Skip to content

Senators GM: Higher expectations were 'debilitating for us' this season

Icon Sportswire / Getty

Ottawa Senators general manager Steve Staios knows his team fell short of the fan base's hopes for improvement this season, and he isn't rushing to promise anyone a playoff berth next spring, either.

"I think the expectations were something that were a bit debilitating for us," he said in an interview with TSN's Gino Reda. "We have a young team, a very good, talented group of players. I think that we'll see how the offseason goes and what we can add, but there has to be growth from within as well."

Ottawa was once again an active player this past offseason, adding Joonas Korpisalo in an attempt to stabilize the crease, and looping in Vladimir Tarasenko to mitigate the loss of Alex DeBrincat. Couple that with another year of experience for the squad's young core, and the Senators seemed primed to push for a playoff spot.

Instead, Ottawa has plummeted to last place in the Atlantic Division and is projected to finish the campaign with around 75 points - 11 fewer than its total last season.

Part of the issue has been goaltending and defense. The Senators have surrendered 3.57 goals against per game this season, good for the fifth-highest clip in the league. Korpisalo, meanwhile, ranks dead last among all netminders in goals saved above expected (minus-18.33) and second-last in goals saved above average (minus-18.84) at all strengths, per Evolving-Hockey.

Ottawa was reportedly open for business at the trade deadline - barring a handful of untouchables - but only ended up dealing Tarasenko. The Senators appeared to be interested in more than just selling, though, as they also expressed interest in acquiring coveted veteran defenseman Chris Tanev.

For Staios, it's the conversations he had leading up to March 8 that'll set the tone for the summer.

"It's important, the work that we did through the deadline, to establish what we were looking for, what the market would bear," he said. "We have an idea and a game plan and a process going into the offseason, but I think a lot of those discussions over the deadline were important."

Staois will also need to find a new head coach for the Senators, as the 71-year-old Jacques Martin isn't interested in staying behind the bench on a full-time basis. Martin replaced the fired D.J. Smith in December.

"The process has started. We have a list of people," the executive said. "We want to be patient with our approach because things do change into the offseason."

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox