Remember when the Ottawa Senators were the class of the Northeast, let alone the class of the Eastern Conference? Probably not, due to the fact that the Senators are now set for a major rebuild.
Ottawa is entering the 2011-12 NHL campaign with very low expectations in competing for the Northeast Division, let alone competing for a playoff spot. The rebuild is on in Ottawa, and it is getting done the right way.
General manager Bryan Murray identified that the team he had last year was not able to compete for a playoff spot. Instead of trying to pull the Brian Burke rebuild, Murray has stocked up young players, and has actually used his first-round draft picks to start a rebuilding process.
Murray has also developed some key pieces to the future of the Senators by going to the farm system and having rookies such as Forwards Bobby Butler, Peter Regin and Erik Condra play some big minutes in the NHL last year.
Ottawa finished 13th last year in the Eastern Conference and drafted highly-touted center Mika Zibanejad sixth overall. The Swedish native is a hard-working center, and is a perfect piece to the puzzle for Ottawa's future plans.
The Senators have a very weak forward group. Jason Spezza, easily Ottawa's most-talented player, has very little to support him and Ottawa's offense. Milan Michalek is not the player to run a second line, and captain Daniel Alfredsson looks to be at the end of his career due to nagging injuries.
With a defense led by third-year player Erik Karlsson and Chris Phillips, who had a minus-35 rating last season, and a goaltender who can only do so much in Craig Anderson, goals will be easy to come for opposing teams.
Ottawa finishing last in the Northeast could come to no surprise for Hockey fans around the league, let alone fans in Ottawa for years to come.
With that being said, it's the nature of the business to sometimes start fresh, and if the rebuild is done right, Ottawa could be division champs in a couple of years.
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