Senators must show improvement in youth movement in 2021/21 Season

The Ottawa Senators missed out on the NHL post-season for the fourth campaign on the bounce, putting head coach D.J Smith under a lot of pressure in the final year of his contract. The Senators finished well off the pace in the North Division after being relocated. Ottawa were eight points off the pace for the final spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs and were left to rue their disappointing start to the campaign.

There was a significant improvement towards the end of the season, but it was too little too late by that point for Smith and his team. They now need to perform a thorough examination of the playing roster and their coaching philosophies in order to guide the team back to the post-season.

It will not be an easy task and the longer the drought continues, the more it becomes a mental hurdle for the Senators. They will certainly begin the next campaign as rank outsiders for the Stanley Cup with the oddsmakers on the Canadian betting sites. However, for those who choose to browse the best Canadian sportsbooks with a mind to bet on the Senators, your belief in your team may be well placed. There could be value to be found by betting on Smith's men if they are able to harness a roster with potential. Ottawa has a young team and fledgling talent that can develop under Smith, but they must show signs of progress in the 2021/22 campaign.

Another Term Of Disappointment

The Senators ended the 2020/21 season in 15th place in the Eastern Conference, highlighting the requirement for improvement across the board. However, that did not come to fruition for the Senators, who lost 12 out of their opening 15 games.

This rough start to the campaign put them well off the pace for the Stanley Cup playoffs, and left Smith and his team playing catch up. Their season actually began with a 5-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, but problems at both ends of the ice would damage their playoff hopes before the first month of the term had ended. In three straight-contests against the Vancouver Canucks, they managed only one goal per game.

Matters improved in the final third against the Edmonton Oilers as Brady Tkachuk led a strong offensive performance. However, their outing was ruined by a terrible defensive display, shipping eight goals at the other end. That inconsistency followed the Senators throughout the season. However, there were brief moments of joy during the crux of the campaign, winning three games on the bounce against the Montreal Canadiens and the Calgary Flames.

The end of the season was encouraging for the franchise. Ottawa won 10 out of their last 14 matches of the term, ending a positive note. Although fans are right to question where those performances had been when it mattered the most. The Senators will have momentum for the new campaign, but further development of the roster is required in the off-season.

Where Can The Senators Improve?

The off-season in the NHL will be interesting considering the arrival of the Seattle Kraken. The league will hold an expansion draft to allow Seattle to fill their roster. Ottawa has the opportunity to guard seven of their players from their process, who are eligible for the draft.

Tkachuk, Connor Brown and Drake Batherson will all be the candidates to be protected from the process. Tkachuk and Batherson are also poised to hit the free-agent market, pressing the need for general manager Pierre Doiron to tie both players down to long-term contracts. It will a difficult balance to strike to retain their key men among their forward line.

At the other end of the ice, the club should have Victor Mete, Thomas Chabot, and Josh Brown as their protected players, giving them a strong core of talent at the back. The big question will come between the posts.

Pittsburgh Penguins. However, he does have fitness issues and missed the final month of the term. Marcus Hogberg was solid in relief, but the future of the position lies in the hands of Filip Gustavsson, who boasted a 5-1 record and two overtime defeats in his action last term. The 22-year-old has a save percentage of .933, which suggests that he is ready for more time on the ice next term with or without Murray.

Young players such as Logan Brown and Vitaly Abramov should also see more playing time as Smith and Doiron continue to cultivate their young talent. Tim Stutzle’s development will be vital to determine whether he can sustain his solid rookie campaign. At the age of 19, he is just scratching the surface of his potential and he could well become a dominant player.

The Senators have a semblance of momentum and their roster stocked with potential. It is now up to Smith and his players to harness that ability to at least qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs next season.