Our summer check in with the sister blogs of the Florida Panthers' Atlantic Division rivals continues. Today, Brad Timmins of Silver Seven is our guest as we look at some of the offseason doings of the Ottawa Senators.
What are your thoughts on the Sens' performance during 2015-16 in a tidy nutshell?
It was a let-down. While "the streak" to end 14-15 was never going to be a reasonable measuring stick for 15-16, it did raise hopes that we'd see improvement from the first part of 14-15... but then we got that kind of play again.
What was the team's best offseason move thus far?
Long term it could be Bryan Murray passing the GM torch to Pierre Dorion, but short term it's absolutely the new coaching staff. Guy Boucher is saying the right things so far, as is Marc Crawford. Combined, they look to be an interesting mix of a newer approach and deeper experience. If it clicks well, Ottawa will be a much improved team pretty much top to bottom.
What departure will hurt the Senators the most?
Mika Zibanejad is probably the best player to put on a different jersey this off-season but I'm not sure that counts given the Sens got Derick Brassard in return. so almost by process of elimination it has to be Patrick Wiercioch. Given how his season went last year that might not be very much hurt, but if he bounces back to the level we were hoping to see after 14-15 it definitely could be.
What prospect is most likely to crack the lineup and make an impact?
If anybody is going to do that this season, the smart money would be on defenseman Thomas Chabot. He looked good enough in preseason last year that it gave the team a slight pause on sending him back to juniors, then had a very good season for Saint John. Strong odds he gets his nine games at least, but he could make it very hard for the team to send him back down for a second year in a row.
Realistically, what would constitute a successful 2016-17 campaign?
Make the playoffs on the back of a full season effort, no late season rallies required, and then at least legitimately challenge in the first round. Just scraping in and then getting run over in the first round won't cut it.