Hope all of you are staying safe! I know I speak for all of us when I wish for everyone, including our Ottawa Senators, to get through this pandemic as easily as possible. To that end, here are another Five Thoughts For Friday!
The Kid is All White
I originally thought that we’d have to wait until perhaps the start of next season to see a return to form of Colin White, but he managed to put together a very impressive stretch over the last six games (2G, 5A) before the season’s abrupt stoppage. I was one of many who were advocating for a long-term contract for White last season, as his skating and hockey smarts are very real. However for whatever reason(s), be it lack of confidence, lack of strength, injury rehab etc. he was unable to translate them into a successful campaign in 2019-20. Next season, we’ll be looking for White to put together a complete season as a member of the team’s top six, as he’ll have plenty of quality teammates up front, including Anthony Duclair, Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson, and one, maybe two extremely talented 2020 draft picks.
Andy’s Last Game...Or Is It?
If you’re subscribed to The Athletic, you’ve probably read this insightful piece from Hailey Salvian, which discusses, among other things, Craig Anderson potentially playing the final game of his memorable career, against the Kings. Anderson is in the final year of a two-year, $4.75M/year deal, and with Marcus Hogberg and Anders Nilsson both on one-way deals next season, it does indeed seem like this is Anderson’s swan song. Maybe not, though? We haven’t heard any updates regarding Nilsson’s recovery from a concussion suffered on December 16th, since March 3rd. Sens fans know all too well about how a player’s career can take a dark and abrupt turn after a concussion, Clarke MacArthur being a recent example. Realistically, we don’t know when Nilsson will be ready to return to action, or if he’ll even be ready for next season at all. In this case, if Anderson wants to keep playing, Ottawa may see the need to bring him back for one more year, perhaps on a PTO, to add some extra insurance in goal.
We Owe You An Apology, Pierre!
It cannot be said enough just how good Brady Tkachuk is going to be for the Ottawa Senators. Playing with Mark Stone last season, Brady put up 22 goals and 45 points in 71 games, as a 19-year-old in his NHL rookie season. This year, with a much lower quality of line mates, he’s only one goal off his totals from last season in the same number of games. Even if we say he's done filling out his frame, his production is going to keep increasing as prospects continue to develop. Along with his trademark Tkachuk physicality and net-front presence, he has a complete offensive toolkit; maybe not one as flashy as his brother Matthew, but Brady is still a very underrated playmaker and skater, with a decent shot to boot. Plus, he’s an analytical darling! You just can’t go wrong with the guy! And I haven’t even mentioned his number-one asset yet. That would be his mentality; his ability to elevate his teammates’ level of play, by dragging them into the fight. Do yourself a favour and read through the comments on this article. I’m sure glad Dorion made the “wrong” decision there!
Eugene Comes Through!?!?!?
It’s felt like a millennium has passed since a positive Eugene Melnyk news story, but at long last we can legitimately give our owner credit for doing the right thing. On Tuesday, Melnyk pledged to pay part-time and hourly workers for both the Ottawa Senators and Belleville Senators; their wages for the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the AHL playoffs. It’s a positive step for the organization’s PR, as well as a decrease in sheer disdain for the organization in these trying times. Going forward, it’s going to be interesting to see if he can build off of this. The Senators, under Melnyk, will always be a budget team, but if the front office plays their cards right, they definitely can build a competitive team out of the plethora of draft picks and young talent they’ve assembled. Hoping for a sale is great and all, but you may find yourself missing out on some very memorable games if you keep your wallet closed for the next few years.
Under the Radar
I’m not a prospect expert by any means, but I do know that people aren’t talking nearly enough about draft-eligible Austrian forward Marco Rossi. Probably, no, definitely because of his 5’9 frame. Although the Ottawa 67s star is widely projected to go in the Top 10 this season, I feel that’s still too low for a player who had a point-per-game season in his D-1 year (season before draft year), and is currently leading the OHL in scoring with, *clears throat* 39 goals and 120 points in 56 games. There’s also plenty to suggest he’s not a one-trick pony; he's extremely reliable in his own end. Don’t take my word for it, though. I recently discovered Draft Dynasty on YouTube, whose channel features highlights and in-depth analyses of the skill sets of draft-eligible prospects. In this video, he primarily discusses Rossi’s playmaking, two-way ability and strength along the boards as his main strengths. This draft is going to bring some serious talent into the nation’s capital but if Ottawa gets screwed over in the draft lottery, they’ll get the last laugh if they take Marco Rossi as early as 4th overall.