With Dave Cameron out as bench boss, what does it mean for Erik Karlsson and the Ottawa Senators?
The Ottawa Senators fired head coach Dave Cameron and the rest of the coaching staff Tuesday.
After overachieving down the stretch and clinching a playoff berth last year, expectations were too high heading into the 2015-16 season, and Ottawa stumbled to 38-35-9 with a fifth-worst 2.95 goals allowed per game. Additionally, the Senators allowed a league-worst 3.32 goals per road game with a 17-21-3 record.
Injuries were an issue for Ottawa, as Kyle Turris left a huge gap up the middle, and he was likely playing hurt through his final 32 games given his two-goal, six-helper return with a minus-22 rating during the stretch.
Andrew Hammond's late-season run (20-1-2 with a .941 save percentage and 1.79 goals-against average) during the 14-15 season saved the campaign, or at the very least buoyed the Senators enough to clinch a playoff berth. He couldn't last a playoff series as the No. 1, though, and Craig Anderson is nothing more than a middle-tier starter, so the the success last season should have been seen as a mirage and not a sign of things to come.
The real issue in Ottawa is the core after Erik Karlsson. Bobby Ryan, Kyle Turris, Dion Phaneuf and Marc Methot aren't good enough hockey players to build around. Mark Stone is excellent, but he isn't a top-tier offensive contributor, either. Turris likely could be grouped with Stone, but the pivot will enter his age-27 season next year, which has him likely in the last stages of his offensive prime.
Karlsson's possession numbers are otherworldly, and every Senators regular had a significant CorsiFor percentage drop when apart from him. Add Karlsson's point-per-game season, and finding a way to win before his contract is up following the 2018-19 campaign should be priority No. 1 for the Seantors. Given the current state of the club, it is difficult envisioning him reupping with another contract.
Unfortunately, the weak supporting cast behind the Karlsson engine will make a playoff berth the likely best-case scenario for the next bench boss, too.
From a fantasy perspective there likely won't be significant ripples.
Mika Zibanejad still has work to do to prove he is a legitimate and consistent offensive contributor, but another small step forward is likely. The manner in which the organization values Hoffman is concerning, but the new coaching staff will hopefully help him be assessed properly, and a 30-30 season should be a lock.
Bobby Ryan's inconsistency is a killer in weekly head-to-head formats, and he appears to have hit a plateau as a 50-point scorer. There is still value, but he doesn't enter the priority conversation.
Turris and Stone are reliable as supporting pieces, but Turris is likely best viewed as a low-end starting pivot in most leagues. Phaneuf's similar, as his cross-category potential is intriguing, and he should improve slightly on his eight-point output through 20 games after landing in Ottawa.
The wildcard is Curtis Lazar. He'll enter Year 3, but is still playing too far down the depth chart to be an impact fantasy option. Will that change with a new coach behind the bench? Is Lazar headed for a breakout fantasy season with a run at 40 points, or is he going to just take another small jump to 30 points?
Also, it is unlikely Zach Smith repeats his 25-goal showing. And while we're on the subject, where did that come from?
In net, Craig Anderson will be 35 next season and owns limited upside as a low-end No. 2, and that is likely a best-case outcome. The save and win volume will be there, but it'll likely be accompanied with mediocre ratios.
The big question with the coaching change is how it'll impact Karlsson's value, and whether or not the Norris hopeful will continue to log huge minutes and flirt with another point-per-game return.
Karlsson played 28:58 per night this season, and losing even a minute a game could be the difference in five points over the season, potentially, at least. Regardless, though, he should be a consideration in the first round of most drafts next season and only Brent Burns is close to challenging Karlsson for top billing at the position.
This won't be a standalone move during the offseason, so expect a few more shakeups in Ottawa.
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