot, Guillaume Latendresse and 2003 first round pick Hugh Jessiman. However what the team added, won’t change what they lost. The team lost its muscle. Zenon Konopka and Matt Carkner were both picked up in the off-season leaving veteran Chris Neil as the team’s tough guy. While Neil did pick up 10 fighting majors last season, that number was half as many as Konopka’s.
The Senators wouldn’t have let Konopka go or Carkner if they didn’t believe in Chris Neil’s abilities which is why they signed Neil to a three year extension this past summer.
The team performed well above expectations last season, but the task for the Senators now is staying at that level and going above and beyond to make it farther in the playoffs. Daniel Alfredsson has committed to at least one more year in the Capital and hopes will be sky high for Erik Karlsson after his Norris campaign in the 2011-12 season.
The Sens stocked their cupboards with the 2011 draft and added a group of forwards. Mika Zibanejad is the prize among those forwards that were picked up and definitely has a good shot at staying in the Nation’s Capital very soon. The 19 year old battled injuries throughout the year which caused him to stay in Canada instead of playing for the Swedish World Junior team earlier this season.
It’s unclear how last season’s acquisition of Ben Bishop affects the status of youngster Robin Lehner. The Swedish standout got fives game with the Senators last year and played well, but with Craig Anderson still under contract for two years and Bishop’s arrival, he might have to wait a little longer.
The Sens didn’t have to look far on draft day, finding Cody Ceci available at the 15th pick. The 67’s blueliner should provide the perfect target for Erik Karlsson’s feeds in a couple years.
The Addition of Marc Methot was a smart one by Bryan Murray; they get a local guy with three years remaining on his contract in exchange for a RFA in Nick Foligno. Methot adds a stay at home presence to counter balance the run and gun game of Karlsson and Gonchar.
The real question for this Sens team is what does Alfie have left in the tank? The Sens vigilante has not played in 80 games or more since he won the Calder Trophy in 1995-96. His point total was a career low last season. With his injuries and last season’s concussion woes, how heavily can Ottawa’s Dark Knight be leaned on?