Pascal Leclaire enters this season as the number one goalie. He was drafted 8th overall in the 2001 entry draft. If he can play 60 games at the level he did in 07/08 then the Senators should be challenging for the division title; I believe that is a reasonable expectation. His biggest questions are his durability and injury concerns; whether he can come back from injury. By all accounts he should be fully recovered the ankle injury that cost him the 08/09 season. But even prior to last season Leclaire has never started more than 54 games in the NHL and only once has he started more than 33 games. The biggest gamble Ottawa has taken is whether his 07/08 numbers was a one year wonder or whether they were a sign of things to come. Fans at 1000 Palladium Drive will be hoping that it’s a sign of things to come.
Prior to last year here are his three year totals for GAA & SV%
Season GP GAA SV%
05/06 33 3.23 .911
06/07 24 2.97 .897
07/08 54 2.25 .919
Expectation: If Leclaire can remain healthy he should be penciled in for 55 games and if he can play at the same level I would expect 27 – 30 wins. The Senators are hoping 55 GP 28 Wins with a .910 – .915 SV% and 5 SO’s.
2. Brian Elliott
Will the real Brian Elliott please stand up? When Brian Elliott first came to Ottawa he was next big thing, but his numbers settled down to 2.77 GAA & .902 SV% still respectable but not outstanding. Before last year the most games Elliott played was 45, in college Elliott played around 35 games a year. Last year between Bingo and Ottawa he played 61 games, 30 in the NHL. A fairly significant increase and as the season wore on we saw Elliott’s numbers decrease.
I rated Elliott as having 9 excellent games, 1 quality game and 3 poor games in his first 13 NHL games. His next 17 Elliott had only 3 excellent, 4 quality & 10 poor games.
Excellent Game - SV% above .925
Quality Game – SV% between .900 – .925
Poor Game - SV% below .900
He started to play poor after 44 some games. This could be due to fatigue or due to the level of competition. So is who is the real Brian Elliott? My guess is somewhere in between. With Auld being dealt to Dallas, Elliott will need to prove he can handle the NHL workload whether it be as a starter or a backup.
Expectation: Elliott will be the backup to Leclaire, given Leclaire’s injury history Elliott may need to step in as the number one for long stretches. He should be playing around 35 games and I see his SV% stabilizing at around .910 this season. I think Elliott is the perfect backup a goalie that knows his role within the organization but is still hungry enough to want the starters job.
3. Mike Brodeur
Mike Brodeur signed a one year contract with the Senators and was brought in to help the AHL club. He was originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 7thround and turned pro in 2004. He has a good frame for a goalie at 6’2 190lbs and has posted great numbers in the ECHL with SV% numbers of .927 in 35 GP, .916 in 24 GP & .918 in 18 GP. In the Chicago organization he was stuck behind Corey Crawford on the depth chart so a change of scenery was needed so that he could play in AHL. Last season was the first time the 26-year-old played more than 10 games in the AHL and his numbers showed that he could translate his ECHL stats to the AHL. Brodeur posted a 2.45 GAA & .921 SV% in 38 games and played for Canada in the AHL All-Star game. This season he should be the unquestioned starter in Bingo and in the event of an injury he may be asked to play a game or two for the Senators. His career ceiling is a backup NHL netminder but he will likely be a very good AHL goalie that gets called up to the NHL or move onto Europe if he’s not given a chance in the NHL.
Expectation: This year I see Brodeur taking an increased AHL workload as the number one, he should play 50 – 60 games and with an improved team in Bingo should have a SV% of around 910 – 915 with a mix of some NHL action approx. 5 games.
4. Andy Chicdo
Chicdo He was drafted twice once by the Islanders then by the Penguins.Chicdo spent 3 seasons in the Penguins organization, making 8 starts in the NHL during 03-04. He followed up 03-04 splitting time between the ECHL and the AHL while the Baby Pens had Sabourin and Stanley Cup winning goalie Marc-Andre Fleuryon the roster. He also fought former Senators goalie Ray Emery. During the 04-05 season he was called up during the playoffs and took over for Fleury during a 9 game run where he upset the first place Spezza led Binghamton Senators in the first round.
After failing to build on his playoff success Chicdo moved to Eurpoe; where he spent 3 seasons in Finland and last year with Minsk Dymano in the KHL, where he had a .866 SV% in 26 contests. Minsk Dymano was had the third worst record in the KHL. Chicdo is now returning to NorthAmerica with the prospect label off him hoping to restore his career as a depth goalie in the minors.
Expectation: Chicdo has shown in the past that he can play well in the AHL he just needs to become more consistent. He should be the backup to Brodeur and play 30 – 35 games with a .895 – .905 SV%.
5. Robin Lehner
Lehner was the earliest goalie draft pick by the Ottawa Senators since MathieuChouinard was taken in second round of the 2000 draft. He’s a butterfly goalie with excellent size at 6’4 220 pounds and has been compared to Henrik Lundqvist, whom his father Michael coached. He needs to work on consistency, mental toughness and rebound control. Didn’t have a strong U18 tournament which Sweden was favoured to win a medal, but he did post a .916 SV%. He moves well side-to-side, takes away the bottom of the net and has good mobility for a goalie of his size. He has the potential to be a starting NHL goalie as rebound control can be taught and you can’t teach size. This year he will be playing for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, which tells me he has his eyes on playing for the NHL in the future.
Expectation: Last season the Greyhounds had the goaltending tandem of Cody St. Jacques & Bryce O’Hagan with Lehner now in the mix one of the goalie’s; most-likey St. Jacques, will be traded to make room for Lehner. It’s tough to give a prediction; the Greyhounds don’t have a great team so I would expect Lehner to play in 45 games 15 wins and a 890 – 900 SV%.