Double Think Friday: From the Front Office to the Blue Line

It's Erik Karlsson and Cody Ceci! - Doug Pensinger

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

1. Tim Murray's departure. Murray deserved a shot at the big chair and after 20 years working at the NHL level, he's more than ready. He played a significant part in putting together the Binghamton team that won the Calder Cup in 2011. Without more information about the inner-workings of Ottawa's management team it's hard to know how much credit (or blame) to give Tim. However, Buffalo's advantages (some recent high draft picks and an abundance of picks) seem to be play to Tim Murray's strengths: identifying and developing young players.

2. What's next for Ottawa's management team? Pierre Dorian and Randy Lee earned promotions which should keep Ottawa's management core intact for at least a little while and Bryan Murray seems set to re-up with the team for another season minimum. Many Sens fans assumed Bryan Murray would retire at the end of this season. He's Ottawa's longest-serving GM and appears to be in full control of his legacy in the capital. Without nephew Tim waiting in the wings, the biggest question remains, will it be a one-year extension for Bryan, or is a multi-year deal on the horizon?

3. Erik Karlsson's return from injury. In a few weeks it will be a year since he suffered his injury against Pittsburgh. He came back earlier than anyone expected and wasn't 100%. He targeted training camp as his return to 100%. Other players who have injured their Achilles tendon have said it took a year to get back to normal. What kind of second half can we expected from him?

4. Erik Karlsson's physical play. One of the highlights of Ottawa's shootout loss in Colorado was Erik Karlsson's excellent hip check on Nathan MacKinnon. Karlsson had an awesome game but the physical nature of the play was consistent with his performance all year. One of the problems with celebrating hits is that you can only hit when you don't have the puck. However, playing without the puck is also part of a defensemen's job. For a player of Karlsson's size and skill, there can be advantages to occasionally throwing a big hit. Some of his best defensive work this season has come against Alex Ovechkin and in their last meeting he landed another big hit on the Washington star.

5. Which pairing will feature Cody Ceci next season? Ceci's play has been so composed and reliable since joining Ottawa last month that the traditional 9-game rookie milestone passed without much talk about whether he would be returned to Bingo. Since joining the Senators, Ceci has been one of the team's best defenders. However, the Wiercioch-Cowen experiment this season illustrates the drawbacks of giving young defensemen too many minutes and too much responsibility too quickly. Ceci is currently averaging third-pairing minutes on Ottawa's blue line. Can he make the jump as a 20-year-old to the second unit in the second unit in the second half? Next season?

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