Ottawa Senators: An Offseason Strategy

Robert ReidContributor IJune 7, 2008

I was definitely disappointed by the results of this past season for the Ottawa Senators.

Fortunately, seasons always come to an end, and brighter thoughts can be had.  Going forward, here are some of the changes I believe the Senators need to make in order to improve upon last year's results. 

First off, get rid of the plague that is Ray Emery, regardless of his past heroics. This season, when he came back from wrist surgery, put in minimal effort, and expected astronomical rewards, was an indication of his lack of team compatibility.  With his distractions and lack of respect for his teammates, I believe this is a good time to get rid of Emery.

Secondly, I believe that the Senators should continue with Gerber and get a bonafide backup.  Gerber played well last year until Emery came back. I believe Gerber, with no pressure to compete for a spot, will be our bonafide No. 1 goalie. 

Brian Elliot isn't ready to be the backup, but I'm sure there are a few goalies in UFA status who would serve our purpose for this season.  The only way I would see this changing is if the Sens could trade Spezza for Luongo.

Defense is the biggest area that needs resolution.  Phillips and Volchenkov are a great shutdown duo. Then there are Meszaros and Schubert along with Lee, who has fantastic upside but is still a bit green and will need some maturing.

The Sens need to pick up a gritty backender ala Jason Smith. Even Adam Foote, who has a definite edge to his game, is someone the Senators could use on the back end.  As far as puck-moving defenceman, I believe that given the chance, Meszaros could be that player. 

As far as forward is concerned, of course there is the big three.  Heatley has shown he can play with other players and had nice chemistry with Fisher, as did Alfredsson, any time the two played together.

Maybe we should look at getting someone other than No. 15 to play with Spezza this year and give us a more balanced attack.  Antoine Vermette has the potential to be a terrific second line centre.

Maybe he could be our second-line centre and Fisher could drop back to the third line.  Scoring 23 goals and 45 points is a pretty good third line centre, especially one who brings an edge and energy like he does.

Signing Cory Stillman would be a great way of adding depth to a pretty good front end.  Bass and Foligno showed great promise in the playoffs.  As much as Chris Kelly will be missed there are other players who can play as well as he does for less money. 

There are a lot of questions concerning the Senators this offseason, not the least of which is hiring a new coach.  Bryan Murray has an extremely busy summer ahead of him.  Let's hope he can show the magic he did in Detroit and Anaheim.