Imagine this making the Conference finals in 2016-17 season being a few wins away from a Stanley Cup appearance to then in one season being the laughing stock of the league and a team that has some major concerns heading into next season now.
What could have possibly went wrong for Ottawa, well to start…
(1) Erik Karlsson was out to start the season. Anytime a Norris defenseman and all-star caliber player is not there day one it can cause some in balance in things and a team to get off to a rocky start.
(2) Scoring was a major issue, the Senators ranked 25th for goals for with 219 and 2nd for goals against with 284. They did not have enough scoring on the front end to supplement for their awful goals against number. They certainly lacked goal scoring as they had 4 players with 20+ goals and 5 players with 40+ points or more. Their number one player Mark Stone lead the team in points with 62 and only played 58 games. Which leads to point number three…
(3) Bobby Ryan Mark Stone Matt Duchene only played a little more than half the season, health was definitely an issue with this team and it hurt them that Stone only had 58 games played, perhaps a full season with Stone scoring 100 points could have helped.
(4) Craig Anderson was extremely(emphasis) sub par this season, the lack of goal tending showed on the Senators record as Anderson posted a 23-25-6 record with a 3.32 GAA and .898 SV %. The goaltender was inconsistent and struggled a ton this year plus Mike Condon was not a viable back up option posting a 3.25 GAA and 5-17-5 record.
(5) Head coach, Eugene Melynk and players were not on the same page. There was one point when Ottawa funded Melnyk must go when he wanted to trade star defenseman Erik Karlsson, and when your superstar player/captain and owner are not on the same page nor can’t even sit in a room together problems will occur.
Will everything be better next year?
Probably not. Although they will probably have a better season, Anderson is one of those goalies who goes on and off years, so he’s probably destined for a better season. Anything is better honestly. They do have a top 5 pick this years draft, which could land them a very solid forward in which they need. Whomever they get will help them.
But the Senators still have not said anything about what they are doing with Karlsson or nothing is definite, yet… They have to sign Mark Stone this off season and at the same time think about whatever they do with him will affect Karlsson’s contract, Duchene’s and Dzingel’s also. With also needing to sign Chris Weidman, Cody Ceci and Fredrik Cleasson this off season as well. The Senators have a ton of contracts to ponder so it’s inevitable at least one or two key pieces won’t be returning either next season or the following year in 2019-20.
My prediction for Ottawa is another basement finish probably around 20th in the league, no playoff spot, around a few games under .500 they will have a better year but nothing like they did in 2016-17 though.