“He understands we have a young team and mistakes are going to be made, but if we can be a good skating team, you can make up for those mistakes,” Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said.
“A lot of it is puck movement, too. On the back end, we have a lot of skill that can move up quick, which allows your team to be quick, too. If you can move the puck quick and transition quick and if we backcheck hard that allows us to transition quicker, we’ll be a fast team.”
On defense, the Senators need rebound seasons out of two of the team’s elder statesmen, Chris Phillips and Sergei Gonchar, both of whom are coming off subpar seasons.
Gonchar was signed to be an offensive leader, but struggled with just 20 points in 67 games while posting a minus-15.
Fortunately for the team, young Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson had a breakout season.
While an improvement from the back end is necessary, Ottawa’s biggest worry might just be who’s going to put the puck in the other team’s net considering only the New Jersey Devils (174 goals) managed to score fewer than Ottawa (192) last season.
The Senators will be hoping a full season out of Alfredsson may help remedy the situation.
He was limited to just 31 points in 54 games by a back injury that required offseason surgery, but he’ll be 39 in December, so there will be question marks over his ability to remain healthy and contribute as much as he has in the past.
Jason Spezza managed to string together a strong finish to the season with 23 points over his final 15 games and he’ll again be counted on to lead the offense.
One newcomer who made an impact in the preseason is Swedish rookie Mika Zibanejad, the team’s first pick in June’s draft (sixth overall), and he will be given a chance to start the season in the NHL.
The 18-year-old center, who can also play on the wing, has been one of the Senators‘ best players in the exhibition season.
“He’s a powerful skater and strong on the puck,” Alfredsson said of the newcomer.