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NHL·Analysis

Ottawa Senators: 2014-15 NHL season preview

For the second straight year, high-scoring defenceman Erik Karlsson and the Ottawa Senators must move on from the departure of their captain and a franchise icon.

Spezza's departure puts Karlsson in spotlight

Erik Karlsson piled up 74 points last season - 13 more than any other defenceman. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

This is part of our series of quick season previews for the seven Canadian-based NHL teams. We've also covered the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens.

Ottawa Senators

Last season's record: 37-31-14 (88 points), 5th out of 8 in Atlantic Division, missed playoffs.

Last season's story: Ottawa entered its first season of the post-Alfie era as a prime candidate to make a leap forward after overcoming a lot of injuries to reach the second round of the playoffs in 2013. But the Senators got off to a sluggish start and fell short of the playoffs despite winning eight of their last 10 games. High-profile acquisition Bobby Ryan scored a modest 23 goals as he battled a sports hernia for much of the season, and 2013 standout Craig Anderson regressed in net as the team gave up the second-most shots on goal and allowed the fourth-most goals. In related news, Erik Karlsson finished minus-15 despite doing his best Bobby Orr impression with 74 points (no other defenceman had more than 61). For the second straight off-season, Ottawa said goodbye to its captain and a franchise icon when Jason Spezza was traded to Dallas.

Key off-season additions: F David Legwand, F Alex Chiasson.

Key off-season subtractions: F Jason Spezza, F Ales Hemsky, F Matt Kassian, D Joe Corvo, D Stephane Da Costa.

Best-case scenario: Ottawa’s pretty good possession stats from last year prove to be an indicator of future success; No. 1 centre Kyle Turris (26 goals last year) makes everyone forget about Spezza while Ryan recaptures his 30-goal form on Turris’s wing; Karlsson excels as the league’s only point-per-game defenceman while rounding out his two-way game; the veteran Anderson rebounds to near-elite status while young Robin Lehner pitches in to keep him fresh; Spezza trade acquisition Chiasson shows promise as a second-line winger; and the Senators get back in the playoffs.

Worst-case scenario: Anderson and Lehner can’t stand up to another season-long shelling as Ottawa’s defensive play stays soft; Ryan gets the big contract extension that’s been rumoured but struggles to become the top-flight scorer management envisioned; the Sens miss the playoffs again and coach Paul MacLean is replaced by his clone.

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