As the holiday season approaches, PHR will look at what teams are thankful for as the season nears the quarter point of completion. There also might be a few things your team would like down the road. We take a look at what’s gone well in the first month and what could improve as the season rolls on. So far we’ve covered the following teams:
What are the Senators most thankful for?
They have to be thankful for that no matter how bad things have gotten in Ottawa in recent weeks, the Senators are only six points away from earning a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. Shocking isn’t it. The Boston Bruins, currently holding the third playoff spot in the division, have 35 points, while Ottawa has 29 points with their 11-13-7 record. While that might require the team to actually win a few games, a sudden turnaround could easily have them competing for a playoff spot. The team might also be thankful for a solid performance at Saturday’s Centennial Classic where they shutout the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 in front of a national audience.
Who are the Senators most thankful for?
Several players are having solid seasons, but the play of Mark Stone has been solid this season. Even while on a current scoring drought (one goal in the past 13 games), he leads the team with 14 goals in 31 games, which should be an improvement over the 22 goals he had last season in 71 games. His defensive abilty is also a big plus on the ice. What’s even better is that he is just a restricted free agent next season, so the team has some remaining control of the 25 year old. In all likelihood, even if the team begins a rebuild, it’s likely Stone will be considered a part of that and wouldn’t be shipped off for picks or prospects.
What would the Senators be even more thankful for?
More than anything, the team needs to see some production from Matt Duchene. After trading away Kyle Turris, prospects and picks to win the Duchene sweepstakes, the 26-year-old center hasn’t improved the team’s offense at all and so far looks like the team may have made a mistake. He has six goals and nine assists in 31 games this season, but Duchene has put up just two goals and three assists in the 17 games that he’s been with the Senators. The team needs him to figure things out and begin leading a line that can put points on the board every night. It doesn’t help that the Nashville Predators addition of Turris only seems to have helped them. Turris has four goals and 13 assists in his 17 games with the Predators, which only makes the deal look worse.
What should be on the Senators Holiday Wish List?
The Senators have found themselves in the news for many things, but defenseman Erik Karlsson’s comments that he won’t take a hometown discount when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2019 didn’t sit well with many fans or their owner. In a perfect world, the Senators would find a way to recapture the magic they had a year ago and find a way to convince Karlsson to sign long-term and pay him what he’s worth. The question is what is the long-term plans for this franchise. Are they playing to win or should they blow up their team and rebuild for the future? A rebuild would go much quicker if they trade Karlsson, but finding a franchise defenseman isn’t an easy task either.