This offseason has brought a lot of questions for the Ottawa Senators. Some questions will be answered, others not really. While this offseason has answered some questions, others still remain. What will this year be? Is Stuetzle playing in the NHL? Who will be Murray’s backup?
What are the Sens this year?
The rebuild is the obvious, and the Sens have been able to make the most of it. Management has done a great job with asset management. Pierre Dorion was able to acquire lots of draft picks and prospects for guys like Erik Karlsson, Matt Duchene, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, and others.
However, what point are the Senators at in the rebuild? For starters, they are not a playoff team. Not yet. Are the Sens a bottom feeder? I don’t think so, I think this year is a transition year. I predict that the Sens won’t finish bottom 5 in the league, but I’d say they’re somewhere in the middle between bottom 5 and close to the playoffs. I don’t expect the team to win a lot of games, but I expect them to compete.
The Ottawa Senators are transitioning to a enw core. That core is led by Thomas Chabot, Brady Tkachuk, newcomer Tim Stueztle, and eventually, Jake Sanderson could be considered part of the core. This core is fast, electrifying, and yound. Chabot has developped into one of the best young defensemen int he NHL, Tkachuk is continuing to grow into his own, while playing a hard-hitting game in the NHL. Stuetzle and Sanderson are still developping and should be expected to make the NHL in the next few years.
Where does Tim Stueztle play?
While there are questions about Stueztle regarding his recent hand injury, and even contract issues with his current team, Adler Mannheim, I think Tim Stuetzle is an interesting situation. My colleague Derek Lee gives us his thoughts in a recent article. Derek does a great job at elaborating different ideas for where Stuetzle will play this year. I believe that the Sens should evaluate this based on his performance at the early stages of his season with Mannheim, as they return to play before the NHL will.
I think that Stueztle is more than likely going to play in the NHL this year, but there are chances he may not be fully ready yet.
Questions in net
Matt Murray is obviously the starting netminder for this year. That part is no question. However, there are two questions that raise from that. Is Matt Murray a temporary option? Who will be his backup this year?
Murray was acquired on day two of the 2020 NHL Draft. He is for sure our starter this year. The question is, how long is he our starter? He has signed a 4-year contract with the Senators. What does this mean? I believe that “Plan A” is to have Murray be our guy until one of the many goalie prospects the Sens have been able to acquire is ready. This would mean that the 26-year-old Murray would be in Ottawa for a couple of years, then possibly traded away. If all goes well, his trade value would be fairly high and the team could use that value to patch up any holes the team would have at that point in time.
That being said, I also believe that Murray is young enough to steal the job for the forseeable future. This would only happen is the prospects simply do not realize their full potential, of if Murray is significantly better than them at that point and it makes sense to just keep the guy.
That’s the thing with prospects. Prospects are a gamble, some work out, and others don’t. While I’m sure that atleast one of the prospects will pan out, but it is definetely a conversation that should be had, you have to have a plan B.
Another question is, who will back him up? I think the answer is pretty straight forward. I think the backup this year for the Ottawa Senators is Marcus Hogberg. Hogberg has a one way deal and it would be difficult to drop him to the AHL in favour of someone else. That and Hogberg has been pretty good so far for the team.
Like any team, the Ottawa Senators have their weaknesses. The main weakness being veteran presence, or lack thereof.
While I dont think the Ottawa Senators shoud sign a team full of veterans, the team definetely need to acquire one or two more to help the “young guns” develop. Acquiring veterans who can play up and downt he lineup will make the transition a lot easier.
So far, the Sens have acquried Erik Gudbranson, Austin Watson and Evgenii Dadanov this offseason. I like the Gudbranson acquisition particularly because he has one year remaining at a 4 million dollar cap hit, which helps the Sens reach the cap floor.
This offseason is an important one to say the least for the Ottawa Senators. Pierre Dorion and his staff have done a tremendous job so far. The draft was a win for the group, as have been the trades made so far. While there’s still much to do, the light at the end of the tunnel is growing closer and closer for the passionate Ottawa Senators Fanbase.
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