Over the course over the next week or so, we’ll be chatting with a few different writers around the division to gauge how the team they cover has been performing since the end of the season.
How would you grade the Sens’ offseason?
Public-relations-wise it would be an F. I feel like we have to get that out of the way before the hockey talk because the severity of the off-ice issues is unprecedented and surely the headline of the Senators’ summer.
With regards to only the additions and subtractions within the organization, the team receives a C+ from me.
There were instances where I felt sympathy for general manager Pierre Dorion’s situation. The Hoffman trade was always going to be a net loss and a big one. But there were opportunities for the team to improve their future lineup significantly, and they ended up taking the safe route. The most obvious example is their fourth overall pick in the 2018 Draft. Brady Tkachuk is going to be a fantastic player – a strong, power forward that looks to have top-six potential – but Filip Zadina was shockingly available and they refused to take the high reward pick. That kid is going to score 40 goals in this league. I guarantee it.
We’ll never know what exactly goes on in contract talks or salary arbitration, but not signing Cody Ceci to a long-term deal seems to be a smart move on the surface. The inability to get Mark Stone inked for 6-8 years is concerning.
But of course, the Erik Karlsson debacle is the most damning confirmation of a failed offseason in Ottawa. Yes, he hasn’t been traded yet, and there is still a small possibility that he will stay in the capital, but on July 1, if you aren’t able to sign the best player in franchise history to an eight-year extension, then it is a failure on many accounts. It’s on Dorion for not designing a contender in the prime of Karlsson’s career and it’s on owner Eugene Melnyk for not providing a worthy enough offer for the best defenseman of the modern era.
Their C+ could easily skyrocket or plummet in the coming weeks. There’s still much on the table.
How would you grade the Leafs’ offseason?
I’m no expert on the buds, but I’d say A-. You can’t dismiss the fact that they parted ways with some serious talent, but the Tavares add is gigantic. You already knew that, but it is gigantic.
What do you think the Sens’ best course of action is moving forward to right the ship?
You still need to wait for a couple pieces to either fall into place or be smashed into oblivion. The future of the Senators hinges on the future of Karlsson and Matt Duchene. If they both stick around, then sure, try and add another NHL-calibre blue liner and some quality depth at forward (and hope your goaltending either improves or Filip Gustavsson is ready to step in). But if you’re without two of your three stars, then it’s time to gut the thing.
What do Sens fans have to look forward to in 2018-19?
There’s still several incredible players on the NHL roster that will give you good hockey to watch night-in and night-out, but the prospect pool is going to be most interesting this season. The Senators have not had a group of youngsters this exciting since the years of Robin Lehner, Ceci and Stone seven years ago. A good chunk of the youth could very well be in the NHL come October, but regardless, there will be many intriguing development paths to keep an eye throughout the season.
Is the Atlantic still a three horse race in your eyes?
Couldn’t be more of a layup for the Leafs, Bruins and Lightning.