NFL Mock Draft 2.0 (Final)

nfl draft

#1 CLE—Myles Garret, Edge, Texas A&M
#2  SF—Soloman Thomas, DL, Stanford
#3 CHI—Jamal Adams, DB, LSU
#4 JAX—Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
#5 CLE**(Trade with TEN)—Mitchell Trubisky, QB, UNC
#6 NYJ—OJ Howard, TE, Alabama
#7 LAC—Malik Hooker, DB, Ohio State
#8 CAR – Marshon Lattimore, DB, Ohio State
#9 CIN—Haasan Reddick, LB, Temple
#10 BUF—Marlon Humphrey, DB, Alabama
#11NO—Rueban Foster, LB, Alabama
#12 TEN**(Trade with Cle)—Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
#13 ARZ—Pat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
#14 PHI—Kevin King, CB, Washington
#15 IND—Derek Barnett, Edge, Tennessee
#16 BAL—Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky
#17 WAS— Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
#18 TEN—Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
#19 TAM—Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida St.
#20 DEN—Ryan Ramczyk, OL, Wisconsin
#21 DET—Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan,
#22 KC** (Trade with MIA) – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
#23 NYG—Jarrod Davis, LB, Florida
#24 OAK— Adoree Jackson, CB, USC
#25 HOU—Garrett Boles, OL, Utah
#26 SEA—Cam Robinson, OL, Alabama
#27 MIA** (Trade with KC)—David Njoku, TE, Miami
#28 DAL—Jabrill Peppers, DB/LB, Michigan
#29 GB—Tak McKinley, Edge, UCLA
#30 PIT—Charles Harris, Edge, Missouri
#31 SF**(Trade with ATL)—Deshone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
#32 NO— Chidobie Awuzie, DB, Colorado

Jays lose seventh straight

TORONTO— The Toronto Blue Jays finally got some hits Friday night, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with the Baltimore Orioles who exploded for four home runs.

Chris Davis’ fifth inning home run propelled the Baltimore Orioles over the Toronto Blue Jays 6-4.

Davis was 2-for-3 on the night with two runs including the game winning homer, while Jonathan Schoop, J.J Hardy and Seth Smith also hit home runs for the Orioles (7-2), who sit atop of the American League East with a 1.5 game lead on the New York Yankees.

Zach Britton came in to close out the ninth inning to earn his fifth save of the season, while Wade Miley (1-0) got the win after throwing six strong innings, while only giving up three runs on five hits and had eight strikeouts.

Aaron Sanchez (0-1) pitched 5.1 innings in the loss and gave up five runs on seven hits, including three home runs.

“I felt like I was throwing the ball well early on, just toward the latter part of the game there were balls that kind of crept toward the middle, curveballs that didn’t really have that much depth on them that got hit hard,” Sanchez said. “(It was) just one of those nights.”

Justin Smoak went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs, while Kendrys Morales and Troy Tulowitzki had hits and each scored for the Blue Jays (1-9), who are now 0-for-4 to start their nine game home stand.

Home plate umpire and crew chief Dale Scott was stretchered off the field after taking a 94.5 MPH Aaron Loup fastball off his mask in the top of the eighth inning that resulted in a lengthy delay. Scott will be out for the remainder of the weekend after he sustained a concussion on the play.

“He’s one of the good guys, he works hard and umpires are vulnerable, just like a catcher,” John Gibbons said. “But it caught Dale, and I’m sure he’s had a few along the way, too. We’re all hoping that he’s doing OK.”

The Orioles got off to an early lead when Davis scored from third to open the scoring in the second inning off a wild pitch from Sanchez to make it 1-0.

Smoke replied for the Jays in the bottom of the inning with a first pitch single to left field that scored Morales and tied the game 1-1. With Smoak at first and Tulowitzki at third, the usually sure-handed Manny Machado dropped a softly hit double play ball for his first error of the season, which allowed Tulowitzki to score the Jays’ second run of the inning before the team stranded two base runners with back-to-back strikeouts.

“We had that one situation early in the game (in the second), had a couple of guys on, had that rally going, and then back-to-back strikeouts. Gibbons said.

Smoak hit his first homer of the season off Miley in the bottom of fourth inning to extend the lead 3-1.

“We got some runs up on the board today, it just wasn’t enough in the end,” Smoke said.

The Orioles rallied back in the top of the fifth inning with three runs off Sanchez. Schoop hit a leadoff homer which was followed by a two-run bomb to left by Hardy to take the lead 4-3.

Davis’ leadoff home run in the sixth inning off Sanchez to deep centre field extended the lead 5-3, which ended up being the winning run. Davis came into tonight’s matchup batting .375 off the right hander and added another couple hits off of the Jays pitchers.

“This dude’s got really good numbers off me, I don’t know if he sees me different than he sees other people, I don’t know if I get predictable in counts, he just one of those guys,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez was knocked out of the game off a Schoop single in the sixth inning.

“The (Orioles) know him well and he made a few mistakes. The ball came up, that’s what happens,” John Gibbons said.  “It was one of those nights that with the curveball, he really couldn’t get a feel for that to get that going, which is big for him.”

The crowd was on their feet with the Jays threatening to score, Steve Pearce popped out to third with a man on first and second base to end the seventh after Darren O’Day gave up two hits in the inning.

Smith’s solo home run to right field off Jason Grilli in the ninth inning extended the Orioles lead 6-3, which sucked the life out of crowd at Rogers Centre.

Devon Travis, who was moved to the ninth spot in the batting order, finally broke out of his 0-for-29 slump at the plate with a two-out single in the ninth inning off Britton that scored Martin to cut the lead to 6-4 and sparked a hopeful ninth inning rally.

In a déjà vu situation the Blue Jays were knocking at the door in the bottom of the ninth with two men on base and Pearce as the winning run at the plate. On a 3-2 count, Britton struck out Pearce to end the threat and secure the win for the Orioles and extend the Jays’ losing streak to seven games in a row.

Gibbons is optimistic about the team’s struggling offense after it broke out for 10 hits in the ball game.

“One thing that’s encouraging about tonight is we got some hits,” said Gibbons, “That’s definitely a good thing.”

The third game of the series continues on Saturday where the Blue Jays will send Marco Estrada (0-1) to the mound up against Alec Asher (0-0), who is making his season debut for Baltimore.

Brewers Play Spoiler in Blue Jays’ Home Opener

Troy Tulowitzki
Troy Tulowitzki, 2, Toronto Blue Jays Shortstop.

Domingo Santana’s go-ahead homer in the fifth inning spoiled the Toronto Blue Jays’ home opener as the Milwaukee Brewers won 4-3 Tuesday night.

Santana went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs, including the game winner, while Manny Pina had three hits and threw out Kevin Pillar trying to steal second base in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Neftali Feliz closed out the ball game with a 1-2-3 inning for his second save of the season while Willy Peralta (2-0) pitched six innings giving up three runs, four walks, and struck out seven in the win for the Brewers (3-5), who had a season high 11 hits in the ball game.

Troy Tulowitzki went 2-for-3 with a sac fly and batted in all three runs and Kendrys Morales had three hits for the Blue Jays (1-6), who’ve started 1-6 for the first time in franchise history.

J.A. Happ (0-2) was tagged with the loss as he pitched 4.2 innings with four earned-runs on nine hits and eight strikeouts.

Russell Martin went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on the night, extending his early season hitting slump to 0-for-18.

Keon Broxton opened the scoring in the top of the first inning with a solo home run to left centre field. Santana’s infield single scored Travis Shaw after he tripled off the wall to grab a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

Tulowitzki replied with a hard hit double to centre field that scored Bautista to cut the lead in half through one frame.

The Brewers extended their lead back to two when Broxton took off on contact from third base and scored on a bang-bang play at home plate off a Shaw infield hit to second base.

Devon Travis walked and scored off a sacrifice fly by Tulowitzki in the third inning to make it 3-2.

Brewers threatened in the fourth with back-to-back singles to start the frame, but Happ retired the next three batters to get out of the inning without surrendering a run.

Santana’s solo home run came in the top of the fifth inning to make it 4-2, which was immediately followed by a Jesus Aguilar double to right field which knocked Happ out of the ballgame.

Morales scored from first base off Tulowitski’s second double of the game off Paralta to cut the deficit to 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Pillar channeled his inner Superman again when he robbed Aguilar of a leadoff base hit in the top of the eighth inning with a gold glove caliber diving catch.

The Toronto crowd erupted for the injured Josh Donaldson when came in to pinch hit for Ryan Goins in the ninth inning, but to no avail he struck out swinging on a full count while only down by one run.

Feliz got Travis to pop out to right field for the final out of the game for the Brewers, which gave the Blue Jays their sixth consecutive home-opening loss dating back to 2011.

Game two of the series continues Wednesday night with Marcus Stroman (1-0) and Chase Anderson (0-0) on the mound.

By: Michael DiStefano

Dorion is Wheelin’ and Dahlen’

In other years where the Ottawa Senators are not legitimate contenders for a playoff run trading a prospect for a veteran doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. But as they approach the 2017 trade deadline the Senators have a chance to win the division and compete in the eastern conference playoffs.

Pierre Dorion, Senators General Manager, had publically announced he was looking to add forward help before the trade deadline passed.

Enter Alex Burrows.

Burrows was acquired by the Senators from the Vancouver Canucks on Monday in exchange for one of the Sens’ top prospects, Jonathan Dahlen.

On the surface level of this trade the early consensus is that Vancouver won by a large margin, but the addition of Alex Burrows makes the Senators a much stronger team than one might think.

What does Burrows bring to the Senators?

The Senators are adding a player who has enjoyed a renaissance season playing alongside Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi for most of the year. His point totals don’t scream production, but his on-ice play has been exceptionally better than the numbers indicate. Burrows has spent a majority of the season being an effective player at both ends of the ice while matching up against opposing teams’ top lines. The value for burrows isn’t his offence anymore, its his defensive play, playoff experience, and his contract.

When it comes to the playoffs, experience is invaluable. Burrows has played in 70 playoff games, where he has 34 points. He was an exceptionally valuable part in Vancouver’s Stanley Cup run in 2011. Burrows is an agitating winger with great character who can provide leadership and experience to Ottawa’s lineup when the major tournament starts in April.

Burrows has been on the Canucks’ top penalty kill for over a decade and has excelled in the role. The Senators have the eighth best penalty kill, but Burrows should help improve it going forward. Burrows’ versatility is an attractive asset to teams. He can play on all four lines and be successful as a top-six forward and a fourth-liner. With a lot of injuries to the Senators top end wingers, Burrows can fill in wherever needed.

Additionally, The Senators are a budget team with an internal cap. His $4.5 million cap hit looks worse than it is because his actual salary is only $3 million. For waiving his no trade clause Burrows was given a two-year extension to stay in Ottawa worth $5 million over the next two seasons. For a small market team who has difficulties attracting players in free agency trades such as these are how the Senators improve their lineup.

There is a lot to like about this deal from both sides, but there is another story angle where the Senators gave up a solid prospect, Jonathan Dahlen, 19, in exchange for a 35-year-old player on the decline. It’s no secret that Burrows’ best days of hockey are behind him despite having a bounce back year with the Canucks. Yes, the Senators need scoring help and Burrows was once a 35 goal scorer, but he has been relegated to a more defensive role with the Canucks and only has nine goals this season. Not quite the goal scoring punch a lot of Senators fans were hoping Dorion would add before the deadline.

However, aside from his style of play and veteran experience another reason I think the Senators made the deal is due to the circumstance of the division. The Atlantic Division is wide open this year and the with the addition of Burrows the Senators add depth to an injury riddled forward group in effort to win the Atlantic crown. Dahlen, though a great prospect, currently plays in the Sweden Junior League and is not ready to help the Senators this season. While the Senators are seemingly in win-now mode, Burrows can help them achieve their goal of 2017–playoff success.

Three years down the road when Dahlen is scoring goals in bunches for the Canucks this deal may tilt considerably in Vancouver’s favour, but for a team who is ready to compete this season Burrows was a no brainer addition to the Senators lineup.

The time to win is now for Ottawa. Dahlen projects to be a good player in this league in the future, but Burrows will improve the penalty kill, add scoring depth, and give the Ottawa Senators a chance to make a playoff push and win the Atlantic Division in a year where the opportunity to do that seems better than ever.

-Mike DiStefano
@Mickey_Mic_Show

Offseason Options For Balance, Power, and Speed

In an interview with Sportsnet Fan590 Blue Jays Talk John Gibbons, Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, stated that the team needs to improve on the balance and speed of the lineup.

Does that mean the slower power right handed hitters Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion will not return to Canada’s team?

Although it will pain some Jays fans to let Jose Bautista walk, his time as a Blue Jay may be over. If speed and balance is going to be the priority of the offseason for the Blue Jays, Bautista just wont fit the bill. A right handed outfielder, with average speed that is in decline. His fielding is not at the elite level it was a few years back. That was evident in these playoffs, especially in the ALCS series where he had a couple balls bounce off his glove.

A cheap substitute for Bautista would be to keep left handed hitting Ezequiel Carrera in right field. He started every game in the playoffs, mainly in left field, but would often shift to right field when Upton would spell Saunders as a pinch hitter. Carrera was well liked by the fans and could possibly fill the role, however, there are better suitors in free agency.

Jon Jay is an option the Jays may be considering. He is a left handed batter who can play all three outfield positions. Jay will be 32 on opening day next season and reports indicate him not re-signing with the rebuilding San Diego Padres. He has a career .287 batting average over seven years in the major leagues, and hit .291 this past season. Power is not in his repertoire and would most likely be suited best as a leadoff or sixth or seventh hitter in the lineup. He is not an upgrade as far as the speed element, but he is an outstanding defender with a career .995% fielding. Jay is also a playoff veteran. 58 playoff games including two trips to the World Series, including a World Series title in 2011 with the St Louis Cardinals. At age 32 he should still have a couple years left of good baseball left in him and could help with getting on base and balancing out the lineup card for John Gibbons.

Another option to help with balance is left handed veteran designated hitter, Carlos Beltran. There were reports they had interest in trading for him at the deadline for offensive help. Beltran, 39, has been a thorn in Toronto’s side for years playing for the Yankees and most recently the Texas Rangers, who acquired him at the trade deadline this year. Easy fix? Sign him. He’s hit .281 over his long career including 421 home runs. In a hitter friendly ball park Beltran would be a welcomed addition as a Designated Hitter and bench bat.

As far as adding an element of speed to the lineup there is not much out there in Free agency and the trade route may be best to find speed.

Adam Eaton, Right Fielder of the Chicago White Sox, would be a good target. He has a long term contract until 2021, however, year 2020 and 2021 are club options to renew his contract. Eaton has a batting average of .284 and has 47 stolen bases over the last three seasons. He has average power, but is a lock to hit 15 home runs per season. Best of all, he is left handed.

The Blue Jays will certainly want to keep Encarnacion on their roster next season, but Bautista’s status as a Torontonian remains in limbo. There are some replacement options for the Blue Jays for Bautista, but only time will tell what Jays management decide.

It will surely be an interesting offseason for the Toronto Blue Jays.

 

Quarter-mark 2017 NFL Mock Draft

Keep in mind I have not made any trades. Thus, there are players who would most likely be taken earlier or later, but based on current draft positioning as of the end of week 4, I drafted mainly based on positional need.

ROUND 1

1 Cleveland DeShone Kizer QB Notre Dame
2 Arizona Myles Garrett DE Texas A&M
3 Carolina Jabrill Peppers SS Michigan
4 Chicago Deshaun Watson QB Clemson
5 Detroit Malik McDowell DT Michigan St.
6 Indy Cam Robinson OT Alabama
7 Jacksonville Dalvin Cook RB Florida
8 Miami Jalen Tabor CB Florida
9 N. Orleans Johnathon Allen DE Alabama
10 NY Jets Marlon Humphrey CB Alabama
11 San Diego Mike Williams WR Clemson
12 San Fran Juju Smith-Schuster WR USC
13 Tampa Jamal Adams SS LSU
14 Tenn. Tim Wililams OLB Alabama
15 Buff Roderick Johnson OT FSU
16 Cincy Charles Harris DE Missouri
17 KC Chiefs Raekwon McMillan ILB Ohio St.
18 NY Giants Leonard Fournette RB LSU
19 Washington Lowell Lotulelei DT Utah
20 Green Bay Desmond King CB Iowa
21 Atlanta Derek Barnett DE Tennesee
22 Baltimore Reuban Foster ILB Alambama
23 Dallas Marshon Lattimore CB Ohio St.
24 Houston Mike McGlynchey OT Notre Dame
25 Tennesee (T) Buddah Baker FS Washington
26 N. England Christian McCaffrey RB Stamford
27 Oakland Adoree Jackson CB USC
28 Pittsburgh O.J. Howard TE Alabama
29 Seattle Zach Cunningham OLB Vanderbuilt
30 Denver Dan Feeney OG Indiana
31 Cleveland (T) Malik Hooker FS Ohio St.
32 Philly (T) Carl Lawson DE Auburn

ROUND 2

33 Cleveland Isaiah Ford WR Virginia Tech
34 Arizona Brad Kaaya QB Miami
35 Carolina Adam Bisnowaty OT Pitt
36 Chicago Eddie Jackson SS Alabama
37 Detroit Sydney Jones CB Washington
38 Indy Dawuane Smoot DE Illinois
39 Jacksonville Pat Elflien OG/C Ohio St.
40 Miami Nick Chubb RB Georigia
41 N. Orleans Chad Kelly QB Ole Miss
42 NY Jets Jake Butt TE Michigan
43 San Diego Jarron Jones DT Notre Dame
44 San Fran Cordrea Tankersly CB Clemson
45 Tampa Bay Travis Rudolph WR FSU
46 Cleveland (T) Royce Freeman RB Oregon
47 Buffalo Charles Walker DT Oklahoma
48 Cinccinatti Jarrad Davis OLB Florida
49 KC Chiefs John Ross WR Washington
50 NY Giants Billy Price OG Ohio St.
51 Washington Tre’Davious White CB LSU
52 Green Bay Caleb Brantly DT Florida
53 Atlanta Sam Hubbard DE Ohio St.
54 Baltimore Jourdan Lewis CB Michigan
55 Dallas Marquis Haynes OLB Ole Miss
56 Houston Cameron Sutton DB Tennessee
57 LA Rams Ethan Pocic C LSU
58 N. England Devonte Fields OLB Louisville
59 Oakland Chad Wheeler OT USC
60 Pittsburgh Marcus Maye FS Florida
61 Seattle Samaje Perine RB Oklahoma
62 Denver Tyquan Lewis DE Ohio St.
63 Philly Dante Booker OLB Ohio St.
64 Minnesota Tyrell Crosby OT Oregon

Players who could also go in 2nd round:
Dorian Johnson, OG, Pitt
Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson
Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech
Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
Artavis Scott, WR, Clemson

Defensive Players Making their Case:
Anthony Walker Jr, ILB, NorthWestern
Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama
Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio St.
Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA
DeMarcus Walker, DE, FSU

Offensive Players Making their case:
Luke Falk, QB, Washington St.
Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson
Connor McDermott, OT, UCLA
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma St.
Even Engram, TE, Ole Miss

 

The Sens Report

Continuing the recent trend of good year-bad year, the 2015-2016 campaign for the Ottawa Senators was nothing short of a letdown. There was no late season charge like last year, there was no divine saviour in human form, and most depressing of all, there was no playoff hockey in the nation’s capital. Thus, changes were made in order to put the team back on track.

Offseason: Longtime General Manager, Bryan Murray, decided it was time to step aside and serve as an adviser in order to focus on his health. The team is now under command of Pierre Dorion, who made his mark almost immediately on the team. Gone is Dave Cameron and his staff; with Guy Boucher, Marc Crawford and their Swiss associates being the new coaches. Dorion then brought in former Senator Chris Kelly to man the 4th line and Penalty Killing unit during Free Agency. Pierre then stunned the hockey world by shipping out potential star Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 2nd Round Pick for a player in his prime; that being Ottawa native Derick Brassard (along with a 2017 7th Round Pick). While the price was steep, it is clear that management feels this team is poised for a playoff berth and ready to unleash its full potential.

Offense: The Ottawa Senators had five 20+ goal scorers, and that list doesn’t include Kyle Turris, Clarke Macarthur, or Erik Karlsson. Both Turris and Macarthur experienced injury riddled seasons, with Macarthur being limited to 4 games and Turris 57. Both players are consistent 20 goal, 40-60 point scorers; so having them back should improve an already potent line-up. Karlsson chose to be a passer last season, thus sacrificing his goals for assists as he led the league in helpers. Leading the way was the lethal Mike Hoffman, who despite battling poor deployment, potted 29 goals. Zack Smith had a career year as he netted 25 goals, while sporting a 20.7 shooting percentage. Another brilliant second half from Mark Stone was cut short due to a thunderous hit by Dustin Byfuglien. Management is once again hoping Bobby Ryan can find his consistency and surpass the 25 goal mark. The edition of Derick Brassard comes at a cost as Zibanejad has improved in every season he’s played. With roughly about the same numbers last year, the swap should not affect the team’s offense. Expect them to be a top 10 scoring team in the league.

Defense: The catalyst of this team is unquestionably Karlsson. He finished the season with 82 points in 82 games, ranking him 5th in the NHL. While many were shocked he didn’t win his 3rd Norris, there can be no doubt that this will fuel him to be even better next season. Speaking of shock, the Senators brought just that to the hockey world by bringing in Dion Phaneuf last February. He was traded from the Maple Leafs to anchor the second defense unit and mentor Cody Ceci. After being “the man” in Toronto, a full season with him taking a lesser role will benefit both the team and himself. The time is now for Cody Ceci to prove to management that he can be a long term investment. He settled for a much less deal, both financially and in term. Also with chips on their shoulders are Mark Borowiecki and sophomore, Chris Wideman. Both performed well in their respected roles and will have to prove that they can be full time NHL players.The defense often gave up the first goal and was constantly barraged with defensive zone time. Guy Boucher’s coaching style should change that drastically as he values forcing turnovers and playing a smart, transition game. With excellent puck movers, the Senators should find success from the back end.

Goaltending: Craig Anderson is the number one goalie, despite what nostalgic fans might believe after getting their hearts robbed from the Hamburglar, Andrew Hammond. The concern with “Andy” is that he is ageing and injuries have plagued his entire career. Ready to contribute will be Hammond. Many believed he had a disappointing season after going virtually perfect the year before. Right out of the gate, the Hamburglar injured himself in camp and was limited in starts to finish with a 7-11-4 record. The team’s poor effort in front of him should not reflect his play as he had an even strength save percentage of .936; ranking him fourth amongst goalies with 20+ starts. With Boucher at the helm, it will without a doubt ease the workload of the goaltenders. Matt O’Connor, the once prized college free agent, had a rather terrible first year of pro. Additional years of development will unlock his full potential. For now, the Senators seem comfortable with the situation, but it should be addressed at the minimum next year. With many goalies on the market, and the expansion draft approaching, a trade could settle the dispute.

Special Teams: Both the powerplay and the penalty kill were complete and utter failures. The PP ranked 26th and it deserved it. Cameron’s system was sloppy and predictable; thus teams could easily identify every play and disrupt the entire operation. Despite scoring the most shorthanded goals in the league, the PK unit was abysmal. Players were misplaced and made it too easy for opponents to slip behind and dig for rebounds. In comes Boucher, leaving fans with optimism as he is famous for his special teams approach. Both of the units are experiencing similar situations as they have the right players, but not the right system. For the PP, Karlsson is the best offensive D-man in the game, Mike Hoffman has a deadly accurate shot and up front is a cluster of offensively gifted forwards. Most notable is Derick Brassard; since he is a PP specialist with 8 goals and 22 points on the unit last year. For the PK, they have shorthanded machine in J.G Pageau, who led the league with 9 “shorties”. Among him is takeaway wizard Mark Stone, as he led the league in that department for consecutive years. The main point is with both of these units playing so terribly last year, there is no where to go but up.

Rookies: The club takes pride in their ability to draft and develop. While finishing mid pack for the past few seasons, the Senators have managed to establish a very good prospect “cupboard”. Leading the way is 19 year old defenseman Thomas Chabot, who looks to make the opening night roster. He is a very smart player with smooth skating capabilities, and excels on both sides of the puck. The decision to send him back to junior the previous year was rather tough as he played well; especially with Karlsson. Another outstanding prospect is fellow 2015 First Rounder Colin White. Many scouts have compared him to Patrice Bergeron; as he is another brilliant two-way forward. He will go back to College, but will likely get a good look at training camp to view his progress. 2016 First Rounder centre Logan Brown is a few years away, but when he arrives, it will certainly be a treat. With a 6’6, 220lb frame, he is a play making machine and scouts love his awareness and strength. It seems the time is now or never for 2011 First Rounder, Matt Puempel. Injuries and inconsistencies have prevented him from living up to his goal scoring potential. With the emergence of Ryan Dzingel and Nick Paul, he will have to compete for a spot on the roster. A prospect to look out for is forward Francis Perron. The reigning QMJHL most valuable player racked up points last year and is being compared to current Senator, Mike Hoffman. He is quick with a deadly shot that can terrorize teams. If he doesn’t make the team, then the baby Senators awaits him as he is too old for Junior. Dzingel, Paul, and Andreas Englund will get a good look in Ottawa as they seem to be the most mature and ready prospects.

X Factor: Where is the Curtis Lazar the team drafted back in 2013? Playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings, he was the ultimate player. He could score big numbers and excel in any position he was put in. His 2 NHL seasons, however, have been rather disappointing. Being a 40 goal, 70 point scorer in the WHL, he’s managed to score 6 goals and 15-20 points in Ottawa. With the centre and right wing positions clogged with talent, he is forced to play a bottom six role. The departure of Alex Chiasson means Lazar will most likely play with Zack Smith and J.G Pageau. Both of those players are excellent role models for the 21 year old, as they are hard hitting and play smart with and without the puck. What he needs to do is work on his mediocre skating and find some degree of consistency to eliminate his often stat line of zeroes across the board. Despite his 6 goal seasons, Lazar possesses a very good shot and likes to create havoc in front of opposing nets. If he can gel on that third line and improve his poor play, the Ottawa Senators will have another deadly weapon in their arsenal. However, Boucher will not hesitate to sit him if expectations aren’t being met. With Dzingel, Paul, and Puempel licking their chops for a chance at a regular NHL shift, the competition should provide Lazar with his best season yet and a renaissance of his junior success.

Concerns: Last season, the team reverted back to their old ways of poor puck management and sloppy defense structure. These faults have costed the jobs of two coaches and the pleasure of playoff hockey for the fans. Ottawa promises change and better results, yet the core largely remains. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Could ownership and management truly believe that this nucleus is Stanley Cup, if not playoff, calibre? Or are they crazy enough to think that other teams will struggle and their own will sneak in? With the Senators being a budget team, they have made their life off of bargain deals and entry level contracts; with very few large agreements. Not being able to spend on the players necessary prevents them from taking the next step. The primary concern with this team is defense. Last year, they were ranked 26th and Craig Anderson faced the most shots out of any goalie with 33.05 per game. If Guy Boucher can’t change the defensive woes, it will be a long season. Another concern is the goaltending of Anderson and Hammond. Anderson tends to go streaking, with injuries in between, and Hammond will never replicate his numbers in his rookie year. With not a lot of depth in net, this could be a problem for the Senators. As the Dallas Stars have shown, scoring alone will not get a trip to the Cup Final.

Expected Finish: The Atlantic Division can be a toss up; boasting few playoff locks. After Tampa Bay and Florida, two very strong teams, virtually any team can finish near the top. Expect the Ottawa Senators to finish 3rd in the Atlantic, or at the very least, a Wild Card spot. Guy Boucher and Marc Crawford should install a system that benefits the finesse of the team. Derick Brassard and Chris Kelly are huge additions that will augment the powerplay and penalty kill, respectively. A full season of Dion Phaneuf will stabilize the defense corp and add some much needed grit. Following the Ottawa Senators pattern, they are sure to have an excellent season and hope to do some damage in the playoffs. It seems the time is now for the club to finally bring back pride and glory to Canadian hockey.