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Weekly Question: Does Ottawa Need Another Forward Now?

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Now that Clarke MacArthur is out indefinitely, and the second line has struggled so far, was Bryan Murray actually correct in saying that Ottawa needs another forward?

Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

For the past 8 months or so, Ottawa Senators fans have been making it clear that the top six forwards for the team are good enough, and in fact very good. It was puzzling that Bryan Murray was still looking for his elusive "top six forward" throughout the summer, despite the fact that team leading goal scorer Mike Hoffman had been sitting on the fourth line to end the season. Then Murray changed his mind at training camp because of how well Hoffman played in the beginning.

With a top-six of Hoffman, Kyle Turris, Mark Stone, Clarke MacArthur, Mika Zibanejad, and Bobby Ryan, their forwards were looking quite good to start the year. However, now that MacArthur is out with a concussion for a certain amount of time, and the second line is struggling, perhaps Ottawa might actually look into acquiring another top-six forward. There's no question that the HST line has legitimately been the best line in the league to start the year (and should be near the top for the rest of the season), but the rest of the forwards have been underwhelming.

You can count on MacArthur to give you production but with him out, that leaves Zibanejad and Ryan without a real possession driver, and it has shown. Those two rank 2nd and 4th last on the team in corsi, with both posting sub-40% numbers. They do have a fair amount of points, and Zibanejad had a nice goal the other night, but it is worrisome that they have been territorially dominated.

As for players down the depth chart, it's not like Ottawa has a ton of depth. Milan Michalek isn't really a top-six forward anymore, Jean-Gabriel Pageau is suited for a third line role, and Curtis Lazar hasn't shown enough offensive ability just yet.

In 7 games so far, the only other forward besides the HST line and MacArthur that have positive possession numbers has been Alex Chiasson, who sits at an even 50%. Stone, Turris, Hoffman, and MacArthur are obvious guesses to have solid underlying numbers, but the Senators need others to be up there as well. They won't get far if they can only rely on one line and a forward who is out with a concussion for potentially a long time.

The Senators first line has accounted for 10 of the teams 22 goals so far, and two of those other goals were empty-netters from Curtis Lazar and Bobby Ryan. That line has scored 50% of the goals then, and it's clear that either the second line will have to improve their play, MacArthur will have to be healthy soon, or Murray will have to make a trade.

Like I said the other day, it's seven games into the season. That being said, we know that Ryan isn't a possession driver, and he needs to be with someone like Hoffman or MacArthur. Zibanejad is similar, but not to such an extent. I know the HST line has been dominant so far, but honestly I would be in favour of dropping Hoffman to the second line in order to create two lethal lines.

I would try to see what Shane Prince can do on the first line, and if that does not work then Milan Michalek can be on that top line for the time being. A simple plan also exists in that MacArthur may get healthy soon, and that could solve a lot of problems for the second and third line. The good news is that Ottawa has options. I don't think the rest of Ottawa's offense is this bad, and it will get better. It isn't time to panic about it yet, but things certainly could have worked out more favourably.

What do you think the Senators should do regarding their forwards to spread out the scoring then?