Well, 2021 has come and gone and, frankly, I don’t think I’m alone in wishing it good riddance. It’s been a year of fan-less hockey games, postponements, protocols, messy rosters and more.
There have also been some fantastic things related to the Ottawa Senators, so it’s not all bad. We saw players like Drake Batherson and Josh Norris take big steps towards become top end NHL players. We had Brady Tkachuk named captain and promptly start on his best offensive season to date, despite missing training camp. We’ve seen prospects outside of the NHL perform really well while we await their arrival in the big leagues.
So, for this week’s question I want to play a game and here are the rules:
- You get to make one realistic wish come true for the Ottawa Senators in 2022. The realistic part is the most important thing here. Nobody is acquiring Connor McDavid, Nikita Zaitsev isn’t having a Norris calibre year and Matt Murray isn’t going 82-0-0.
- Your wish has to be related to the on ice product - coaches, management and ownership are off limits.
- This wish is the only thing that will change about the Sens in 2022. Everything else will remain the same, so think carefully!
- Your wish can only be related to one player or specific position within the lineup so no wishing for “all the centres to take a big step forward” or “the bottom six to improve”. I’ll give you some examples of how specific we want to get. After all, specific is terrific!
Wish #1: Right Handed Defense Prospects
The first wish I’d consider is that one of the right handed defensive prospects in the Sens pipeline becomes a regular NHL defender. Either one of Lassi Thomson or Jacob Bernard-Docker, in the year 2022, will become a mainstay on the blueline, effectively bolstering one of Ottawa’s current weakest positions.
Keep in mind, the downside of this not happening might not be terrible. The Sens could acquire someone to come in and be that upgrade on the right side that pushes players like Josh Brown out of the lineup. Or they could visit free agency, although the right shot defender market is pretty sparse this coming offseason with PK Subban, Kris Letang, John Klingberg and Josh Manson being the only really intriguing options - with Letang and Klingberg almost certainly returning to their current franchises.
Wish #2: A Starting Goaltender Truly Emerges
The second wish I’d love to come true is that one of the many goaltenders in Ottawa and Belleville’s systems becomes a consistent NHL starter. Again, we’re looking at realistic wishes so I’m not expecting Filip Gustavsson to win a Vezina or Mads Søgaard to post a 0.930 SV% as a rookie. All this wish is meant to see is that one of Gustavsson, Murray, Søgaard, Anton Forsberg or Kevin Mandolese (most likely to be one of the first two or three listed here) gives Ottawa steady goaltending, somewhere in the range of 0.910-0.915 SV% across the year.
The downside to this not happening is a little more impactful than our first wish, as not having a bonafide starter really puts a large gap between where the Sens currently sit and any consideration of competing for a wild card spot next season. That being said, goaltender by committee has become more of a trend of late, with many teams running a 1A/1B situation. If Ottawa can identify - internally or externally - a tandem that can do that, they may be able to compete without a true starter.
Wish #3: A Top Six Right Winger
The final wish I’ll bring up before you head to the comments with your own 2022 wishes is for a right shot winger to enter the top six. The Sens, of course, have Batherson on the right side but he’s a tad lonely when it comes to that offensive upside. DJ Smith has been relatively happy to run Connor Brown as their 2RW, and that’s all well and good in a pinch, but ideally you’d have a fast, defensively responsible winger who can also add production on your third line.
The obvious first option that has been spoken about plenty would be bringing in Claude Giroux. Giroux has bounced back and forth between centre and wing plenty in his career and the fact that he’s a right shot would not only fit the bill for this particular vacancy but would also give Smith faceoff options for whichever line Giroux would be added to - since both Norris and Tim Stützle shoot left.
Other names to consider via free agency could be Ryan Strome, Vincent Trocheck, Filip Forsberg or Phil “The Thrill” Kessel - after all, DJ loves himself a former Maple Leaf. I’d be pretty surprised if Forsberg or Trocheck weren’t extended by their existing clubs but this is all about wishes, right?
Then you’ve got trade options. Brock Boeser has been rumoured to be available in recent months but with Bruce Boudreau seemingly turning the Canucks around, I have a hard time seeing Boeser on the market moving forward. Jesse Puljajärvi has become a solid complimentary player in Edmonton and he’s an RFA this summer. Edmonton’s cap situation is pretty tight but they do have some money coming off the books this summer. Depending on the direction each team goes, Brendan Gallagher could also be an intriguing option for the Sens. After all, he plays that gritty style, he can score and, possibly most importantly, his contract is all salary, no bonuses.
So, let’s get to the comments. Do you have any wishes similar to mine above or something better? Let’s hear it!
What’s your one wish for the Sens in 2022
This poll is closed
RHD Prospect Progress
Starting goaltender truly emerges
Top Six RW
Other (comment below!)