Offseason Roundup: Ottawa Senators

Sept 15, 8:28 AM

Over the next month, theScore's NHL editors will review all the offseason moves for each team around the league.

After advancing to the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, many had Ottawa pegged for bigger and better things this past season. The Senators' campaign never quite got off the ground, however, keeping them well behind in all the major polls, including the only one that counts - the league standings.

The question is, did the budget-conscious Senators do enough this summer to get them back on a positive track?

Offseason Roundup

To kick off the summer, the Senators sat through the first round of the 2014 Draft without the benefit of being able to walk up to the podium, after trading their pick (10th overall) to the Anaheim Ducks last summer in the Bobby Ryan deal. Not a great start.

Ottawa made its biggest summer splash on July 1, capitalizing on an opportunity to part ways with center Jason Spezza, trading the now former captain to the Dallas Stars for winger Alex Chiasson, forward prospects Nicholas Paul and Alex Guptill, and a 2015 second-round draft pick.

The return can't be valued as equal by any stretch of the imagination (a troubling reality when dealing a player who publicly requests a trade), but Chiasson - the 38th overall pick from the 2009 Draft - demonstrated a knack for the net in Dallas, scoring 19 goals in his first 86 NHL games. The 23-year-old will be given every opportunity to help balance out the offensive load in Ottawa.

While working under the constraints of a self-imposed, internal budget (and amid denials from owner Eugene Melnyk that he's seeking a minority partner), the Senators locked up several of their own players to contract extensions over the course of the summer, including defensemen Eric Gryba and Mark Borowiecki, forwards Milan Michalek and Clarke MacArthur, and goaltenders Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner.

The dual goalie extensions - somewhat eyebrow raising as many expected a full-on passing of the torch from Anderson to Lehner sooner than later - ensures the club retains a talented duo in net at no more than $6.45 million combined through 2017. Potential starter controversy aside, that's great value by any measure.

Two important pieces of business that weren't resolved are contract extensions for both Bobby Ryan and Marc Methot. A failure to get the pair re-signed prior to training camp could cast a shade of distraction over the team until the respective situations are resolved.

Ottawa did add veteran experience in the form of David Legwand, who signed a two-year deal with the team. The 33-year-old is expected to center the second line as Kyle Turris moves up into Spezza's old spot in the lineup.

On a sad note, general manager Bryan Murray was diagnosed with cancer in early July; assistant general managers Pierre Dorion and Randy Lee are handling the GM duties in Murray's periodic absences, and everyone in the hockey world certainly wishes him well. 

Key Additions

F David Legwand
F Alex Chiasson

Key Departures

F Jason Spezza

2014-15 Outlook

The loss of a player of Spezza's status cannot be understated, and Ottawa will be in tough to replace the point-per-game production he brought to the table over the past decade. 

Head coach Paul MacLean - who may find himself on the hot seat if the team gets off to a slow start - will rely heavily on all-world defenseman Erik Karlsson and the trio of Turris, MacArthur and Ryan to keep the offense rolling, while Anderson and Lehner will need to be at the top of their games in order to help the club hang with the league's upper echelon.

With the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings all appearing to be in line to repeat as the Atlantic Division's playoff representatives, the Senators could find themselves fighting just to stay above the likes of the Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panther and Toronto Maple Leafs on the basement stairwell.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Rick Osentoski