Tag: Ottawa Senators


It’s Ottawa Senators day at PHT


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

Ottawa’s 2014-15 campaign was one for the record books.

Thanks to a remarkable 23-4-4 run down the stretch, the Sens staged a furious comeback to make the playoffs, becoming the first team in NHL history to qualify for the postseason after sitting 14 points back.

“It was special,” said Kyle Turris, per Sportsnet. “So many things happened and so many guys stepped up. It was a real special run and we won’t forget and we’ll learn from ultimately going forward.”

It was a special run indeed, and one filled with emotion. The Sens dealt with adversity throughout the way; GM Bryan Murray was diagnosed with colon cancer, assistant coach Mark Reeds passed away just before the playoffs and owner Eugene Melnyk was gravely ill before a successful liver transplant.

From that adversity, some new stars came shining through.

Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond went from obscure backup goalie to one of the NHL’s best stories, posting a 20-1-2 record with a .929 save percentage. The rookie tandem of Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone carried the club offensively at times, with Stone finishing the runner-up for the Calder. Erik Karlsson won his second career Norris trophy, and Turris continued to emerge as a bonafide No. 1, playmaking center.

In light of all that, Ottawa’s season had to be considered a success, even with its disappointing opening-round playoff loss to Montreal.

Off-season recap

It was a quiet summer in Ottawa. All of the club’s young skaters — Hammond, Stone, Hoffman, Mika Zibanejad, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Alex Chiasson — were re-signed, and Murray did little in free agency.

At the draft, Murray sent goalie Robin Lehner to Buffalo (along with David Legwand), which gave him two first-round picks; the Sens then proceeded to select Quebec League d-man Thomas Chabot, and USNTDP product Colin White.

Sens want to see if Hoffman ‘can do it again’

Mike Hoffman
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The Ottawa Senators got almost exactly what they wanted from Mike Hoffman’s arbitration ruling — and it could cost them.

Hoffman will earn $2 million next season, which is significantly less than what you would expect a player to make after scoring 27 goals and 48 points. But there’s a difference between Hoffman and Marcus Johansson, who had 47 points last season and was awarded nearly twice as much in arbitration: The sample size.

Hoffman only had 29 games worth of NHL experience going into the 2014-15 campaign so whether or not he can maintain or build upon his 48-point campaign is in question. Of course, the same could be said for Stone, who had 64 points in his first full NHL campaign and received a three-year, $10.5 million deal from Ottawa, but Senators assistant GM Pierre Dorion feels there are some noteworthy differences between the two young forwards.

“Mike’s road to the NHL has been a bit longer than Mark Stone,” Dorion told the Ottawa Citizen. “Stone was one of our best players in the second half last year and his play never tailed off. Mike’s play tailed off a bit in the second half (two goals in the last 16 games) and we want to see if Mike can do it again … we have a lot of confidence and faith Mike can do that next year.”

If Hoffman does do it again though, then the sample size arguments will weaken. At that point he’ll be in line for a considerable raise and a mid or long-term deal would likely come with a higher price tag than it would have been this summer.

Arbitrator awards Sens’ Hoffman one-year, $2M contract

Mike Hoffman

The Ottawa Senators went two-for-two in arbitration cases this summer.

Senators forward Mike Hoffman requested a salary of $3.4 million from an arbitrator while the Senators countered at $1.75 million. The ruling came down this afternoon largely in favor of Ottawa as Hoffman will earn $2 million in 2015-16, per the team’s Twitter feed.

This comes after forward Alex Chiasson asked for $2.475 million against Ottawa’s $1 million and was ultimately awarded a $1.2 million deal. Chiasson had 11 goals and 26 points in 76 contests last season, down from 35 points in 79 games with Dallas in 2013-14.

Hoffman was coming off of a considerably stronger season offensively though as he scored 27 goals and 48 points in 79 contests. However, the 25-year-old had only participated in 29 NHL contests prior to the 2014-15 campaign, so he still needs to prove that he can maintain or build upon his recently established career-highs.

Ottawa has now settled with all of its restricted free agents, although the stage is set for the Senators to renegotiate with Chiasson and Hoffman again next summer as they’re scheduled to become restricted free agents again. If Hoffman has another strong season and Chiasson is able to bounce back, then Ottawa will be in a considerably more difficult negotiating position.

For now though, the Senators are getting both forwards at close to the price they wanted.

Under Pressure: Robin Lehner

Robin Lehner,

If you want a hockey example of “be careful what you wish for,” look no further than Robin Lehner.

He’s getting what he likely pined for during his time with the Ottawa Senators – the No. 1 gig – yet he’ll face a challenging situation in Buffalo.

It doesn’t help matters that Sabres fans cringed at the cost of acquiring Lehner.

Lehner cost a first-round draft pick in a loaded draft while the Senators also managed to unload David Legwand’s contract. The 24-year-old may need to do a little convincing early on.

A bumpy 2014-15 season

Whether it was crafty veteran Craig Anderson or fast-food sensation Andrew Hammond, Lehner couldn’t snare the starting gig in Ottawa, and things only got worse when concussion issues ended his season altogether.

It’s easy to forget that Lehner sports a perfectly respectable career save percentage (.914) because his 2014-15 season was so unsightly: 9-12-3 with a mediocre .905 save percentage.

Long story short, Lehner has plenty to prove after a bumpy start to his NHL career.

source: AP
Via AP

A big opportunity, but a huge challenge

That said, he’s definitely getting a fair shot with the Sabres and GM Tim Murray. Murray was nothing if optimistic about acquiring the big Swede, as the Ottawa Sun noted after the trade.

“I think Robin needed a change of scenery,” Murray said. “I think he’s a very talented, big strong, young man that is just scratching the surface and, hopefully, we can bring the best out of him.”

Some might roll their eyes at the idea of a change of scenery making a difference, yet it’s not without precedent. Steve Mason’s resurgence in Philadelphia argues that a struggling netminder can thrive after a career Etch-a-Sketch shake.

Granted, it won’t be easy; Lehner’s essentially going from a holding pattern in Ottawa to a trial by fire with Buffalo. What do you think: will he sink or swim?

Subban working out with former Olympian Ben Johnson

P.K. Subban

In an effort to improve his speed and agility, Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban has enlisted the help of former Olympian Ben Johnson.

“We started working together three times a week, but we’ve gone down to two a week,” Johnson told TSN. “I don’t want to overload his muscles. He’s doing strength and acceleration and some agility. He’s going to be even better, even faster next year.”

Subban is coming off of a strong season where he recorded 60 points and averaged 26:12 minutes per contest. He finished third in Norris Trophy voting behind only Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson.

Subban declined to speak to TSN about his training and agent Don Meehan speculated that it was in an effort to protect Johnson from media scrutiny. Johnson won the gold medal for the men’s 100 meters in the 1988 Olympics, but lost the medal due to a positive steroids test. The International Amateur Athletics Federation banned him for life in 1993 following a positive test for excess testosterone. He was able to return in 1999 due to procedural errors only to once again fail a drug test.