Senators in good form for 2010-2011
The Sens should bend the Leafs over again this season, now that they've resigned Regin, who is checking Kaberle in this photo.
Sens have signed Campoli to a one-year, $1.4 million contract... Looks like he'll occupy that sixth spot, as I speculated below
It was expected the Senators wouldn't be making any blockbuster signings following their pick up of Sergei Gonchar, and so far, that expectation has been true. The senators did, however, make many small, and some key, resignings, which will impact the club positively in the coming years.
The Senators recently signed QMJHL 2009-2010 MVP forward Mike Hoffman, 20, and Swiss national forward (who scored two goals, and put up five points in five games in the 2010 Olympics) Roman Wick, 24, to entry level contracts. Hoffman's contract is three years long, and Wick's contract is one.
The Sens also resigned offensive defenceman Derek Smith, 25, to a one-year contract. In three professional seasons with the B-Sens, Smith has tallied 88 points in 201 games. His last season was his best ever, as he put up 14 goals and 49 points in 74 games.
All of these signing are directed a the future of the franchise, as it is highly unlikely any of these players would be impact players on the Sens roster this season. However, the Sens resigned two crucial in the last two weeks. The first was forward Nick Foligno, 22, who was resigned to a two-year contract worth $1.2 million a year. Foligno is a gritty forward, who provides a great level of energy. He occasionally chips in offensively, but at this stage in his career, does not put up top-six points. He has the potential to eventually work his way into a top-six role, but whether he will or not remains to be seen.
Forward Peter Regin, 24, was also resigned to a two-year deal with the Sens, Regin contributed 13 goals and 29 points as a rookie last season, and three goals (led the team) and an assist in six playoff games. He also led the team during the season in plus/minus (with +10). Regin became a fan-favourite by scoring the game-tying goal in with ten minutes remaining in game five against the Penguins, which is a game Ottawa eventually went on to win. Regin has great offensive potential, and it is hoped he will develop into a top-six forward. He will see top-six minutes for parts of the season, if not the majority of it.
At the moment, Ottawa's forward core should look something like this:
Alfredsson - Spezza - Regin
Kovalev - Fisher - Michalek
Foligno - Kelly - Shannon
Ruutu - Smith - Neil scratch - Winchester?
Set up like this, the top-six looks to be in good shape. Both lines should be able to score regularly, and be defensively responsible. Alfie, Fisher, and Michalek are defensive champions, and Regin will develop to be even more defensively responsible this upcoming year hopefully. The third line has some scoring punch, and are very fast. They would be a deadly line on the counter-attack, but also defensively sound. The fourth line adds a ton of sandpaper to this team. Smith, 22, is the defensive centre of the future for the Ottawa franchise, and hopefully will learn a lot from Fisher. He's also a big boy, sitting at 6'2, 210 pound already. Neil and Ruutu are both great agitators, who can occasionally chip in offensively.
Gonchar - Karlsson
Phillips - Kuba
Carkner - Lee/Cowen
The top-four looks great going into the season. Phillips is Ottawa's top shutdown defenseman now that the A-Train has left town (single tear....). Gonchar brings some explosive offense into Ottawa, which means they may start to play a more wide-open game. Gonchar isn't amazing defensively, but he is solid at least. Karlsson was developing as a great two-way defenseman last season, and I hope he continues to develop both sides of his game. Kuba is solid offensively, and defensively as well. Ottawa could have really used a solid shutdown defenseman, and who knows, maybe Sutton will come back for a decent price tag (think $2 million, rather than last season's $3 million+).
I imagine Lee, 23 will start as the sixth d-man, and the Sens won't resign Campoli. If the Senators do resign Campoli (and decide they like having constant heart-attacks when he touches the puck), he will be the sixth defenseman most likely, which would give Lee and Cowen more time to develop. Cowen, 19, may be developed through the AHL route next season with the B-sens, considering he is still so young. He might impress at camp this year, and earn that sixth d-spot though.
I am really not sure who will have the starting reins when the season kicks off. It's difficult to imagine management not trying to run with Leclaire due to his contract and potential, but Elliott did prove he can be a solid goaltender during the length of a season. Leclaire had a terrible first year with the Sens, but his play-off performance was quite inspiring. The Sens have brought in a new goalie coach, Rick Wamsley, who was the man behind Columbus' goaltenders from 2001 to 2006, so he has worked closely with Leclaire, and trained him the season leading into Leclaire's great 2007-2008 season (24-17, 9 SOs, 2.25 GAA, .919 S%). One has to hope he can regain some of that form, and if not, Elliott will take over well. It is also possible the two may tandem this season. Brodeur is not yet resigned, but considering the amazing three games he played for the Sens last season, will probably get resigned. He didn't have a great AHL season (.899 s%, 3.06, 13-12-2), but the previous few seasons were solid.
The goaltending is not as solid as I would like it to be, though Elliott's numbers were quite promising (29-18-4, .909 S%, 2.57 GAA), it's likely Leclaire will get the nod.
Overall, the team looks to be a playoff team, but probably not a contender. It is possible Murray will make some deadline moves if the team is doing well, but hat obviously remains to be seen.