What Will The Ottawa Senators Defense Look Like Next Season?

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Jan 25, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Ottawa Senators defensemen Erik Karlsson (65) carries the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Ottawa Senators 6-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

1.  Erik Karlsson

A return to Norris Trophy form has erased a lot of fears about his long term recovery and the ramifications of his quick return to action after the Achilles’ tendon injury last season.  Signed, sealed and delivered for 5 more years.

Jan 28, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Artem Anisimov (42) and Ottawa Senators defenseman Jared Cowen (2) chase a loose puck at Nationwide Arena. The Senators won the game 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

2.  Jared Cowen

Has had his struggles, especially early on, but despite facing a lot of criticism for his lack of mobility and foot speed, he has rebounded as he gets further and further from last season’s crippling hip injury.  He has found a home on the top pairing with Karlsson, and given the coaching staff’s apparent desire to keep that combo together, it looks like that is a duo the Senators want to run with for years.  Signed for 3 more years after this one.

Jan 16, 2014; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators defenseman Cody Ceci (5) chases the puck in the first period against the Montreal Canadiens at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

3.  Cody Ceci

Made the jump to the NHL faster than anyone expected, he has been logging top 4 minutes and getting better with every game.  Still not a polished player, but has turned heads with his steep learning curve.  He will be a top 4 blueliner for the foreseeable future and a big part of the plans from now going forward.  He will still have 2 years on his entry level contract.

Jan 4, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot (3) before the game against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

4.  Marc Methot

Seems to have taken a step backward this season, and with just one year after this one left on his contract, a decision will have to be made at some point on his value to the team and his desire to stay here.  A couple of healthy scratches this season coming off injuries seem to have soured him a little bit, and whether or not that has an impact on his asking price will be determined when and if negoiations begin.  He could be traded at some point, but he should either be an anchor for the third pair or a complement to Ceci’s development.

Oct 23, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Ottawa Senators defenseman Eric Gryba (62) celebrates his goal in the first period against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

5.  Eric Gryba

His size is unteachable and his ability to play with the puck is improving game by game.  He has developed to the point where he can be a quality 5-6-7 defenseman.  He will be an RFA after this season, and should command a bit of a raise, but will never be a guy who breaks the bank and you know what you are going to get from him.  He might not be an everyday player but should stick on the roster for the season.