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On Wednesday I took a look at what the best-case scenario for the 2019-20 season would mean for the Senators, and today I want to talk about what the worst-case scenario would mean. As with the previous blog, I’ll try to keep things within the realm of possibility, because obviously there are even worse things that could happen, but it’s pointless getting into non-realistic hypotheticals.
Here is what the 2019-20 season could look like if everything goes off (or stays off?) the rails:
The loss of Mark Stone ends up being even bigger than anticipated, as Colin White and Brady Tkachuk both take steps back in their sophomore seasons. White drops below 40 points and loses his confidence offensively, whereas Tkachuk is unable to get his teammates to get enough pucks on net for him to be effective in front of the goalie. Tkachuk therefore regresses to 40 points and fails to assert himself as an impact player. Drake Batherson shows flashes of brilliance but without much of a supporting cast, he can’t create enough offense. He hovers around the 30-40 point mark while not being nearly as good as people had hoped.
Logan Brown gets stuck in the bottom-six at the beginning of the season and his inconsistency keeps him there. Then whenever he begins to get on a bit of a roll, he gets injured and can never be a stable force in the lineup. Anthony Duclair sees his SH% fall from 20% all the way down to 10% and he scores around 25 points in another disappointing season where he fails to live up to his potential. After two more respectable seasons from Bobby Ryan following a dreadful 2016-17 campaign, his production falls off once again as he battles injuries and shows signs of slowing down.
Chris Tierney drops back from 48 points to where he was expected to sit around--35-40 points, showing that he is still more suited for the bottom-six. Speaking of the bottom-six, it is a huge problem in terms of giving up too many goals against and a lack of upside, as none of their prospects such as Jonathan Davidsson, Rudolfs Balcers, Filip Chlapik, Nick Paul, and Alex Formenton are able to make much of an impact in that spot of the lineup. Some veterans such as Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Artem Anisimov are able to have limited success, but the bottom-six ends up being a black hole once again, and the most important players are nowhere to be found.
On defense, Thomas Chabot does not have the same wizardry to the offensive side to his game and he continues to be on the ice for too many goals against. Ron Hainsey and Nikita Zaitsev get tons of ice-time from DJ Smith, but they are unable to help the defense very much. Because of love towards Hainsey and Zaitsev, Christian Wolanin spends too much time in the pressbox, and Erik Brannstrom only ends up playing a handful of games in Ottawa as they fail to see what he can do at the NHL level. Christian Jaros also continues to give up far too many chances in his own zone as he appears to be more of a 7th defenseman.
For the goaltenders, Craig Anderson is able to stay healthy but is unsurprisingly wildly ineffective at the age of 38. Anders Nilsson reverts back to his career norms and posts a SV% in the low .900s, while Marcus Hogberg gets shelled in the several games that he gets called up for. Despite no expectations, Smith doesn’t appear to be the answer for head coach by the end of the season as there are not many changes in terms of on-ice results with goals and shot metrics, plus there is hardly any progression of the team’s young players---which is the most important task right now.
At the end of the season, Ottawa finishes 4th last in the league, as they win plenty of one-goal games and get some good luck from players that don’t matter for their future (Boedker, Zaitsev, Anisimov, Ennis, Ryan, etc.). They have a horrible season but aren’t quite bad enough to finish last, and after the draft lottery they fall all the way to picking 7th. They still grab a solid player because of how good the 2020 draft is, but not someone as good as 1st overall. The Sharks end up winning the Cup, meaning Ottawa’s other first rounder is 31st overall.
Even after plenty of rumours about Eugene Melnyk selling the team, he ends up staying in Ottawa and fans continue to feel apathetic towards the organization.
Boy, I don’t want to think about this scenario very much...