With the Sens set to kick off the back half of the year tonight against the St. Louis Blues, the staff give their predictions for what’s to come:
1. Let’s get to the big ones right away: Will the Senators trade Erik Karlsson before the trade deadline? Will they trade Mike Hoffman?
Ross: They will not trade Karlsson. Melnyk will worry about the backlash after the Alfie situation, and Dorion will hold out for a new owner who will actually fund his team with Erik Karlsson at the helm.
Spencer: They will not trade Karlsson, they will trade Hoffman and I’ll lose my mind.
Trevor: They definitely won’t trade Karlsson, but they’ll trade Hoffman to St. Louis for a top prospect and a lesser known prospect.
Ary: No, and please god, no.
Colin: There is zero chance Karlsson gets traded - it would have way too big an impact on ticket sales for Melnyk to approve. Mike Hoffman’s a different situation, and based off Bob McKenzie’s recent comments and Dorion’s willingness to pull the trigger, I think it will come to pass.
Beata: No way Karlsson gets traded. I’m worried they might trade Hoffman, but that would be unimaginably dumb so I’m going to say no because I want to believe this management group is (slightly) smarter than that.
nkb: They won’t trade Karlsson this year, and I’ll even give a bonus prediction that they won’t trade him before the start of next season. The Sens can’t afford to fall into hopelessness and that’s what this team is without their captain. If the Sens are able to keep even a flicker of a hope alive, Hoffman stays. If they’re still 10 points out in 2 weeks, though, Hoffman is gone.
2. Where will the Sens finish in the Eastern Conference standings, and on a related topic: will they convey their pick to Colorado this year?
Ross: Ottawa will pass Florida and Detroit within the division. I predict they finish 12th-last (some Western Conference teams will have to drop off in the second half), so they’ll end up giving Colorado their pick.
Spencer: They will finish second last, above Buffalo, and will keep their top 5 pick.
Trevor: Ottawa will finish 13th in the east, but they will get a top-10 pick.
Ary: The East’s bottom-five will feature five Atlantic Division teams. Tough luck, because it means that all will be adding a quality asset to make themselves more competitive in the seasons to come. I think Ottawa finishes ahead of Buffalo and one of Florida/Detroit, but behind Montreal. They’ll end up with a top-seven pick, and thus, keep it.
Colin: There’s no way they go below Buffalo, but it’s also super unlikely they escape the bottom five. I say they barely pass Detroit for 14th in the East, which essentially guarantees the first round pick being kept.
Beata: Knowing this team, I think they’re going to start playing a lot better and finish 11th in the east. They’ll just barely make the bottom 10 by virtue of the east being terrible, and keep their pick because they don’t want to bet against themselves next season.
nkb: The Sens haven’t exactly been good this season but they’ve also been quite unlucky. Their luck will turn, not enough to make the play-offs mind you, but they’ll finish 11th and convey their pick to Colorado.
3. How many games will Colin White and Filip Chlapik each play with the big club in the second half of the year?
Ross: White will get 22 more, Chlapik will get 8.
Spencer: White: 15, Chlapik: 25
Trevor: White: 17. Chlapik: 23
Ary: Chlapik, White 15
Colin: I’ll play this one optimistically: both White and Chlapik will be in the lineup for 25 or more games. We’ll also start to see a bit more Christian Jaros.
Beata: About 20 each.
nkb: White seems to have staked out the higher spot on the organization’s depth chart at this stage so I’ll say he plays in 25 more games and Chlapik gets another 15.
4. Will Guy Boucher be retained as Head Coach at the end of the season? Will Pierre Dorion?
Ross: Boucher is a yes. Dorion is a hard yes. Melnyk isn’t paying more people’s salaries if he doesn’t have to.
Spencer: I think both the coach and GM will be retained UNLESS the team is sold and new ownership does something wild.
Trevor: They’ll both stay on, with Guy on a short leash. Dorion easily gets more than two seasons as a first-time GM.
Ary: They’ll both stay, with Dorion noting a shift in organizational philosophy to play the young players. Boucher will be tasked to change his tactics, and won’t be fired unless the Sens stumble out of the gate next season. I think it’s more likely that players are moved than Melnyk/Dorion firing another coach.
Colin: Neither’s job seems to be at risk at the moment (Dorion’s even publicly defended Boucher’s position multiple times), although I highly doubt Melnyk passes by a season without playoff revenue and just doesn’t change anything. I think both will ultimately stay, although I’m less sure about Boucher.
Beata: I think they’ll both stay, but they’ll start next season on the hot seat.
nkb: I’ll go off the board and say that if (when?) the Sens miss the playoffs this year that Melnyk will clean house. Everyone’s gone if it ends badly; then we’ll really be in uncharted waters.
5. Who is your pick for a breakout second half?
Ross: Matt Duchene. He’s gonna go for a point-per-game in the second half now that he’s gained familiarity.
Spencer: TSN and Sportsnet will take minor breaks from talking about Auston Matthews to give Thomas Chabot airtime. He’s going to play 18+ minutes a night for the rest of the season and finish the season with 30+ points.
Trevor: I say Matt Duchene. He’s too good to not put up a lot of points, and he’s on fire of late.
Ary: Du-du-dududuchene. Part of me hopes that the young players who earn call-ups (Chlapik, White, Paul?) end up producing so that they claim depth spots next year.
Colin: Thomas Chabot finishes the season with Calder votes.
Beata: Matt Duchene. Please. He’s finally getting used to The System and his new teammates, so in the second half he’ll put our fears to rest and start producing. That said, if Mike Hoffman does get traded, change my answer to Chabot.
nkb: I’ll go off the board again and say that Zack Smith will go on another shooting percentage-fueled scoring binge — just in time to get traded to a contender for a first round pick!