Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Ottawa Senators
For the last 15 years (12 with The Hockey News, last year’s via pinch-hitter Cam Robinson) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 16th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Incoming – Paul Carey, Mikkel Boedker
Impact of changes – Since Erik Karlsson has not yet been traded (Note: this is being written Sunday, August 26 and I’m taking a mini-vacation on the 27th so if a trade does go down in those few days, this entire Outlook will just need to be re-written), the only change of note is the swap of Hoffman for Boedker. The latter is just a poor man’s Hoffman in that he can score about half the goals that Hoffman did, but generate two-thirds of the points. So the offense takes a hit here. However, in the event that Brady Tkachuk makes the team then the production gap between Boedker and Hoffman gets filled. Understand that there are strong rumors about Tkachuk going to the OHL in the coming season and playing for the London Knights. And this is due to the theory that the Senators of 2018-19 could hurt his development by sticking him into a situation that is not ideal (I believe the word often used is “toxic”). But let’s dig into Tkachuk further in the section below.
Ready for full-time – Colin White was on the team late last season and struggled at times, especially at the faceoff circle where he won just 20 of 60 attempts. In the last few games he saw a lot of ice time as a winger with Matt Duchene and either Mike Hoffman or Ryan Dzingel. That’s really good company and it is clear that the team expects him to one day be a top sixer. It doesn’t seem as though that will happen in the year ahead. The development curve will be a long one.
The aforementioned Tkachuk could be a better player than his brother Matthew (Calgary), both in terms of toughness and in offensive skill. As already noted, there is fear of bringing him into a losing and possibly toxic atmosphere at such a young age. But I have a couple of problems with this. First of all, the team over-achieved in 2016-17 and under-achieved in 2017-18. The actual team is somewhere in the middle, between a 98-point playoff squad and a 67-point train wreck. That puts them at around 82 points. Is that any different than the environment in Calgary? The controversy surrounding Hoffman is in the rearview mirror, and if Karlsson is traded later in the season then Ottawa won’t be the worst team. Karlsson moving before the season starts is another matter – perhaps the Senators become a 70-point team in that case. But the so-called “toxic environment” will be gone. No more press hounding the team about Karlsson. What I am saying is that I think Tkachuk will make this roster, and that the OHL rumors were possibly floated to take the pressure off of him and any expectations. Successfully too, I might add. I have him penciled in for a 30-point, 80-PIM year until camp shows me different.
Christian Wolanin has modest offensive potential in the long term, but is a bit of a project for now. I have him penciled into the bottom six and possibly reaching the 20-point mark. (Read our scouting report on Wolanin and any of the prospects listed in these outlooks by clicking on their name)
Julius Bergman was part of the return for Hoffman, so I think the Sens will give him a look just in the hopes that he can make them look better for taking the panicky-looking deal. Making the squad as a regular and posting 15 or 20 points won’t sate Ottawa fans, but it sure would help. He’s a 23-year-old former high draft pick (second rounder in 2014) who has to clear waivers in order to be sent down, and he actually is close to being NHL ready. Very little in the way of fantasy upside though.
Drake Batherson is one of the most improved prospects of the past year. He is progressing rapidly and has scoring-line offensive upside. Batherson is also a winner and an over-achiever and as such should not be ruled out from making this team. Given Ottawa’s depth at center, you can actually pencil him in for a spot, barring a terrible training camp. It says right here that he will out-produce White in the NHL season ahead.
Andrew Sturtz was a star for Penn State and was sought after by several NHL teams. When he turned pro after his junior season he chose to sign with Ottawa, likely due to the roster openings he saw. His debut with Belleville was a strong one in that he posted three points and eight PIM in six games. His upside is similar to Pittsburgh’s Zach Aston-Reese in terms of points and PIM. I have him in Ottawa for the second half.
Logan Brown actually made the Sens to start last season but was sent down. The 6-6 pivot has great hands for his size and has nothing left to prove at the junior level – other than stay healthy. And therein lies the problem. Brown has missed significant time due to injury each of the last two seasons and when a player does that then playing in the NHL afterwards is probably not a good idea. That’s lots of development time lost. Since he is eligible to play in the AHL, then that is probably the best idea for him. Still, he should get a cup of coffee or two in 2018-19.
Ottawa Senators prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook (with Karlsson) – The Sens have several young forwards with decent upside who are close to being NHL-ready, which is great because it limits the wait time for fantasy owners. On defense, after Thomas Chabot and Jacob Bernard-Docker, there is very little to speak of in fantasy. Between the pipes, Filip Gustavsson is one of the best prospect goaltenders in hockey but the bottom drops out after that. Overall, the prospect pipeline is average. The NHL roster boasts a generational player in Karlsson and Mark Stone is a legitimate Top 20 scorer if he can ever stay healthy (he can’t). After Stone, the team is made up of a patchwork of 45-point players and Matt Duchene, who could probably clock in at 60 or 65 with the right linemates. Craig Anderson has a very longstanding pattern of good-year/bad-year (take a look – it’s amazing to see). If that pattern continues, he makes for a sneaky draft pick. If this is the year he decides to break the pattern, then this team will be in even more trouble.
Fantasy Grade: C- (last year was B)
Fantasy Outlook (without Karlsson) – The Sens have several young forwards with decent upside who are close to being NHL-ready, which is great because it limits the wait time for fantasy owners. On defense, after Thomas Chabot and Jacob Bernard-Docker, there is very little to speak of in fantasy. Chabot isn’t ready to take over the No.1 defenseman job, but he will still see an uptick in PP time and production will increase. So that means Cody Ceci gets his shot – his one chance to top the 30-point mark, and he has millions of dollars at stake because he was overpaid $4.3 million for this year by an arbitrator. Poor numbers again this year will mean a pay cut or worse.
Between the pipes, Filip Gustavsson is one of the best prospect goaltenders in hockey but the bottom drops out after that. Overall, the prospect pipeline is average. The NHL roster boasts a generational player in Karlsson and Mark Stone is a legitimate Top 20 scorer if he can ever stay healthy (he can’t). After Stone, the team is made up of a patchwork of 45-point players and Matt Duchene, who could probably clock in at 60 or 65 with the right linemates. Craig Anderson has a very longstanding pattern of good-year/bad-year (take a look – it’s amazing to see). If that pattern continues, he makes for a sneaky good pick. If this is the year he decides to break the pattern, then this team will be in even more trouble.
Fantasy Grade: D (last year was B)
Other Offseason Fantasy Outlooks:
- Ramblings: Hamilton and the Hurricanes, Gibson’s Greatness, Ghosting Ghost Too Early?
- 21 Fantasy Hockey Rambles
- Ramblings: Fast Starting Oilers, Kakko’s First Goal, Lehner/Raanta Season Debuts (Oct 13)
- Looking Ahead: October 11 through October 23
- Ramblings: The 10 Biggest Worries (Of My Projections)…and The 10 Guide Projections I’m Not Budging (Oct 14)
- The Journey: Next in Line - The Pacific Division
- Geek of the Week: Can Kevin Labanc Be A Breakout Star?
- Saturday's NHL Picks: October 12, 2019