The Ottawa Senators are going to miss the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.
For a team that has integrated a ton of young talent into the lineup and has the bulk of their core up in the NHL now, they need to take a legitimate step forward next year to becoming a playoff team. If they don’t, they risk wasting players’ primes and cheap entry-level contracts. It’s why I’ve been harping on the fact that the Senators need to start being a buyer for players that can surround this young core. They won’t be young forever, and at this point, losing is not acceptable.
In relation to the future, GM Pierre Dorion spoke with the media on Friday and had these three important things to say about the team’s future:
Dorion says "our goal is to make the playoffs next year". #Sens— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) March 11, 2022
Dorion says "you need to put the pieces all together to build a championship team." Says he'll look at moving pieces in the summer for immediate help. "Those types of deals are more likely in the summer," says Dorion. #Sens— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) March 11, 2022
Dorion says "for us to hit the next level we probably need a top six forward and top six D. Those don't grow on trees." Dorion adds Jake Sanderson may be the answer on defence and "he might be top two". #Sens— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) March 11, 2022
First of all, Dorion obviously feels the pressure to make the playoffs next year, as he should. Secondly, at least he recognizes that they need another top-6 forward and top-4 defenseman because those are big holes on the roster (amongst many). I’m not exactly expecting a ton of talent coming into Ottawa though because Dorion’s track record with acquiring NHL players has been abysmal. Furthermore, the last time they had an eventful off-season with several good players being brought in was 2013 when they acquired Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur (...but also lost Daniel Alfredsson).
His comment on Jake Sanderson is interesting because we know he’ll be playing in Ottawa at the end of the season, and there’s a chance he’ll already be good enough to be one of their better players. Theoretically, that would solve their top-4 defenseman issue—or will it? Ridly Greig is another name who was not mentioned in that exchange but he seems like a good bet to make the team next year.
He’ll have spent two seasons in the AHL/WHL since being drafted in 2020, and he’s 2nd in the WHL in points per game. When you add in the physical aspect to his game (which the Senators love), he will probably be spending most, if not all of next season in the NHL. I wouldn’t say I’m expecting him to be a top-6 forward (especially right away), but I do think he will be a good player and will make their lineup deeper as soon as October. Is Greig good enough to satisfy Dorion’s needs upfront then?
Those two questions regarding Sanderson and Greig are interesting because I think they can both be very important players for Ottawa but they aren’t just one or two players away from being a playoff team. In reality, Dorion will have to add multiple established pieces beyond that if they really want to surpass a team like Boston or Washington for a wildcard spot next year.
However, pretend you haven’t seen my opinion on this, because I want you to share what you think (with two different questions this week). Firstly, if Sanderson and Greig cement themselves as full-time quality NHLers next season, is that enough to make them a playoff team?
If Sanderson and Greig become full-time quality NHLers next season, is that enough to make them a playoff team?
And secondly, this one requires you to participate in the comments, but who would you like to see Ottawa target this summer via trade or free agency?
It’ll be a make-or-break off-season for Dorion and I can’t wait to see what happens. Share your thoughts in the comments!