Like Dave, we are also looking for big things from Butler.
We've already had in Peter Raaymakers from Silver Seven to talk Sens fantasy hockey but we are lucky enough to double up on our Sens experts as Dave from SensChirp also accepted our offer to talk fantasy hockey. How lucky are we?
We recommend you go and check out SensChirp for all your Senator needs. One feature they have recently put together might be of particular interest to you fantasy players. They took a look ahead at all the key Sens including some point projections. Alfredsson, Spezza, Filatov, Karlsson, and Gonchar are all players we've received a lot of questions about so click on the links to see SensChirp's take. Loving the 51 point season from Filatov!
If you're interested in FHS' breakout picks and fantasy take on the Sens check out our draft kit which includes The Breakout Bible, the Fantasy Scouting Report (with SuperStats included) and our Fantasy Prospect Database.
BY DAVE FROM SENSCHIRP
Q1) Ottawa Senators Breakout of the Year?
On a team that could struggle to score, I think we can expect a big year from Erik Karlsson. I recently did some projections for the upcoming season on my site and put Karlsson at 16 goals and 56 points this season (An 11 point increase over last year). That should put him among the most productive defenceman in the NHL next year. In fact, that would slot him in the Top 3 based on last year's stats. His plus/minus should improve and really can't get much worse than last year's -30. The offensive numbers may seem a little optimistic but on a team that should have an improved power play and a commitment to an up-tempo style under new head coach Paul MacLean, Karlsson looks poised for a huge year.
Q2) Darkhorse Breakout on the Senators?
Gotta be Bobby Butler. In his late season audition last year, Butler looked like a guy who was ready to be a full time NHL player. The University of New Hampshire product scored 10 times in 36 games and seemed to find a home on Jason Spezza's wing. Most seem to think those two will start together this season and Butler should benefit from having a premier playmaker feeding him the puck. Butler is a near-lock among the team's top 6 forwards and will see significant time on the power play. A 20 goal season seems quite likely for Butler and depending on how often he lines up beside Spezza, he could flirt with the 30 goal mark.
Q3) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?
Claude Giroux. With the major shake up in Philly this off season, Giroux has quickly found his way to the top of the team's centre ice depth chart. When the Flyers made the decision to ship out both Richards and Carter, it was because they felt like Van Riemsdyk and Giroux were ready to take on bigger roles on the team. Giroux is coming off an impressive 76 point campaign and should see those numbers increase further in 2011.
Q4) Player likely to Breakdown on the Senators?
Considering the awful season the Sens had last year, it really can't get much worse for many guys on the roster. In fact, I wrote the first sentence of my answer to this question and then spent a good 5 minutes looking over the Sens roster and I really don't see any skaters on the roster that will fall off significantly in 2011/2012.
I guess if I had to pick one guy that may see a decrease in numbers it would be Craig Anderson. He's going to face a ton of rubber behind a young Senators blueline and will get the bulk of starts for a rebuilding hockey team. Anderson went 11-5 with a 2.05 GAA and a .939 SV%. Seems unlikely that he'll maintain those numbers over the course of a full season.
Q5) Best Fantasy Prospect on the Senators?
David Rundblad. Considered by many to be the top prospect in the Sens system and coming off a season where he was named the best defenceman in the Swedish Elite League, Rundblad is going to need to have an excellent camp to make the team. If he does start with the big club, it's going to be because the management and coaching staff feel as though he can bring offence from the back end. There are going to be some growing pains as he adjusts to the small North American style ice but he seems to be skilled enough, and smart enough, to make those adjustments quickly.
Q6) How do you see the Senators goalie situation playing out this year?
I'm scared to answer this question for fear of jinxing it but I really think the Sens goaltending situation is as solid as it has been since they started the year with Dominik Hasek in net.
We all know how that ended up but the club is counting on better results with Craig Anderson. Stolen from the Avalanche in the days leading up to the deadline, Anderson backstopped a young Ottawa roster to an extremely respectable finish. Anderson is going to be given the majority of the starts this season and will likely end up playing more than 65 games, health permitting. Alex Auld has been brought in to be the team's back up but isn't likely to see much action. If Anderson does miss any signifcant time to injury, it's more likely we'd see Calder Cup MVP Robin Lehner called up from Binghamton to get the bulk of the starts.
Q7) Sergei Gonchar & Daniel Alfredsson were both brutal last year... do you think they are finished?
Gonchar was awful, I'll give you that much but with Alfredsson the biggest issue was health. Just 27 points and an ugly -15 is certainly not what the club was hoping for when they signed Gonchar for three years at $5.5 mil per. But to be fair to Gonchar, he really didn't seem to see eye to eye with former coach Cory Clouston. Gonchar was almost exclusively used on the wrong side of the power play and struggled under a system that had the team defending far too often. The power play should be better next year and Gonchar's numbers should improve.
With Alfie, the issue will definitely be health. He's coming off significant back surgery this summer but should be ready to go by the start of the regular season. If he can stay healthy, he can still be a productive offensive player. He is still going to see time in the Top 6 and will be a regular on the power play.
Both guys are getting older but will still be counted on to play key roles on young Senators team.
Thanks to Dave for the great work. Have a Sens related question on your mind? Fire it off in the comments.