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Sterling Predictions Revisited, Part 1: Off-Season Acquisitions, Tkachuk, Murray

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Roughly halfway through the season, we look back at our predictions in part 1 of 3 of this series

Ottawa Senators v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

Continuing our tradition of evaluating where the Ottawa Senators sit at the halfway mark, we thought it would be a good idea to revisit our “sterling predictions” from before the season. There were three parts to those predictions from the Silver Seven staff, so this will be part 1/3, with the other two coming in the next few days.

Sometimes we hit the nail on the head and...sometimes we don’t. But that’s what makes it fun, it’s always interesting to look back on things. Furthermore, if you commented on part 1 of our predictions, you can see if you’re close at all so far. So here are the questions and our responses:

There are a *lot* of new faces that are slated to be part of the projected Sens line-up. Which one of Pierre Dorion’s off-season acquisitions (not including Stuetzle) do you think will have the biggest positive impact?

11 of us responded to this, and nine of us voted for Evgenii Dadonov, who seemed like the easy option. Shaan said Josh Brown and Owen said Erik Gudbranson, but other than that, everyone was completely sold on Dadonov’s potential in Ottawa. I guess the nine of us were more correct than picking Brown or Gudbranson, but I’d be lying if I said I’ve been completely happy with Dadonov’s play. As I talked about yesterday, the staff gave him a B- grade on the season because he has 9 goals but he also hasn’t been nearly as impactful as we had hoped.

The obvious answer now would be Artem Zub, as he has shown that he can not only play in the top-4 but also be quite successful. Austin Watson and Dadonov have been good enough, but then after that, there is a massive drop-off for all of Pierre Dorion’s other acquisitions such as Derek Stepan, Matt Murray, Braydon Coburn, Cedric Paquette, Alex Galchenyuk, Erik Gudbranson, and Josh Brown.

Group verdict: Incorrect so far

Brady Tkachuk has been everything the Sens hoped for in a first-line winger except perhaps when it comes to his scoring totals, which have been more in line with a second line forward. Is this the year that he breaks out and goes for something closer to a point per game? What do you foresee his scoring totals will look like this year?

For reference, Tkachuk has 22 points in 32 games, which puts him on pace for 56 points in a full season. He was on pace for 52 and 51 points per 82 games in his first two seasons respectively, so he hasn’t quite seen a massive jump in his point totals, although he has still been very effective. Furthermore, he still has time to be even better in the second half.

The answers for this one aren’t as black and white, but out of the 11 staff members, 7 of us believed he was going to take a small step in production (around a 60-point pace) but not the biggest leap just yet. Beata and Nada didn’t quite see him reaching a point-per-game this season, but they were slightly more bullish on him (expecting a 65+ point pace), and Spencer and Owen saw him reaching a point-per-game. Although the more optimistic ones of the bunch aren’t way off, it looks like the majority of staffers were correct so far: Tkachuk has taken a small step, but he still has room to grow.

But next season though? That could be a different story.

Group verdict: Correct so far

Matt Murray struggled at the end of his time in Pittsburgh, but Sens fans are very much familiar with how good he can be when he’s on his game. Will he be able to return to form? And how many games do you predict he will start?

Murray has started 20 games (while appearing in 22) and has a paltry .880 SV%, so although he has looked good at times, he still has a long way to go before we can say he’s “returned to form.” Now that he is injured for an undisclosed amount of time, it’s unclear how many games he will start. If we assume that he can play on Monday (who knows if that will happen), he’d be on pace for 35 starts. But if he’s out longer, or if Joey Daccord keeps playing well, that could come down further.

We’re on pace to be pretty close as a group for the games played prediction, as these are the numbers we predicted: 30+, 30+, 32, 34, 35, 35, 37, 37, 38, 38, 38.

Since not every person gave a SV% prediction, this task is a bit more challenging, but out of the 11 responses, only Colin predicted he would be worse than average. 5 of us (nkb, B__T, Brandon, Nada, and Ross) said he was going to play like a solid starting goaltender, with some being more specific than others. Nkb said that he’ll be “good not great,” with a .915 SV%, although since the league average SV% is .907% this season, a .915% season would be fantastic in 2021.

Then the rest of us (Spencer, Owen, Beata, Shaan, and myself) believed he would be about league average—good enough to make the team better, but not as good as he once was. There are some variations within that though, as Beata thought we’d “end the season concerned about the future of Sens goaltending,” which is true for now. So it’s interesting just how far off most of us were with Murray, as we were hoping that he’d be at least passable in net.

Group verdict: Failing for SV%, correct for GP so far

How do you think we’ve done so far? Have you done better or worse? Let us know!