Ottawa Senators: Camp preview

The Ottawa Senators have the talent to bounce back immediately and put a couple of dramatic seasons behind them, but a giant question mark remains.
Pascal Leclaire is in Ottawa, bringing the expectation of some long-term stability between the pipes for the Senators. ((Philip MacCallum/Getty Images))

2008-09 record: 36-35-11, missed playoffs.

New faces: Andy Chiodo (G), Erik Karlsson (D), Alex Kovalev (F), Pascal Leclaire (G), Martin St. Pierre (F).

Camp slogan: It was all a bad dream.

The Senators want to turn the page on a dreadful season that saw them out of the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, and they seem to have taken some positive steps.

Chris Campoli had a promising last quarter of the season with his new team, and Pascal Leclaire should be poised to give the Senators their first drama-free season in net in quite a while.

But it remains to be seen whether the team can move on emotionally without resolving the Dany Heatley situation. Given the paucity of early-season trades in the NHL in recent years and his high price tag, the team and the disgruntled forward may be forced to mend fences.

The bulk of the team will return intact, with young players Ilya Zubov, Peter Regin and Zack Smith trying to make the jump from the American Hockey League.

In addition to three pre-season home games, the Senators will play exhibition contests in Regina and Halifax.

Young blood: Erik Karlsson

The 19-year-old Karlsson was selected 15th overall in the 2008 draft and then by all accounts looked right at home competing with players years older than him in the Swedish Elite League. Ottawa was short on mobility at the back end last year, providing the five-foot-11 blue-liner an opportunity to see time with the Senators.

Time to make a move: Cody Bass

Bass has played 35 games over the past two seasons with Ottawa and what might give the 22-year-old an advantage over the likes of fellow centres Zubov or Regin is the fact he possesses an orneriness the Senators could use.

X-factor:  Martin St. Pierre

St. Pierre might be destined to be one of those guys who racks up 80 to 100 points every year in the AHL, but if there's ever a time for him to take the next step, it will be with an offensively talented group in the NHL city closest to where he grew up (Embrun, Ont.).

On the spot: Christoph Schubert

Guys who can play both defence and forward are in vogue, right? Not in this case. Schubert had two consecutive decent seasons and then fell out of favour, often sitting in the press box. Evidently, there were no takers elsewhere in the NHL this summer, but with other Ottawa defencemen in camp eligible to be sent to the minors, perhaps it will be a chance for the German to re-establish himself.