Ottawa Senators: The Effect of the Marleau Signing on the Atlantic

SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 22: Patrick Marleau
SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 22: Patrick Marleau /

The Ottawa Senators have had a quiet off-season, opening the door for divisional rivals to move past them in the standings.

With the Ottawa Senators doing very little thus far to improve the team, divisional rivals now have a chance to surpass them within the division. The team that is the most concerning in that department is Toronto. The Leafs took massive strides last season going from last place to a playoff spot in a single year. However, many believed that they would take a step back this upcoming year. Heavily reliant on rookies it wasn’t unreasonable to suspect sophomore slumps. Despite the hype it didn’t look reasonable that Auston Matthews would hit 40 goals again or Connor Brown would hit 20. Now the situation has changed, the Leafs signed Patrick Marleau and appear to be in win now mode.

Marleau Joins Toronto

With the Leafs signing Marleau it will help negate potential slumps from some of the lesser rookies on the team. As a result the Leafs look poised to take another big step this season which could be problematic to the Sens. With only three spots available in a suddenly very competitive Atlantic Division the Sens could have trouble securing one of those spots.

An Improved Atlantic

The Sens finished behind just Montreal in 2017 for a second place finish in the Atlantic. However, the division could have a significantly different outlook next year. Tampa Bay should be the heavy favourite to win the division. They were decimated by injuries last season and still nearly made the playoffs. If they were even relatively healthy they would have been one of the top contenders for the Stanley Cup in 2017.

The Competition

After Tampa is where the Atlantic gets interesting. Detroit and Buffalo should be on the outside looking in but that still leaves Montreal, Boston, Toronto, Florida, and Ottawa in the mix for two spots. Florida and Boston are the least concerning of those teams. Florida is young and threatening but have been a mess for the last year and are rumoured to be trying to trade some young pieces because of budget cuts. Boston will be another year older and likely another year worse. They’ll be in the mix and will still be dangerous with Bergeron and Marchand but they won’t be a favourite for a division spot.

Narrowing things down to the three Canadian teams for two spots it could go to any of the two. However, with Marleau coming to Toronto I’d have to give the Leafs the best odds. Even adding Ron Hainsey they’ve improved on their weak points on defence. Between Ottawa and Montreal for that third spot it could go either way. I give the slight edge to Montreal because they look like a worse team than last year after losing Radulov and a good portion of their defence. It’s also important to keep in mind that any team with Carey Price could bulldoze their way to a better placing than their team looks capable of.

Next: Ottawa Senators Secure Mike Condon for Three Years

A Tense Season Coming

The once weak Atlantic Division look like it could be a power house next season. With the Leafs making big acquisitions and Tampa healthy, Ottawa could be hard pressed to find a divisional spot. They’ll need to edge the likes of Montreal, Boston, and Florida to take one of those spots. Failing to make moves to improve the team leaves the Sens in a position where they have to hope that other teams don’t surpass them. That’s not a good spot to be in and good make for a very uneasy off-season.