The Ottawa Senators are the third highest scoring team in the NHL this season with 70 goals through 22 games. Such offensive output makes them a good option for picking up depth players for your fantasy team. For while Ottawa lacks any truly dominant forwards, they largely score goals by committee which means that the offense gets spread around. So while you won’t find any players who will win you the league title on their own – with the possible exception of Erik Karlsson, but he probably went really early in your draft – there are a number of players on the Senators who can contribute but are overlooked in the vast majority of ESPN and Yahoo fantasy leagues.
As Ottawa’s undisputed second line center, Zibanejad is almost guaranteed to have at least one of Bobby Ryan or Mike Hoffman on his wing. However, despite hitting a career high in points last year and having quality line-mates, Zibanejad is only owned in 23% of Yahoo leagues. While he owned in 67% of ESPN leagues, there is still a good chance in shallower leagues that he is available. Despite only scoring four goals so far this season, he is on pace to eclipse 50 points for the first time in his career. Ottawa coach Dave Cameron is also giving Zibanejad over two minutes of power-play time per game, which will help his offensive output and is useful for leagues that count power-play points. Additionally, he produces shots at a very high level – on pace for 190 this season – but is currently shooting at 8.3%, two percent below his career average. If Zibanejad shoots at 10% for the rest of the season he should equal his career high of 20 goals and, given Bobby Ryan’s increased production and Zinbanejad’s developing awareness as a play-maker, he should easily eclipse his previous career high of 26 assists. Plus, for leagues that count hits, Zibanejad averages about two hits per game. As a final bonus, he is listed as both a right-winger and center, giving you as a manager greater flexibility in selecting your roster.
With his play last season on Ottawa’s third line, Pageau secured his spot on the Senators after bouncing between the NHL and AHL. If your league counts shorthanded goals or points you have to have Pageau on your team and given that he is owned in only 3% of Yahoo league and 0.1% of ESPN league, acquiring him will not be a problem. He leads the league in shorthanded goals and given his speed and place on Ottawa’s first penalty killing unit, promises to continue to produce when a man down. Granted, Pageau is not an elite offensive player and only plays around 14 minutes a night, however he is on pace to score 35 points which does represents a career high.
Pageau is uniquely valuable though for two reasons. The first is that he can contribute across multiple stats categories. In addition to his offensive output, Pageau also racks up hits at a substantial rate. So far this season he has 47 hits, which places him second among Senators forwards. Additionally, as a defensively responsible player, his +4 rating on plus/minus as helps in leagues where that stat matters. Second, is that Ottawa is relatively weak down the middle and if Turris or Zibanejad are injured, Pageau will move onto one of the top two lines and play alongside either Bobby Ryan, Mark Stone or Mike Hoffman. If your league doesn’t count shorthanded goals or hits there might be better options than Pageau at the present time. However, watch him closely and if one of Ottawa’s top centers gets injured pick him up immediately.
Shane Prince may seem like an odd choice given that he only scored his first (and second) goal of the season against Colorado on Wednesday night. However, Prince’s value is all in potential. With Clarke MacArthur out long-term with a concussion, the left-wing spot on the second line skating with Zibanejad and Bobby Ryan is open. With Milan Michalek anchored on the third line, Dave Cameron and his staff have been alternating rookie Shane Prince and Matt Puempel, with a seeming preference for Puempel, despite his lack of offensive production. The result has been that Prince has played on the fourth line with Chris Neil and Zack Smith and averaged under 12 minutes a game. Yet his offensive production against Colorado may well encourage the coaching staff to give Prince a long look on the second line.
If that happens, be sure to add Prince to your fantasy roster. He is currently owned in 0% of fantasy leagues and so will be available for free. Even with limited ice time this season, Prince is still putting up 0.5 points per game. Additionally, his 2.36 points per sixty minutes is almost on par with Mika Zibanejad and is a respectable total for a top six winger. As well, Prince scored 65 points last year in the AHL, good for 6th in league scoring. All of which suggests that when given the opportunity, Prince has the offensive instincts to rack up points. While he may not score goals at a prolific rate, his vision and play-making ability will nicely complement Bobby Ryan’s skill set as a finisher.
All three of the players mentioned above will contribute in offensive categories for your fantasy team. However, many leagues also use categories such as hits and penalty minutes (PIMS) and in deeper leagues it can be worth selecting a player based on their ability to contribute in specific categories despite deficiencies elsewhere in their game. If your league does count both hits and PIMS then both Chris Neil and Mark Borowiecki are both useful players. Despite their limitations as players, the Ottawa coaching staff trusts both of them and each has appeared in all 22 of Ottawa’s games so far. Borowiecki leads all Senators in hits with 87, which ranks him 5th in the entire league and his 36 PIMS is more than any other player in the top ten. Similarly, Neal leads the league with 75 PIMS, a full 11 better than Cody McLeod, while also registering 50 hits. So long as both players stay healthy they will be playing night in, night out for Ottawa and taking penalties and hitting opponents. All of which is good for fantasy owners even if it doesn’t bode well for the Senators’ long term fortunes.