Contrary to popular belief, your team doesn’t have to be competing for a playoff spot in February in order to keep things interesting. Case and point: the Ottawa Senators. With the Sens currently jockeying for the top lottery odds, I struggled to filter this article down to just five thoughts. We have zero filler for you this (and every) week—just the good stuff, baby!
- He’s back:
The man. The Myth. The Legend. Bobby Freakin’ Ryan is back. And if I seem excited, well, it’s because I am. Politics aside, I love having this guy in Ottawa. And I’ve heard it all before. “Ottawa gave up too much to get him.” “He didn’t live up to his contract.” “He has no hustle.” I get it. But that window has closed and it doesn’t matter anymore because we can’t change the past. We have Bobby for now so just enjoy it. The Sens won’t make the playoffs this year or likely the next so we need to savour every small victory. For me, that includes watching a player who has battled demons his whole life, faced a tonne of criticism, and continued doing what he does best just because he’s Bobby Freakin’ Ryan.
- Speaking of Senators with complicated legacies, the IIHF has inducted former captain Alexei Yashin to its hall of fame. From young super-star, to contract holdout, to solid gold tradebait, Yashin did it all in Ottawa and still left the fans wondering what should have been. I particularly appreciate how the IIHF article frames Yashin’s international hockey success as a byproduct of the nineties Senators missing the playoffs during most of Yashin’s prime. I also find myself thinking about the Yashin era a lot more these days on the Sens embark on their first full, proper rebuild maybe ever(?). How will this next core of first rounders stack up to Yashin, Daigle, Bonk, Redden, and Phillips?
- Among those vying for spots in Ottawa’s future core, Shane Pinto continues to work his way into the conversation. Pinto took the NCHC’s rookie of the week honours as UND continues to roll atop their division. Pinto sits just shy of a point-per-game pace (22/25) in his rookie season in the NCAA. He still has a way to go to justify Pierre’s selection with the first pick in the second round of the 2019 entry draft. In the meantime, Pinto continues to build off his strong showing at the world juniors and looks less and like a depth forward and more like someone who can compete for one of Ottawa’s future spots as a second line centre of right-winger.
- Do you like when people do mock re-drafts? Me neither. Let’s go there anyway. Montreal recently sent down Jesperi Kotkaniemi to the AHL and I cannot emphasize enough how grateful I feel that Montreal passed on Brady Tkachuk. I will be the first to admit that I was all about Zadina on draft day. And then Brady showed me the light and now I feel grateful every single day that Ottawa saw what Montreal missed in Tkachuk. I also hate to imagine what Ottawa might have done with that pick had Tkachuk not remained available. No one can guarantee Ottawa would have taken Quinn Hughes and we may have ended up saddled with Kotkaniemi and his 42 points in 115 games instead. I hate this game and I never want to play it again.
- Do you follow Sens Prospects? If you answered “no” then please click on that link and come back and finish this article after you have watched all the videos. Good. Now we can talk about Christian Wolanin. Immediately upon watching that highlight package I thought to myself, “Christian Wolanin is far too talented to play in the AHL.” He has the vision, the patience, and the awareness that you can’t teach. And, yes, he will play in the AHL upon his return because he needs to rehabilitate from a torn labrum and because Ottawa has a logjam on left defence with Thomas Chabot, Mike Reilly, Mark Borowiecki, and Ron Hainsey. And if I come across as cold and clinical for advocating a BoroCop trade, please understand that creating a spot for Wolanin immediately makes this team faster, more dynamic, and much more difficult to contain. Ottawa has three very good problems in its organizational depth chart at: goaltender, left wing, and left defence. Erik Brannstrom, Christian Wolanin, Max Lajoie, Johnathan Tychonick, and Olle Alsing will make for a great battle for the two spots below Thomas Chabot on the depth chart.
The Sens play a matinee on Saturday against the Jets. Don’t miss it!*
*unless you have more self respect than us