Don’t look now, but the Ottawa Senators are one of the hottest teams in the NHL with an 8-1-1 record in their last 10 games. That’s right, the same team that started the season 2-12-1 has finally started to play the way coach D.J. Smith has been preaching. While the record to start the season is atrocious, some say they had been a tough team to play against all year. Notably, Auston Matthews mentioned they were a good team after his now division-leading Toronto Maple Leafs lost their first game to the Senators. As the team is eliminated from playoff contention this year, Sens fans will want to know what pieces they have for the bright Ottawa Senators future ahead.
Ottawa Senators Future is Bright
Brady Tkachuk – Josh Norris – Drake Batherson
Tim Stutzle – Shane Pinto – Connor Brown
Starting with Tkachuk, the team has one of the toughest and talented power forwards in the league right now. And he is just 21 years old. Josh Norris and Shane Pinto are both developing skilled centremen. The big test upfront is if this tandem can compete with the top centremen around the league. It doesn’t help that the regular Atlantic division will feature the likes of Alexander Barkov, Patrice Bergeron, Matthews, and Brayden Point as well.
Perhaps the most talented player with the most potential is 2020 3rd overall pick Tim Stutzle. With the combination of his shot, size, speed, and hands, he is an elite talent on the ice. Keeping him around will make the team far more dangerous offensively for years to come. This is all without mentioning the team’s 2 top goal scorers in Connor Brown and Drake Batherson. These two have been some of the top performers for the team and a huge part of the success that the team has had in the second half.
Add in a few key pieces like Nick Paul, Colin White, and Evgenii Dadonov and it feels like a team that should have scoring from multiple lines.
Thomas Chabot – Nikita Zaitsev
Erik Brannstrom – Artem Zub
You have a cornerstone piece in Chabot. He’s the big-ticket number one defenceman who can perform well at both ends of the rink. Is this the right group for him to be surrounded by though? Zaitsev is an NHL-caliber defenseman. However, he might not be the right guy to play on the top pair. Finding the right partner for Chabot will be key to building this team further for the Ottawa Senators future.
Brannstrom is an intriguing player, who came over in the Mark Stone trade. He is an offensive-minded defenceman that teams crave. His mobility is his best asset but will need to grow his defensive game. There is still plenty of time to see how he turns out. For Zub, he has been a pleasant surprise for Senators fans. Coming over from the KHL and having the success he has had in his first year would not be easy. With the right coaching, the team can hope to continue his progress and cement his place in the top four.
As for what is coming in the pipeline on the backend, the team has Jake Sanderson, selected 5th overall in 2020. Their next best piece might be what the team does with their 2021 1st round draft pick. Can they use it to trade for a partner for Chabot? Will they select another defenceman in a defense-heavy draft? Honourable mention goes to Jacob-Bernard Docker who should get plenty of looks in the NHL next season as well.
Matt Murray – Filip Gustavsson – Anton Forsberg
Matt Murray has been hot and cold for the Ottawa Senators this year. Playing more than any other goalie on the team this season, it hasn’t always gone his way. With a sub .900 save percentage, it would be doubtful to say that he has reached his goals. After all, this is a two-time Stanley Cup winner who edged out Marc-Andre Fleury in 2016 & 2017. His contract has 3 additional years remaining at 6.25 M. With that in mind, he will surely get another opportunity to prove himself next season.
The goalie of the future very well could be Filip Gustavsson. Dashing numbers in eight games this season. He is also the only Senators goaltender to have a record above .500 this season. He has been a huge part of their recent success as well.
— Jon Perlberg (@jonperlberg) May 4, 2021
Assistant Coach Jack Capuano has been named the head coach of the Team USA World Championship team. This should be a great experience for Jack to develop as a leader, learn from others, and bring more to the table for next season with the Senators. There is certainly lots to look forward to with the Ottawa Senators future.
Jack Capuano has been named the head coach of the 2021 U.S. Men’s National Team. 🇺🇸
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) May 10, 2021