In the past seven seasons, there have been six different leading goal scorers for Ottawa with Kyle Turris being the only player to repeat, happening in 2012-13 and 2013-14. Now that the Senators have a bona fide top six group plus Erik Karlsson, there are plenty of options for goal scoring. I'm not going to lie, this post was originally supposed to be asking who will end up being the team point leader. However, I obviously don't pay attention and I forgot that we had a scheduled post from the staff which asked the readers about point leaders.
So instead, I'll be talking about the next best thing which is goal scoring. The weekly question is: who do you think will lead the team in goals? There are more options than there normally would be, and I will go through each of them.
Karlsson has never lead the team in goals, but there's a very good chance that he will lead the team in points for the third time in his career. He scored a career-high 21 goals last season, but now that he will be paired with a healthy Marc Methot for (presumably) the entire season, perhaps his goal and point totals should go up. Considering Ottawa spreads the wealth in terms of goals, he may end up leading with around 25 goals.
Stone was one of the leagues best players during the second half of the season, as he scored 33 5 on 5 points from January 1st onward, which lead the league. His shooting percentage of 16.6% is a bit high, although he is known for being a quality scorer as he posted a 17.6% in the AHL in 2012-13. He could take another step forward from being second on the team with 26 goals, but it would be tough. I wouldn't expect much more from him, but it would still be a good bet to predict him as the leader.
Like I mentioned before, Turris has already lead the team in goals twice before in his career. However, the first time he only scored 12 in the lockout season when everybody was hurt, so that doesn't totally count. He still did get 24 last year, which was third on the team. If he's playing with Stone on the first line again, I don't see why the two of them can't be neck and neck in goal scoring.
He's a four-time 30-goal scorer, and I believe he can at least get close to that total once again. He sort of transitioned into a more balanced player last year who had more assists than normal but less goals. He was on pace for about 65 points and just under 25 goals until his big slump in the last 20 games, but I think he can keep it going for the whole season this time. Ryan is supposed to be the guy on the team, and why can't he be this year?
Zibanejad is a bit of an off the board pick, but there are some who are very high on him. He did end up with 20 goals last year at the age of 22, which was actually two more than the sniper Bobby Ryan. I don't think he's going to become an offensive force that will score 30 goals, but in a tight race he might come out ahead by one or two goals. If you are very bullish on Zibanejad, it's not crazy to vote for him.
If you aren't a Senators fan, I don't think you would guess that Hoffman lead the team with 27 goals. His assist totals were low so he only ended up with 48 points, but make no mistake: he is a supreme goal scorer. I think he's the real deal, as he has a fantastic shot and wicked speed that translates very well to the modern NHL. He may regress a tad this year, but he certainly has the potential to score between 25-30 goals once again. Can he become just the second player in the past eight seasons to lead the team in scoring for a second time?
It'll be interesting to watch this tight race throughout the year. So who do you think it will be?