Thoughts! Here they are! From my brain!
Future Looks Better for the Sens
The big news from yesterday was of course that Eugene Melnyk and his RendezVous LeBreton group was picked as the preferred group to develop the land at LeBreton Flats. Nothing is set in stone yet, but it seems extremely likely that the Senators future is in downtown, which is fantastic news.
While it is great that there will eventually be a downtown arena, I can't help but wonder what would have happened if Melnyk had lost the bid. I'm still skeptical that he will spend the money when the rink comes in, just because he isn't exactly the most trustworthy owner. There should be more revenue for the club in the coming years, but until we see him spend more on players, scouting and development, we are allowed to question him.
The DCDLS group may not have developed a new arena as quickly as the RendezVous group, but I do wonder if they would be able to spend more on the team right now if they essentially forced Melnyk to sell the team. It's hard to tell what would have happened if Melnyk had lost, but I don't love the fact that the long-term outlook for the Senators includes him.
Another thing that people are overlooking is that this isn't going to be done right away. Bruce Garrioch says they're looking at playing in Kanata for five more seasons:
The #Sens want to play Opening Night in 2021-22 in their new downtown arena.— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) April 28, 2016
The Senators will be a completely different team in 2021, as Erik Karlsson will be 31, Mark Stone will be 29, and Kyle Turris will be 32. Hopefully Melnyk will be able to spend before that, because he doesn't think they'll be able to be contenders until as late as 2026:
Says new arena will likely allow a team to win a Cup within five years of new arena opening.— The 6th Sens (@6thSens) April 28, 2016
We may not see the results right away, but one thing we know for sure: the future of the organization looks a lot better. Whether or not they can actually have a good team with the current core remains to be seen, but the team should at least be able to spend more in a few years. Let's hope Melnyk will open his wallet.
Speaking of franchise changing moments, the NHL draft lottery is this Saturday at 7pm Eastern, and it's safe to say that all Canadian hockey fans will be watching. The 14 teams who missed the playoffs all have a shot to get a top 3 pick, which is the first time that has ever been possible. The Senators sit 12th, but there is a chance that they could pick 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and even 13th or 14th.
What are their odds then? They only have a 2.5% chance to pick first, but they have a 8.29% chance to get either first, second or third. The odds are 82.33% that they stay at 12th, and I think we should prepare ourselves to stay put.
However, what if the Senators magically win one of those picks? It would be an absolute game-changer. The beauty of this is that the 2nd and 3rd picks will be arguably just as good as the first, as Patrik Laine is the youngest MVP in Finnish Liiga playoff history, and Jesse Puljujarvi is drawing rave reviews as well. Getting any one of those three players would alter the course of the franchise, and it would give them another legitimate scoring threat up front.
Missing the Playoffs is Better
If Ottawa had made a magical run into the playoffs again this year, they would have most likely gotten the final wildcard spot and played the Washington Capitals in round one. The Flyers made their series interesting by taking it to game 6, but does anyone really think Ottawa could have beaten them? Perhaps they would have had an amazing series, but then their next opponent would have been their old friends Pittsburgh. Sure, I miss nervous playoff games, but it just isn't worth it for this season.
If they end up picking 12th that won't exactly be "tanking," but they at least have a chance to pick in the top 3, and will be a few spots higher than if they made the playoffs. Plus, the team was able to realize that things need to change---obviously they aren't good enough right now. I don't mind missing the playoffs this year, as long as there is a quick fix for next year.
Bruce Boudreau a Possibility
In a shocker, the Anaheim Ducks were ousted in the first round against Nashville on Wednesday. Many (including myself) pegged them to do deep in the playoffs, but now they may shake things up. Boudreau was on the hot seat earlier in the year, and the fact that they have been eliminated on a game 7 at home for four straight years doesn't help his case to stay in Anaheim.
I have no idea what the Ducks management thinks of him, but considering they had legitimate Cup aspirations, he could certainly be let go. Elliotte Friedman has speculated that his relationship with Ducks GM Bob Murray isn't fantastic either:
I just think that if Murray and Boudreau were tighter, and had a better relationship, I think he could come back. But they don't have a great one. They're not that tight. So I've got to think that will be the end of it. It might just be good for both of them."---Elliotte Friedman
If he really is gone, then Ottawa needs to act:
If Boudreau is fired, Ottawa better call him the second he's gone. There's absolutely no one better on the market— Trevor Shackles (@ShackTS) April 28, 2016
He has the second highest winning percentage amongst coaches with at least 100 games of experience, and he would certainly improve the team. I would bet that Dorion interviews him, although he may be too expensive for Melnyk's wallet. Either way though, they need to at least do their due diligence on him, because he's the best candidate.
Slaying Multiple Dragons
How awesome is it that in one round, the Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks, and Anaheim Ducks are all eliminated? St. Louis was able to partially shed the "choker" label with their extremely close win against Chicago, San Jose showed that they are still a legitimate contender, and Nashville took down the tough Ducks because Pekka Rinne didn't implode.
The last few years the playoffs had been a bit bland, just because it was the same teams every year. Now that we have St. Louis, Dallas, San Jose, Washington, and the Islanders in the second round, things will be much less predictable. The only team that I really wouldn't like to see win is Pittsburgh, and they are basically the last remaining team that is always in the mix.
These playoffs will be different, which is something we could not have said in the last few years.