Amazingly, the Ottawa Senators were one goal away from making The Stanley Cup Finals last season. It was a simple formula: have the best defenseman in the world on your team, a hot goaltender and nice forward depth (only one forward had more than 11 points in their 19 playoff games). This year, they bring back the entire core from last season while adding a couple veterans and at least one, potentially two elite young talents. There is clear room for improvement given that the Senators actually had a negative goal differential last season. It’s fair to say that Ottawa overachieved last season but it’s also fair to say that their run wasn’t a complete fluke. For fantasy, their team is very much like real life. They have one elite player, solid forwards and a goaltender that can carry you for stretches or bury you. Let’s take a look at what Ottawa is working with:
I’m been driving the Mike Hoffman bandwagon for quite some time. Last season was great from a fantasy perspective and there’s upside for more. Hoffman scored 26 goals and added 35 assists in 74 games. While the 26 goals was actually lower than the previous two seasons, I’m optimistic he reaches 30 goals for the first time this season. Hoffman finally received the power play role he’s deserved netting 13 goals and added 13 assists with the man advantage. The problem was that he scored 13 even strength goals after having 26 and 20 the previous two seasons. I expect that to get back towards 20. Add in that he had a whopping 51 PIM after 36 in the first 186 of his career and now there’s some upside for a 6 category player. I had him at 38th overall in my Way Too Early Top 50 and while I may end up moving him down a couple spots in case the PIM were a fluke, he’ll definitely remain in my top 50.
Kyle Turris and Mark Stone should complete the first line and are a tier behind Hoffman. Stone took a marginal step back across the board last season totaling 22+32 in 71 games. The concern for me is that the shots dropped below two per game and the special teams points dropped from 19 to 14. Add in below average penalty minutes and he belongs on the fringe of the top 100 instead of pushing the top 75 like in the past. Stone has 65-70 upside so he clearly belongs in the middle third of drafts but don’t reach.
I marginally prefer Turris over Stone. Turris scored 27 goals last season and 28 assists in 78 games. While I’m not sure there’s much more upside from there, Turris added 47 PIM and close to 2.5 shots per game. He’s never been a great power play player but it’s good enough everywhere that he’s a nice fit for your roster in the middle rounds. If you could get 30+30 with 50 PIM and 200 SOG, you’re looking at a top 100 player that you can probably get a bit later.
At this point, I’m looking at 8 different players that I would stream if they were hot but I wouldn’t draft them in RCL’s. Yes, Bobby Ryan was outstanding in the playoffs, but he had only 13 goals and 12 assists in 62 regular season games. The minutes are declining, the shots are plummeting and the penalty minutes are poor. Sure, he will have some hot streaks that will cause people to own him for a couple weeks but don’t draft him based on name value.
If one of these eight streamers are going to become a hold, I think it’s Derick Brassard. His first year in Ottawa was a disappointment scoring 14 goals and 25 assists. That said, his shot rate increased while his shooting percentage fell off meaning positive regression should be around the corner. Brassard also had only seven STP after being in the 20’s in New York. I fully expect that number to get back into the high teens. It wouldn’t shock me at all if Brassard gets back to the 55-60 range where he was for his last two seasons with the Blueshirts. I wouldn’t select him in 12’ers but I will pay close attention to him and I love taking the chance on him in deeper leagues.
Zack Smith had a decent season with 16 goals and 16 assists in 74 games. Add in quality PIM (61 last season, 80 in 2015-16) and you have a nice streamer when you need PIM and some scoring. The problem is that he doesn’t get much power play time so unless that changes, his upside is capped. Alexandre Burrows‘ stat-line is almost identical to Smith although he carries less upside at his age. Stream him for the penalty minutes but that’s it. Ryan Dzingel is basically Smith or Burrows for fantasy purposes with less penalty minutes. My guess is that Dzingel plays with Brassard and Ryan in an offensive role but it’s not enough to move Dzingel up from bottom end streamer.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau is a great example of a player who is much better in real life than fantasy. Pageau had a great playoff run but unless he gets power play time, he’s a bottom end streamer. He’s great in deep leagues that have the extra categories (more on that later).
Clarke MacArthur finally recovered from dreadful injury luck to make a big impact in the Senators’ playoff run. The problem is that I don’t see the role available for MacArthur to have that impact on a consistent basis. I suspect he’ll have some quality stretches for streaming purposes but he can’t be drafted due to that role and injury concerns. The last potential streamer is Colin White but I’ll focus on him in the prospects section in case he doesn’t start the season with the big club.
I could gush over Erik Karlsson for this entire post but I’ve done enough over the last two seasons. Let’s just say that he’s still arguably the best player in the world and clearly the best defenseman on the planet. Yes, he’s even with Brent Burns when it comes to fantasy hockey but regardless he’s an elite talent. The penalty minutes and shots have slightly declined but with 17+54 and 29 STP, Karlsson is still a clear second rounder. I could even see taking him around the wheel, especially if you pair him up with Burns and corner the elite defensemen market. He should be a plus player in all categories and is an incredibly safe bet to have the most assists from a defenseman in the league.
The rest of the Ottawa defense is uninspiring unless Thomas Chabot makes the lineup. Like White, I’ll save him for the prospects section. Dion Phaneuf is bottom end but he does have value in 12 man leagues. Phaneuf had 9+21 but his value comes from the 100 PIM. If defenseman are as dreadful as last season, Phaneuf should be owned in 12’ers because points were hard to come by and the penalty minutes are terrific. Only draft him in the later rounds if you’re short on PIM. Honestly, Ottawa doesn’t have anyone else that I care about from a fantasy perspective barring the deepest of leagues.
Craig Anderson won the Masterton Trophy last season after his roller coaster of a year. His wife Nicholle was diagnosed with cancer so Anderson stepped away from the team for an extended period. Once she was in the clear, Craig returned and had a terrific season. In 40 games, he compiled 25 wins, a 2.28 GAA and .926 save percentage. The problem with Anderson is that he’s been undependable. In the last four seasons, he’s topped 53 games once. Granted, last season was due to extreme circumstances, but Anderson has a long injury history. He has #1 goalie upside but should be drafted as a #2 because of the risk involved.
Mike Condon remains the backup for Anderson. He was decent last season in his 40 starts with a 2.50 GAA and .914 sv%. I would stream him in decent matchups but we haven’t seen him be anything other than passable.
HITS / BLOCKS LEAGUES
Phaneuf becomes a must-own given his elite blocks and strong hits. Karlsson becomes a surefire first rounder that is closer to the top 5 than the second round. Mark Borowiecki may not make the roster but if he does, the PIM, hits and blocks are unreal. The problem is he may not get 5 points in a season. Pageau and Smith become closer to holds in this format. If you include faceoffs and short handed points, Pageau can be owned. Smith becomes a better streamer.
Given that the majority of Ottawa’s elite fantasy assets are currently in their prime, I don’t see many changes in value for their players in dynasty leagues. Anderson loses some value because he’s 36 years old but that’s it.
The Senators have three elite prospects and then a massive dropoff. Their #1 is clearly Thomas Chabot. The former first round pick should break the Senators roster this season and has all of the making of a fantasy superstar in the future. Chabot was the best defenseman in junior hockey last season for the St. Johns Sea Dogs. In 34 games, Chabot totaled 10+35 with 43 PIM and a +29 rating. He has incredible skating, excellent hockey smarts and outstanding passing. Chabot has an excellent frame and has the potential to become a big hitter as well. I could make a compelling argument that Chabot should be the first defenseman off the board in a prospect draft. The thought of him playing with Karlsson makes me tumescent.
Colin White is the number 2 prospect by a signficant margin. White crushed at Boston College for two season before declaring pro last spring. I have no doubt that he’s ready for the NHL but with the depth Ottawa has, it wouldn’t shock me if he started the season in Belleville, their new AHL affiliate. White has the potential to be an excellent player in all facets of the game. In fantasy, I would call him high ceiling, high floor. I don’t see any chance that he becomes an outright bust but the upside is through the roof.
Logan Brown is an incredible physical specimen. The lottery pick from 2016 is a massive 6 foot 6 weighing over 220 pounds. Brown uses his frame incredibly well and it’s key to his success at the next level. I expect him to spend one more season in Windsor before becoming a pro. Brown has medium risk around him because there’s no guarantee the offense completely develops but he also has a high ceiling.
After these three, the prospect pool falls off. Fredrik Claesson was solid with Karlsson but I don’t see much upside. My favorite of the group is Filip Chlapik. The Czech international was a monster in Charlottetown last season totaling 34+57 with a whopping 98 PIM in 57 games. Chlapik will start this year in Belleville and he has my full attention. I talked about Ikonen as a lottery ticket yesterday but Chalpik might be the best lottery ticket in the league. He’s the definition of high risk, high reward. There’s a chance he becomes a 30/30/100 player and we all know how valuable those guys are.
That’s all for now guys. I’ll be looking at the Boston Bruins next in the coming day or two. Please leave any questions or comments below. Thanks for reading, take care!