Welcome to the annual edition of the Silver Seven staff revisiting our predictions! Which of us will look like geniuses? Who will get flogged in the comments? Only time will tell, as we have three periods to go through before declaring the victor.
The rules are simple: answer a question correctly, earn a point. Whoever has the most points at the end is crowned the prediction champion! Bonus points will be awarded for each question, as determined by the referee (me), and adjustments will be made accordingly for questions affected by the pandemic-shortened season (assuming hockey isn’t coming back anytime soon).
You can find the original three-part prediction series here (part 1, part 2, part 3), just in case you ever start to question the judgement of the referee (again, me), who also so happens to be one of today’s competitors.
Grab your popcorn, sit back, and toss some of it at us when we inevitably get everything wrong in the fourteen questions that lie ahead. Let the games begin!
Question 1: With the departures of Mark Stone, Erik Karlsson, and Matt Duchene, the crown of Sens’ leading scorer is up for grabs. Who will lead the team in scoring this year, and how many points will they record?
Answer: Brady Tkachuk led the Sens by scoring 44 points in 71 games, one less than he had in his rookie year in the same number of games. For the sake of the bonus point, we’ll use his pace of 0.62 points per game to say he finishes the season with 51 points.
Well, this one didn’t start off so nicely. After leading the non-traded Senators in 2018-19, most of the staff decided to stick with Thomas Chabot as the Sens’ leader, continuing their streak of having a defenceman with the highest total. They, of course, were wrong.
Ross and Dewie went off the board and picked Colin White and Anthony Duclair respectively, with the latter looking sharp until Duclair’s magic dust ran out.
But what do we have here? A single correct prediction?? By me???
Colin: I think Brady Tkachuk will lead the team in scoring, although it’ll be a relatively low total with 52 points. As long as he has someone on his line who can get the puck in the general vicinity of the opposition’s net, he’ll be putting up points.
I’ll take the point and the bonus point for being a single digit off his 82-game scoring pace.
This isn’t rigged, I swear.
Question 2: Thomas Chabot is virtually guaranteed to play the most minutes of any Ottawa Senator this year but who will be second?
Ross: Nikita Zaitsev will, as Chabot’s most common partner.
Brandon: Nikita Zaitsev and Chabot will be attached at the hip, so his minutes will be second only to Hotsam’s.
Dewie: However many minutes Chabot gets, Zaitsev won’t be too far off.
Nikita Zaitsev was by far the most popular answer, with everybody picking the newcomer except for nkb who went slightly off the board with Dylan DeMelo.
We were all close, as Zaitsev ended up playing the second most... on a per-game basis. What none of us could foresee was Zaitsev missing a handful of games in December and January, bumping him down to fourth on the overall list.
The answer, surprisingly, is Connor Brown! As if the season couldn’t have been any more odd, his time on both the power play and penalty kill vaulted him into the #2 spot behind Chabot, trailing the defenceman by over 400 minutes. Zero points awarded, with none of us deserving to even be in the conversation for a bonus. Next question!
Question 3: Brady Tkachuk had an outstanding rookie season but there is some worry he might struggle in his sophomore season without Stone to boost his offensive production. Will Tkachuk top last season’s 45 points? Will he break the 25 goal mark?
Answer: As previously mentioned, Tkachuk didn’t quite hit 45 points with 44, but I think it’s fair to assume that with eleven games to go, he would’ve gotten at least one or two more. We’ll use his 82-game pace of 51 points. In terms of goals, he unfortunately came up a bit short with 21, and an 82-game pace of 24.
This one was split down the middle, with not all of us as optimistic about Tkachuk progressing past what he accomplished in his successful rookie season. This question is also a two-parter, with multiple points up for grabs. So for the first time this game, multiple people are earning points!
Brandon: Brady still put up points after the Stone trade, so I don’t think there’s any cause for concern.
Ary: I think he’ll come close, but will fall just short.
Dewie: I’m not too worried about Tkachuk.
Brandon and Dewie are on the board for guessing he’ll surpass 45 points, while Ross, Ary and nkb earn a point for guessing he won’t hit 25 goals.
That leaves one person... not only did I predict he’d hit 45+ points, but I was also on the nose that he wouldn’t hit 25 goals. Two points for me!
Again, this isn’t rigged. I swear.
Question 4: Craig Anderson appears to be the number one option to start the season, but will the 38 year-old make the most appearances of any Sens goalie this year? If not him, then who?
Answer: Anderson and Nilsson shared the starter’s crease for the majority of the season, with Marcus Högberg filling in when both had to deal with injuries. But with Nilsson injured longer, Andy’s 34 appearances ended up being the most.
Aaaaand we’re right back to being completely wrong. All of us decided to be a bit contrarian and pick Nilsson to emerge as the starter and play a handful more games, but like Zaitsev, nobody could’ve predicted his injury troubles.
The only point awarded this round will be to Ary as a bonus, who picked out Daccord/Högberg as having the potential to emerge later in the season. Now Högberg has a chance to be the team’s starting goalie next season, with Daccord also working his way up the depth chart in Belleville.
Question 5: Which of the Sens’ up and comers (include Batherson, Chlapik and Logan Brown in this group) will play the most games, and which will score the most points for the team this season?
Answer: The Senators were pretty conservative with calling up their top young players, trying to foster a winning team in Belleville. Unless you want to include Scott Sabourin in this group, the answer for most games played ended up being a tie between Filip Chlapik and Erik Brännström (31GP), while Drake Batherson’s 10 points in only 23 games made him the highest scorer.
Well, weren’t we an optimistic bunch...
Ross: I’m sticking with Logan Brown, who will play 70 games and score 30 points.
Brandon: I think Batherson will play the most games, and hit 40 points.
Colin: Does Scott Sabourin count?
Geez past Colin, I already mentioned that. Excellent prediction though, have a bonus point.
In terms of the leading scorer, Batherson ended up being a popular answer, with myself, Brandon, Dewie and Ary all coming away with a point. But for games played, nkb going off the board payed off this time, being the only one who chose Filip Chlapik. Surprisingly, none of us even mentioned Brännström.
After one, the score isn’t even close. Everybody managed to avoid total embarrassment and scored at least a point, but there I am at the top, basking in my glory. Will it come back to bite me???
I swear this isn’t rigged!!! I’m just a genius, okay??? Onto the second frame...
Question 6: The Sens will start this season with 9 (!) players set to be unrestricted free-agents at year end. How many of these nine will finish the year with the team? Who gets traded first?
Answer: The pending UFAs in question were Mikkel Bødker, Scott Sabourin, Ron Hainsey, Mark Borowiecki, Craig Anderson, Tyler Ennis, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Dylan DeMelo and Cody Goloubef. The first five are still Senators until July 1st, with the following three being traded and Goloubef being claimed off waivers. In terms of the first trade, Nick Ebert went to the Rangers for Vladislav Namestnikov a week after the predictions were published, although the first dealt UFA ended up being DeMelo to the Jets.
Two points up for grabs, let’s see who can make the most of it...
Colin: I’ll go out on a limb and say that all nine will finish the year with Ottawa.
....how did that get in there???
I wasn’t alone with that prediction, however, as most of us believed it’d be difficult to recoup much value for the majority of the players. Spencer, who miraculously jumps into the competition after a mid-game call-up from Belleville, was right on the money predicting that five players would stay on the team.
Ross also earns a point for predicting DeMelo as the first to be traded, plus a bonus for being exactly right about it happening a week before the trade deadline!
Question 7: Does Jean-Gabriel Pageau finish the season with the Sens? If yes, does he re-sign in the off-season?
Answer: Well, this took a sad turn. No, Pageau did not finish the season with the Sens, with the Habs-slayer being dealt to the Islanders for a strong package of draft picks.
This one always felt like a 50-50 choice right until the day of the trade, but more of us ended up being optimists who wanted to hold onto our beloved player. I’ll skip the quotes to save our tears, but Brandon earns a point plus a bonus for correctly outlining how nearly the entire process would end up unfolding. Spencer also gets his second point in two questions since his call-up. Can he continue the streak?
Question 8: How about Craig Anderson? Will there be a market for the 38 year-old in what is almost certainly his last season in the league?
Answer: Goalie injuries caught up to the Sens this season, as Anderson’s name barely even came up in trade discussions. Now, he could possibly retire as a Senator.
Bring out the brooms, we have a clean sweep!
Everybody was in unison predicting he’d stay the course and finish the season with the Sens. Let us revel in this brief moment of correctness, as they may be few and far between for the rest of the game. Spencer’s streak is also extended to three...
Question 9: Does DJ Smith make it through the season as the Head Coach?
ANOTHER SWEEP!! WE’RE GENIUSES!!!
Or maybe this was just another easier question. Regardless, we all stuck to our gut, as even though the Sens finished low in the standings, it appears D.J. Smith has the team’s vote of confidence.
Spencer now has four points in a row... could this be the call-up for the ages??
Question 10: Is this the year that Eugene Melnyk sells the team?
Answer: Not yet...
Well, it appears the optimism got the most of us. There’s still time left for a sale to happen this summer, but with Melnyk being the most silent he’s been in a while (but not for a lack of controversy), there aren’t any new major signs of a sale being imminent.
Dewie: Yes, this is the year of Melnyk freedom!
Colin: The time is nigh.
Spencer: Oh man, please let this be a yes.
This unfortunately marks the end of Spencer’s streak, but Ross and nkb end the second period strongly as the pragmatic duo.
Checking back on the score, I still hold the lead with eight points, but with a shrunken margin as Brandon and Ross are both on my tail. Can I hold on for the victory in the four-question third period??
Question 11: Will either of the Ottawa Senators’ power play or penalty kill finish in the top half of the league?
Answer: The Sens struggled on special teams this season, finishing last place with the man advantage and 28th on the PK, both performing worse than 2018-19.
With the team losing nearly all of their core offensive players the season prior, a worse power play was an easy prediction. The penalty kill was a bit tougher to judge with Cody Ceci and Ben Harpur moving out, but there was uncertainty as to whether Ron Hainsey and Nikita Zaitsev would be an improvement. Thankfully, most of us saw it coming.
Spencer: No, I think they’ll be bottom half in both.
Brandon: No, I don’t think so.
Colin: Nope, not even close.
Ary: Well, aren’t we an optimistic bunch?
It was about to be the third sweep of the game, until Dewie and nkb made the mistake of showing some optimism. The majority still got it right, though, with a strong showing out of the gate for the third period.
A bonus point goes to Ross for successfully predicting that both would finish in the bottom five.
Question 12: Will the Sens allow fewer goals than the league-most 301 they gave up last season?
Answer: This one’s predicated on the season ending early, as the Sens allowed 238 goals in 71 games, the second most in the league. For comparison’s sake, we’ll say they allowed 275 which is what their pace would’ve taken them to over 82 games. Either way they fell below last season’s 301.
Three-hundred-and-one. That’s a heckuva lot of goals against. Fortunately we recognized how historically bad the 2018-19 season was for the Sens, and opted to play the odds and predict the under.
Ary: I’d like to think that Nikita Zaitsev and Ron Hainsey are better than Cody Ceci and Ben Harpur, but I can also imagine a future where I regret typing those words when we reflect at the end of the year.
Spencer: It’ll be close but I suspect they’ll have a marginally better season in this department.
Colin: Good lord, they allowed 301???
They sure did, past Colin, now shut up. The absurdity made us come extremely close to a clean sweep, but Ross played contrarian and went with the wild guess of allowing 324, the most since the San Jose Sharks in 1995-96. What a glorious sight it would’ve been, but alas, it didn’t earn him a point.
As for the bonus point, one will be awarded to both Spencer who came closest with 280, and another to Ary who kinda cheated by giving a range but got it right with 260-280.
We’re getting to the home stretch!
Question 13: Will the Sens finish last overall as so many have predicted?
Answer: The Senators may have been abysmal, but no team was more abysmal than the Detroit Red Wings. A last place finish was not in the cards for 2019-20.
The competition is coming down to the wire, and it’s a split vote. Some of us pessimistically tossed them to the bottom of the barrel, while others played the odds and predicted someone else would end up claiming the throne of suckage. Will they finish last?
Brandon: I sure hope so.
Spencer: It’s going to be a dog fight (or the opposite of a dog fight... a fluffy bunny fight?) for the best odds at first overall in 2020.
With every point now crucial, points are awarded to Ary and nkb for making the correct guess. Additionally, TWO bonus points are given to nkb, who called both the exact 30th place finish, and that they’d be out-sucked by the Detroit Red Wings. Bravo.
Question #14 (final question!!!): What’s your prediction for the Sens’ final record?
Answer: In a kind of anticlimactic way, we have to go to the adjustments again to account for the shortened season. The Senators went 25-34-12 for 62 points, but over 82 games that gets adjusted to 29-39-14 for 72 points.
Alright, 72 points is what we’re looking for. Since the answer is so specific, the points will be awarded as three points to the person with the closest answer (above or below), two points for second and one point for third.
Who was closest to 72? Let’s go in reverse order...
Dewie: 26-50-6, 58 points
Brandon: 26-48-8, 60 points
Colin: 27-48-7, 61 points (tied)
Ross: 25-46-11, 61 points (tied)
Spencer: 29-47-6, 64 points (awarded 1 point)
nkb: 30-45-7, 67 points (awarded 2 points)
Ary: 33-40-9, 75 points (awarded 3 points)
The Final Tally
So who came out ahead? Has my hot start been taken down?? Was Ary’s optimism on the final question enough to grab the crown???
ARY STEALS THE WIN!!!!!!!!!
nkb also hops into second place, while I’ll have to settle for third after jumping ahead early. Spencer runs in with his spreadsheets saying he should win on a per-prediction basis, but alas, the referee doesn’t approve. Everyone tells the media they’ll be in the best shape of their life for the next pre-season.
In what ended up being a surprisingly decent showing all around for our predictions, we hope you enjoyed our look back at some of the season’s key storylines. Thanks for reading!