Ottawa Senators
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Ottawa Senators Could Have A Step Forward In 2021-2022

The Ottawa Senators are still nose-deep in a rebuild. However, they have collected some pretty decent talent along the way. The rookies from 2020-2021 are likely to continue to develop in the upcoming season, especially across the top 6 forwards. Tim Stützle and Josh Norris have been given the keys to take this young team through their rebuild and hopefully some playoff contention in the near future. While 2021-2022 doesn’t appear to be the most successful season, let’s see how they could fare.

Offense

The Sens have a young but talented group of forwards. Unfortunately, they were dealt a pretty severe blow in the preseason after experienced center Colin White had an awkward collision against the Toronto Maple Leafs. His timetable to return is roughly 4-6 months. Without White, the young duo of Shane Pinto and the aforementioned Norris will have a big task ahead of them down the middle. There are some veterans sprinkled in this group, like Chris Tierney, Austin Watson, and Tyler Ennis. Outside of them, the offense is made up mostly of guys looking to make a name for themselves. Head Coach DJ Smith will have plenty of opportunities to evaluate who is in this rebuild for the long haul and who isn’t. As of now, the forward lines should resemble the following:

Stützle – Norris – Batherson

Paul – Pinto – Brown

Formenton – Tierney – Watson

Sanford – Agozzino – Ennis

There is, of course, one notable omission. #1 forward Brady Tkachuk has not agreed to a rookie extension with the team yet. The stalemate has made its way to the regular season, with arguably no end in sight. Reports are suggesting that the younger brother of Michael Tkachuk is interested in a short-term deal, while Sens management is set on a long-term agreement. It is a tough pill to swallow, especially with many in Ottawa hoping the rebuild would make strides in the new season. The remaining guys will have a chance to step up but will have their hands full without a leader and example to follow like Tkachuk.

Defense

Fortunately for the Sens, their #1 defender is not a concern. Thomas Chabot is a defenseman that every team would want, and the 24-year old is poised to build on an already impressive young career. Artem Zub appears to be his partner on the top line, as the 26-year old got some Calder consideration in his first season from leaving the KHL. The 3 pairings have more age than the forwards, with players like Michael Del Zotto, Nikita Zaitsev, and Nick Holden likely regulars for the upcoming season. DJ Smith is likely to have his defense as the following:

Chabot – Zub

Del Zotto – Zaitsev

Mete – Holden

There is experience, but talent is a real question mark. Del Zotto’s best days are more than likely behind them, and Holden provides little more than a veteran presence on the third pairing. Victor Mete will also be a name to watch, as he looks to make the Montreal Canadiens regret giving him up to their rival Senators. As the pairs gel, there could be an improvement, but the Senators were a trainwreck defensively last season. They still have a long way to go before building a playoff-level defense corps.

Goaltending

Sens fans everywhere are hoping for a bounceback from Matt Murray. If the 27-year old can reignite his form that made him a 2-time Stanley Cup champion, it will be a win-win situation for both team and player. However, Anton Forsberg will be the next man up if Murray doesn’t live up to the expectations. Seattle took one of their depth goalies in Joey Daccord during the expansion draft.

Season Preview

The Ottawa Senators will more than likely miss the playoffs once again. They find themselves with problems both on and off the ice. A star unwilling to re-sign, a defense needing identity and help, and a rapidly aging goalie looking to bring back his glory days. The team is more than likely to make some progress in their rebuild. However, don’t expect much more to come besides that.

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