The Ottawa Senators seem to have little go right over the last year or so, whether it was the unhappiness of their star defenseman Erik Karlsson to the Matt Duchene trade in which the team traded away their No. 1 overall pick for next season to Colorado. With the team shipping off players left and right, that pick could be a costly one for the team.
However, the Ottawa Sun’s Ken Warren writes that who the Senators need to look at the success of the New Jersey Devils last season had when they opted to add a struggling team with youth. Just a season ago, the Devils had a 28-40-14 season and just 70 points. However, New Jersey brought in an infusion of youth, including Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, Will Butcher, as well as second-year players like Miles Wood and Pavel Zacha. That group altered the makeup of the struggling franchise and turned last season into a 44-29-9 season for 97 points, an increase of 27 points on the year. The team even qualified for the playoffs.
The Senators, who are actually loaded with quality prospects within their system, could get a similar infusion from their prospects. That possibility might start with 2018 first-rounder Brady Tkachuk, who opted to turn pro last week and has a chance to walk right into the Senators lineup. The team has other young players who are ready for full seasons this year, including Colin White, Logan Brown, Thomas Chabot, Filip Chlapik and Drake Batherson. The team also has last year’s second-round pick Alex Formenton, who made the Senators squad out of training camp last year, who could also make the jump this year. Some success from some of those kids could make people forget a little about some of the franchise’s struggles.
- Former Toronto Maple Leafs enforcer Kurt Walker passed away Friday night at the age of 64 after a brief illness, according to the Toronto Sun’s Lance Hornby. Walker, who might have been better known after his short NHL career, was an advocate for retired NHL players. His efforts nearly a decade ago helped retired players and opened doors for affordable health care, concussion research on NHL retired players and stem-cell research. Walker played three seasons in the NHL, all for the Maple Leafs, playing in 71 games, tallying four goals, five assists and 152 penalty minutes.
- Mlive’s Ansar Khan writes that the Detroit Red Wings need a solid year out of 34-year-old goaltender Jimmy Howard, who has one year remaining on his contract. Howard started the 2017-18 season strong, but struggled in the second-half of the season, finishing the year with a 2.85 GAA and a .910 save percentage in 60 games. The team may have to lighten his workload now that the team added Jonathan Bernier, but if Howard will have to have a better year to earn another contract with the team. Khan writes the team might want to give him a two-year extension as they lack goalie prospects in their system.
- The Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington writes that Buffalo Sabres defensive prospect Casey Nelson has a good chance at breaking camp with the Sabres this year because he now requires Buffalo to pass him through waivers to send him to the AHL. Nelson, has played 55 games for Buffalo over the past three years and showed some promise last year, putting up three goals and eight assists in 37 games. However, because the team could conceivably lose him if they attempt to pass him through waivers, they may be more likely to hold onto him and send other prospects like Brendan Guhle to the AHL since he doesn’t require waivers.