— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) July 28, 2021
Ottawa Senators Lock Down D.J. Smith
It’s no mystery Ottawa has been in a rebuild for the past few seasons. And D.J. Smith is a big part of that. Smith is heading into his third season with the Senators. In that time, the team has gone 48-62-17. While the record is below .500, it’s worth noting that the Senators picked up a point more often than not. Combined, there are 65 wins or overtime losses compared to 62 regular-season losses. In other words, Ottawa was good enough to force overtime in its games, but not quite good enough to win them. For a rebuilding team, that’s a promising trend.
It’s clear that Ottawa’s brass, and players for that matter, enjoy having Smith behind the bench. He has no shortage of big-game experience, winning a Memorial Cup as the head coach of the Oshawa Generals in 2015. He then spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs before earning the head role in Ottawa heading into 2019-20.
Future is Bright for the Senators
While Smith is still finding his way as an NHL head coach, it’s hard not to be excited about the potential the Senators have. All five of Ottawa’s top scorers last year were 27 years old or younger. There is an impressive young core of players developing in Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle, Drake Batherson and Josh Norris. Not to mention stud defenceman Thomas Chabot, who has future Norris Trophy potential written all over him.
The young core coming up with Smith leading them can only lead to good things, provided the rest of the roster is logically built. Ottawa struggled in goal last year, cycling through five different netminders through the course of the season. Matt Murray was brought in to be the number one goaltender, and he has yet to show that in Ottawa. However, if he returns to his two-time Stanley Cup-winning level of play, the Senators could make some noise next season. It’s entirely possible Ottawa scraps its way into the playoffs should they turn some of those overtime losses into wins.
QUEBEC CITY, QC – MAY 31: Head coach D.J. Smith of the Oshawa Generals looks on during the 2015 Memorial Cup Championship against the Kelowna Rockets at the Pepsi Coliseum on May 31, 2015 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. The Oshawa Generals defeated the Kelowna Rockets 2-1 in overtime to become the 2015 Memorial Cup Champions. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)