It looked like everything that possibly could go wrong for the Ottawa Senators would go wrong for them earlier this week and then everything just kinda ended up lukewarm. I'll take it. How do ya feel with less than a week to go until the regular season, my people?!
The Sens are Kyle Schwarber
With all the hand-wringing in Ottawa this week around the Senators' preseason waiver wire parade, the lamentable discussion has once again reared its ugly head as to whether the Sens draft well or poorly. I can't give an unbiased take one way or the other but I will offer a more nuanced take in the spirit of the MLB postseason and say that as opposed to hitting for average, the Sens tend to subscribe to the Three True Outcomes. They have their strikeouts (Logan Brown and Lassi Thomson). They have their walks (Mark Kastelic and Cole Reinhardt). And they have their home runs (Brady Tkachuk and Jake Sanderson (by virtue of how those picks went from controversial to franchise-altering)). Even if you don't like the looks of the batting average, you can take some solace in the OPS.
Maxence Guenette Is the Ottawa Senators
You know what happens more than you think? First-round picks not panning out. You know what happens a lot less often? Seventh-rounders developing into useful NHL players. You certainly can feel any way you like about the ill-fated Thomson pick and I can't tell you otherwise. I know that personally as someone who has written about the 2019 draft class for the past four years, I find Maxence Guenette's story a lot more interesting, and I've had a lot more fun writing about his ascent than Thomson's languishing. Again, everyone experiences fandom in their own way so you do you but also if you haven't experimented with late-round sleeper enthusiasm then I think you should try it out.
Hell Is other Timelines
Again, I say this at risk of sounding like a soap-boxer, I find it variously exhausting for folks who get hung up on the fact that Thomson (and Vitaly Abramov (and my long lost child Jonathan Davidsson)) all fizzled out as Senators to the extent that they can't enjoy Matt Duchene's tenure as an Ottawa Senator in and of itself. We wanted Duchene in Ottawa so badly and we actually got him and he played the best hockey of his career. Yeah, the Sens sucked that season as a team and I get it. But if you can't find enjoyment in the moments that make up fandom, and you constantly focus on outcomes in a zero-sum endeavour then you'll always feel disappointed. Copy and paste for Alex DeBrincat (not that I'd sleep on Donovan Sebrango (big Davidsson-but-a-defender vibes!)).
All your Fortune Is Favours the Bold
And another thing! You can get players for free in case you missed the memo. Yes, drafting well is better than drafting poorly. But even if you miss on a pick and/or lose a player on waivers, you can also get players for free in waivers if you feel so inclined. I would argue that Ottawa has a bona fide NHL starter in Anton Forsberg and he cost nothing in draft capital! Does that not more than make up for losing Thomson? Heck even if you "lose a player for nothing" in free agency–you can sign free agents! Claude Giroux, Artem Zub, Vladimir Tarasenko: they cost nothing! The waiver wire giveth and the waiver wire taketh away. If you only want a perfectly balanced spreadsheet then the salary cap NHL might not be the best place to find it. Just ask Oakland A's fans or Tampa Bay Rays fans how they feel about never rolling the dice on big-name acquisitions that come with no guaranteed return on investment.
Health is Wealth
I feel reluctant to broach this last topic given the uncertainty around Josh Norris' shoulder injury but I still think at least from a defence and goaltending perspective it seems sweet that the Senators will enter the season in relatively good health? I mean the team could easily navigate the Shane Pinto dilemma with a significant injury to a rostered player and instead we have an almost entirely healthy roster for what feels like the first time in a decade. Especially when considering how badly last season went off the rails specifically due to injury, I want to take this opportunity to enjoy the idea of the Senators breaking their streak of slow starts thanks in part to having something resembling their optimal lineup on the ice.