Tag:Scott Gomez
Posted on: February 22, 2012 5:49 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 6:31 pm
 

Rangers emerge as favorites in eastern conference

RangersBy: Adam Gretz

PITTSBURGH -- The Rangers were the definition of mediocrity during John Tortorella's first two full-seasons behind the bench in New York.

New York finished right around the league average in points despite having one of the highest payrolls in the NHL. They missed the playoffs on the last day of the 2009-10 season thanks to a shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and then snuck in as the No. 8 seed last year before losing in the opening round to the Washington Capitals in five games.

This season, however, the Rangers have emerged as the top team in the Eastern Conference, and even after their 2-0 loss in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night still hold a commanding nine-point lead (as of Wednesday afternoon) over the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. That is no small margin, and at this point in the season it's not one that many teams let slip away (or in the case of Boston, are able to overcome). Barring a late collapse the Rangers, even if they won't admit it, are a pretty safe bet to enter the playoffs as the top team in the East.

Even though it's a pretty solid position, it's not one that the Rangers are particularly comfortable with at this point knowing what remains in front of them.

"There's a lot of hockey left," said center Brad Richards on Tuesday night. "It's not just Boston, there's a lot of teams. The team we just played is right there, too. Philly, New Jersey, there's a lot of good teams behind us and there's a lot of work to do. I mean, we're not disappointed with where we are, but we can't look at it and think we're safe or anything like that."

Tortorella will deny that he thinks about its current standing in the East, but he has to know what a turnaround the Rangers have experienced this season, even if he denies it.

"I don't even think about first place," added Tortorella when asked if his team has a target on its back due to its current spot in the standings. "I think about every game we're trying to win, I don't even look at the standings. We're just trying to get better as a team and trying to prepare each and every day trying to win hockey games."

It's pretty clear that the expectation in New York is significantly higher than simply being the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. And quite frankly, it should be.

This is, after all, one of the NHL's marquee franchises. It's also one that hasn't won a Stanley Cup since 1994, and has won just two playoff series -- total -- since 1997. If there's going to be a Rangers team that makes a deep postseason push, this one looks like it might be the one as they've proven to be, through four-and-a-half months to be the top team in what is a very winnable conference with more mediocre teams than great ones.

With still 24 games to play in the regular season the Rangers are set to shatter their win totals from the previous two seasons and have a chance to crack the 50-win mark for the first time since that Stanley Cup winning season back in '94.

The biggest factors in the Rangers' sudden improvement aren't necessarily the addition of another big-name, big-money free agent (this past summer it was Richards, the Conn Smythe winner on John Tortorella's 2003-04 Stanley Cup winning team in Tampa Bay), but the play of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, as well as the rapid development of young defensemen like Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto, and the always steady presence of veteran blueliner Dan Giradi.

The performance of Lundqvist is the biggest reason for their success this season. He's a legitimate MVP contender at this point, and is currently tied (with Brian Elliott) for the league lead in save percentage at .940, a mark that no goaltender has ever achieved over a full season (Tim Thomas' .938 mark for the Bruins last season was the best). He's been a game-saver quite a bit this season and has put together an impressive argument to be the first goalie to win the Hart Trophy since Jose Theodore took it home during the 2001-02 season.

But for as good as Lundqvist has been, it can be easy to overlook how valuable the pairing of McDonagh and Giradi have been.

During the absence of Marc Staal during the first half of the season, and even after his return, the 22-year-old McDonagh, acquired in the now laughably lopsided trade that sent Scott Gomez to Montreal, and 27-year-old Girardi has been given the task of playing some of the heaviest minutes in the NHL this season, being used to match up against the other teams best players on a nightly basis (and starting the majority of their shifts in front of their own goal) and still shutting them down. Using the Qualify of Competition metrics at BehindTheNet, McDonagh and Girardi rank third and fourth respectively in the NHL this season in terms of facing the toughest competition at even strength this season and have been among the toughest defensemen in the league to score against.

They're a stout team defensively, and while they have a formidable group of forwards anchored by Richards, Marian Gaborik and captain Ryan Callahan, they may just be missing that one final piece up front to add that final touch of goal-scoring to push them over the top.

The Rangers have been rumored to be connected to the Rick Nash sweepstakes and if they're able to add him before the 3 p.m. Monday trade deadline, watch out.

Tortorella has finally given the Rangers faithful something to brag about.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 12, 2012 5:23 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2012 5:30 pm
 

Report: GMs asking for amnesty clause in CBA

Gomez has a cap hit of $7.3 million per season. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

One of the factors that made Scott Gomez's year-long goal-scoring drought so interesting was his gargantuan contract that carries a cap hit of $7.3 million. Usually a player making that much money scores at least one goal in a span of 365 days (healthy, no less).

That kind of albatross against the Canadiens' cap space has had fans in Montreal dreaming -- or praying? -- for an amnesty clause. Oh if they could just buy out his contract sans a cap hit.

With CBA negotiations on the horizon, though, hope is renewing for Habs fans and others around the league staring at that glaring contract on their roster.

According to Bruce Garrioch, that could be a possibility in the next CBA.

While it’s a long way from being reality because there’s a negotiation for a CBA ahead, sources say several GMs have asked the NHL to consider a one-time amnesty clause in the next agreement to buy out one contract that wouldn’t have a cap hit.

Maybe those prayers are paying off. First Gomez finally scored and now the possibility of an amnesty clause? Things might finally be looking up in Montreal.

More specifically to the Canadiens' situation, Garrioch further explains how big it could be for them.

“The amnesty clause would be a one-time buyout only,” said a league source. “It would allow the team to get rid of one contract without having to take the buyout amount on their cap.”

With $10 million in actual cash left on Gomez’ deal, the Habs would have to buy him out at two-thirds of the contract, which is about $6.67 million. That would be four payments of about $1.67 million per year.

According to capgeek.com, Gomez’ cap hit would be $3.5 million (2012-13), $4.5 million (2013-14), $1.6 million (2014-15) and $1.6 million (2015-16).

Who else would be a candidate to be amnestied? Specifically, if you could have any player from your favorite team amnestied, who would it be?

More from Eye on Hockey

Gomez finally ends his goal drought

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 10, 2012 11:49 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2012 12:34 am
 

George Parros scores first goal since 2010

By: Adam Gretz

It didn't get quite as much attention as the goal-scoring drought that Montreal's Scott Gomez was riding, going a full calendar year without scoring, but Anaheim's George Parros entered Friday's game in Detroit without a goal since December 1 ... of 2010. Because Parros isn't one of the highest paid players in the league and playing in the hockey madhouse that is Montreal, his run of 84 regular season games (89 games if you include the playoffs) without a goal kind of slipped under the radar.

Also because he's known more for using his fists (and for having what is perhaps the best mustache in the league) than he is for scoring goals.

Still, that's a long time between goals and on Friday during Anaheim's 2-1 shootout loss to the Red Wings (a game that saw the Red Wings extend their home winning streak to 19 games) Parros finally found the back of the net, using his skate to re-direct a pass from Rod Pelley past Joey MacDonald. The play had to be reviewed to confirm that it wasn't a kicking motion (and it wasn't).



The role Parros plays for the Ducks is pretty easy to see when looking at his career numbers, and since his last goal he only played about six or seven minutes per night and had been involved in over 15 fights, racking up 170 penalty minutes while recording just 26 shots on goal.

His goal on Friday was the 17th of his career.

Also at Eye On Hockey

Gomez finally ends his goal drought
Gomez: by the numbers

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 9, 2012 9:42 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 9:47 pm
 

Scott Gomez finally scores a goal

By: Adam Gretz

Finally, the Scott Gomez watch is over.

Riding the worst goal-scoring drought of his career, Gomez found the back of the net on Thursday night against the Islanders for the first time since February 5, 2011. That's more than a full calender year.

At the 9:50 mark of the third period, Gomez, on the power play, blasted a slap shot off of a rebound past Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov for what proved to be the game-winning goal in Montreal's 4-2 win (Max Pacioretty would add an empty-net goal to complete a hat trick later in the period).

It didn't long for didgomezscore.com to update.



We already highlighted the absurdity of his goal drought over the weekend, and when all was said and done he went 124 shots on goal and 1,311 shifts (including the playoffs) between goals, a pretty improbable run for a player that possesses a decent level of skill and has had the sort of career that Gomez has had.

Hopefully for Gomez and Montreal it's not another year until the next one comes.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 4, 2012 1:03 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2012 1:29 pm
 

A Big Mac helped Olli Jokinen end his slump

By: Adam Gretz

Before he scored on Friday night during the Calgary Flames 3-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks, Olli Jokinen had gone 14 consecutive games without a goal. That's a pretty lengthy drought (though, it's not the longest one we've seen in the NHL recently), and one that he was looking forward to ending.

So what did he do before the game to help snap out of his funk? He took some advice his former coach, Wayne Gretzky, gave him four years earlier and ate perhaps the worst possible thing an athlete can put into his or her body before competition -- a Big Mac. Even if he didn't really enjoy it, telling Steve MacFarlane of the Calgary Sun, “You can’t eat a Big Mac meal before every game. It wasn’t that good, but whatever it takes. You’ve got to suck it up. We got two points and can move on I did it for the team. It’s all about the team. A little upset stomach (Friday), but it’s all good.”

It's probably a safe bet that Jokinen isn't one of the NHL players that sticks to the Gary Roberts all-natural, non-processed food diet, but whatever works.

Following his goal on Friday, Jokinen talked about his pre-game meal:



Hey, maybe somebody in Montreal should go pick up a Big Mac for Scott Gomez.

Also at Eye On Hockey

The Scott Gomez goal slump: by the Numbers

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 4, 2012 9:57 am
Edited on: February 4, 2012 9:25 pm
 

The Scott Gomez goal slump: by the numbers

By: Adam Gretz

At no point in his career has Scott Gomez ever been considered to be a great goal-scorer. Even when he was at his peak, playing his best hockey, he was always more of a playmaking center and a set-up man, having reached the 20-goal mark just once in his 11-year career, scoring 33 during the 2005-06 season as a member of the New Jersey Devils.

Still, he's never gone through a goal slump like the one he's been on dating back to last season, having not found the back of the net since Feb. 5, 2011, against the New York Rangers when he beat backup goaltender Martin Biron. He enters Sunday's game against Winnipeg having gone a full calender year without a goal (some fans already have a celebration planned), which almost seems impossible for any player in the NHL, especially one that has a pretty solid amount of talent like Gomez does. And one that is the 18th highest paid player in the NHL this season in terms of salary ($7.5 million) ... and carries the 11th largest salary cap hit ($7.3 million). But here we are, at the point where high expectations, an angry fan base, a struggling player and even a little bit of bad luck all meet at the same place.

That place is called Scott Gomez.

What has to make it even more frustrating for Canadiens fans is that along with the lack of production and huge salary is the fact the team also gave up defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the trade that brought Gomez to Montreal in the June, 2009 trade. McDonagh, of course, has since gone on to become one of the NHL's top shutdown defensive defenseman at the age of 22 and is playing a huge role for the first-place Rangers.

Canadiens fans have, naturally, grown frustrated, and even started to write parody songs, including this one titled, "Scott Gomez Can't Put Anything In."



Just how long has it been, including the playoffs, since Gomez last scored a goal? Some numbers.

58: The number of games Gomez has appeared in for the Canadiens, including 22 this season.

1,277: The number of shifts Gomez has skated since his last goal.

122: The number of shots on goal Gomez has recorded during his slump. This really makes it amazing. You would have to think that in 122 shots an NHL player, any NHL player, pick one at random, would score at least one goal, even by accident. Look at it another way: there are 93 players in the NHL this season with at least 120 shots on goal. Those 93 players have scored an average of 15 goals. Only 17 of them have scored fewer than 10, and 12 of them are defensemen. If he had maintained his career average shooting percentage of 7.8 percent during that stretch he would have scored eight goals. A player that shot at the league average mark of nine percent would have scored 10 goals.

22: The number of assists Gomez has been credited with during his goal drought, which would put him on a pace for 31 over the course of an 82-game season. It's also the exact number he recorded last season in 80 games.

Again, there is no doubt that Gomez is no longer the player he was seven or eight years ago, and there have been some injuries during this run, but there also has to be some bad luck, too, to keep him from scoring even a single goal over this rough stretch.

He's going to score again. He almost has to.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 11, 2012 3:51 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 11:42 am
 

SI players poll: Phaneuf, Ovechkin most overrated

By Brian Stubits

It's always fun when players are asked who is the most overrated player in their sport. It often shows a divide on how players are perceived within the game vs. outside from the media and fans.

With that in mind, here are the results of Sports Illustrated's poll of 161 players asking them who the most overrated player in the league is.

Taking the cake? Vote-in All-Star defenseman Dion Phaneuf of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Although if Phaneuf gets wind of anybody who said it, they can expect one of his completely not overrated checks.

Second in the lineup is Alex Ovechkin from the Capitals. Considering the season-plus he has had, that's easy to see.

There are a couple of things that stick out to me. Players obviously are very aware of how much players are being paid and their corresponding production. Why else would Scott Gomez make No. 3 on this list? I think he fell off the rating radar more than a year ago for the fans/media side. He has become an afterthought for most people, that's how bad he has been. Same goes for Vincent Lecavalier, just to a much lesser extent than Gomez.

The other observation I made is that the list has a high number of Canadian-based players. Eight of the 15 on the list play for one of Canada's seven teams. The Calgary Flames, for example, have three players on the list. That leads me to wondering how Jarome Iginla could crack this list, but I digress.

A name I thought I'd see on here that's absent? Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

Who's your pick for the most overrated?

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 29, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2011 4:27 pm
 

Northeast Division Preview: Champ B's still tops

By Brian Stubits

For the first time since the 1993-94 season began, the reigning champion resides in the Northeast Division after the Bruins ended their Cup drought with a thrilling run through the postseason. The even better news for Boston (but not so awesome for the rest of the division) is that the Bruins are back almost completely intact.

No team has repeated as Stanley Cup champions since the Red Wings in 1997 and 98. Only two other teams have made it back to the Finals a year after winning in that time, the Stars in 1999 then 2000 and once again the Red Wings (2008, 09). There's a reason for it, the fabled championship hangover.

But in hockey, I think it plays a bigger part than any other sport. The offseason is as short as it gets, the playoffs as long and grueling as any of the major sports. The Bruins lifted the Cup in the middle of June and reported back to camp in early September. All the while they were enjoying a whirlwind of a summer that included plenty of partying and celebrating a title. The Blackhawks admittedly struggled with it last season (although the roster being ripped apart didn't help matters). If only getting rid of it were as easy as taking a couple Tylenol and drinking Vitamin Water.

If they do look sluggish and lethargic to start the season then the Buffalo Sabres will be ready to pounce on the opportunity. They are hockey hungry in Buffalo these days with hope their Sabres can become power players in the East. As for the other three in the division, the East's Canadian coalition? Well they will all be hoping to resurrect their glory days.

You can't exactly count out the Canadiens and Maple Leafs from the division crown, but this likely is a two-horse race in the Northeast.

Now we'll just have to wait and see how the Bruins respondin their quest for another Cup.

Northeast Division (predicted order of finish)

Boston Bruins: Why mess with a good thing? That's an easy philosphy to live by when you are coming off of claiming the Stanley Cup. Really, the only new additions they have to work into the fold are Benoit Pouliot as a bottom-six forward and Joe Corvo on the blue line. With the solid support all around them of a close-knit group, they should be able to seamlessly slide in and fill the voids left by Tomas Kaberle, Mark Recchi and Michael Ryder, the only pieces to the championship puzzle missing.

One thing I'm not sure many people realize, but this team is very young in addition to being super talented. There are still five players just among the forwards who will be restricted free agents when their contracts run out. The defense is a bit more grizzled, however, and that's where a good chunk of the leadership comes from, of course including captain Zdeno Chara.

There might be a slight sense of urgency for the B's to repeat as champs as they will have a lot of work to do to keep the team together as 10 of their regulars don't have contracts beyond next season. But GM Peter Chiarelli seems to be preparing for that well, saving the B's cap space to maneuver.

Strengths: What's not to like? They are very balanced as 10 players had more than 40 points a season ago, although two of them have departed (Kaberle and Ryder). Defensively they have plenty of veteran presence and have been a very good unit under Claude Julien. Plus, you know, they have that fella named Chara.

Oh, and how can we make it this far without discussing the team's best player, Tim Thomas? He was simply superb last season and through the playoffs, posting the highest single-season save percentage in league history. It's not as if his backup is chopped liver, either, as Tuukka Rask will be expected to shoulder more of the load for the 38-year-old Thomas this year.

Weaknesses: Despite all of their success when five-on-five, Boston's special teams weren't up to snuff. Without much change in personnel, they are going to have to find a way from within to improve the 20th-ranked power play and 18th-best penalty kill units. The power play was a growing concern in the playoffs, which included an 0-for-21 streak in the opening round win over the Canadiens. They tried all sorts of remedies to fix it, including parking Chara in front of the net, but they found their groove late in the playoffs when Chara and his booming shot returned to the point. Their hope is that success will roll over.

After that, we're just getting picky here. There just aren't too many holes from a team that ranked in the top five both offensively and defensively last season and was the NHL's top plus/minus team. They will have the talk of a championship hangover looming over them for much of the season and they will have the proverbial target on their backs as the champs. Those are hurdles that will be new.

Buffalo Sabres: I'm not sure what fans in Buffalo are more excited about right now: the Bills' 3-0 start or the first full season under Terry Pegula? The Sabres' biggest (and richest) fan ushers in a new era that the fans are still trying to get used to, in a good way: Buffalo is a big spender now. Pegula will make sure of that as he is willing to put his money where his mouth is. And his mouth has expressed some awfully high expectations ... multiple championships.

On that note, the Sabres were active in the offseason, most notably signing Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino to augment the core group that Buffalo has built. But possibly the biggest acquisition they made was the less-heralded of them all, and that was bringing in Robyn Regehr. The stout defenseman should prove to be a great addition as he brings a lot of toughness and all-around defense. Not to mention he will serve as a good influence for assumed partner Tyler Myers, who is in line for a nice bounceback season with more talent with him on defense.

It almost feels like an acquisition, but the return of Derek Roy will be a big boost, too. The front-line center missed the second half of last season due to a quad injury.

Welcome to Pegulaville. Buffalo still can hardly believe it.

Strengths: There is obviously a strong leader, for one. That's a very nice asset to have an owner so willing to win. But beyond him, there's a reason why Buffalo has moved into the conversation to crack the home-ice equation in the East, the new faces likely will make a very good group even better. In particular, the addition of Ehrhoff to the league's ninth-ranked power-play unit will make the special-teams unit a real asset for the Sabres.

Like their division rivals in Boston, as talented as they are all over the ice, their best player probably sits in the blue paint all game long. Ryan Miller didn't have the greatest of seasons last year for Buffalo, but that tends to happen when you come off a Vezina-winning season ... there's only one direction to go. He's still one of the absolute best in the game.

Oh, and the slug logo is gone, wiped away for good. That's positive for everybody.

Weaknesses: The cap situation is a bit troubling. With Pegula's desire to spend, the Sabres actually exceeded the salary cap over the summer, so they will have to be extra diligent with how they manage the roster. Unfortunately, it doesn't leave them much room to try and make any improvements midseason if need be.

Overall, it's not a roster with many holes in it whatsoever. It will just come down to how talented the team proves to be as there are multiple players capable of 50-plus point seasons.

Montreal Canadiens: Last season, without Max Pacioretty or Andrei Markov, the Canadiens captured the six seed in the East and took the eventual champions to the brink. I'm sure this team, almost al of it remains in town, is still stewing over blowing a 2-game lead to its bitter rival in Boston.

I definitely like the signing of Erik Cole in July, he is a solid (and physical) forward who could prove to be one of the bigger acquisitions of the summer for any team. He adds to a good, but not great group of forwards. They are capable, but need to be better than 23rd-best in the league like a season ago.

Where the success of this team will likely hinge is on the blue line. They have a couple of excellent young talents in P.K. Subban and Markov and some solid players behind them like Josh Gorges and Hal Gill.

A few steps toward a return to form for Scott Gomez (just seven goals last season) wouldn't hurt eiher.

Strenghts: Special teams. Under Jacques Martin, the Habs have been good in both departments of special teams, ranking seventh in both phases a season ago. If Markov remains healthy, the power play remains lethal as Subban and him both are excellent with the man up.

It's pretty Wild the goaltending this division features. Like both teams above them here, the Habs have an oustanding man living in the crease. It took fans a while in Montreal, but they finally warmed up to Carey Price, who finally lived up to his expectations last season. Playing a 72-game work load, Price posted a 2.35 GAA and .923 save percentage. The trick will be doing it again, but the safe bet is that he turned a corner and an encore shouldn't be a problem.

Weaknesses: Let's be honest, having to rely on Gomez to anchor a top-six line after a 37-point season doesn't have overwhelming talent. It showed in their scoring totals from last season when they averaged 2.60 goals per game. Cole will help as he not only brings a power game (among the league leaders in hits for forwards) but he can score. They would love to see him at least match his 26 goals from a season ago, that would have been good for second on the team.

A major concern all season will rest on the blue line and the depth there. Adding Chris Campoli after camp began was a nice addition to help with the concern, but they still can't really afford for injuries to set in, particularly for Markov. They just invested in him with a rich contract this offseason, so they are counting on him returning at full strength from the ACL tear and remaining that way.

Toronto Maple Leafs: How much longer will the fans in Toronto put up with a team that can't make the playoffs? The postseason drought stretches back to the lockout as the Leafs have been on the outside each season since. The only other team in the same boat is Florida, and let's just say the fans in Toronto take their hockey a touch more seriously than those in the Sunshine State. There's hope that this could be the season where they break through and return to playoff hockey, but that's a tall order for this group still.

Over the summer, GM Brian Burke really coveted center Brad Richards, but his staff was unable to convince the top free agent to head to Toronto. So as a backup plan he signed Tim Connolly from Buffalo to anchor the team's top line. If healthy, a very big if, Connolly can prove to be a good addition, the Leafs had to get deeper at center. Also, I really liked the quiet addition of John-Michael Liles to the defense.

But not much else will matter if the goaltending situation isn't solved. That has been the achilles heel for years in Toronto, but they think -- or hope -- the answer lies in James Reimer in his first full season in the NHL.

Strengths: As you'd expect for a team built by Burke, they have become a physical bunch in Toronto. The team captain, Dion Phaneuf, is one of the toughest hitters in the league. But there is obviously a danger of that being a weakness if the team is getting sent to the sin bin (or being Shanabanned with the new emphasis on safety) too often.

The second line is probably good enough to be Toronto's No. 1 group. The combination of Clarke MacArthur, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin placed second, third and fourth in the team scoring, respectively. Each had at least 21 goals.

Weaknesses: The problem is, the skill on the team doesn't go much deeper. Only six players on the team last year reached double digits in scoring. The fact is the Leafs have two lines that can hold up with most in the league, but the third and fourth lines are where they feel the drop.

The center position remains a concern. Sure, Connolly was brought in to help that and same with Matthew Lombardi, but you can't be sure what you are getting from either guy from a health standpoint. As mentioned, Connolly has a history of injury issues. He has only played more than 70 games once (2009-10) since the 2002-03 season. With Lombardi, he's coming off a concussion that cost him all but two games last season. If either or both goes down, then Toronto is right back to being razor thin down the middle.

Ottawa Senators: This is odd territory for the folks in Ottawa. Never in the franchise's history have they had to actually rebuild. Since originally building the team in the early 90s, the team had a long, successful run that included a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006-07. A couple of the members from the old guard are still around -- Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza, but the majority of the team is in place to win in the future, not necessarily now.

Expect to see a lot of the kids getting burn this season. It appears as though the team's top draft pick this summer, Sweedish center Mika Zibanejad, is going to make the team out of camp. Another coveted prospect, Jared Cowen, is also making a bid for the roster and join David Rundblad among the defensive corps. Nikita Filatov, who hadn't lived up to his perceived potential in Columbus, will also be given a shot to show what he can do. If he fits in and focuses on his game, his addition could prove to be a steal for Ottawa.

While new coach Paul MacLean and GM Bryan Murray are saying all the rights things about this team being competitive this season, it will serve as a good opportunity to get a glimpse of the future.

Strenghts: They didn't score much at all or play defense particularly well, but they were alright on special teams, particularly on the penalty kill, which ranked ninth in the league. Sergei Gonchar can help keep that ball rolling. That will qualify as a positive here.

We'll also throw goaltender Craig Anderson into the category. He wasn't spectacular last season split between Colorado and Ottawa, but he's shown before what he is capable of when he starred for the Avalanche two seasons ago. And his stint with the Sens was encouraging as he was 11-5-1 with his new team.

It speaks well for what is in the system that the team's AHL affiliate in Binghamton won the Calder Cup.

Weaknesses: This says a lot: No player that participated in more than 30 games for the Senators had a plus-rating last season. Chris Phillips was the lowest of them all at minus-35.

This team struggled mightily to score last season and that is unlikely to get easier this time around. Right now there just isn't a heck of a lot of talent to talk about. Spezza was the only player to top the 20-goal mark last year and he barely did so with 21.

The youth is a weakness for now as it will be error prone and show it is green, but the hope is that it turns into a strength down the line.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com