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Senators' young talent will force roster decisions

Thursday, 08.23.2012 / 10:08 AM ET / Features
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Senators\' young talent will force roster decisions

If the Florida Panthers weren't the most surprising team in the NHL last season, then it was certainly the Ottawa Senators, a club that was supposed to be rebuilding and expected to languish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

Instead, the Senators ended up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and they pushed the top-seeded New York Rangers to seven games in the first round. The majority of the key figures are back, and more help from the farm system could be on the way.

Ottawa replaced top-pairing defenseman Filip Kuba with Marc Methot. After dealing top-six forward Nick Foligno to get Methot, he was replaced by Guillame Latendresse on a one-year deal. Defenseman Matt Carkner signed a three-year contract with the New York Islanders, and Mike Lundin was acquired to replace him on a more team-friendly deal. The remaining position battles in training camp will depend on the readiness of a few top prospects.

Like the Panthers, the Senators will have to prove their work last season was not that of a one-hit wonder, but contributions from new young players and improvements from the established young guys could help Ottawa challenge the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres for the top spot in the Northeast Division.

Forwards

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Jakob Silfverberg

Guillaume Latendresse - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson

Colin Greening - Jim O'Brien - Mika Zibanejad

Erik Condra - Zack Smith - Chris Neil

Peter Regin

Defenseman

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson

Sergei Gonchar - Jared Cowen

Mike Lundin - Chris Phillips

Mark Borowiecki

Goaltenders

Craig Anderson

Ben Bishop

NOTES: Murray told NHL.com that Silfverberg, Zibanejad and Mark Stone could all compete for a chance to knock Greening from a spot on the top line and back to a more natural fit on the third unit. It looks like there are two spots at most open for those three, so Stone could end up back in Binghamton to start the year.

Neil had his best offensive season in years, but the new guys could force him and Smith into smaller roles -- Smith would do well to improve his faceoff percentage if he wants to not be in danger of being scratched some nights. If those kids are ready, it does start to get crowded at the bottom of the Senators' forward group. Regin and Condra have been regulars, and Kaspars Daugavins was last season. That's 15 guys, without counting Mike Hoffman or Stephane Da Costa, who could also be in the mix with a strong camp.

If Methot slides into Kuba's spot, the Senators' defense corps is set, with Borowiecki and Patrick Wiercioch likely to battle for the final spot on the roster. A more interesting duel will be between Bishop and Robin Lehner to backup Anderson. Both could see starts in the NHL this season.

Follow Corey Masisak on Twitter: @cmasisak22

Author: Corey Masisak | NHL.com Staff Writer

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

ATLANTIC DIVISION
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
2 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
3 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
4 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
5 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
6 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
7 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
8 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Karlsson 53 11 48 7 59
B. Ryan 52 19 26 -1 45
M. Hoffman 49 23 18 6 41
M. Stone 51 14 24 -13 38
M. Zibanejad 52 11 21 -2 32
K. Turris 47 13 17 -10 30
J. Pageau 53 12 8 3 20
Z. Smith 52 10 5 5 15
C. Ceci 46 5 10 -3 15
C. Lazar 48 5 9 0 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Anderson 21 17 4 .913 2.91
A. Hammond 3 5 2 .900 3.10