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.