It's that time of summer when a number of publications put out their annual regular season forecasts and prognostications.
In a feature that will appear in their 2011-12 Yearbook edition,The Hockey News is the first to publish their prediction and allow me to forewarn you, if you're the kind of fan who believes in false hopes, instant gratification and securing the coveted 8th playoff seed because 'anything can happen in the playoffs!'... you should probably stop reading.
STOP READING NOW!
For the rest of you (bless you), THN boldly suggests that the Senators will finish 15th in the Eastern Conference this season.
After finishing second-last in NHL scoring in 2010-11, it's clear the Senators have fallen long and hard from their days as a league powerhouse. The team started down the rebuild road and traded away many veterans, but still have Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson to hang their hat on. Ottawa has some tantalizing talent on its way up, namely Erik Karlsson on the blueline, but the future isn't here yet.
As hilarious as it is that so many people will inevitably lose their shit and get bent out of shape because their favorite team was slighted by a Toronto publication, it's difficult to dispute THN's rationale behind this ranking.
The Senators organization is heavily dependent on three key veteran players -- Spezza, Alfie and Craig Anderson. The latter of whom will inevitably encounter some statistical regression from the unsustainable 11-5-0, 2.05 GAA and .939 SV% that he posted last season. Barring an injury to one of these three players, the organization simply does not have the talent or depth to compensate for their absence. That's not meant as some indictment of the organization or its system. As a number of publications have noted, the Senators pipeline isn't bereft of prospects. It has come a long way under the watch of Bryan Murray and is now amongst the best in the NHL. Nonetheless, it's naive to assume that any of its prospects are on the verge of being able to turn this franchise around in 2011-12.
Bruce Garrioch recently mentioned that the Senators allegedly were looking to move Filip Kuba and/or Sergei Gonchar at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft but I'm hoping that the Senators will afford these and other players in need of a bounce back (I'm looking at you Peter Regin and Nikita Filatov!) the playing time and opportunity to improve their worth before deciding that these players are either: a) part of of the future or b) expendable and should be moved them to create room for a younger and less expensive alternatives.
Admittedly, it may not be as sexy as watching some young prospect like Mika Zibanejad or Jared Cowen show the odd flash of brilliance in the NHL level next season but it demonstrates the necessary patience and savvy asset management that will give the organization a better opportunity to contend in the future.
‘Alex what are you doing?’
Like some rite of passage for crappy rock bands to put out an album entitled Full Circle, it was only a matter of time before Cory Clouston responded to the comments Alexei Kovalev made to the Russian press last week.
Over the weekend, the Ottawa Citizen published a transcription of an interview that Lisa Wallace did with the former Senators coach. Most of what he said wasn’t particularly surprising. He defended his tenure here in Ottawa and was quick to point out that he never had a personal problem with Kovalev.
I’m not going to go into what went on, but Alex and I had several conversations throughout his time as an Ottawa Senator. He knew where I stood, he knew what I expected from him and he was given several opportunities to have a voice and that’s just one of those situations where players and coaches don’t necessarily agree. I’ll just leave it at that. Anyone who watched him play can make their own opinion on Alex Kovalev. I have no hard feelings to Alex and he’s entitled to say whatever he chooses and I’m not going to criticize him. I have no problems with Alex as a person. We had several conversations and he knew where he stood. He was given many opportunities to speak.