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2017-2018 NHL Preview: Ottawa Senators

It's time that Erik Karlsson got some more help, his back is sore from carrying the team

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Twenty-First up are the Ottawa Senators. They are in their  25th season having made the playoffs two of the last three years. Stepping away from the glory years between 1996-2006 when some combination of the dynamic line of Jason Spezza, Marian Hossa/Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson were propelling the Senators into 1st place in the regular season; however, they could never convert in the postseason, Erik Karlsson vaulted them to within one goal of the Stanley Cup finals, losing to the ultimate champion in game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Basic Stats:
2016-2017 NHL Standings: 12th
Eastern Conference Standings: 6th
Atlantic Division Standings: 2nd
Goals for Rank: 22nd
Goals against Rank: 10th

: The Ottawa Senators surprised me not only in the playoffs with their deep run but also in the regular season as I had them pegged as someone finishing around 20th. To me, they had Erik Karlsson and that was about it. Up steps Mike Hoffman with a big 61 point season, Kyle Turris finally starts to step up to the lauded expectations, Mark Stone comes in with 22 goals and 36 year old Craig Anderson rebounds from a rough 2015-2016 season where he had 2.78GAA and .916 Sv% to dropping half a goal per game at 2.28GAA with .926 Sv %. I don't think Craig can mimic those stats again but what I DO think is that the Senators gave him some help by bringing on Mike Condon to alleviate him playing as much as he did. 27 year old Mike, off a great campaign with the Montreal Canadiens, posted a so/so 2.5 GAA with a .914 Sv %. It wasn't great but it didn't drown the team. I think the unsung hero of this team is Jean-Gabriel Pageau who they resigned in the offseason to around $3MM a year. Sitting as a third line center and often a shutdown player, he plays strong physical two way hockey, producing when needed and providing the essential grit to allow their stars to shine when able. Their scoring % were down last year and I think the added top 6 talent of Ryan Dzingel getting more minutes coupled with the continued ascension of Kyle Turris will offset the loss of Mika Zibanejad as the Senators improve one spot in the standings this year. The team is currently the oldest in the league and will have to work around that obstacle which could present a challenge.

Major Additions
: Johnny Oduya
Major Subtractions: Mike Zibanejad

Prospects and Picks:
- Shane Bowers. The 28th overall pick in the 2017 draft, Shane is a great skater and a strong puck handler who is not afraid to fight in the middle to get his shots off while defensemen work to knock him off the puck. He scored 61 points across 60 games in the USHL last year playing for the Waterloo Black Hawks. He is more than willing to play two way hockey and reads the ice well. The only real knock has been his need to bulk up a bit which will happen with age. I could see him becoming a good 2nd line center for the Senators within 3 years.

-Thomas Chabot. Drafted 18th in the 2015 draft, the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship MVP should crack the lineup this year and has a chance at a top 4 d-spot if he can stay strong in position while also producing (both his core strengths). He is smart with position and is not afraid to use his powerful shot, he will be a well needed infusion of youth to the team.

Sleeper Fantasy Asset:
-Ryan Dzingel. Playing just 14:23 ATOI last year, Ryan scored 32 points across 123 SOG shooting a respectable 11.7%. He is a top 6 forward who played well in the post season (10 points across 19 games) and will see his minutes go up at least 2 full minutes with more power play time, expect him to top 50 points this year.

-Bobby Ryan found some fountain of youth with some resurgent post season play. He scored just 25 points across 62 games last year. The potential second line of Ryan Dzingel, Derick Brassard and Bobby Ryan has potential to outscore the first line of Mike Hoffman, Kyle Turris and Mark Stone. I think Bobby returns to a 20 goal, 50 point season this year.

Cap Situation:
They currently have around $4.8MM with 22 players signed.

Projected finish:
2017-2018 NHL Standings: 11th
Eastern Conference Standings: 6th
Atlantic Division: 3rd

NHL 12th: Montreal Canadiens (Eastern Conference 7th; Atlantic Division 4th)

NHL 13th: New York Rangers (Eastern Conference 8th; Metropolitan Division 4th)

NHL 14th: Calgary Hurricanes (Western Conference 6th; Pacific Division 3rd)

NHL 15th: Carolina Hurricanes (Eastern Conference 9th; Metropolitan Division 5th)

NHL 16th: San Jose Sharks (Western Conference 7th; Pacific Division 4th)

NHL 17th: Dallas Stars (Western Conference 8th; Central Division 4th)

NHL 18th: Philadelphia Flyers (Eastern Conference 10th; Metropolitan Division 6th)

NHL 19th: Winnipeg Jets (Western Conference 9th; Central Division 5th)

NHL 20th: St. Louis Blues (Western Conference 10th; Central Division 6th)

NHL 21st: Boston Bruins (Eastern Conference 11th; Atlantic Division 5th)

NHL 22nd: Buffalo Sabres (Eastern Conference 12th; Atlantic Division 6th)

NHL 23rd: Arizona Coyotes (Western Conference 11th; Pacific Division 5th)

NHL 24th: Los Angeles Kings (Western Conference 12th; Pacific Division 6th)

NHL 25th: New Jersey Devils (Eastern Conference 13th; Metropolitan Division 7th)

NHL 26th: Detroit Red Wings (Eastern Conference 14th; Atlantic Division 7th)

NHL 27th: New York Islanders (Eastern Conference 15th; Metropolitan Division 8th)

NHL 28th: Vancouver Canucks (Western Conference 13th; Pacific Division 7th)

NHL 29th: Florida Panthers (Eastern Conference 16th; Atlantic Division 8th)

NHL 30th: Las Vegas Golden Knights (Western Conference 14th; Pacific Division 8th)

NHL 31st: Colorado Avalanche (Western Conference 15th; Central Division 7th)