If the Bruins thought the Ottawa Senators were unrecognizable Feb. 18, when they last visited Canada’s capital, imagine what they must be thinking now.
Since that night that the Bruins left town with a 4-2 victory, Alex Kovalev and Chris Campoli have followed Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly (now a Bruin) and Jarkko Ruutu out the door. That day, Craig Anderson had just in exchange for Brian Elliott and sat on the bench as Ottawa’s back-up.
So now, what’s left of the Senators is a group of four veterans — Chris Phillips, Chris Neil, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza — plus a bunch of kids, draft picks and cap space. It sounds like Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun thinks Sens general manager Bryan Murray might’ve actually emerged from the weeks leading up to trade-deadline day, and the day itself, as a winner.
The plan in the summer will be to add a young Top 6 forward, either by a free-agent signing, and go forward with the prospects that are already in place. Immediate success will depend in no small part on how quick guys like Erik Karlsson, Bobby Butler, Zack Smith, Erik Condra, Colin Greening, Rundblad and Cowen develop.
And what kind of job Murray and his talent evaluators do at the draft table.
This team might finish out of the playoffs again next season, but the future looks interesting.
Some of the above-mentioned youngsters will be in Ottawa’s lineup tonight. While the Bruins’ main focus should be to bear down and take home the two points, it also wouldn’t hurt to start the scouting file on these guys. Because as part of one of Boston’s division rivals, these young Sens might be foes for years to come. And if they can add more veteran talent and leadership around the young core, and utilize their early acquisition of Anderson to re-sign the puck-stopper, the turnaround in Ottawa might not take as long as the one in Toronto is taking.
Boston-Ottawa has been a solid rivalry for years, with the Sens even getting the better of the Bruins numerous times early last decade. The Bruins have been handling Ottawa just fine lately, but that might not last long if Sens management has its way.
In a lot of ways, tonight’s game is the dawn of a new era for the Senators and for the Boston-Ottawa match-up.