Does Daniel Alfredsson's Return Make the Senators Northeast Division Favorites?

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Does Daniel Alfredsson's Return Make the Senators Northeast Division Favorites?
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Daniel Alfredsson has spent each of his first 16 seasons with the Ottawa Senators. Tuesday, he announced that he will return for a 17th.

Alfredsson has spent the offseason at home in Sweden but had been in contact with the Senators throughout the summer months. The Swede said that this was the right time to make the decision.

"I could probably have made my mind up a little quicker if I felt the team needed to know for whatever reason, but I also feel this is a good time. The training the last two weeks has gone into another phase, more heavy lifting, and that's gone well. I probably could have waited for another month [to decide], but this feels right," Alfredsson said in his interview with NHL.com.

The 39-year-old winger also told the Senators he could be coming into camp stronger than last season.

"My body feels a lot further ahead of where it was last year at this point," he said. "I expect to come into camp fitter and stronger than I did last year."

Obviously, the Sens are pleased to have their captain back for another year, especially if he can compete at a high level.

"I'm very, very excited," said Senators general manager Bryan Murray. "We hoped for this all along but to get it confirmed, I think, is great for the franchise and great for the city. Certainly, I know it’s going to be great for our young players because he’s a leader and a mentor for a number of them. If they’ll follow his work ethic, we know we’ll be a competitive team."

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Erik Karlsson

The Senators have some very talented young players, including Norris Trophy winner, Erik Karlsson.

Alfredsson will captain the team that finished eighth in the Eastern Conference. The Sens took the New York Rangers to seven games before being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

With an improved roster and the return of Alfredsson, are the Senators the favorite in the Northeast Division?

The Senators haven't won the Northeast Division since the 2005-06 season, when they finished with 113 points.

The Boston Bruins have laid claim to the top spot in the division but will be without star goaltender Tim Thomas next season.

Still, the Bruins pack a talented front line with guns like Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic and David Krejci.

Couple that front line with a sturdy blue line anchored by Zdeno Chara and you've got a talented team in Boston.

 

Sens/B's Story Lines

 

Goaltending:

Who wins the Atlantic Division

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Can Tuukka Rask be the every day goaltender the Bruins want him to be?

Who will be the better goaltender in Ottawa? Ben Bishop or Craig Anderson?

 

Offense:

Does Alfredsson have what it takes to lead the Senator offense?

Can Jason Spezza stay hot (84 points in 2011-12)?

Who will be the break out guy for Boston? Seguin? Lucic? Brad Marchand? Nathan Horton?

Defense:

Can Erik Karlsson earn his big contract in 2012-13?

How will the Bruins defense handle not having one of the best goaltenders in the league behind them?

 

And, the biggest question: Is this the year the Senators get back to the top of the Northeast Division?

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