The 2008 season is one that Senators fans are eager to forget.
A midseason coaching change and an 11th-place finish did not sit well with fans in the nation’s capital, and change was demanded.
In the end, supporters of this team may have got more change than expected, but it appears as though the change was for the best.
This year’s edition of the Ottawa Senators enters the campaign with as much depth up front as the franchise has ever seen.
It's not often that a team loses a two-time 50-goal scorer and can say it has an improved offence, but that’s exactly what happened in Ottawa this offseason. They lost Dany Heatley and his 39 goals, but in return they got a proven goal scorer in Milan Michalek and the NHL equivalent to a fixer-upper in Jonathan Cheechoo.
Michalek scored 23 times last season but seems to have 30-goal potential. At just 24 years of age, he’s a guy that has his best years ahead of him.
Cheechoo, on the other hand, has failed to rekindle the magic of the 56-goal season he had back in 2005-2006. The Moose Factory native scored only 12 times last year but will almost certainly surpass those totals and could potentially pot 20 if he can stay healthy this season.
Add to that the 20 to 30 goals free agent signing Alex Kovalev is sure to provide, and you start to see why fans in Ottawa are excited about the Senators' newfound depth up front.
The three new guys join a forward ranks that already includes Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, and Mike Fisher and have given the Senators a much more balanced scoring attack.
If Ottawa can get contributions from supporting cast players like Peter Regin, Nick Foligno, and Ryan Shannon, they could have one of the more dangerous and, more importantly, balanced forward groups in the Eastern Conference.
In fact, the Senators have so much depth up front that veteran players like Chris Kelly and Shean Donovan could find themselves on the outside looking in if they struggle early on.
Rumours were already swirling that Bryan Murray was trying to move a body out up front, but early season injuries to Shannon and Jesse Winchester have quieted that talk for the time being.
Murray is to be commended for making the best of a very messy situation this summer and giving this team the scoring depth it has lacked for quite some time.