Well boys and girls, Ottawa apparently is a lower spending small market team now. Newsflash with the exception of roughly 5 years of its lifetime has always been a lower spending small market team. Ottawa had two years of success (built on a strong drafting core) when Melnyk was signing the big checks and three years of mediocre to crap, money did not really help. Never in the franchises' history did a free agent sign in his (relative) prime. What has categorized the Senators franchise for years has been its ability to succeed in spite of its limits and for the near future, it should remain so. Take a look at what we have.
Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner, a proven and experienced starting goaltender and a talented and young blue chipper waiting in the wings. Ottawa has never possessed this sort of depth at the NHL level, and it gives the Senators multiple options in how they move forward. If Lehner continues to play well as the full time backup this season, do not be surprised if they trade Anderson for assets if he seeks too big a payday in his contract year. Also understand the organization is not standing pat in securing between the pipes.
The Ottawa Senators currently have four goaltending prospects, Andrew Hammond, Marcus Hogberg, Francois Brassard and Chris Dreidger. Well I have doubts Hammond evolves much beyond the AHL, the other three goalies have shown notable promise. Brassard and Dreidger have both seen consistent success as the starting goalies for their respective CHL teams and Hogberg has played well enough to place himself into starting contention for the Swedish World Junior team. Well I cannot guess on how these goalies work out (goalie development is generally a long and weird road...I mean just look at Lehner and Bishop for comparisons), Ottawa is secure in this area for years to come.
I will be honest, this is very very weird to digest. We have Erik Karlsson, a generational talent, a steady (and surprisingly effective) partner in Methot and two vets in Corvo and Phillips rounding the bottom six... the 3/4 spots are however a question mark. For the short term Ottawa feels it has the young talent to fill the 3/4 spots in Wiercioch and Cowen. Whether they succeed is still up in the air, but if recent contracts suggest anything the Senators believe in these two players on the backend for the foreseeable future. Of the current batch of prospects, only Cody Ceci looks like he has the ability to comfortably fill this void internally in the next few years.
Corvo is here for depth and Gryba is playing for a contract. Phillips is likely heading into his final year as Senator. If Ottawa has nothing else on defence going forward, it is a glut of potential 5-6 defenceman. Claesson, Borowiecki, Sdao, Wideman, Wikstrand, Blood, Rutkowski, Harpur are all essentially aiming for the same two/three spots on the roster for the foreseeable future. Well I would be more comfortable with one more established 3/4 defenceman at the NHL level, there is clearly an internal plan for Ottawa's defence going forward.
This is actually pretty simple to look over for the next few years. Michalek/Macarthur/Greening/Conacher/Kassian provide a solid left wing, although I will not be surprised if Michalek or Conacher are shifted to the right wing. Hoffman, Schneider, Prince, Puempel provide solid prospects to fill the void internally going forward.
At center it is Spezza/Turris followed by Smith/Pageau/Zjad. How Zjad is played going forward is still up for debate and Pageau may very well start the season in Bingo. Well there are prospects to competently fill a bottom six role, we do not have a top six center in the system outside of Da Costa and he is likely soon gone.
On right wing, Ryan will be no.1 (unless Paulrus chooses to reunite the proven Greening-Spezza-Michalek combination.) with Condra/Neil filling out the bottom six. Conacher/Zjad may very well be slotted into the 2nd line role. With the departure of Jakub/Noesen, we are thin at right wing with Stone/Petersson/Robinson as the next available players on the depth chart.
Current Starting Lineup with reasonable guesses on line combos.
Conacher/Greening- Zjad/Pageau- Condra
Extra forward: Kassian
Extra D: Gryba