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Team Reset

Senators aim for turnaround under new coach Smith

Add veterans Anisimov, Zaitsev, Hainsey to complement young core

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Ottawa Senators:

The Ottawa Senators are hoping that new coach D.J. Smith will be the man to successfully lead their rebuild, guiding a mix of veteran players acquired this offseason with their young core.

The 42-year-old former NHL defenseman became the 14th coach in Senators history when he was hired May 23. He worked the past four seasons as an assistant with the Toronto Maple Leafs after coaching Oshawa of the Ontario Hockey League to the Memorial Cup title in 2015.

"This is a great opportunity and I'm grateful for it," said Smith, who replaced Marc Crawford, who was 7-10-1 after taking over for Guy Boucher on March 1. "There is a lot of potential here and we're going to work to achieve it.

"Sure, there'll be some growing pains but it's a learning process. And competitiveness will never be an issue. We're going to be exciting. We're going to play fast. I think you're going to see a team that works hard every night."

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]


The Senators acquired forward Artem Anisimov in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on July 16, acquired defenseman Nikita Zaitsev and forward Connor Brown in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1, and signed free agent defenseman Ron Hainsey and forward Tyler Ennis each to a one-year contract on July 1.

"We don't want our team to be just a bunch of younger players," Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion said after the trade for Anisimov. "We feel that having a veteran presence will be beneficial for these younger players to grow and develop."

Here's a look at the Senators today:

 

Key arrivals

Artem Anisimov, F: Acquired in a trade for forward Zack Smith, the 31-year-old had 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) for the Blackhawks last season. He has 347 points (163 goals, 184 assists) in 703 NHL games over 11 seasons with the Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers. … Nikita Zaitsev, D: The 27-year-old has 63 points (12 goals, 51 assists) in 223 regular-season NHL games and two assists in 18 Stanley Cup Playoff games, all with Toronto. … Connor Brown, F: The 25-year-old had 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) in 82 games for the Maple Leafs last season. He scored 20 goals as a rookie in 2016-17 and has 99 points (43 goals, 56 assists) in 253 games with Toronto and five points (one goal, four assists) in 20 playoff games. … Ron Hainsey, D:  The 38-year-old had 23 points (five goals, 18 assists) in 81 games and led Toronto with a plus-30 rating. He has 299 points (58 goals, 241 assists) in 1,068 NHL games over 16 seasons with the Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, Winnipeg Jets, Atlanta Thrashers, Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens. ... Tyler Ennis, F: The 29-year-old had 18 points (12 goals, six assists) in 51 games last season with the Maple Leafs and has 276 points (117 points, 159 assists) in 543 games over 10 seasons with the Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild.

Video: Senators acquire Anisimov from Blackhawks for Smith

 

Key departures

Cody Ceci, D: The 25-year-old had 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists) in 74 games last season. In 440 regular-season games over six seasons with the Senators, he has 118 points (32 goals, 86 assists) and three assists in 25 playoff games. … Ben Harpur, D: The 24-year-old, who was traded to the Maple Leafs with Ceci, had five points (one goal, four assists) in 51 games last season. … Zack Smith, F: Had 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists) in 70 games last season. The 31-year-old has 193 points (94 goals, 99 assists) in 612 NHL games over 11 seasons with the Senators, and nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 45 playoff games. ... Marc Crawford, coach: Hired as an assistant for the Blackhawks on June 4 after coaching the final 18 games of the season after Boucher was fired.

 

On the cusp

Drake Batherson, F: The 21-year-old made his NHL debut last season and had nine points (three goals, six assists) in 20 games. He has speed and could find himself starting the season as the right wing on the second line.

Video: NYR@OTT: Batherson deflects puck past Lundqvist

 

What they still need

A goal-scorer. The Senators were 17th in the NHL with 242 goals last season, but forwards Mark Stone (28 goals), Matt Duchene (27) and Ryan Dzingel (22), who were traded before the NHL Trade Deadline, combined for 77 of them. Relying on 19-year-old forward Brady Tkachuk, who has 22 goals in 71 NHL games, to carry that load is asking a lot. Adding Anisimov helps, but they need someone else to step up on offense.

Fantasy focus

The Senators didn't make any fantasy-relevant moves this offseason but have intriguing young skaters who could break out. Tkachuk headlines the list and should lead them in scoring with 55-60 points under Smith. The forward also brings valuable hits coverage (2.5 per game last season). -- Rob Reese

 

Projected lines

Brady Tkachuk -- Colin White -- Bobby Ryan

Anthony Duclair -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau -- Drake Batherson

Rudolfs Balcers -- Artem Anisimov -- Connor Brown

Tyler Ennis -- Chris Tierney -- Mikkel Boedker

Thomas Chabot -- Dylan DeMelo

Christian Wolanin -- Nikita Zaitsev

Erik Brannstrom -- Ron Hainsey

Craig Anderson

Anders Nilsson

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