Ottawa Senators: Rating the Senators First 25 Years

OTTAWA, ON - DECEMBER 14: Chris Neil
OTTAWA, ON - DECEMBER 14: Chris Neil /

As the 2016-2017 season comes to a close, so does the 25th year of Ottawa Senators hockey.

Despite inconsistency in recent years the Ottawa Senators have not just been successful in terms of expansion franchises, but they have been one of the most successful teams since their inception.

Following missing the playoffs for their first four seasons the Sens made the playoffs for eleven years in a row and have made it sixteen times in twenty seasons. In this time they have won four division titles, one Presidents Trophy, and have made one Stanley Cup Final appearance. All in all a very successful first 25 years (24 seasons do to one year lost to the lockout). How, do they compare to other recent expansion franchises?

The Worst of the Expansion Franchises

Since the NHL started expanding again in the 90s there have been ten new teams added. San Jose, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Florida, Anaheim, Nashville, Atlanta/Winnipeg, Columbus, Minnesota, and Vegas. Obviously Vegas hasn’t played a season yet so we’ll disregard them. So let’s try to rank Ottawa amongst the remaining nine. The three definitively worst teams in that group are Florida, Columbus, and the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise. None have made the playoffs more than five times.

The Middling Teams

Among the nine Ottawa actually has the highest rate of making the playoffs at 66%. Only San Jose has made the playoffs more frequently at a rate of 76%. With San Jose also having one final appearance there isn’t really an argument to be made that Ottawa has been more successful than the Sharks. As a result that puts Ottawa somewhere between 2nd and 6th of the nine teams.

Minnesota is pretty fairly ranked at 6th due to having only made the playoffs half the time and failing to make any significant runs. Nashville has one final appearance like Ottawa, but has a lower rate of making the playoffs and no division titles. They come in at 5th. This is where it gets interesting, the race between Anaheim, Ottawa, and Tampa Bay is very close.

Cups vs Playoff Appearances

Anaheim has a 56% rate of making the playoffs compared to Ottawa’s 66% but they have a cup. The cup definitively puts them in 2nd place. The most difficult ranking is between Ottawa and Tampa. Both entering the league in 92-93 they have each played 24 seasons. Ottawa has made the playoffs 16 times while Tampa has made it just 9 times. That looks as if Ottawa would be the runaway candidate for more success. However, Tampa won a cup in 2004 and has an additional finals appearance in 2015. The two losing finals appearances negate each other. As a result the question is now which is more valuable, one cup or seven playoff appearances? The edge has to go to the cup and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The purpose of making the playoffs is to win a Stanley Cup and is more valuable than any number of playoff appearances.

Next: Ottawa Senators: Why are the Sens Always Underrated

Wrap Up

The Ottawa Senators come in as the 4th best expansion team of nine. A middling position but overall they have been very successful. The top four have all been very successful in their short time in the league. Many of the teams that came before the 90s have been less successful in that time. Now with the Sens on the upswing it could just be a matter of time before the Sens add a Stanley Cup to their mantle.