–Scott Cullen offers his off-season plan for the Sens and opens with the following:
While it would be unreasonable for the Senators to expect their goaltender to be as great as they were in 2013, there are reasons for optimism, including the team’s strong possession stats and a league-worst shooting percentage. How does it benefit the Senators to have scored on just 7.0% of their shots? Well, it’s unlikely that they will have the worst shooting percentage again next season, particularly in a season that should include a healthy Spezza and Karlsson. “We need to score more goals,” GM Bryan Murray said at his season-ending press conference. “We have to find a way to create a little more offence and that may mean trying to find a player out there that will do that.” But part of it also will be counting on a couple of the younger players that showed they can play in the league to step up and do a little more with the puck than they were capable of or able to do this year.” He’s right, the Senators do need to find more scoring. The good news is that they are in position to address that need so that they are poised to be a playoff contender for years to come.
It’s a thorough, well-written article with only one tiny error (Kassian was not a waiver pick-up, but was acquired by trade–I can understand why Cullen would assume the former however). He thinks the Sens need a top-six forward and a top-four defenseman (which is hard to argue with, although patience with younger players is another option). Cullen believes Jim O’Brien and Cory Conacher are trade bait–I agree with the former, but I’m not sure the Sens would move the latter just after acquiring him.
–Ryan Classic rates the Sens forwards (as with the previous articles I’ve ignored players who have departed the organisation): Pageau (A), Alfredsson (A-), Erik Condra (B+), Kyle Turris (B+), Mika Zibanejad (B), Colin Greening (B), Jakob Silfverberg (B), Jason Spezza (B), Milan Michalek (C), Zack Smith (C), Chris Neil (C), Cory Conacher (C), Jim O’Brien (C-), David Dziurzynski (C-), and Matt Kassian (C-). The grades are reasonable for the most part, although Ryan’s explanation for each player varies considerably in terms of the depth of his analysis.
–Travis Yost looks at Bryan Murray’s desire to move up in the draft and suggests (correctly I believe) that the glut of forward prospects is the most likely pool of players he’ll look to in order to acquire a higher draft pick (assuming anyone is willing to trade). Yost thinks the Sens should look to draft a blueliner if they get a higher pick, but I’m not that attached to the position so long as it’s a great prospect. It’s worth noting Murray isn’t the only GM trying to move up in the draft (Buffalo’s Darcy Regier is another).
–Varada speculates on potential players the Sens could target for trade and opens with David Booth of all people. He goes from the injury-prone, disappointing forward to Ryan Malone (I don’t see him waiving his NTC for Ottawa), Joe Pavelski (don’t see it; he’s coming off a strong playoff performance and has a reasonable contract), Devin Setoguchi (hard to imagine the Wild giving up on him, especially at his price), Dustin Brown (!), Derrick Brassard (unlikely given that the Rangers just acquired him), Ales Hemsky, Scottie Upshall, Mike Cammalleri, Chris Stewart (hard to believe the Blues would give up on the RFA), Radim Vrbata (has an NTC he won’t waive for Ottawa), Blake Wheeler (another RFA), Bryan Little (RFA), and Alex Burmistrov (not sure how high Murray is on enigmatic Russians these days). Most of the players on the list seem very unlikely to me, but someone like Hemsky (big price tag, injury prone, on the downside of his career) is a possibility.
–Ken Campbell looks at the situation in Phoenix with the Coyotes and believes they will move to Seattle (despite a variety of arena issues that exist there). Whether that move is for this season or the next remains to be seen, but it’s how things look at the moment. Presumably the NHL wants a big fat expansion fee payday from Quebec City rather than simply moving an existing team there.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)
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