NHL

Ottawa Senators 2015-16 NHL Preview

2015 Record: 50-24-8
Projected Finish: 2nd in Atlantic6th in Eastern Conference
Head Coach: Dave Cameron
Key Additions: Zack Stortini (Philadelphia)
Key Losses: Erik Condra (Tampa Bay), Robin Lehner (Buffalo), Eric Gryba (Edmonton), David Legwand (Buffalo)
Playoff Prediction: Lose in First Round to Ottawa, 4-2

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Ottawa Senators

Atlantic, Eastern Conference

2015 Record: 50-24-8
Projected Finish: 2nd in Atlantic6th in Eastern Conference
Head Coach: Dave Cameron
Key Additions: Zack Stortini (Philadelphia)
Key Losses: Erik Condra (Tampa Bay), Robin Lehner (Buffalo), Eric Gryba (Edmonton), David Legwand (Buffalo)
Playoff Prediction: Lose in First Round to Ottawa, 4-2

Team MVP

Erik Karlsson – D

It’s going to take another team effort for the Sens to get back to the postseason, but a lot of that starts with Erik Karlsson and how well he can lead the defensive effort in Ottawa. The Senators are not going to be a team that survives a shootout, more often than not, and they’re going to stay in things with a strong defensive effort. That’s where Karlsson plays a key role, as he’s the leader on that side of the ice and is someone who can help take pressure off of whoever Dave Cameron throws in net.

Karlsson is the biggest name on the Sens roster, and with guys like Erik Condra and Eric Gryba gone, the onus is going to fall on Karlsson to carry the load not only defensively but also as the leader of the team. He’s the captain, and if Karlsson stays hot in a game, chances are so too will the rest of the Senators lineup.

Sep 29, 2015; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Ottawa Senators forwards Milan Michalek (9) and Kyle Turris (7) have a discussion with Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) during the third period against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Winnipeg Jets win 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case Scenario

The good news is that the Eastern Conference is wide open, and the Senators are in serious contention to take a top seed in the postseason. That’s the reality entering the season, as the Sens have the type of roster that can make a run at the postseason and go on a tear once there.

How well the defense plays behind Karlsson and in front of whoever they have in net on a given night is going to be key all season long, as Ottawa seems like a team that will be uneven with its consistency. Still, unless the wheels totally fall off and a team like Boston or Detroit pass them over, the Senators just need to keep their heads above water and they’re going to make the playoffs.

Worst Case Scenario

As wide open as the East is, the Senators are such a wild card as far as their consistency goes that it’s hard to get too excited about their prospects of making a run at a Stanley Cup. Unless the goaltending remains top notch, the wheels could fall off and the Senators very well could be on the outside of the postseason bubble looking in.

Boston and Detroit aren’t pushovers, and if they get hot during the season they could leapfrog the Sens and push Ottawa out of the playoff picture. Then there’s the likes of Pittsburgh, Florida and Columbus to watch out for in the conference overall, as Ottawa needs to not only fight within their division for positioning but need to watch their backs elsewhere in the conference that is loaded with teams looking to capitalize on the wide open field.