If you're reading this, there's a very good chance that you know that the Senators got knocked out of the first round of the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4 games to 2. Getting knocked out in the first round is never fun, but I guess it's better to make the playoffs than to have a horrible season and trade away your first round pick. (Hi, Leafs fans.)
Where does that leave us? Last off-season, the biggest two questions were:
1. Will the Heatley trade severely handicap us, or will it be in the best interests of the team? 2. Will Leclaire be the answer to all the issues we've had in goal?
Hindsight is 20/20, so the first question can be answered pretty easily. Short term, it hurt our goal production, but gave us a speedy forward who can chip in offensively, some dead weight in Cheechoo, and a second-round pick which led to Andy Sutton, an impending free agent. It's the long term that we're not sure of, but losing Heatley and gaining Michalek is definitely a defensive improvement. Less one-dimensional players is usually a positive.
As for question number two, clearly the stability in goal is as much of a question mark as ever. Leclaire showed flashes of the goalie we hoped we were getting in the playoffs, but his regular season was maddeningly inconsistent, at best, and disastrous, at worse. Elliott was a stabilizing force on most nights, but his effort down the stretch and in the playoffs was disappointing and a cause for concern. Lehner is coming in the system, but he's certainly not NHL-ready. All signs point to us rolling a Leclaire-Elliott tandem again this year, but the questions remain the same as they were last year: will Leclaire be good enough? If he isn't, will Elliott pick up the slack?
New blog should be up tomorrow about the defense and how I see the situation with Volchenkov, Sutton and free agency playing out.