Ottawa

Gutted: What's left of the Ottawa Senators?

Matt Duchene. Ryan Dzingel. Mark Stone. Erik Karlsson. All gone. So what's left to cheer for? Who's left to cheer for?

Here's what the team's future looks like with its top scorers gone

Ottawa's Thomas Chabot is averaging 0.87 points per game this season. Erik Karlsson's season average with San Jose is 0.88. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Matt Duchene. Ryan Dzingel. Mark Stone. And, what must seem to Senators fans like an eternity ago, team captain and generational bright light Erik Karlsson. All gone.

The gutting of Ottawa's top talent before Monday's trade deadline caps off a woeful year for the team. But wait, there are 20 games left.

So what's left to cheer for? Who's left to cheer for? 

Here's a look.

Class of 2017

Three-quarters of the players who got the Sens within a goal of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final are gone.

In case Sens fans needed a stark illustration of that fact, this image started making the rounds on Twitter shortly after Monday's trade deadline passed.

A stark reminder of the team that came so close just two seasons ago. (Matt Cox/Twitter)

​Bobby Ryan is the only Senator signed through the 2021-22 season, and will be counted on to lead the young players through the rebuild.

Veteran netminder Craig Anderson holds franchise records in games played and wins by goalies, but he's not having a great year compared to the standards he set over his previous seven seasons with the Senators.

Cody Ceci, 25, already has 423 games under his belt. Now the team needs to iron out a new contract with the hometown defenceman — or trade him, too.

Good times: Bobby Ryan, left, signed his new deal the same day the team named Erik Karlsson, second from right, captain in October 2014. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

Zack Smith is the team's active leader in games played at 595 going into Tuesday night's showdown against the Capitals.

Local grinder Mark Borowiecki and defensive specialist J-G Pageau each have one year left on their contracts after this season.

The young guns

Brady Tkachuk and Colin White are among the league's top rookie scorers this season.

Rookie Colin White's 13 goals this season ties him for second in scoring behind Brady Tkachuk. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

Thomas Chabot was Ottawa's only all star this season. At 22, he is the team's best player — and suddenly its leading scorer.

If the team can hang on to them, this trio should be coming into their prime by the time the Senators are a ready to contend again.

The next wave

Some have earned a nibble of NHL action, others are stars in a junior, minor, college or European leagues.

Filip Gustavsson is the team's best goaltending prospect, and already logged some time in the big league earlier this month.

Erik Brannstrom is an offensive defenceman, a smaller Swede taken 15th overall in his NHL draft. Sound like another Erik Karlsson? Dare to dream, Sens fans.

He goes from the AHL's Chicago Wolves to Belleville.

Sweden's Erik Brannstrom (12) fights for control of the puck during second-period IIHF world junior hockey action in 2018. He said shortly after his draft that he models his game after Erik Karlsson. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Christian Wolanin has played well in Belleville during his first professional season, in addition to a taste of NHL action with the Senators. He's currently in Ottawa, but needs to improve his defensive game.

Forwards Vitaly Abramov and Josh Norris have yet to play for the Sens. Abramov was just acquired in the Matt Duchene trade and made his debut in Belleville over the weekend.

Norris would have to leave University of Michigan early to go pro. Unfortunately, the 19-year-old is out for the season after getting hurt at the World Juniors.

Josh Norris (14) of the United States goes into the boards with Kazakhstan's Samat Daniyar (7) during IIHF world junior hockey action 2018. Norris, a first-round pick of the Sharks, went to Ottawa in the Erik Karlsson trade. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Then there's Drake Batherson, Logan Brown, Alex Formenton and Rudolfs Balcers.​ There's a decent chance these young forwards will see big minutes in Ottawa next season.

Formenton is fast, Batherson leads Belleville in scoring, Brown is huge, skilled and finally healthy, and Balcers has quickly earned the trust of the big-league coaching staff in 19 games so far.

Expiring contracts

Mikkel Boedker and Dylan DeMelo are solid NHLers whose contracts expire after next season, which could make them tempting for Cup contenders looking to patch holes without making long-term commitments.

Of course, the Sens could always sign them back up for a couple more years in red and black.

Mikkel Boedker is Ottawa's second-highest paid forward at $4 million per season. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Chris Tierney and Ben Harpur will need new contracts. Their futures remain unknown and the team will have options.

The wildcards​

These guys are all younger than 24 and have promise, but their ceilings are a little harder to predict. Part of the team's rebuild plan is to give these players a chance to show what they've got.

Filip Chlapik has made the journey between Belleville and Ottawa a few times over the past two seasons. He could start next season in the NHL

Slovak defenceman Christian Jaros is in his first full NHL campaign and will turn 23 in the last week of the regular season. He will occupy some of the room on the right side of Ottawa's defence as he looks to become less tentative and more physical.

Christian Jaros (83) checks San Jose Sharks left winger Evander Kane (9) into the boards in San Jose on Jan. 12, 2019. (Scot Tucker/Associated Press)

Maxime Lajoie and Anthony Duclair have offensive potential, but it's hard to tell if they'll be consistent difference-makers or more complementary pieces.

For Duclair, those troubles with consistency have led him to his fifth NHL team in as many seasons. He needs a new contract after this season.

Lajoie is only 21 and started this season red-hot, but cooled off around the start of December.

The rest

Anders Nilsson, Magnus Paajarvi, Oscar Lindberg and Brian Gibbons — the latter two trade deadline pickups making their Sens debuts tonight  — are all unrestricted free agents this summer. They will likely leave.

Goalie Mike Condon and Marian Gaborik are hurt; Gaborik hasn't played this season while Condon has just two NHL appearances and an AHL game under his belt.

Marian Gaborik has 1,035 NHL games to his name, but only 16 with Ottawa. He came to Ottawa from L.A. in the Dion Phaneuf trade. (Paul Vernon/Associated Press)

How low can you go?

One factor to consider as Sens fans look ahead to next season is the NHL's salary floor, a minimum level teams must spend.

This year's floor is $58.8 million, while the salary cap is $79.5 million.

You can bank on new contracts for Wolanin and White. Throw in some of those other prospects and the number rises slightly.

There are questions around Ceci and Duclair. The final 20 games will give a clearer picture of their futures.

Even so, the  Senators will need to sign a few free agents to stay above the salary floor.

Contract details from capfriendly.com

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