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

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We were wrong.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Ottawa Senators Photo by André Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

Longtime readers of Silver Seven will know that at the end of every Sens season, we like to revisit the predictions we made at the start of the season. It’s a fun way to look back on where we were a few months ago, and also see how the team has performed relative to expectations.

It’s also often a very humbling experience, reminding us just how little we know. Not to spoil the other two parts of this series, but the Silver Seven staff did not get much right in our predictions, and we definitely did not get a lot right in this section. It was pretty clear at the halfway point that the staff had missed the mark, but I’d argue that these predictions look even worse now. This is part 1 of 3, revisiting the first three questions. The other two parts will go up later this week.

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 Stützle) do you think will have the biggest positive impact?

We were right about one thing here: Dorion’s off-season acquisitions ended up being pretty underwhelming. Most of the writers could only see one player making a really big impact. We were, however, wrong about which player that would be. Nine of us picked Dadonov, Shaan picked Josh Brown, and Spencer wins the award for “most incorrect” by picking Stepan. Not a single writer or commenter correctly guessed Zub, who ended up being unquestionably the best of Dorion’s offseason acquisitions.

In our defense, Dadonov was the easy answer at the beginning of the season. The winger was touted as an actual top-line player and powerplay contributor, and was expected to play on a line with Brady Tkachuk. That didn’t end up happening. Batherson ended up taking the top line spot and Dadonov spent most of the season on the second and third lines instead. While he finished the season with respectable numbers - 13 goals and 20 points - he certainly underperformed relative to expectations. The staff gave him a C for the season, in large part because of how he performed relative to expectations.

Zub, on the other hand, wowed all of us with both his defensive and offensive play. None of us had any idea what to expect from him at the end of the season, but now it’s clear that he’s going to be a core piece of Ottawa’s defense going forward. A fantastic acquisition. We couldn’t be more happy to have him on the team.

Group verdict: incorrect

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?

Most of us predicted that Tkachuk would fall short of a point-per-game, but still take a step forward in terms of offensive output. Those of us who gave an actual number were a little too optimistic: NKB, B_T and Shaan predicted 40 points, Trevor said 41 points, and Nada said 45 points. Owen predicted that Tkachuk would get a point-per-game but only because of how bad the goaltending would be in the North Division, and Spencer once again had the most incorrect answer, saying, and I quote, “Tkachuk will be a point per game player this season. Guaranteed.”

Tkachuk ended up falling short of a point-per-game, with 36 points in 56 games. That’s about 0.64 PPG, which is only a slight improvement over the 0.62 he’s gotten in previous seasons. He did lead the team in points, though, and his advanced metrics suggest he had a positive impact on the players around him. Ross and Brandon both predicted that we’d have to wait a few more years to see Tkachuk’s full potential, so I guess they were right about that. Colin predicted that Tkachuk’s offensive production would depend on his finishing ability, and since Brady didn’t really improve in that area I guess I can give partial credit for that answer.

Group verdict: mostly incorrect.

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 ended up starting only 25 games, putting up an .893 SV%. He missed a significant chunk of the season due to injury, which we couldn’t really have predicted, but his play was all over the place. He was in net for the Sens’ only two shutouts of the season, proving that he isn’t totally washed up, but he also had some very, very rough stretches.

Everyone who put down a SV% for Murray was way too optimistic, and every single one of us predicted that he would start more games than he did. I predicted that Murray would be average and that we’d end the season concerned about the future of the Sens’ goaltending. I’m not sure either of those predictions really came true - Murray was decidedly below league average, and enough young goaltenders impressed us that the future actually looks pretty bright - but points for correctly guessing that Murray would disappoint us, I guess.

Group verdict: incorrect.

How do you think we did? Did you do better or worse? Let us know!