2014 Ottawa Senators Predictions and NHL Futures Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 9/16/2014
Last year the Senators got off to a truly terrible start - one win in six games in their opening road trip then one more win in the first six games at home. That put them into a hole that they never really were able to climb out of. They finished six games over .500 in the end thanks to a solid mid-season run, but they were not able to make the playoffs.
The franchise had been doing so well in so many ways that the result was a real disappointment. There were excuses - goalie Craig Anderson was hurt, Jason Spezza wasn't happy and the will-he-be-traded drama hung over the squad, and the team's chemistry was clearly not improved after the trade deadline. Above all that, though, the team just didn't seem mentally tough enough to excel. When they faced adversity they just folded. Will that be their tendency again this year? Or will they disappoint again - like every Canadian team outside of Montreal did last year?
Ottawa Senators Offseason Moves
The headline move here was the departure of Jason Spezza. A homegrown star for the team, Spezza had grown disillusioned with the team and his role on it, and it was time for him to move on. He was traded to Dallas where he'll get a fresh start. His offensive power will be missed, but he hadn't been at his fully-committed best for a while, and it is far from a fatal departure. He was the captain of the team for the first time last year, and that obviously didn't work particularly well. Ales Hemsky, who had great chemistry with Spezza after being acquired at the trade deadline, also joined Dallas - as a free agent in his case. Those are the only two losses, but they could be significant.
With few subtractions there obviously weren't a pile of additions. Alex Chiasson was the bounty the team received for Spezza. He'll turn 24 just before the season and only has 86 career NHL games under his belt, but he has a lot of upside. It's probably a year or two too soon for him to be a major factor on this team, but he'll fill plenty of minutes on the wing. Veteran David Legwand also joins the team. He doesn't score much these days, but his disciplined versatility at center will work well with this system.
Ottawa did not have a first-round pick because they had traded it to Anaheim the year before in the Bobby Ryan deal. The draft haul wound up being just
five players, and isn't likely to provide a boost this year.
Ottawa Senators NHL Outlook
The potential is there for the team to be pretty good, but in order for that to happen they need to answer some questions and have some luck. Both Craig Anderson and Robin Lehrer have new contracts, but one needs to emerge as a clear No. 1 goalie. Someone needs to step up to replace Spezza's offense. Kyle Turris is the most likely candidate, but his ability to be the top-line center is a real question. The team also needs Erik Karlsson, one of the best defensemen in the league when at his best, to find his top form. He was coming back from an Achilles injury last year and was not at his best, but he claims to be in much better shape now. If everything goes as well as it could then the team could be quite good. It isn't hard to imagine them replicating last year, though.
Ottawa Senators Schedule
If the Senators are in contention heading into the final quarter of the season then they should be in good shape. They only twice have to go on two-game road trips in the last 20 games, and they have nothing longer than that. With 12 of their last 20 at home they should be able to finish strong.
Ottawa Senators NHL Futures Odds (from Bovada)
Oddsmakers are not optimistic about the squad - at 66/1 to win the Stanley Cup they have better odds than just four really bad teams. They are at 33/1 to win the Eastern Conference and 10/1 to come out on top of the Atlantic Division. You could argue that there is a bit of value in these prices because if everything went ideally they have a chance to be a surprise squad. They are unquestionably a longshot, though, so there are many much better places to put your money.
2014-15 Ottawa Senators Predictions
There are a few things I like about this team, and they have some nice potential. I can't get too excited about them because the one change they didn't make was behind the bench. Paul Maclean is inconsistent in his coaching style, and he clearly lost his team at a key time last year - after failing to have them ready for the start of the season. I have no faith in him, and he makes it hard to have faith in the team. They will be in the playoff hunt, but their range is probably about seventh to 12th in the conference, and it would not at all be a shock to see them miss the postseason. Pencil them in as a potential pleasant surprise but don't ultimately expect too much from them.
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