The Ottawa Senators Top-Six Is Just Fine


Over the past month or so, there has been lots of talk about the Ottawa Senators acquiring another top-six forward. Most of that talk has come from Bryan Murray himself, so of course the rumours are true. Whether he actually gets the man he wants this summer remains to be seen, but no doubt he will try through the goalie trade, free agency, or a separate trade.

For this weeks Tuesday’s Tirade, I’m here to give Murray a message: the top-six forwards are fine! Right now it’s pretty clear who their best six forwards are: Kyle Turris, Mark Stone, Mika Zibanejad, Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur, and Mike Hoffman, whom make up a very solid top two lines. Yet for some reason, the team thinks that it needs to be better. Could they use some improvements? Sure. But that means they think that one of those six players shouldn’t be on the top two lines, which is ridiculous.

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I’d be all for improving the roster, but if it means demoting Hoffman to the 4th line or even trading him, what’s the point? I sincerely hope none of the aforementioned six players are moved this summer, because it would essentially be a lateral move to acquire a top forward but then give one away.

The Stats

Let’s take a look at how each of Ottawa’s top-six forwards played this past year. A “top-six” forward would be someone within the top 180 forwards in scoring, since there should be six on each team. It’s a low threshold considering there are so many, but that’s the definition. Here is each Senators player and how they performed:

[table id=24 /]

*The minimum amount of GP in this table was 50.

With the context given of what a top-six forward is, that looks very impressive. Both Kyle Turris and Mark Stone are in the top 30 for overall scoring, which put them in elite company. Furthermore, Ottawa had four players in the top 90, which means theoretically they are all categorized as first line players. The player who ranked 83rd? None other than Mike “fourth line” Hoffman.

It seems odd that with 48 points Hoffman is considered a first line player, but that’s what the game is like today. First line players no longer need to score 60-70+ points, only the elite ones do. Hoffman was excellent this past season, and in terms of points per 60 minutes he ranked even higher at a very impressive 49th.

Everyone knows that Turris and Stone had fantastic seasons. They were clear first line players for this season at least, and you can’t even argue otherwise. But even Ryan and Hoffman were up there in production, despite it being a bit of a down year for Ryan. Ryan was 64th in points per 60, which is about an average first line player. He may not get 30 goals again, but getting 50+ points a season is very valuable, and certainly makes him a solid player on the top two lines.

Apr 22, 2015; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators right wing Bobby Ryan (6) skates with the puck in front of Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry (26) in game four of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Zibanejad was slightly lagging behind the top four forwards, although he only had two points fewer than Hoffman but was 13 spots lower in overall point leaders. His points per 60 at 101st is also almost at a first line players level, but that is still well above the threshold for a top-six player. There shouldn’t be debate over whether he is a top-six forward, because he’s certainly better than the dozens he’s ahead of that still qualify in the top 180.

The only player that some may think doesn’t deserve to be in the top six is MacArthur. If Ottawa did acquire someone new, I wouldn’t mind seeing him on the third line simply because he would be well suited for it. However, he’s still a valuable player and even in a bit of a down year he still put okay numbers.

He only played in 62 games, which is why his numbers look a bit better when looking at points per 60. He ranks 112 there which isn’t amazing, but it’s still doable. Plus, if this is a down year, there’s reason to believe that he can bounce back next year. After all, the previous season he was 61st in overall points and 68th in points per 60. That isn’t exactly someone I just want to give up on.

It seems asinine to want another top-six forward when the team already has a fantastic group


I found it very interesting looking into the numbers. Obviously it’s hard to call all the top 180 forwards in scoring top-six forwards, and there also may be a bit of a low threshold. But it doesn’t matter, because scoring is down across the league and Ottawa’s top two lines are fine.

It’s not as if some of those six players are fringe third liners either, so it’s not a stretch at all to call this a fantastic group of forwards. I think if Erik Condra is lost in free agency then something will have to be done about the bottom two lines.

But for now, it seems asinine to want another top-six forward when the team already has a solid group. I don’t know how Murray et al. can look at this teams defense corps and think “yeah, we need another top scoring winger.” It simply doesn’t make sense to me, and the numbers back me up.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be happy if Ottawa acquires another forward. But I really hope it’s not at the expense of someone like Hoffman or another young talented player. All of the six mentioned players deserve to play lots for Ottawa, and none of their top priorities should be acquiring a top forward. The focus for this team should be the defense right now, and for reasons I cannot explain it is not.

Next: Does Trading Two 2nd's For A 1'st Make Sense For Ottawa?