Despite some recent off-ice shenanigans, the Ottawa Senators have thankfully given us an abundance of alternative material for this week’s Five Thoughts!
A Little Bit of History in the Making?
Our future captain is having a great sophomore season. Despite not having Mark Stone on his wing this year, Brady Tkachuk is currently on pace for 49 points. Furthermore, he’s currently on pace to do something that no NHL player has ever done before; tally 300 shots on goal and 300 hits in a single season. With 14 games left in the season, Brady is currently at 252 SOG and 287 hits, so he needs a pace of 3.43 shots per game and 0.93 hits per game, very attainable benchmarks down the stretch.
Still a Little Bit Left to Prove
Yesterday’s 4-3 win against the New York Islanders was yet another tenacious performance by D.J. Smith’s group. Since the trade deadline, they’ve posted a 3-2-1 record, along with, per NaturalStatTrick.com, a 5v5 CF% of 50.33 and a 5v5 xGF% of 49.97. Considering the competition faced since the deadline, including the Penguins, Canucks and the aforementioned Islanders all battling for a playoff spot, this particular Senators team featuring depth players all throughout their lineup has been very impressive. There’s something intriguing about watching such a bad team on paper keep themselves in games they should never win, especially since we know that some of the most exciting players in the organization are currently developing in the lower leagues.
Who Cares About a Little Bad Luck?
I’m sure that all of us are anxiously awaiting the results of the upcoming draft lottery, as the result of the draw will supposedly impact the future of the franchise for years to come. I say “supposedly”, because when it comes down to it, success at the draft really is dependent on a combination of scouting, development, and dumb luck with respect to drafting. Right now, Ottawa is slated to enter the lottery with the 3rd and 5th overall picks, but there’s a chance of both picks ending up lower than that. I think we ought to go into the lottery expecting the worst possible result, such as to not set ourselves up for disappointment. According to Tankathon.com, there’s only a 0.65% chance of both the 3rd and 5th picks dropping to 6th and 8th (the worst-case scenario) but even if that happens, Ottawa would still have the opportunity to draft two players from this group: Marco Rossi, Jamie Drysdale, Cole Perfetti, Alexander Holtz and Anton Lundell, which is still really good. Today, Alexis Lafreniere is the clear #1 pick, but who knows which players will have the best careers? Anyways, go into the draft lottery expecting 6th and 8th. Anything higher is gravy.
A Little Too Much Ice Time
As I said before, the team is working extremely hard to keep themselves in every game down the stretch; maybe a little too hard. HEY, SMITH!!! I love what you’ve done in Ottawa but even I have to pose the question: Is there really any benefit to playing Thomas Chabot for over twenty-five minutes each game? Maybe take some of those minutes and give them to Andreas Englund and Christian Jaros. Against the Islanders, the two bottom-pairing defenders played 7:29 and 7:21 respectively. That’s some kind of absurd. The coaching staff’s apparent lack of confidence in Jaros is a sign that the team may look for more help on the right side, which is why trading DeMelo still doesn’t make any sense at all. Although Ron Hainsey was a monster yesterday, I don’t think he’s a viable option next season, with Father Time continuing to eat away at his ability.
The Floor Goes Up, Little by Little (hurrah! hurrah!)
The salary cap projections for the 2020-21 were revealed by Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly earlier this week, and it looks like the magic number will fall between $84-88.2 million. With both the cap ceiling and floor going up next year, and substantial contracts coming off of the books next season, many are wondering if the Senators will need to acquire a contract like Marian Hossa’s to reach the floor. I don’t think this will be necessary. First off, Thomas Chabot’s cap hit is due to increase almost tenfold, to $8M per season. Additionally, players such as Artem Anisimov ($4.55M), Nikita Zaitsev ($4.5M), Marian Gaborik ($4.875M) and Bobby Ryan ($7.25M) will serve as necessary cap anchors next season while players on ELCs integrate into the main roster. Finally, Ottawa will need to pay RFAs Chris Tierney, Connor Brown and Anthony Duclair; I wouldn’t be surprised if those three have a combined cap hit of over $12 million next season. You can create your own projected roster by using the Armchair GM tool on Capfriendly.com.