The Ottawa Senators Need Risks To Take The Next Step


The 2015-16 season is still over two months away, and the Ottawa Senators roster isn’t necessarily set. We know there will be battles for roster spots in camp, but there’s also a chance that there will be a trade or two before the season opener. Having said that, I know how the Senators operate and I find it hard to believe that they would be making anymore major moves.

It’s a bit disappointing, because I want the team to make some more moves to take them to the next level. They clearly have the talent, but they still need a couple other pieces. As of now, they won’t go anywhere in the playoffs. The only way they can get better is by taking risks for top-end players that can make their lineup that much deeper.

And by “taking risks” I mean two things: acquiring young talent that has high-end potential, and acquiring established players that will help the team immediately. The first part of that equation usually happens via the draft, and the consensus from most people is that Ottawa played it very safe in the 2015 draft. In fact, the only players that look like steals were Filip Chlapik and Filip Ahl. That’s not a slight to the other picks, it’s just that most of those players were ranked a bit lower by most.

Some of their prospects like Colin White, Nick Paul, Matt Puempel, Curtis Lazar, and Shane Prince have solid potential, but they don’t really profile as top-line players that will make Ottawa a contender. None of them are going to have an impact like Vladimir Tarasenko had on the St. Louis Blues. They took a risk by picking him, and it has clearly worked out. Sometimes you need to look at upside, and not worry about the risk in a draftee.

Of course, risky picks don’t always work out, hence why it is risky. But if you go the “safe” route, you might not be able to move your team forward. If you are a team full of 2nd/3rd line players, it will be hard to win in the playoffs when you are up against Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Ottawa does have some legitimate top-six talent like Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan and Mark Stone, and Mike Hoffman and Mika Zibanejad may prove to be that as well.

Feb 3, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; Ottawa Senators center Mika Zibanejad (93) passes the puck during the second period against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

However, true contenders will have player(s) who are amongst the leagues best year in year out. Stone might be able to reach those heights, but someone like Turris isn’t going to get any better. I have said many times that the Senators top-six group is fine, but at the same time it still isn’t as good as the best teams out there. There is room for improvement, and another addition would put them over the top.

The Tampa Bay Lightning took some small risks by signing Tyler Johnson and drafting Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov, and that has worked out immensely well. Johnson was undrafted, and somehow Palat fell to the 7th round and Kucherov to the 2nd. All three of those players had played very well in junior, but for some reason they weren’t as appealing as other prospects. The Lightning didn’t know they would become this good, but they must have also seen some good upside.

It seems like most of the players that Ottawa brings in to the organization has potential to be a solid player, but not much more. And while you can never truly predict whether someone has first line ability, it’s obvious to everyone that the Senators enjoy the safe route most of the time.

More from Editorials

There are teams out there who drafted “project” players that have sky-high potential but have some questions. Even from last draft, I can think of Anthony Beauvillier, Daniel Sprong, and Oliver Kylington who went pretty low in the draft despite their ceiling. They might not all turn out, but I give the Islanders, Penguins, and Flames credit for going with the upside.

As much as I like the Senators forwards right now, I can’t see them beating out other teams in the league. With another high-end player that can produce 50 points and they would put themselves in the same conversation as other top offenses. While they have been (relatively) safe at the draft, they also haven’t made many moves to improve the team. Since acquiring Bobby Ryan all Bryan Murray has done is trade Jason Spezza and Robin Lehner.

If they do think they can take another step forward, then they need reinforcements. I understand that it’s difficult with a budget, but that’s their fault for having so many bad contracts in the first place. Ryan was a good risky trade, because they needed someone of his caliber. Now they need to add a top defenseman (Shattenkirk?) and it would be worth the risk to trade some assets to improve in that area.

It isn’t good to be complacent, because other teams out there are constantly improving. This may not be a good comparison because it is a different sport, but look at the Toronto Blue Jays. If you don’t follow baseball then I apologize. But they haven’t made the playoffs in 22 years, and their GM is finally making some big risky moves so they can actually get to the playoffs.

You have to agree that teams that win will “go for it” and acquire top talent that they didn’t have before

They just acquired the best shortstop in the league yesterday, which shocked the MLB. He has made some major moves in the past 9 months, and might very well pay off. Even if it doesn’t, it’s worth the try. I’m just sick of the same Ottawa Senators team, and I want to see some change. The Dallas Stars have taken some risks by acquiring Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, and Patrick Sharp.

While it hasn’t worked out yet, it may this year. I will acknowledge that the organization has made some risks with the Ryan and Turris trades, drafting Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone, but in the past two years there hasn’t been much at all. It’s not like it’s been all bad, but the last few drafts and lack of movement has been a bit disappointing.

Whether you agree with their amount of risks or not, you have to agree that teams that win will “go for it” and acquire top talent that they didn’t have before. Look at the LA Kings getting Marian Gaborik, and the Chicago Blackhawks getting Marian Hossa. Those were massive adds for the team, and it pushed them over the top.

The Senators aren’t at the contender stage yet, but with a few moves they could be there quickly. It’s just a question of whether the team can stomach a trade giving up certain players.

Next: Mike Hoffman's Arbitration Ask Presents Low Risk Situation

More from SenShot