Although most of us have forgotten about hockey due to the lack of NHL action this month, the season is coming to us sooner than we think. The Ottawa Senators begin their 2021-22 campaign in a month and a half, and there’s no better time than now to get amped up for it.
Today’s question is: what are you most excited about in this upcoming season?
Brady Tkachuk captaincy/step forward
Tkachuk still doesn’t have a new contract, nor does he have the captaincy. However, my gut feeling is that he will get the ‘C’ regardless of what contract he signs. He’s become one of the most beloved Senators of all-time already, and he has more in the tank in order to become an even better player. With a better team around him, Tkachuk could take an important step forward, plus if they play important games with playoff implications, we could really get a sense of how important he is to this team.
A new and improved Tkachuk is surely salivating for fans.
Jake Sanderson’s spring debut?
This isn’t a guarantee but it seems like Sanderson will most likely sign his entry-level contract with the Senators once his sophomore season at UND concludes in March. He had a chance to sign with Ottawa a few months ago but he chose to play one more season at UND, and I’d be shocked if he wanted to play a third season since he seems very close to NHL-ready.
What’s cool about Sanderson’s NHL debut is that Ottawa might be in a playoff race in March, and adding him to the mix could be a nice shot in the arm for them. That might not happen, but it’s fun to think about. Either way, unless he gets injured, Sanderson should be making his NHL debut at the end of the season, and it’ll be a hyped event.
Shane Pinto being a regular
As of now, Ottawa’s centres are just Josh Norris, Shane Pinto, Chris Tierney, and Colin White. Logan Brown could join that mix as well, but as it stands, it looks like Pinto could begin the season in Ottawa. I wouldn’t be opposed to him getting a bit of time in the AHL, but I think he’ll spend the majority of the season with the big club. He posted 7 points in 12 games last year and based on his career trajectory so far, it’s fair to be excited about what he can do in 2021-22.
I think he’ll be a top-9 fixture for most of the season, which should be entertaining to watch. Anything close to what Norris did last season would be incredible.
Tim Stützle’s progression
We learned a lot about Stützle this past season. We learned that he is still extremely young, he needs to be better defensively, and he has to be more consistent. But at the same time, the fact that he put up 29 points in 53 games (a 45 point pace) as a 19-year-old is incredible. He’s also easily the most skilled player on the team because what he would do with the puck made me audibly say “wow” on so many different occasions.
I fully expect his rookie season to be his worst, which is very promising. He’s only going to get better from here, meaning he has the potential to be a true first-line player and someone to drive the Senators offense. Getting to watch him grow as a player but also seeing his infectious personality just puts a smile on my face.
Getting to watch games in person
The Senators haven’t played at the Canadian Tire Centre in front of fans since March 5th, 2020, which will be a wait of over a year and a half once fans return in October. Not everyone will feel comfortable going to live sporting events just yet, and of course everyone will have their own comfort levels. However, if you are going to see the Senators, there will be a sense of normalcy again.
It won’t be exactly the same, but getting to see your favourite players live again will hit differently than it did in the past. We take it for granted how great it is to have access to an NHL team close by, and with an exciting up-and-coming team, the experience should be much better.
Plus we get to see Spartacat again!
Potential playoff push
Let me preface this by saying that the playoffs are far from a guarantee, and a lot has to go right for Ottawa to make it in. However, nobody expected them to make it in 2010, 2012, 2015, or 2017, so they have a long history of being underdogs. Will it be a tough road ahead? Absolutely, especially in a division with Tampa Bay, Florida, Toronto, Boston, and Montreal. But this Senators team finished the season 21-16-4, which is a 92-point pace, so it’s not as if they are incapable of playing well.
They need their young stars to take steps forward and one of Matt Murray, Anton Forsberg, or Filip Gustavsson needs to be adequate, but the Senators should at least be good enough to be in the hunt. If they’re not out of things by the trade deadline (within 3-4 points), I’d call that a success. This team has the potential to surprise and it’ll be very fun if they play meaningful games for the first time since 2017.
This section has a lot of potential answers, and if you choose this in the poll, I’d like you to share what you’re thinking of. Perhaps you want to see Jacob Bernard-Docker make his way into the lineup, Egor Sokolov bring his good vibes to Ottawa, Alex Formenton score a ton of short-handed goals, Logan Brown finally cement himself in the top-9, Filip Gustavsson take over the starting role, or Erik Brännström stay on the 2nd pairing.
Those potential choices are less sure things and probably more niche, so I’ll leave them in the “other” section.
So which one is it? What are you most excited about this coming season for the Senators?
What are you most excited about this coming season for the Senators?
This poll is closed
Tkachuk captaincy/step forward
Sanderson spring debut
Pinto being a regular
Watching games in person
Potential playoff push
Other (comment which one)