Ottawa Senators: Too Many Defenceman


The Ottawa Senators have too many defenders.

It is a problem that was not properly addressed during the season. The past season saw different defenceman fall in and out of favour with different Senators coaches. Players were favoured and given different opportunities under Dave Cameron and Paul MacLean. Of course, it was Cameron who turned the Senators ship in the right direction and went on a miraculous winning streak.

Various roster moves will be made this offseason. It is very clear that General Manger Bryan Murray is going to have to do something about the logjam on defence.

There’s no need to discuss Erik Karlsson, he’s going to be around as he’s locked up until 2018-19, the team’s captain and among the NHL’s best. Marc Methot had his contract extended this season and proved to be the best choice as a line-mate for Karlsson. These two Senators are not going anywhere.

Cody Ceci played 81 games and has clearly established a position on the team. Patrick Wiercoch averages 18 minutes of ice time and carved out a role on the team as well, especially later in the season. The other two players who received ample playing time down the stretch were Mark Borowiecki and Eric Gryba. I agree with Karlsson, Methot, Ceci and Wiercoch having solidified spots but am not sure about Gryba and Borowiecki. I personally like Borowiecki quite a bit but am not a huge Eric Gryba fan.

The other two defenceman who play into the mix are Jared Cowen and Chris Phillips. Cowen was constantly benched during the season and playoffs. Phillips was benched for much of the year before he was injured late in the season. Cowen makes 3,100,000 per year while Phillips make 2,500,000. The Senators were paying 5,600,000 per game in the playoffs to defenceman who did not play. This is obviously a problem.


The goals for and against numbers for Ottawa Senators defenceman tell us where the problem persists. All of these stats are compiled during even strength play last season.

Marc Methot2.761.52
Erik Karlsson2.682.39
Mark Borowiecki2.431.86
Patrick Wiercoch2.222
Eric Gryba2.22.26
Jared Cowen2.143.32
Cody Ceci2.12.35
Chris Phillips1.722.02

Methot, Karlsson, Borowiecki, and Wiercoch all contribute to the Senators scoring more goals than they give up when those players are on the ice.

Gryba, Cowen, Ceci and Phillips all contribute to the team by giving up more goals than they score while they are on the ice. Phillips being on the ice results in particularly low chances of offence. Cowen also has absolutely terrible goals against numbers at 3.32. It is quite shocking or perhaps it isn’t to see how bad Cowen’s goals against numbers were.

Marc Methot54.4
Patrick Wiercoch54.4
Erik Karlsson52.8
Cody Ceci49
Jared Cowen48.2
Eric Gryba46.8
Mark Borowiecki46.6
Chris Phillips44.4

The Senators defenceman have varying Corsi% numbers. Corsi% is a good representation of possession and controlling play. All the Corsi numbers above were compiled from even strength play during the regular season.

Much like the above numbers, it’s clear to see where the problem exists. Methot, Wiercoch and Karlsson were all over 50%. Phillips had by far the worst percentage with a 44.4%, and Borowiecki, Gryba, and Cowen all held negative possession stats.


I’m sure Senators fans everywhere have their own defenceman they like and dislike. I personally believe that numbers should be analyzed and dissected. Phillips is by far the Senators worst defenceman numerically. I can not asses his value in the locker room or what kind of teammate he is, however it is very obvious by his CF% and Goal For/Against numbers that he did not have a productive season.

Gyba, Borowiecki, and Cowen are all very close together in certain stats. This may have to do with Gryba and Borowiecki  playing on a line together. Cowen is by far the worst in terms of goal for/against numbers. Cowen is also far more expensive than Borowiecki and Gryba.

The Senators have two over paid defenceman in Phillips and Cowen. Neither of the two seem to be in the big picture for Dave Cameron’s Senators squad and at 3.1 and 2.5 million AAV cap hits, a move would make sense.

What will Bryan Murray do this off-season? He seems to be incredibly loyal to veterans and he was the man who drafted Cowen. Who would you like to see not be on the Senators next season? Numbers indicate it should be Cowen or Phillips, but maybe you feel it is another Senator? Answer the poll below!

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