The Ottawa Senators have huge issues they have got to deal with, and failing to do so could spell a disastrous season once again for the once mighty club.
As I see it now the Senators could finish anywhere from 4th to 12th, which is a ridiculous gap.
The club has one major issue that they have to deal with, and that is with disgruntled winger Dany Heatley. This one issue may make or break the Sens this upcoming season. If you have been living in a cave and do not know what I am referring to I will bring you up to date on the situation.
Dany signed a contract a little while ago and was adamant that he have a no trade clause inserted. The Senators also added a four million dollar bonus to be paid out on July 1st, 2009. Over the course of the season Dany saw his ice time diminish under the reigns of newly appointed coach Cory Clouston. Clouston felt that Dany was not working as hard as he should be which is very correct, so he moved Dany down to the second line. This did not sit well with the four-time fourty goal scorer. So this past offseason he made it clear that he wanted to leave the club for the above reasons. So he made Bryan Murray work day and night to find a club that would take him. Easier said then done. Edmonton was the only taker. The trade seemed to be in the books, but Dany decided it wasn't good enough, and to this day he remains a Sen, that's just a little richer.
This does not sit well with the fans for obvious reasons, and would not likely sit well with the players. So the question remains will Dany be a Senator come season time, and if he does will he play to the best of his ability?
Secondly, where does Alexei Kovalev stand? From recent interviews it appears that he is quite happy to be in Ottawa, and that he doesn't expect he will be the top guy. Which is a good thing. For the Canadiens he was the top guy, which seemed to have gotten to him as he did not perform well under pressure. In Ottawa he will have less pressure placed on him. So hopefully he will be a good addition to the lineup.
Another big problem is who will get moved if Heatley stays? Murray will have to do something as they are a quarter of a million dollars over the cap, and they have yet to re-sign goaltender Brian Elliott. If I were sitting in the front office I would be moving defensemen Jason Smith. Aside from producing an astounding one point in his sixty three games played, he was not the Smith of old. The Senators have a plethora of defensemen on their squad and in the system so moving Smith to accommodate them is the only real option.
Christoph Schubert is another option, with more and more young guns moving in, there is less and less room, and he will likely sit in the stands if not moved.
Finally, the goaltending situation is questionable. Pascal Leclaire proved he has what it takes to be an elite goalie in this league, but will the injury hamper his performance with the Sens? This is problem that is almost impossible to predict.
As it stands this would be my projected roster, assuming things stay the course:
Dany Heatley - Jason Spezza - Alexei Kovalev
Ryan Shannon - Mike Fisher - Daniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno - Chris Kelly - Chris Neil
Jarkko Ruutu - Jesse Winchester - Shean Donovan
Extras: Cody Bass, Peter Regin, Ilya Zubov
Chris Phillips - Filip Kuba
Anton Volchenkov - Chris Campoli
Alexandre Picard - Brian Lee
Extras: Brendan Bell (re-sign), Matt Carkner
Extra: Jeff Glass
On paper this team looks good, but that is simply on paper. If this team can fight through the adversity they have the potential to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, but if everything gets to them they could also be one of the worst.
This season should be very interesting for Ottawa Senators fans.