It's a lazy Friday around here, so let's play a game: Which of the current Ottawa Senators would you choose to build a new team around? We're going to assume everyone's default choice is Erik Karlsson, and thus, remove him from the choice pool. In my mind, that leaves three choices:
The Lehner has done everything the organization has asked him to do. The more he plays, the more he looks like a franchise-level goalie. Oh, yes, he still has bad nights--as we just recently saw--but he's also only 22. He has not yet finished his development, and he's already outplaying the team's starter this season. Is this the guy you slap an eight-year deal on, pronto, and then build outward around?
Starring Kyle Turris as "T", the 24-year-old has taken a major leap forward this season, supplanting Jason Spezza as the team's top center. With 20P (6G, 14A) in 22 games, not only is he in the top 33 scorers in the NHL, but he's producing at a rate you'd hope your top-line center produces. Turris generates points not from sheer offensive skill, but from a complete and well-rounded game. He's the kind of player you deploy in any situation and trust to get the job done. Being able to stare down any situation and say, "Whatever, we've got Turris." is a pretty appealing way to start a franchise. It offers a lot of flexibility across the rest of your lineup.
Did you know: Goal-scorers are hard to find? Bobby Ryan is currently among only 22 NHL players who have double-digit goals--he has 10. He also has 10 assists, which ties him with Kyle Turris for the team points lead...among forwards (You only get one guess at the overall leader). What's most encouraging, though, is the way that Ryan scores his goals: He's not floating at the top of the circle with his stick in the air, waiting for the one-time pass. He's forechecking, backchecking, pickpocketing, wrist-shooting, dangling, getting around the net, and fully engaged in the play no matter where it's taking place on the ice. Ryan is one of the more emotive players on the Senators as well--he takes his missed chances personally, and seems genuinely overjoyed when his teammates score. Beyond being a goal-scorer, he plays the game in a way that makes his teammates better. That and 40 goals look like a great foundation for a team.
- Mika Zibanejad is playing well enough for top-six minutes. Except the nights when he's not. Kids... am I right? [Senators Extra]
- The boys at WTYKY have a roundtable about the Senators' woes--did you know that Ottawa is not meeting fan expectations?--and conclude things will be hard to fix.
- According to Marc Methot, players know that when they play like crap, eventually changes come. So... play better, then? [SE]
- Do you remember Alexei Yashin's first hat trick from 20 years ago? I wish I didn't. [Black Aces]
- Nichols has thoughts on Bob McKenzie's thoughts on the Senators. A good read. [T6S]
- Darryl Sutter thinks the New Jersey Devils have the best goaltending in the league. Did they trade for Lehner or something? [Kings Insider]
- Remember when everyone just connected Damien Brunner to the Devils as obvious? Well, now he's been scratched for not producing. [Fire & Ice]
- Puck Daddy picks the 13 biggest disappointments in the league, and Craig Anderson gets mentioned for getting stretchered, and not for his disappointing but inevitable regression to the mean. [Puck Daddy]
- In case you missed Elliotte Freidmann's latest 30 thoughts, here they are. No Sens notes. [CBC]