The Ottawa Senators‘ season has gone much like how Pierre Dorion felt after Thursday’s overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs – frustrating. The viral meme of Dorion tossing his cup across the press box is the perfect way to describe the mood in the nation’s capital as of late. Of course, no one expected the Senators to make a playoff push let alone be competitive in this division, however, over the last month, Ottawa has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of their rebuild.
Tim Stützle and Josh Norris have emerged as solid pieces moving forward by the looks of it, and both are making their cases for the NHL’s Calder Memorial. Other players who have NHL experience already, like Drake Batherson, just continue to chip away and be consistent contributors on this team. However, back to the frustration, the Sens have had no luck when it comes to goaltending, injuries and now their season just got extended.
Item One: Revised Schedule
The Senators were slated to play the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday and this upcoming Tuesday, but that has now changed due to the opposition being placed in COVID-19 protocol. The Senators will now be off until Thursday, where they are scheduled to play the Canadiens, and the two originally planned games have now been pushed ahead, extending the Sens’ season by two days.
The Sens’ revised schedule goes as follows:
- Ottawa at Montreal, scheduled for March 28, is now scheduled for April 17 at 4 p.m. ET
- Montreal at Ottawa, scheduled for March 30, is now scheduled for May 5 at 7 p.m. ET
- Toronto at Ottawa, scheduled for May 5, is now scheduled for May 10 at 8 p.m. ET
Luckily, the Sens and other teams in the Scotia North division, other than the Canadiens, have minimal changes to worry about, and if anything, a team like Ottawa will get an extra few days of rest before they hit the ice again in April.
Item Two: More Injuries
Back on March 22, Senators’ goaltender Filip Gustavsson started and recorded his first NHL win and then followed that up with his second just a few nights later. While the 22-year-old netminder was full of smiles, having been able to secure the victories, he was only placed in the net because both Matt Murray and Joey Daccord had gone down with injuries the week prior. Because these injuries piled on fast, Dorion felt like he had to go out and acquire another goaltender with NHL experience to help stop the bleeding. So, he went out and claimed Anton Forsberg off of waivers from Winnipeg.
Forsberg has played 48 career NHL games in Columbus, Chicago and Carolina and held a record of 12-25-4 with a .901 save percentage (SV%) and 3.22 goals-against average (GAA). “On account of recent injuries, Anton’s acquisition provides us with depth and stability at the goaltending position. He’s a goaltender who’s athletic and positionally sound. His addition should prove beneficial for us,” said Dorion.
Since the beginning of the season, the netminders just haven’t worked out in Ottawa’s favour. When Dorion went out and traded for Murray around the NHL draft, there was a ton of excitement. Since then, he has been injured a couple of times, and when he is in the net, he looks disinterested and has been a letdown for the most part.
On top of the goaltending injuries, there has also been some upfront. Earlier last week, forward Austin Watson blocked a shot off his left hand and was seen wearing a cast not long after, which prompted the Sens to place him on the IR.
He is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks, and he probably won’t be seen until some point towards the end of April. While the Sens’ season ends in early May, there may be a possibility we don’t see Watson on the ice for the remainder of the season.
Item Three: Trade Deadline & Waivers
With the April 12 NHL trade deadline approaching, the Senators are expected to keep things quiet. On the bright side, if they do happen to make any deals and want to bring players in from a team located in the United States, the NHL and the Canadian government have come to an agreement to reduce the 14-day quarantine period down to seven days. The Senators are expected to be sellers in this market, but there are limited buyers at the table.
Recently acquired forward Ryan Dzingel, who becomes an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, has been gaining a lot of traction as of late. He has five goals in 11 games with the Sens so far, but it’s doubtful he’ll get moved by the deadline. It seems as if teams are more focused on getting help for the blueline, which means defencemen Braydon Coburn, Mike Reilly, and Erik Gudbranson may be options for some buyers.
Reilly will be the piece to keep your eyes on. Acquired from the Habs last season, the 27-year-old has turned out to be a capable defensive defenceman for the Senators while playing mostly with Artem Zub since he entered the lineup and made his NHL debut. Since he has a relatively small cap hit of $1.5 million, it wouldn’t be surprising if Reilly will likely be offered the opportunity to stay on a short-term deal.
Another piece that may have become available is Christian Wolanin. The Senators defenceman cleared waivers Friday and was immediately assigned to the taxi squad until a decision is made on his future. This has definitely started a debate over the decision to put the 26-year-old on waivers. Since he’s only suited up for 58 games in his career, some have taken the stance that he’s still a prospect. However, that’s not the case, and the issue is his potential hasn’t met his production. Don’t be surprised if this gets the trade rumours going around Wolanin.
What’s Next for the Senators?
The Senators will have a few days of rest before the Canadiens roll into town on Thursday. After Monday morning’s skate, the Sens placed forward Artem Anisimov on waivers, and it’s believed they might be making room for more players to come in. The UND prospects Shane Pinto, Jacob Bernard-Docker and Jake Sanderson would now be available to turn pro and sign their entry-level contracts, so this could be a bit of foreshadowing from the Anisimov move. In any case, these players will probably get their chance next season, if it’s not this one. There could be some more moves on the horizon in Ottawa, so be sure to stay tuned.