Senators season coming to abrupt stop
Less than two weeks until closing time.
Seems like kind of a ‘hard stop’ here in Ottawa as interest seems to be gaining on a hockey team that is poised to do . . . well what, exactly?
The Ottawa Senators are at a significant, meaningful stage in recovery (I probably didn’t need to tell you that, but there it is). When April 29th calls it a day, it will mark five consecutive years not just ‘out’ of the playoffs but well out. Realistically, all the talk about a quick turnaround fortune-wise fell to the wayside about two winters ago.
So here we sit with spring in the air and not a playoff round in sight.
Does the view change when play commences in the fall of 2022? Personally, I’d like to crystal-gaze and tell the long-hurting Ottawa fan that, yes, this is the start of something better. And that’s believable to be sure but forecasting an immediate jump to the top or even a firm grasp of the post-season is more than an idle stretch, it’s a big one.
So, again realistically, where does this club land when the dust settles on the 2022-23 season?
Here’s what we know: The core of the team is pretty well set. Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris, Drake Batherson, Thomas Chabot, Artem Zub and Tim Stutzle are high-level players, each with different but integral abilities. Connor Brown, Alex Formenton, Mathieu Joseph, maybe Shane Pinto and Anton Forsberg represent that second tier of talent (Forsberg would be in the top tier with another year or two of excelling in goal. We’ll check back in later on that one).
There are youngsters with promise on the way as well, none bigger than Jake Sanderson who’s been rated on charts as the No. 2 prospect currently not playing the NHL brand.
You look at that list and think, yes, that’s fairly impressive. It’s not Tampa-Toronto-Florida-Carolina impressive but it’s on the way.
Here’s where the nugget of truth positions itself. If, and it’s a big if, general manager Pierre Dorion can finally find the right path in supplementing the roster with supporting skaters, Ottawa’s jump could be substantive.
That’s a big ask, and one that hasn’t been answered successfully in the past. As documented, getting players to want to play in Ottawa can be tough sledding. An unsettled ownership situation, at this point, doesn’t help matters.
The prime pieces are in place for the next kick-of-the-can, landing some ballast could be tricky. But it’s necessary.
THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: The fallout from the column seen here this week on the passing of 67’s great Lance Galbraith was as expected: Hundreds reaching out to tell us how much he meant to an organization, the OHL and its fans . . . Hundreds of stories relayed as well on what a kind soul (off the ice of course) Lance was . . . Doesn’t seem to matter where they sit in the standings – Toronto and Ottawa is always full of drama . . . Rewatched the highlights from the previous time the two clubs had met (Jan. 1) and counted at the very least five ridiculous scoring chances for Alex Formenton. If Formenton had sunk a couple of his putts it wouldn’t have ended in a 6-0 scrubbing by Toronto . . . Former Senator, and a guy they should have kept, Anthony Duclair has quietly scored 31 goals (so far) with Florida . . . Wouldn’t you just love being a kid and living on the same street as Brady Tkachuk? . . . Closest I got to that was going to Bobby Orr’s hockey school for two weeks, but I remember seeing Bobby for all of a couple of hours . . . The Senators are on the road starting Monday night in Seattle. Then it’s a quick jaunt up to Vancouver Tuesday before lifting off to Columbus Friday. The Senators host Montreal on the very first annual Brendan Gallagher/Tim Stutzle Night on Saturday . . . And just because I know you’re fascinated with what I’m watching: Started Peaky Blinders (Netflix) as recommended by many. Terrific show put together by the same writer/showrunner as Taboo. I like ‘em gritty.
SENATORS WEEK AHEAD:
Monday, April 18: Ottawa at Seattle (10 pm)
Tuesday, April 19: Ottawa at Vancouver (10 pm)
Friday, April 22: Ottawa at Columbus (7 pm)
Saturday, April 23: Montreal at Ottawa (7 pm)
Photo: Courtesy OttawaSenators.com