NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the Ottawa Senators.
Since Pierre Dorion was named the eighth general manager in Ottawa Senators history April 10, he has taken the organization on a path of sweeping, dramatic changes during the past four months, with the goal of returning to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"For us not making the playoffs was simply unacceptable," said Dorion, 44. "I wasn't hired here to bring the team to the playoffs, but to succeed in the playoffs."
The Senators finished fifth in the Atlantic Division last season, eight points behind the third-place Detroit Red Wings for the final automatic playoff spot in the division. It was the second time in the past three seasons they missed the playoffs.
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Dorion took over from Bryan Murray, who was Senators GM since 2007. Murray continues to battle Stage 4 colon cancer and cited health and family concerns for the decision to step aside.
Among Dorion's biggest moves: hiring coach Guy Boucher on May 8 to replace Dave Cameron, and acquiring veteran center Derick Brassard and a seventh-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft in a trade with the New York Rangers for center Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 second-round pick July 18.
"Our ultimate goal is to make the playoffs again, and we feel that Derick's going to help us make the playoffs," Dorion said. "There's also more. We feel that Derick provides great talent, brings leadership into our room. He's someone that's played a lot more games in the NHL than Mika."
Ottawa also signed veteran free agent forward Chris Kelly, who played parts of seven seasons with the Senators to begin his NHL career, to add experience and boost the penalty kill.
Special teams is one part of the Senators' game that must improve. Last season they were 26th (15.8 percent) on the power play, allowed 15 power-play goals at home and finished 29th in penalty killing (75.8 percent). They also allowed the first goal in 51 games and were outshot in 60 games.
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Those are some of the areas where the Senators hope Boucher can make them better.
Boucher, 45, had coached Bern in Switzerland the previous three seasons after coaching the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2010-13. He went 97-79-20 and led the Lightning to the 2011 Eastern Conference Final.
"He's a very passionate and intense guy which I think, for the type of team that we have, is going to fit very good," Dorion said. "He's a young mind, we have a younger team, and I think what he brings to the table and the way that he believes things work is going to match up with everything that we have in the room."
The Senators' room consists mostly of a homegrown core that includes defenseman Erik Karlsson and forwards Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Curtis Lazar and Zack Smith. Center Kyle Turris should be healthy after an ankle injury limited him to 57 games, and forward Clarke MacArthur is expected back after a concussion sidelined him the final 78 games of last season.
Though the Senators will have a bit of a new look up front, the goaltending and defense remain the same. Goalies Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond return with Karlsson leading a group of defensemen that includes veteran Dion Phaneuf, entering his first full season with the Senators, Marc Methot, Cody Ceci (a restricted free agent), Mark Borowiecki and Chris Wideman.
"You have the players that represent your style and I think we have that," Boucher said. "Speed up front, transitioning defensemen, good goaltender, the possibility of improving the defensive side of it with structure, which I think I'm known for."