3. The Future
The Senators are currently fighting a downhill battle. Within the North Division, they have to face five potential Playoff contenders, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Edmonton Oilers, the Montreal Canadiens, the Calgary Flames, and the Winnipeg Jets. With the Ottawa Senators struggling to stay afloat in general, there’s little hope that Ottawa has a chance to make the postseason.
However, their 2022 season looks much brighter than this season. If the NHL decides to return to their original division alignment, the Senators will be back in the Atlantic Division. This means they will be competing against teams such as the Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, and the current last-place Buffalo Sabres. With some of these teams being in worse situations than Ottawa, there’s a chance the Sens could compete for a divisional title.
While this sounds great on paper, the Senators still have to face the Bruins, their current division rivals in the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs, and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Considering these teams will take the top four slots of the Atlantic, that would put the Senators in fifth place, at best. This also doesn’t take into consideration the fact that the Florida Panthers have been playing great hockey, making them a postseason threat as well.
If the Senators want to have a shot at the Atlantic Division next season, they’ll need to take their opportunities now and develop their rising stars. Tim Stützle and Josh Norris will be another year older with a full season of NHL experience under their belts. Their consensus centerpiece, Brady Tkachuk, will also have another season of experience under his belt.
More importantly, Tkachuk will have a full season of chemistry built between Stützle and Norris. These three players will be the Senators’ core for many seasons to come, and it’s imperative they adjust to one another’s playing styles.2022 will be an interesting year for Ottawa with a lot of expectations to reach. However, their current focus is to finish the 2021 season strong and give their rising talent as many minutes on the ice as possible.