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TSN releases Senators' off-season game plan: Outlook not so bad

Guess what TSN says the Senators need; Hint: it's the same thing we've been saying since this time last season.

Give up? An elite defenceman and some scoring depth.

Still, the Off-Season Game Plan, as outlined by Scott Cullen, is a good read, and well worth the look. Cullen's examination boils down to the Sens needing two top-nine forwards and one top-pairing defenceman.

On the plus side, as Cullen says, goaltending has gone from a serious question mark to what might be the Senators' strongest position. The addition of Pascal Leclaire, the emergence of Brian Elliott, and the strong back-up play of Alex Auld may give the Senators the best and most reliable goaltending in the history of the franchise.

On defence, Cullen may give Filip Kuba and Alex Picard to much credit, but both have an opportunity to cement themselves as good NHL defencemen. Kuba showed he can play well on a top pairing, but could use a capable partner to play with--a move that would settle Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips comfortably into the second-pairing shut-down role. It's difficult to predict what will happen with the Senators' third pairing, but Picard, Christoph Schubert, Brian Lee, Chris Campoli, Erik Karlsson, and Jason Smith--and maybe Brendan Bell--will all compete for a spot down there (unless a move is made to clear up that logjam).

Forward, well, same old story: Big line, and then big dropoff. But that's assuming our big line can produce as they're expected to, and that Daniel Alfredsson's age isn't becoming an issue yet (knock on wood). The emergence of Nick Foligno and Ryan Shannon as secondary scoring threats, which I've written positively about before, is certainly a good sign, but the Senators could still use some support. Cullen mentioned free agents Alex Tanguay, Alex Kovalev, Steve Sullivan, and Petr Sykora as possible solutions, and they may be (I'd take Sykora first), but the Sens will likely need something up front.