Five Thoughts for Friday

There’s optimism in the air, which is something that could not be said last year. Five thoughts five days before the trade deadline!

The last Five Thoughts before the trade deadline. This is probably the most optimistic Five Thoughts post I’ve ever done. Can’t wait for a terrible performance in Carolina tonight just to bring me down a notch!

Great to Have Anderson Back

As Senators fans, we sometimes take for granted how good Craig Anderson has been during his tenure in Ottawa. In 276 games in a Senators uniform he has a .920 SV%, and six of his six plus seasons here have come after his 30th birthday. It’s not easy being a .927 SV% goalie during his age 35 season like he is doing right now, and it sort of goes unnoticed.

Even the best of the best can have sharp declines, but we’ve yet to see that from Anderson.

Just before he returned to the team, you could see that Mike Condon was wearing down and he needed a break. Luckily Anderson has stepped in for four out of the past six games and is his usual self in net. Whenever he’s on his game, so are the Senators.

The team will only go as far as he’ll take them, and it sure is encouraging and exciting to see him playing as well as he is.

Dodging Multiple Bullets

On Sunday, Ottawa announced that three forwards were injured (Bobby Ryan, Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman), and it looked like a doomsday scenario. This hit on Stone did not make people feel good about him coming back right away and playing:

Nevertheless, he was skating yesterday, and Dorion said he could be back either tonight (we may know after this is published) or in the next game or two. Not only that, Hoffman will be back soon as well, even if he does miss a few games.

Although Ryan is going through his worst season, he will still be missed because Ottawa doesn’t have a ton of depth. But they can deal with it, and the team definitely dodged two bullets with Hoffman and Stone. They could not afford for either one of them to be out for a long time.

Crisis averted.

Will Ottawa Actually Make a Move?

The Trade Deadline is just five days away, and there has hardly been any movement. I hope there is a lot more action around the league, and for the Senators specifically as well. They traded for Tommy Wingels, but I don’t think they should be done there if they want to succeed in the playoffs.

Pierre Dorion has said that he has the green light from Eugene Melnyk to add to the roster, so that at least has my eyebrow raised.

Dorion also said that they have been looking at forwards, so I think it is primarily wingers that they would be targeting, and not any defensemen.

I wouldn’t bank on the Senators adding another forward, but it could happen. As I mentioned on Tuesday, I think they still need another right-winger, and someone like old friend Patrick Eaves seems like a logical target.

I’m going to assume they do nothing, and will be happily surprised if they do make a trade.

Rate for Defensemen is High

Yesterday third pairing defenseman Ron Hainsey was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 2nd round pick and Danny Kristo. On Monday, another third pairing defenseman Michael Stone was traded for a 3rd round pick and a conditional 5th round pick. No, those picks are not worth a ton, but it is a lot to give up for third pairing players.

It seems like every contender in the league is looking for a second pairing player, and I would have to assume that that sort of player would cost a 1st round pick plus a decent prospect if we’re taking these two trades at face value.

Like I said, it doesn’t seem like Ottawa will go after a defenseman at the deadline anyway, but if they did want to, the cost would be prohibitive. At the same time...what if Ottawa uses this to their advantage?

The Senators would never do this, but trading Cody Ceci right now would get them a lot in return. He hasn’t lived up to expectations in his 263 game career, but there are plenty of teams that would pounce on a 23 year old right shot defenseman who is averaging 23:13 minutes of ice time this year.

Chris Wideman has been fantastic this season, and I don’t see why he couldn’t take Ceci’s place on the second pairing and actually be an improvement.

As for what Ottawa could get in return, nobody really knows. But if these two trades are any indication, something along the lines of a 1st round pick plus more, or an established NHL middle-six forward could be a solid return.

I still think Ottawa loves Ceci, so this definitely will not happen in the next few days, but it is interesting to note how expensive it is to acquire defensemen right now.

This Year Feels Different

The 2015-16 season was not a fun one, and it never seemed like Ottawa was ever going to get it going. This season has been different though. The team has not gone through an extended slump, and their longest losing streak was a four-gamer that included an overtime loss and three tight one-goal games. They have only won four in a row twice as well, but that just shows how consistent they have been.

Tuesday night’s game against New Jersey was a perfect embodiment of the season. Sure, it was only the Devils, but Ottawa had no business winning that game with Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, and Bobby Ryan all out of the lineup. Yet, they were able to squeak out a 2-1 win, and it seemed like a normal result the way that 2016-17 has gone.

For the first time in a while, there is some direction with this team. Guy Boucher is getting people excited about The System, and Ottawa has some very good prospects coming up soon. This just feels different, and it is hard to describe. There’s some real optimism in the air.

Almost every game I just expect the Senators to win, because that’s how well the season is going. It’s a very welcomed change from last year.

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