• By: Dave Gross

Mid-season report card sports few surprises for teetering Senators

Photo courtesy NHLI via Getty Images

We’re on the brink of hitting the mid-way point in the NHL season. For the Ottawa Senators, the first half had its moments . . . some of them actually good . . . but most, bad.

Here’s what we see when evaluating the talent that brought us to this point.


Craig Anderson, A: Face it, without Anderson Ottawa wouldn’t just be close to the basement, they’d be permanent residents. He’s probably landed them five more wins than they deserve. Do the math.

Mike McKenna/Mike Condon/Marcus Hogberg, C-: There has been little to no relief for Anderson from his backup crew. McKenna’s had a couple of solid outings, but at 35, this career minor pro is a minor pro for a reason.


Mark Borowiecki, D: I know, I know, he’s gritty. I get it. Not much else to like here.

Cody Ceci, C: Logs the most time against the opposition’s best forward units. A workhorse, for sure, but mistake-prone. Fan’s favourite whipping boy.

Thomas Chabot, A: A true surprise at age 21 (turns 22 later this month). Chabot’s as smooth as it gets. The defensive lapses are getting less and less.

Dylan DeMelo, B-: Doesn’t stand out, yet makes very few mistakes. More offence would be nice.

Ben Harpur, B: With confidence comes a physical presence Ottawa needs on the back end. Needs to work on foot speed and decision-making.

Christian Jaros, B: He’s going to be a good one. Love his physical side, so too do the Senators.

Maxime Lajoie, C: After a torrid start, Lajoie’s game has gone south. Still, a good showing in his first full NHL year.


Mikkel Boedker, C: Terrific skater who comes as advertised: A very middling player.

Matt Duchene, A: We can’t complain about the effort level or the point production. The question is, does Duchene sign a deal this summer to stay in Ottawa. Talks have reportedly been quiet, but louder than Mark Stone’s.

Ryan Dzingel, B: Another pending UFA, Dzingel’s name surfaces quite a bit in the trade rumour mill. On pace for a 25-goal season. A pretty good bargaining chip for the Chicago native.

Magnus Paajarvi, D: He’s one-and-done in Ottawa after signing a one-year contract this past summer. Former first-rounder is heading for a sub-10-goal year.

Nick Paul, C: Last chance saloon? Paul was a junior star who’s running out of time here in Ottawa.

Tom Pyatt, D: Never understood Guy Boucher’s adoration for Pyatt. Zero offence and doesn’t play with an edge at all.

Bobby Ryan, C-: Keep waiting for this guy to play (at the very least) a couple of games approaching his level from the playoffs a year-and-a-half ago. It’s like Waiting for Godot.

Zach Smith, C: He’s finally showing a consistent level of nasty. Smith is strong defensively as well. Too slow for a fast and getting-faster league.

Mark Stone, A+: One of the most complete skaters in the entire league. Does not take nights off. Very driven to win.

Chris Tierney, C: Has had some impressive moments but not enough to lift the grade higher.

Brady Tkachuk, A: Should break the 40-point plateau. Those scoffing at Ottawa’s fourth overall selection are pretty quiet these days. Leads the forwards in penalty minutes; lead the team in grins.

Colin White, B+: I’d given this guy up as being a career fourth-liner. His improvement this year is monumental. Shares the same drive as Stone and Tkachuk.


D: Sometimes this looks like a cab ride from hell behind the bench (. . . um, wait a second here). I rarely understand which direction Guy Boucher and staff are headed. As much as a lack of practice drove the organization heads squirrely last season, this penchant for dressing seven defencemen and 11 forwards must be turning the trick in 2018-19.


B: This grade is subject to change when we find out the futures of Duchene, Stone and Dzingel. Not a bad deal in retrospect for Erik Karlsson. Pierre Dorion’s drafting of Tkachuk should be lauded. The book’s still out on his selection of Logan Brown. We’ll see.

Senators week ahead:

Wednesday, Jan. 2: Vancouver at Ottawa (7 pm)

Saturday, Jan. 5: Minnesota at Ottawa (1 pm)

Sunday, Jan. 6: Carolina at Ottawa (1 pm)