Joe Yerdon

Retooled Senators better off without Alfredsson

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Daniel Alfredsson’s departure from Ottawa for Detroit stung fans and team executives alike in Canada’s capital city. Everyone from GM Bryan Murray to Kyle Turris have said and made their peace with his choice, but one thing they should realize is they’re better off now without him.

Sure, Alfredsson’s leadership and veteran know-how will be missed in a locker room that’s decidedly young, but from a purely offensive standpoint, the Senators are a better team.

Take a look at what their forward lines could shape up to be now with Bobby Ryan taking Alfredsson’s place and Clark MacArthur replacing Jakob Silfverberg.

Milan Michalek – Jason Spezza – Bobby Ryan
Clarke MacArthur – Kyle Turris – Mika Zibanejad
Colin Greening – Zack Smith – Cory Conacher
Erik Condra – Jim O’Brien – Chris Neil

What you have there is a team with scoring talent on three lines and a fourth line that will be annoying and grinding. Pesky, if you will.

Ryan is a four-time 30-goal guy and more than young enough (26) to do it again. Alfredsson at 41 was generally good for 20 goals per season. It doesn’t take a mathematician to tell you 30 is more than 20.

MacArthur’s offensive work in Toronto was often hampered by how coach Randy Carlyle used him but he was always productive. That kind of added scoring “oomph” to the second line helps give them balance.

With the defensive group they’ve got in front of a goalie tandem of Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner, it sure looks like Ottawa has a great team.

As long as they don’t get scorched by injuries the way they did last year (Spezza, Karlsson, Michalek) they’re a contender potentially worthy of making Alfredsson regret his decision to leave.

Blues GM says ‘nothing to report’ on Pietrangelo contract talks

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If you’re hoping to see Alex Pietrangelo get his new contract in St. Louis you’d better be ready to keep waiting.

Blues GM Doug Armstrong gave the update on how negotiations are going with their prized restricted free agent to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Spoiler: It’s not much of an update.

“There’s really nothing to report,” Armstrong said. “My belief is that it’s better to stay quiet until we have a conclusion to it and we’re not there now.”

He goes on to say he’s not concerned about how long it’s taking and that there’s six weeks until training camp starts so there’s plenty of time.

Fans in St. Louis are somewhat fretting about Pietrangelo’s deal getting done but they can take solace in the team getting Jay Bouwmeester signed to an extension and Kevin Shattenkirk to a new deal. It’s not as if the Blues have gotten cheap in those regards and with other restricted free agents. Pietrangelo will cash in eventually.

It’s Ottawa Senators day on PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Ottawa Senators.

Last season ended on a low note for the Senators getting humbled by the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. After barnstorming Montreal in the first-round, fans in Ottawa had high hopes for a deep run. Once the offseason began, things got a bit more exciting for some of the wrong reasons.

Offseason recap

Ottawa fans were left stunned when captain Daniel Alfredsson decided to return for another season but not for the team he’d been playing since the mid-90s for. Alfie signed with Detroit and spurred GM Bryan Murray to pull off a stunning deal with Anaheim to acquire Bobby Ryan. While they gave up a lot of their own high-level youth (Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen) to get him, Ryan gives them a four-time 30-goal scorer, something Alfredsson hadn’t been since 2007-08.

Acquiring Ryan wasn’t their only move. Clarke MacArthur joined the fold after leaving Toronto and Joe Corvo returned to town to replace Sergei Gonchar who was dealt to Dallas. Add that extra offense to a team that figures to have a healthy defensive corps (and team all around) and underrated goalie Craig Anderson and you’ve got a team many believe will challenge for the Stanley Cup.

Talk is cheap but after being this summer’s “It” team, expectations are higher than ever in Ottawa.

Related:

Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series

Is Jacob Markstrom Florida’s goalie savior?

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For the past two summers, rumors swirled around the Florida Panthers concerning their interest in Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo. For the past two summers, the Panthers never made a move. The reason? 23 year-old goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Markstrom was the organization’s top prospect for years before getting thrown into the starting job last season when Jose Theodore’s season was ended by injury. GM Dale Tallon has been Markstrom’s biggest fan and has made it clear he wants to stick by him.

It hasn’t been easy for him so far as a pro. Last season after a particularly brutal 7-1 loss to Washington, Markstrom was called out by coach Kevin Dineen. Last year’s Panthers were the worst team in the league so you can hang many of the troubles he had on that.

Two seasons ago when he got his first real taste of NHL action, he did well, stats-wise, in seven games. While he went just 2-4-1 he put up a .925 save percentage and a 2.66 goals-against average. The former number will put you in the top-ten amongst goalies most seasons.

The question the Panthers have to ask themselves here is: Which guy is the real Markstrom? The kid from two seasons showed a lot of the reasons why they’ve stayed out of the Luongo fray.

If he turns out to be more like the player we saw last season, however, perhaps Tallon might want to keep Mike Gillis’ phone number handy just in case.

Bernier ready to seize opportunity to win Toronto starting job

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Jonathan Bernier has always been a highly-touted young goalie. The problem he’s had is being stuck behind a guy who seized an opportunity to win and keep a starting job.

Now he’s a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs and while James Reimer has been the No. 1 guy there the last two seasons, Bernier will get a shot to be the man there. He tells Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star he plans on taking advantage of it.

“I’ve been waiting for that, to get my chance,” Bernier said. “It was very frustrating. That’s hockey, When you get your chance, you’ve got to take it. That’s what happened with Jonathan Quick.”

The Leafs haven’t said one way or the other about what the situation will be in goal, but given their acquisition of Bernier and previous chase of Roberto Luongo, you have to assume there’ll be competition to be the starter.

If you thought goaltending was already a strength for the Leafs, they might be swimming in riches now.