Ottawa Senators Forwards Analysis

Ottawa Senators forwards

General manager Pierre Dorion was busy this off-season revamping Ottawa Senators’ forwards. Five forwards left the team and another five will take their place. With young players vying for spots, it is not certain who will be in the opening-night line-up. Let’s dive into who Ottawa brought in and who could make the team this year.


Evgenii Dadonov Signing

Evgenii Dadonov was Ottawa’s largest free-agent acquisition. Over the past three years, Dadonov has scored 182 points in 225 games, making him the eleventh highest scoring right-winger in the league over that span.

Dadonov’s former coach with the Florida Panthers, Bob Boughner, describes him as an all-around player. Dadonov has an excellent shot and hockey sense that allowed him to gather 25 goals or more in each of his last three seasons. Boughner says that Dadonov can also distribute the puck well, plays well defensively, and brings a consistent effort every night.

The stats back-up Boughner. Over his three years with the team, at even-strength Dadonov was third among Florida’s forwards in Corsi For percentage, and second in goals for percentage and scoring chances for percentage. These stats are from Natural Stat Trick, and show that Dadonov was one of Florida’s most effective forwards.

In Dadonov’s first two seasons in Florida, he was second behind Aleksander Barkov in defensive point shares among forwards. Dadonov was fifth among forwards in blocked shots during the 2018-19 season, showing his commitment to defence.

Dadonov Can Help Colin White

Ottawa signed Dadonov to a three-year $15 million deal. His offensive skill will make him the top offensive option among the Ottawa Senators’ forwards. He can also help Colin White bounce back.

In his rookie season two years ago, White scored 14 goals, 27 assists for 41 points in 71 games. Most of his success that season came playing with  Mark StoneWhite played 419 minutes with Stone and 519 without him. With him, at even-strength White’s Corsi For percentage was 53.47 and expected goals were 21.39. Without Stone, White’s Corsi For dropped to 42.9 and his expected goals were 16.7. White continued to struggle last season, scoring 23 points in 61 games.

Dadonov is not as good as Stone, but he plays an all-around game like him and is a top-line player. On the left-side will be Brady Tkachuk, who was the team’s leading scorer last season and top possession forward.

If White centres them that could be a good top-line because he has shown he can effectively centre talented wingers. It will help build White’s confidence and development. It will also mean having more skilled players for Tkachuk to play with and help him to further develop.

Alex Galchenyuk

Outside of Dadonov, Alex Galchenyuk is Ottawa’s most intriguing signing at forward. He is a skilled 26-year-old who scored 30 goals four years ago. His downfall is he’s not very good defensively. This is a similar description for Anthony Duclair who had a breakout season with Ottawa last year by scoring 23 goals and 40 points. However, Duclair and the Senators couldn’t come to an contract agreement. The Senators didn’t qualify him and let him go as a free-agent.

Galchenyuk is Duclair’s direct replacement. Galchenyuk can play either centre or left-wing, but Ottawa has a lot of centre depth, so he is expected to play left-wing. Outside of last season, he has scored at least 40 points in his last five years and could do that this year with consistent minutes.

Another intriguing piece to Galchenyuk’s signing is what does this mean for Ottawa’s young players? Ottawa’s 2020 third overall pick, Tim Stuetzle, is expected to be a top-six left-winger. That is not certain because he might not be NHL ready. If Stuetzle is ready, then it knocks out Rudolfs Balcers or Alex Formenton from a left-wing spot. Both have been near point-per-game players in the AHL and might be ready for the NHL. Formenton has only played a year in the AHL, so he may benefit from another. Balcers has played in the AHL for three years and scored 115 points in 143 games, there isn’t anything for him left to prove down there.

The Rest of the Ottawa Senators Forwards

The other new player Ottawa added to their roster is Austin Watson. He is a big 6′-4″, 204 pound right-winger who scores around 15-20 points a year and is physical. Watson recorded 123 penalty minutes two-years ago. Ottawa has always wanted a fourth-liner that is physical and can fight, whether it is Watson, Scott Sabourin, or long-time heavyweight Chris Neil.

Watson also takes away a spot from Filip Chlapik. Chlapik might not have been a good fit for a fourth-line right-wing spot considering he’s a left-shooting skilled centre. But with Nick Paul and Artem Anisimov occupying the left-wing and centre spots on the fourth-line, right-wing was Chalpik’s only pathway.

There is also a spot open as the third-line centre. This will be an intriguing battle at training camp between Logan Brown and Joshua Norris. Brown has the edge because he is a year-older and has played two seasons in Belleville.

Norris could take the spot as well after being the AHL’s rookie-of-the-year last season. Brown has the higher potential but Norris is the better all-around player. That will be something to watch in training camp.

If Brown, Balcers and Chlapik don’t make the team, what happens to them? They will either be 23 or 24 by next year and nearing an age where they’re too old to be prospects. As a talented 6′-7″ centre, Ottawa could be trading Brown if he can’t crack the team.

They will be able to get value back for him and have many young centres in their organization to replace him. That would mean keeping Chlapik, because he’s good insurance if a centre gets hurt. I can see Ottawa keeping Balcers too as the first-option to replace a winger in the line-up.

Outlook of the Ottawa Senators’ Forwards

Ottawa’s top line of Tkachuk-White-Dadonov should be a reliable top-line. Dadonov and Tkachuk are star wingers and White should be a dependable centre for them.

The second line projects to be Stuetzle-Tierney-C. Brown. Tierney and Brown are young 26-year-old veterans who are dependable to score around 40 points, if not more. Stuetzle is the wild-card because he’s a teenager, but has excellent talent. A conservative estimate is he scores around 35-45 points if he’s  NHL ready.

The third line should be Galchenyuk-L. Brown/Norris-Batherson. Regardless of who the centre is, this is a line with a lot of talent, and every player has something to prove. Drake Batherson is trying to show that he is a full-time NHL player.

The fourth line will certainly be Paul-Anisimov-Watson. At 6′-3″ and 219 pounds, Paul is the smallest player on that line. They should score around 20 points each and be a grinding line.

The Ottawa Senators’ forwards are a mediocre group. They will probably land somewhere between 17-23 in the NHL in goals for. This is the first year that the team is expected to grow after three years of tearing down the roster, so it is not a bad thing they’re not going to be great, they have some growing to do.

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