There isn’t a whole lot of positivity surrounding many peoples’ expectations of the Ottawa Senators next season and that logic is reasonable. After all, the Eastern Conference’s 13th-ranked team brought in journeyman backup Alex Auld, Columbus Blue Jackets first round disappointment Nikita Filatov and … well, a lot of draft picks who won’t make an impact next season (aside from maybe their first pick Mika Zibanejad). Those moves don’t exactly leave Senators fans with a whole lot of reasons for optimism.
That being said, things could be a little brighter with a new head coach in Paul MacLean, a full season with new franchise goalie Craig Anderson and perhaps even a healthy season from captain Daniel Alfredsson.
After eight straight seasons of at least 70 games played, Alfredsson’s injury-wrecked 2010-11 campaign ended in February after he made just 54 appearances. Alf decided to undergo back surgery this summer, with his rehab seemingly on track. Bruce Garrioch reports that Alfredsson skated for the first time since that surgery today, another positive sign that he might turn the corner health-wise. It sounds like Alfredsson should be able to participate in training camp as hoped, but we’ll have to see if he has any setbacks along the way.
The 38-year-old winger remains a crucial facet of the Senators’ offense alongside oft-critiqued center Jason Spezza, so a big portion of the Senators’ hopes for a competitive season may rest on his health. Then again, maybe GM Bryan Murray & Co. would prefer another rebuilding year and the strong prospects that could come with those losses next season rather than fighting for a low playoff seed, which is probably the best result the Senators can hope for in 2011-12.
Earlier today, PHT writer Adam Gretz made compelling cases for the Ducks, Bruins, Rangers, and Avalanche to take a run at Winnipeg defenseman Jacob Trouba.
But allow me to add one more team to the potential mix — the Detroit Red Wings, who could really use a 22-year-old, right-shot defenseman who skates well and has good offensive instincts.
The Wings also have a surplus of forwards to work with. While Dylan Larkin is probably untouchable, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar probably aren’t. Or perhaps a youngster like Andreas Athanasiou or Anthony Mantha would interest the Jets.
The question the Wings may run into, should they make a push for Trouba, is whether they’d be willing to part with Danny DeKeyser. The 26-year-old defenseman just signed a six-year contract extension, and there’s reason to believe the Jets may look for a youngish, left-shot d-man in return for Trouba.
That’s pure speculation, for the record. DeKeyser is an important part of the Wings. He’s a Michigan native and he comes with a reasonable, $5 million cap hit. But it’s worth noting that, according to General Fanager, his no-trade clause doesn’t kick in until next summer.
At the very least, Ken Holland should be in touch with Kevin Cheveldayoff, if only to gauge the price for Trouba. The Red Wings’ GM said over the summer that he may look to trade for a defenseman around training-camp time, which happens to be right now.
“Part of this might be let’s get to September and see,” Holland said. “I’m hoping we’ve got 15, 16 NHL forwards and we’re positioned to do a deal.”
John Tortorella could only blame John Tortorella after the Blue Jackets got blown out in both their split-squad games Sunday against the Blues.
The Jackets dropped a 7-3 decision in St. Louis and lost 5-0 at home.
“Let’s not make any judgments here as far as today,” Tortorella said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “Today was going to be a mess. I give the guys credit. I’m not being negative about the team. They did what we asked of them (the first three days). They pushed. They gave it to us there and it suffers in these games.”
Tortorella, who runs notoriously tough training camps, wants to “make sure our conditioning is there by the 13th,” when the Jackets open the regular season.
Columbus plays its first three games at home, against Boston, San Jose and Chicago. A good start is going to be key for the Jackets, especially after starting last season 0-8-0.
New York liked enough of what it saw from Steve Bernier last season to offer him another kick at the can.
On Monday, the Isles announced that — for the second year in a row — Bernier would be coming to training camp on a PTO.
Last fall, Bernier parlayed his tryout into a one-year, $750,000 deal but only saw a limited body of work. The former first-round pick scored six points in 24 regular season games, then dressed for six playoff contests.
Bernier isn’t the only veteran forward attending Isles camp on a PTO, as longtime Devils winger Stephen Gionta is also there (Gionta and Bernier were once teammates in New Jersey).
There are holes to fill up front. The Isles lost three key forwards in free agency — Frans Nielsen, Matt Martin and Kyle Okposo — which will result in some of last year’s third- and fourth-line players getting bumped to more prominent roles.
Those promotions could bode well for Bernier and Gionta.
The Ottawa Senators announced today that they’ve purchased the AHL franchise in Binghamton, N.Y. and will move it to Belleville, Ont. for the start of the 2017-18 season.
From the press release:
The Ottawa Senators and the City of Belleville have also agreed on an eight-year agreement to welcome the newly minted Belleville Senators to the city.
In order to properly accommodate a new professional AHL team, the City of Belleville will immediately undertake more than $18.5 million in important renovations to modernize Belleville’s Yardmen Arena and prepare it for professional hockey for the first time in the city’s history.
The Baby Sens have played in Binghamton since 2002, winning a Calder Cup in 2011. AHL officials are reportedly working to secure another franchise for the city for the 2017-18 season.
Belleville to Ottawa is a mere 2.5-hour drive, according to Google. The Belleville Bulls were an OHL team that started playing in 1981 before moving to Hamilton in 2015.