Lessons The Ottawa Senators Can Learn From the Tampa Bay Lightning

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 22: Genral Manager of the Ottawa Senators Pierre Dorion speaks with a runner prior to the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 22: Genral Manager of the Ottawa Senators Pierre Dorion speaks with a runner prior to the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Alex Formenton #59 of the Ottawa Senators (Photo by Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
Alex Formenton #59 of the Ottawa Senators (Photo by Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) /

Depth is Key

The Lightning have certainly not had an easy path to both of their Stanley Cup championship wins. What has put them above other teams though, is their contributions from every player on the roster.

Again, the team is fortunate to have the likes of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Victor Hedman to carry the bulk of their matchups. However, the contributions of their bottom-six forwards and depth defencemen can not be understated.

In particular, the media has focused a lot on the forward line of Yanni Gourde, Blake Coleman, and Barclay Goodrow. This trio was essential in shutting down top opponents at even strength, as well as being integral pieces to Tampa Bay’s special teams. Even those who didn’t get much media attention like Patrick Maroon, Ross Colton, or Mathieu Joseph were very effective when slotted into the lineup, and provided really solid depth scoring, particularly in the final.

Even on defence, the Lightning have players like David Savard and Eric Cernak playing on their second and third pairings, when the argument could be made they’d be bona fide top pairing players on the Senators right now. Obviously being millions of dollars over the cap helps in this situation, but it’s simply smart loophole management.

While many Ottawa fans are pleased with the development of some of the team’s young stars, it’s obvious that they don’t yet have anything close to the kind of depth that the Lightning have. The Senators’ defence may actually be closer to this, as most prospect gurus will agree that they are relatively loaded on prospects at the back. Thomas Chabot, Jake Sanderson, and Erik Brannstrom will be the backbone of Ottawa’s defence in any future playoff run.

Getting closer to that forward group would obviously be aided by the drafting or acquisition of an elite scorer to compliment Tim Stützle and Brady Tkachuk at the top of the lineup, thus pushing players like Drake Batherson, Connor Brown, and Nick Paul into more natural roles. Pierre Dorion has already tried to address this in some way with the acquisition of Evgenii Dadonov last year, but the Senators depth is still far off from what it needs to be, and bolstering it should be a key objective this off-season. The Senators have the money and roster space, but whether or not Eugene Melnyk approves that kind of necessary spending is a different story.

If they want to go full copycat, Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow are both unrestricted free agents this summer.