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Jeff's 2022-23 NHL Eastern Conference Spotlight Team
Ottawa Senators (2021-22: 33-42-7, 73 points)
The Senators are on the cusp of making the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Las Vegas agrees, increasing their point total 12.5 points from last season's total. Ottawa acquired a plethora of players that should help the offense and blue-line quite a bit. Alex DeBrincat accumulated 78 points (41 goals, 37 assists) in 81 games for the Chicago Blackhawks last season. He has increased his point total in three straight seasons and is on the verge of stardom. Aside from bolstering their forwards with a former second-round pick of the Blackhawks, the Senators rolled out the red carpet for veteran Claude Giroux. The seven-time All-Star brings in a veteran presence and proven leader in the locker room. His career numbers of 923 points (294 goals, 629 helpers) in 1018 games is hard to ignore. Tim Stutzle (58 points) looks to be on the verge of breaking out after accumulating 29 points two seasons ago. Look for another jump in production with all of that talent around him. Mathieu Joseph had 12 points in just 11 games after being traded to Ottawa last year. He was caught in a numbers game in Tampa Bay and wasn't given many opportunities to play. That will change in Ottawa and Joseph could be a nice sleeper in fantasy. A healthy Shane Pinto will add an additional scoring punch after playing just five games last season.
The defense has the potential to be much improved. I see more depth on their blue-line than any of the previous three years under head coach D.J. Smith. The 4th-year head coach has a history of improving in year four. The biggest acquisition on defense was Goalie Cam Talbot. With the Minnesota Wild, Talbot was 32-12-4 with a 2.76 GAA, and .911 save percentage in 48 starts. Backup Anton Forseberg had similar numbers for the Sens last season. He went 22-17-4 with a 2.82 GAA and .918 save percentage in 46 starts. Having a veteran goalie in Talbot should take pressure off Forsberg, who is more than capable of improving with another year of experience. I think Cam Talbot will start at least 60 games this season. Thomas Chabot is entering his sixth full season in Ottawa and takes up a lot of space on the blue-line. Jacob Larsson is a solid addition on defense after spending his first five seasons in Anaheim. The Ottawa Senators should be a fun group to watch this season. I am expecting the Senators to be in the playoff hunt all season long. They also have a very rich farm system with numerous players ready to contribute if they get the call from the AHL.
Ottawa Senators Best Bet: Over 85.5 points
Ottawa Senators Preferred: Make Playoffs +220