2018 Ottawa Senators Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
I was going to make Ottawa the first of Eastern Conference previews I wrote this morning. But after reading Twitter for a bit it seemed like I should hold off a few hours. And it's a good thing I did. Ottawa finally made the trade that has been rumored and anticipated for months. And the return is, to be kind, underwhelming - which is pretty much what we have come to expect from the franchise. They were a mess this morning, and they are a mess now. Some things never change - even when they change dramatically.
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Ottawa Senators Offseason Moves
Obviously, the deal that matters here was today's move of Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks. Karlsson is one of the five best players in the league - there is no arguing that - and by far the best player Ottawa has ever had. But he had grown tired of management and ownership, and it was time to move on. He has been on the market since last season, so it is a bit mystifying that this was the deal. It's not great. They got a 2020 first-round pick and a 2019 second-round pick, but neither will be high-impact, can't-miss guys - especially if Karlsson sticks around and shines in San Jose. There is another second-round pick involved if San Jose extends Karlsson, and that becomes a first if they win the Cup this year. But, again, those won't be high-impact players in the short term. And then there were four players involved. Two prospects in Josh Norris and Rudolfs Balcers, who aren't to- level prospects - they were ranked third and fourth in a San Jose farm system that is pretty average. And two roster guys in Chris Tierney and Dylan DeMelo, who are young but have limited ceilings. The chances of landing a star in the deal are small for Ottawa, and they have given up a generational superstar. Ugh. And Ottawa also gave up a second player in the deal. Francis Perron scored like crazy in junior, but the 22-year-old hasn't taken off in the pro ranks yet and will be a project for the San Jose farm system.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? The rest of the offseason was less dramatic - obviously. They let six players leave and signed four free agents. Needless to say, though, they weren't attracting quality players - all four are on veteran minimum deals. They gave one-year extensions to defenseman Cody Ceci and forward Mark Stone. They surely would have liked to give significantly more in both cases, but that wasn't happening with all the uncertainty and negativity around the team, so they will hope things change this season and they can get extensions done - not that likely.
It seems like a long time ago, but forward Mike Hoffman is also gone from last year's team. He was toxic with the team after his fiancée was accused of bullying Karlsson's wife in one of the oddest and worst stories in recent years. He was traded to San Jose for parts - Mikkel Boedker will be on the roster but isn't much anymore - and the Sharks immediately flipped him for a better return to Florida. Like I said, bad trades are the Ottawa way.
Rare good offseason news came in the draft, where they grabbed Brady
Tkachuk with the fourth overall pick. His brother Matthew has been
brilliant for Calgary, and in the estimation of many Brady is even better.
He will have every opportunity to make the team this year and stick around.
Ottawa Senators NHL Outlook
I could be negative for pages and pages - there is no shortage of problems. But it's not all hopelessly bleak. Tkachuk is very good. 2015 first-round pick Colin White and 2016 first-rounder Logan Brown should both be ready to contribute and have high upside. Matt Duchene was fine after joining the team last year, and at least publicly he is open to sticking around past the end of his contract after this year. And defenseman Thomas Chabot has shown clear signs of developing into a No. 1 guy. There are some long-term pieces to work with here, but management can't really be trusted to make that work out. And they don't have a first-round pick this year after trading it to Colorado, so that won't help the rebuild.
Goaltending is a question. The loss of Karlsson hurts in so many ways - they have to fill his massive amounts of ice time, replace his scoring, and make due without his leadership. That's a problem. The uncertain futures of Duchene and Mark Stone don't help, either, and they will become bigger distractions as the trade deadline nears and teams start calling about them. They are going to be really young, which doesn't lead to consistency. And on and on.
Ottawa Senators Schedule
The Senators play six of their first eight at home. That would be an advantage for a lot of teams, but it may not be for Ottawa. Their fans are frustrated and hostile to the owner, and even in the best case the attendance wasn't great. Their home advantage could make the NFL Chargers look like the most popular team in the world.
Ottawa Senators NHL Futures Odds
The Senators, at +20000 at Bovada to win the Stanley Cup, are tied with Detroit as the longest shot on the board. And they have earned that dubious distinction. After tallying just 67 points last year, the team's season point total is set at 70.5 this year. It's worth noting that this number hasn't yet changed since the Karlsson trade but could go down as a result - though his departure was mostly inevitable, so it would have been largely built into the number. The only reason it could still fall is because the deal doesn't include a lot of immediate help for the team.
2018-19 Ottawa Senators Predictions
I was negative before the trade. Now I am even more negative. I like the young guys, but there is only so much they can do. Easy under.
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