Have Sens Found Their Winning Ways?

by | Jan 22, 2024

Have Sens Found Their Winning Ways?

by | Jan 22, 2024

With the 2023-24 NHL season reaching about the halfway mark, the Ottawa Senators may have something to start celebrating about with their fortunes turning around in their favor.  With an organization that seems to define the word dismal, the Sens have actually won a few games lately and are starting to resemble a hockey team with a purpose in life.  While you can’t get too excited with a win over the San Jose Sharks (well, take the wins whenever and however you can get them), other wins against their rivals in Montreal combined with a solid win over the Philadelphia Flyers this past Sunday seem to indicate that the Senators may finally be on track to right their ship this season.  Playing a hard-fought game in the recent overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets by a score of 2-1 is a further indication that the Ottawa Senator just may be improving,  and the rest of the season depends on finding their winning ways more often.

Of course, the specter of being in the Eastern Conference cellar still looms over the Sens and with a 17-24-1 overall record, they have a long way to go just to build up respectability, let alone move into playoff contention.  As the old saying goes, “one game at a time” but it’s also a time to take on the remainder of the season with a sense of urgency.  If anything, interim head coach Jacques Martin may have found his niche again in Ottawa with a new crop of Senators and if nothing else, Martin may be able to provide a calming influence in the storm that is the 2023-24 NHL season.  The recipe is simple: win some games, play tough at all times, move up the standings and make a go at the postseason.

Is the trade deadline hanging over the Senators’ organization?

That, folks, is probably the million-dollar question right now and there’s of course widespread speculation about whether or not the Ottawa Senators will be trade wheeling-and-dealing between now and early March.  Let’s face it, the Sens could use some influx of talent to help them dig their way out of the Eastern Conference basement right now.  Yes, Shane Pinto is now back but after this season, he will no doubt be looking to improve on his league-minimum $775,000  one-year salary with a quick contract extension.  One of the immediate trade speculations no doubt lies with forward Vladimir Tarasenko.  Tarasenko was brought in more or less as a mercenary and his one year, $ 5 million dollar salary shows that he’s more than likely a trade candidate at this point.  However, Tarasenko has ten goals and 28 total points this season at the halfway point and has been a valuable offensive weapon for the Senators so far.  Furthermore, Tarasenko has not waived his No Trade/No Movement clause as of yet so any trade possibilities will have to meet his (and his agent’s) approval.

Are the Senators ready for a Goalie Swap?

In the past couple of season, no NHL team has used more goaltenders than the Ottawa Senators.  In fact, you basically need a scoresheet just to keep track of netminder names who’ve guarded the pipes for the Sens.  The obvious current trade bait being bounced around by hockey pundits is whether or not Joonas Korpisalo will be staying north of the border past this season.  With a .889 save percentage and a win record that looks more like a horror movie, Korpisalo may well over his head in a tough Canadian market like Ottawa (or any other Canadian city for that matter.)  The Senators will need to find a way to unload his $4 million dollar contract that goes through the 2027-28 season and find a friendlier and probably warmer clime for Korpisalo to ply his goaltending trade with.  All you have to do is look no further than Joey Daccord or Cam Talbot and see that leaving Ottawa for newer pastures have rejuvenated their careers.

One interesting possibility is the potential for the Ottawa Senators to seek the services of current Blue Jackets’ netminder Elvis Merzlikins.  Merzlikins looks to be on the chopping block in Columbus and maybe moving north of the border in a big hockey market may just be the career boost he’s looking for.  The Blue Jackets will have to work out any potential deals by getting rid of Merzlikin’s $4 million dollar salary cap but Merzlikins could possibly find his star power in Ottawa as well and rebuild his career.  Interestingly enough, both Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg started in Columbus.  With this season slipping by quickly, the Ottawa Senators need to figure out quickly if they are trade buyers, sellers or both.  Otherwise, another season in the dark hockey cellar looks more and more likely.

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