FHM Ottawa Senators Historical Challenge Offseason 1997: Welcome to the Show

With the second overall pick...

Franchise Hockey Manager 6 is a text-based hockey management simulation game by Out of the Park Developments. It’s a lot of fun, and I find it super realistic. I recommend checking it out if you’re looking for a good way to kill time while social distancing.

In the game, you take over as GM and/or head coach of pretty much any hockey team on the planet, and make roster moves to bring your team a championship. The CPU plays the games for you, but you craft the team.

One of the coolest game modes is the Historical Challenges, wherein you take over as GM of a team at a particular point in their NHL existence, and attempt to relive or rewrite history. For the purposes of this play-through, we’ll be taking over the Ottawa Senators in the Fall of 1996, and attempting to win a Stanley Cup no later than the spring of 2007.

For the purposes of this little exercise, I’m going to play through this mode, trying to win a Cup for the Sens, with help from you - yes you - the readers! At the end of every edition, I’ll ask you questions about key roster moves, and make it based on how you respond!

We’re going to take this on a month-by-month basis, with a new instalment coming out every week, so make sure you let me know in the comments what you want to see, and any suggestions you have to achieve this goal! I want to make this as interactive an experience as possible, so I really want to hear from you!

Let’s complete the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, and the offseason!

You folks voted in overwhelming fashion, last week.

You wanted your franchise centre, and you got him. With the second overall pick in the draft, the Ottawa Senators selected Joe Thornton.

It goes without saying, but Jumbo Joe is a bonafide future Hall of Famer. He may need to spend some time in the American Hockey League, but he will end up being one of the very best to lace ‘em up. Can’t fault this pick at all.

Where we ran into trouble, however, was the trade with the Leafs. Despite our pro scout saying they should accept the offer, it turned out that there was no reasonable amount of picks that could pry their first-rounder away from them.

That said, I think I found you folks a solid consolation prize.

With a wealth of young talent on the blueline, it will do us well to acquire a veteran presence. So, for the same price that we originally offered Toronto, we acquired Glen Wesley from the newly-named Carolina Hurricanes.

Wesley is coming off a fantastic season, and at three stars, immediately ties Chris Phillips - who had a hell of an offseason - as the highest-level defenceman on the team. With a Top-3 that now boasts, Phillips, Wesley, and Eric Weinrich, with youngsters Ruslan Salei, Bryan McCabe, Wade Redden, and Sami Salo coming along nicely, the back end looks stacked.

The wheeling and dealing was not done there. The addition of Wesley made two-star Janne Laukannen expendable, and with a couple less-than-important picks, we were able to ship him to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Rob Zamuner.

While his stats took a bit of a step back last year, Zamuner is instantly a top-six forward on this Ottawa team, and with a 2.5 star ability rating, he will take some of the pressure off of rookies like Martin St. Louis.

When all is said and done, here is what our 1997 draft class looks like. Thornton is the obvious big name, but Dan Cleary and Maxim Afinogenov also project to be middle six forwards, and Ruslan Fedotenko will end up a good depth option at the very least.

A shout-out to user, FightLikeMe, for the suggestion to revamp our coaching staff. I had thought about doing this, but it seems like a great idea for this particular mode. It’ll now be our coaching staff that makes lineup decisions, but we can decide which players are available to them.

After a few hirings, and a couple firings, here’s what our staff looks like:

You’ll notice that their ratings for their respective jobs are particularly good, so this is likely to help our young players develop.

In the interest of depth, we supplemented our roster with some free agent signings, as well:

After an uneventful preseason, this is what the landscape of the NHL looks like, heading into 1998.

And on opening night, this is what the Ottawa Senators’ lineup will be. Already looking a little better than last year.

Okay, as always, it’s question time.

Hear me out on this one. On the surface, it’s not nearly enough in return, but despite his 2.5 star rating, Daigle carries almost no value in this game. Domi may be a decent depth option in return for an albatross of a contract, with that in mind. It could also mean throwing Joe Thornton into the lineup in year one, and while it won’t stunt his development at all, he likely won’t perform much better than a third or fourth-liner.

We could also try to get a draft pick out of the Leafs, but that could come at the risk of the trade falling through.

Should we...

Accept the trade16
Decline the trade56
Try to get a low-level pick out of them30

Finally, the weak spot on our team is clearly in goal. Ron Tugnutt and Damian Rhodes are average options at best, and Patrick Lalime is still likely a year away. We could always try to trade for a young goaltender, or even a more NHL-ready one, but this will likely come at a steep cost. We’ll structure any trade based on how you vote, and I’ll ask you for your thoughts on any offer in the next edition, but what do you think?

For the goalies:

Trade for a young goalie12
Trade for an NHL-calibre goalie18
None, wait for Lalime, hang on to our picks and assets for now67

And that does it for the offseason ‘97 edition of our play-through! Make sure to vote on the polls, and catch October ‘97 next week!

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