• By: Dave Gross

Report cards come a little – too – early

We are supposed to be gunning for a playoff season just around the corner.

We’re supposed to be talking about who’s going to win the goal-scoring race, Auston Matthews, Alex Ovechkin or David Pastrnak.

We’re supposed to be talking about MVP and whether the unexpected Leon Draisaitl can accomplish the unexpected.

Hell, we’re supposed to be talking about all things hockey, especially hockey.

But that’s not our reality.

So onward.

Time for a little reflection as the Ottawa Senator season is officially over (not to be overly caustic, but I guess I could have written this up around Christmas when we knew where this season was headed).

Here are the final grades: A’s, B’s, C’s and D’s.

A Team:

Connor Brown: Just a very strong season for the former Maple Leaf. Brown does so many things well, thinking the game being near the top of his charts.

Brown finishes a point back of Tkachuk.

Marcus Hogberg: The numbers aren’t jaw-dropping, but the eye-test is.

This first-year stopper saved many a night from being a fiasco. A well-earned grade of A.

Brady Tkachuk: Any talk of this relatively short list starts and ends with Tkachuk, the guy who now looks like the steal of the 2018 draft.

Tkachuk ends up leading the team in points (44), shots (259), penalty minutes (106) and hits (303). That hits-number ranks second overall in the NHL.

Beyond that, Tkachuk is the heart of this team. Where they eventually end up will have a lot to do with his presence and abilities.

Say hello to your future captain.

B Team:

Drake Batherson: The best is about to come. 

Batherson showcased a tonne of that future potential during his call-ups this season.

Brings a hefty physical component as well.

Mark Borowiecki: Was going to throw him up onto the A-list just to piss a few people off (I can be like that, so I’m told). Boro enjoyed his best year on and off the ice.

Thomas Chabot: Would have been a higher grade if the turnover rate wasn’t so blatantly regular and high.

You can blame a portion of that on the coaching staff – Chabot saw far too much ice-time and it showed.

He’ll get better.

Anthony Duclair: Was off to an A+ start but flagged considerably post-Christmas.

Duclair is an interesting puzzle; skilled but disappears now and again. 

Nick Paul: Can’t skate worth a lick but is positionally sound and, like Brown, thinks the game well. A good character skater.

D.J. Smith: Did what he could with what was handed over. At the very least, the new coach had this team playing aggressively and with edge.

Chris Tierney: Plays a sound, well-developed game. Not a game-breaker, not a scene-stealer.

C Team:

Craig Anderson: This is likely it for the long-time Senator. Injuries and age have caught up.

Ron Hainsey: Comes as advertised – slower than a bottle of Heinz but smart enough to overcome some of that.

A serviceable season at best.

Bobby Ryan: Lovely story and a lovely finish to a very difficult year for Ryan whose biggest fight will be off the ice the rest of the way.

We wish him the best.

Nikita Zaitsev: Well, let’s put it this way – he couldn’t have been any worse than he was with Toronto last season.

The highly-paid defender was okay on most nights. Still appears uncertain with what to do with the puck on many occasions.

D Team: 

Artem Anisimov: Perhaps a little harsh but Anisimov leaves you consistently expecting and wanting more.

Mikkel Boedker: Not the most memorable of seasons for a $4 million (AAV) player.

Erik Brannstrom: Has an ability to lead at the AHL level but looked absolutely lost once up with the big club.

Hailing Brannstrom as the next Erik Karlsson is more than a bit of a stretch. There’s potential here, but he has a long way to go.

Mike Reilly: Good skater; lousy hockey sense.

Scott Sabourin: Never understood the signing. Sabourin was effective in the pre-season but nothing more than an afterthought as the season played on.

Colin White: Using the excuse that White is still too young is baloney. If you don’t know what you’ve got at age 23 in this day and age, you’ve lost.

Improvement is needed or White will be surpassed quickly by this organization’s long list of prospects.

Senators – the week ahead:

Who knows?

Senators – Image 1 – Senators – Courtesy NHLI via Getty Images