Moving on with our preseason prediction review, this time we look at who were thought would lead the team in points and who would be the first to be traded.
Q: The writers were unanimous in picking Erik Karlsson to lead the team in points, and in a way they were right, though Mark Stone had as many points in 13 fewer games. What do you think it says about this team that both of its top point-getters missed more than 10 games? Was it a surprise for Mark Stone to lead this team in points?
Trevor: I wouldn’t say it was a total surprise to see Stone lead the team in points because we already knew that he was capable of getting close to 70 in a full season. I definitely didn’t think he’d be at over a point per game though, even if it was only in 58 games. The fact that he and Karlsson lead the team in points despite missing some time just shows to me that they need another offensive weapon up front. You can’t rely on healthy seasons from everyone, and there are definitely a few holes that need to be addressed if they want to compete next season.
Colin: Karlsson and Stone have clearly turned themselves into Ottawa’s two most elite players over the last few seasons, so it’s not a surprise to see them at the top. It’s a bit disappointing that nobody could catch them considering the time they missed, although I think it speaks to how the Sens still have an opportunity to bounce back next season. If their stars can stay healthy, and that’s always a big if, it could go a long way to bringing the Sens at least closer to making the playoffs.
Ary: I don’t think it’s a surprise that Stone was up there in terms of points, I guess I just expected Karlsson to have more. But nonetheless, Stone has been the team’s best forward for a couple seasons, and finally got some of the recognition he deserved this year. He’s been an elite contributor at every level (WHL, WJC, AHL, NHL) and is one of the best right-wingers in the game. It sucks that injuries and a down season as a team probably cost him some deserving Selke nominations, but Stone’s the kind of player you can build around. His ~point-per-game season is going to make Pierre Dorion’s job extremely difficult. Stone would’ve been a player that I would’ve locked up to a long-term deal early on, and now Dorion’s going to have to pay premium (~$7-8M) to keep him around.
Spencer: I wouldn’t call Stone’s season a surprise, more of an inevitability. Many of us have been on the Stone train for a long time and he’s only recently gained the elite winger reputation around the league. What does it say about the Sens missing their top two producers for 10 games each? Probably that this roster shouldn’t have finished 30th. Maybe... 27th.
NKB: As the president of the Mark Stone Fan Club, I can’t say I’m surprised he had the season he did. In a perfect world, Ottawa would have two scoring lines with multiple players dealing 60 points but that’s just not where they are. I also am not totally convinced they need six 60 point scorers to be good — they just need competent depth scoring. If your fourth line is pitching in 10-12 goals each, you don’t need your top line to go for 40. That’s the blueprint of he Sens will need to follow.
Ross: I don’t think it was a surprise on either front. They are the Sens’ best forward and defenceman (while Filip Gustavsson is clearly the best goalie). As for what the lead scorers missing games shows me, it’s like Spencer said — it’s probably the 14th-biggest reason this team had such a lousy season.
Q: In predicting the first trade of the year, most of the writers chose Chris Wideman, who’s technically still a Senator. Ross and nkb were both closer to right, with Ross predicting a Dion Phaneuf trade, although that wasn’t the first of the year, and nkb predicting the Sens were going to get Matt Duchene, but he said Cody Ceci would’ve been the bait. Instead the correct answers were Kyle Turris, Andrew Hammond, and Shane Bowers. Matt Duchene did end up being a great player for the Sens, but with how the season derailed, do you think the Sens would be better off with now with quantity over quality? How bizarre is now looking back that the Sens traded for Matt Duchene, and just three months later, we nearly saw Erik Karlsson traded away?
Trevor: The Duchene trade is so intriguing because it all depends on what happens with Ottawa’s first rounder next year. The Senators are cursed, because if they really do want to trade Erik Karlsson, then this will be the absolute worst season to do it, without a first-round pick. Gun to my head, I think I’d re-do the trade, only because of that pick probably being pretty high in the draft. I still love Duchene though, and if he’s part of the long-term solution and the pick isn’t so high, then it might be alright. It certainly must be incredibly depressing for Duchene though, considering he wanted to go to a contender, and then somehow the Avalanche turn it around and make the playoffs while the Senators fall off a cliff.
Colin: It’s definitely been an odd season to be a Sens fan, and the Duchene trade topped it all. Pierre Dorion hasn’t been afraid to pull the trigger on big trades, moving out Zibanejad, Brassard and Phaneuf and Turris all in his relatively short tenure. He has the ability to close out trades, which really worries me with all of the Karlsson rumours.
Ary: Although I love (and miss) Kyle Turris, Duchene is the better player and he showed it by the time the season was over. It’s unfortunate that the shedding of Hammond (at the cost of a third round pick!) didn’t mean that he was off of Belleville’s roster, and Shane Bowers’ season at Boston University was no slouch -- he was just behind Colin White in terms of points-per-game as a rookie. What’s bizarre is the lack of a plan by the Senators front office thinking in November that they were a Matt Duchene away from Stanley Cup contention, to almost trading Erik Karlsson in February because they were in need of a rebuild. It’s why I find it hard to trust Dorion’s “I have a plan” when it was clear that they misevaluated the team (again). In a perfect world, both Duchene and Karlsson are Senators for a long-time. The Duchene trade gets a lot harder to accept if Karlsson is gone this summer.
Spencer: There’s definitely some merit in believing the Sens may have been better off not dealing what they did for Duchene. Quantity is important and it’s likely that a combination of Turris, Bowers and next year’s first round selection would provide more value to the team than Duchene will alone. What’s important is what Dorion does next. Change was supposedly coming, per Dorion, and yet the coaching staff and front office remain in tact. I don’t have a lot of faith in this team as it stands. And yes, it’s insane that the Sens almost traded Karlsson months after making a big move for Duchene. It’s going to be even more insane when it actually happens in a few months. And when it does happen, it’s going to make the Duchene deal look like a monster mistake.
NKB: I was mostly joking when I said that the Sens would be trading Ceci for Duchene but there had long been rumours of the Sens’ interest by that stage. Getting the best player in any transaction is usually what you’re after, so the Sens probably did well in that trade and any transaction they’re looking to make going forward should be more of the same. If they really want to go down the road of trading Erik Karlsson, for example, getting five mediocre NHLers won’t cut it. One very good asset, say the first overall pick or something similar, is the only way a trade won’t be a disaster.
Ross: This team keeps flip-flopping on what it is. They tore everything down in 2011, only to trade away nearly all those spare parts. Trading Zibanejad for Brassard was definitely a move to get older, and possibly to win now, to go along with the trade for Phaneuf. They loaded up on depth into the deadline last year, and to be fair, it got them within a goal of the Stanley Cup final, but now they’re stuck with yet another year of Alexandre Burrows. Trading for Matt Duchene in the same season in which they then vowed to tear it all down and rumours circulated around Karlsson, Smith, Pageau,... and then nothing happened. It means this summer I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team flip Karlsson, then turn around and trade some of those picks for Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Seriously though, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Karlsson trade and a Duchene extension both come out July 1st, which would be all kind of upsetting.