We are in the dog days of summer, and there is little to report in the way of news, trades, & signings. So now that 98% of the pieces have fallen into place for the upcoming campaign, we can look at each club's additions & subtractions and assess what can be expected of them. Most teams are competing for the Stanley Cup, others are at one point or another of a rebuild, retool, or a straight up tank job. With 32 teams to get to, we're going to start with the Atlantic Division. Next up, the Ottawa Senators.
Arguably the single-most improved squad in the NHL, the Sens have had a very exciting summer. Ottawa parted ways with the following players: F Colin White, D Michael Del Zotto, D Victor Mete, C Chris Tierney, F Adam Gaudette, and F Tyler Ennis. While the names they added are the headline here, they did move out a bunch of players who weren't overly contributive, which is in itself a success.
GM Pierre Dorion made the following additions: F Alex DeBrincat, F Claude Giroux, G Cam Talbot, and F Jayce Hawyrluk. Two star forwards & a starting goaltender were absolutely massive gets for Dorion who believes his team's rebuild is over.
Offensively, the snake-bitten Senators of 2021-22 are likely a thing of the past. Ottawa basically traded Colin White & some draft picks for stud forwards Alex DeBrincat. Giroux has been one of the NHL's most efficient players for a decade and Alex DeBrincat is just an ATM for offense:
DeBrincat's top-tier finishing & Giroux's robot-like efficacy and knack for facilitating the puck will join Ottawa's impressive young group of forwards. Josh Norris, Drake Batherson, Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stützle, and Matthew Joseph make up a very competitive top-six forward corps. They will have a much more potent offense in '22-23. Defense is another story.
The Sens ranked 21st in Goals Against last season & 27th in expected Goals Against. If not for surprisingly decent goaltending, Ottawa would have been near the NHL's bottom. They will rely heavily on youngsters Jake Sanderson & Erik Brännström to play big minutes behind Thomas Chabot. While their forward group looks salivatingly impressive, the defense of these Senators needs improvement.
Goaltending is absolutely critical for this Ottawa Senators group in 2022-23. Without it, they will find themselves in lots of 6-5 hockey games. Newly acquired G Cam Talbot is joined by Anton Forsberg to hold down the fort. Talbot wanted a starting role, which ultimately led to his trade out of Minnesota, and he got one. Without strong goaltending, no team stands a chance in the NHL. Except maybe the 2022 Colorado Avalanche.
All in all, I seriously think this Senators group can steal a playoff spot from either the Florida Panthers or the Boston Bruins. Only defense & injuries worry me with this group, but they are a young team with some serious offensive weapons. While their potential is yet to be realized, Senators games will be must-watch TV in 2022-23, that is for certain.