Where will the goals come from this season?

The Senators haven't make a move for a top-six forward since free agency opened up, and while it's a wise move given the outrageous contracts being handed out, it leaves the Senators in something of a tight spot. Unless they make a trade, the Ottawa Senators are left basically with the same lineup that finished second-worst in the NHL in goals with only 190. It's not the exact same line-up, of course -- this one doesn't have Mike Fisher, Alex Kovalev, Chris Kelly, or Ryan Shannon.

With the loss of those players comes bigger roles for Bobby Butler, Colin Greening, Erik Condra, and newcomers Nikita Filatov and Zenon Konopka, but these players are far from guaranteed to put the puck in the net at the NHL level. In the case of Konopka, it's all but certain that he won't be -- his career high is 4 goals in his rookie year. That's only 4 goals more than Cory Clouston scored in the NHL last season!

So while analysts keep saying that the Senators have to do better than their 190 goals last season, perhaps the biggest concern is if they can even reach that mark. Honestly, can the incoming players fill the gap of production left by those four?

As much as fans liked to moan about Fisher's contract or Kovalev's lackadaisical play, these guys put up a sizable portion of the Senators' offense. In fact, these four forwards who left the Senators combined for 51 of the Senators' 190 goals, or 26% of the team's goal output. What's notable about this figure is that Kovalev, Fisher, and Kelly were all traded after less than 60 games, meaning their full season contribution would have been even greater. Adjusting for an 82 game stretch at their pace with the Senators, this foursome would have combined for 70 goals.

That big chunk of goal scoring is being replaced by four players, not one of whom has even played half an NHL season (I've left Konopka out because his role is different). Are they likely to be able to combine to produce the same amount of offense as the four who left? I don't think so.

Admittedly, one could argue that I'm wrong by taking these players' previous production and extrapolating to 82 games (you get the following: Butler (23), Greening (21), Condra (19), Filatov (11), for a total of 74 goals). However, expecting that kind of output from a collection of rookies is optimistic and unrealistic. The numbers are based on very small sample sizes in which the players exceeded expectations. As an example, Colin Greening was only playing at a 20 goal pace in the AHL last season -- do we really expect him to do better against NHL defense and goalies than AHL ones? Furthermore, those numbers are good enough to put Butler, Greening, and Condra all in the top 10 rookie scoring this season. As great as that would be for the franchise, it's not something I'm going to be expecting.

Pessimism aside, I actually do expect the Senators to score more goals than they scored last season, just not a lot more. I'm also not placing my hopes on the shoulders of the young players on the team, or at least not yet. If the Senators are to score more than 190 goals this season, they will need the players who had poor seasons last year (like Sergei Gonchar and Peter Regin) to elevate their play this year, and the players who missed significant time due to injury (like Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, and Milan Michalek) to stay healthy for 75+ games. The kids can't do it all on their own.

Do you think the Senators will top their goal total from last season?

Regardless of what I vote for, at the end of the season I'll claim I was right44

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