Yet despite these devastating injuries to their most important players, they somehow managed to stay in the top 10 for the next 2 months. In week 8, I wrote: "Any day now they should start losing hockey games. They continue to defy expectations and keep slugging out points. Paul MacLean is looking like the runaway winner for Coach of the Year." They showed incredible depth on their roster and incredible resilience on the ice, when at any point it would have been completely understandable if they checked out and took a run at a high draft pick. It should have been a lost season, instead it has been an inspiring season that fans should be thankful for.
They overcame adversity to make the playoffs, then defeated the higher seeded Montreal Canadiens in convincing fashion. The Walrus completely outmatched Michel Therien, who became unravelled and proved that he had no business being named coach of the year. If anyone other than Paul MacLean wins the Jack Adams, it will be an outrage. They exceeded my expectations, won a playoff series, only to be dispatched by the top seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in a series where they were completely out-matched and really had no chance of winning. Next year they will continue to be a tough team to beat, they will easily make the playoffs, and have a really good chance to make some noise.
Preseason Rank: 16
Midseason Rank: 8
Final Rank: 12
GM Grade: B+
1st Star: Kyle Turris
2nd Star: Craig Anderson
3rd Star: Daniel Alfredsson
UFAs: Daniel Alfredsson, G. Latendresse, Peter Regin, Sergei Gonchar, Mike Lundin, Andre Benoit
RFAs: Peter Wiercioch, Erik Condra
Best Contract: Kyle Turris 5 more years at $3.5M
Worst Contract: None
What I said about them in preseason: They aren't any worse than last season, in fact they're just about the same. Alfredsson is back for the last year of his back-diving contract, as it was clear at the end of last season that his heart is still in the NHL. I'm not sure quantity is better than quality in the Ottawa net.
This should be a relatively easy summer for GM Brian Murray. He has to try re-signing Alfredsson and Gonchar, but aside from that has most of the roster under contract comfortably below the salary cap. The Sens probably have more cap space than they will use. Expect this team to contend for a playoff spot next season, where next summer gets considerably more difficult for the General Manager.