Predicting The 2019 Ottawa Senators Opening Lineup: Forwards

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 03: Colin White #36 and Brady Tkachuk #7 of the Ottawa Senators celebrate a third period goal by Brian Gibbons #17 against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on April 03, 2019 in New York City. The Senators defeated the Rangers 4-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The off-season is here and the Free Agent Frenzy has come and gone. The 2019 Ottawa Senators will look much different from the team that finished the season. With big trades and some free-agent signings, the team has a bit of a new outlook. Let’s take a look at possible forward lines in our way too early 2019 Ottawa Senators lineup projection. Later in the week, we will break down the goaltending and defence.

2019 Ottawa Senators

Forwards

Brady TkachukColin WhiteAnthony Duclair

Tyler EnnisJean-Gabriel PageauConnor Brown

Drake BathersonLogan BrownBobby Ryan

Zack SmithChris TierneyRudolfs Balcers

Nick PaulMikkel Boedker

Possible Replacements: Max Veronneau and Filip Chlapik

Top Six

The top six in Ottawa is desperately needing a talent infusion. Something they no doubt hope to address through the draft, there is a very good chance this Sens team is once again not good for the year.

The first line with Tkachuk, White, and Duclair could add some excitement. All three younger guys, this would be Ottawa’s most likely go-to if they need a goal. Tkachuk and White played together a bunch last year with Mark Stone on the wing. While Duclair is a big step down, he could still fit nicely. Duclair is great at keeping his head up and looking for a lane to shoot the puck. This, mixed with Tkachuk’s ability to get to the dirty area and get rebounds could be very effective.

On the second line, the 2019 Ottawa Senators find themselves in a bit of trouble. No doubt many people will be moved up and down the lineup, however, with a new head coach in DJ Smith, he may try and play it “safe” on opening night. Smith knows both Brown and Ennis from Toronto. These players may be bumped down to a de facto third line checking type role, but on opening night could very well be the second line on paper. As for Pageau, he seems like the clear option for the second line centre until Logan Brown is ready.

Bottom Six

The bottom six in Ottawa this year could be a mix of all kinds of players. We mentioned that the Sens really need some more talent in the top six and the third line may be that talent. Brown and Batherson were amazing together last season and should absolutely be together to start the season. Ryan is not worth what he is being paid but still shows flashes of skill from time to time. Putting him with two skilled forwards could help ignite his offensive game again. Overall, this line has a chance to become the second line on the 2019 Ottawa Senators but playing it safe to start may keep them in the bottom six at the beginning of the season.

All three members of the fourth line can slide up and down the lineup as needed. Smith has been known to slide up the lineup but is more effective in a depth role. Tierney is the same kind of way and showed some success last season when playing against lower lines. Balcers played well when he was called up last season and has a very good chance to make it into the lineup. Much like Brown and Batherson, Balcers will likely have to fight and prove that he is ready to move up. If he shows he can handle better NHL minutes there is a possibility he replaces Ryan or Connor Brown.

Depth Forwards

As for Paul and Boedker, both can move into a lineup. Boedker really struggled last season and was a healthy scratch at times, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to see that happening again, even on opening night. It is a tough pill for Ottawa to swallow given what they gave up for him. However, the sooner they move on the better the team will be. If Boedker is not effective he can’t be taking minutes away from younger players who deserve it more.

Paul seems ready for a depth NHL role and 13th F might be that place. Veronneau is another option for this place and we will get to him but for now, it seems like Paul’s spot. He has played very well in the minors and has even looked good in the very little NHL time he has gotten recently. Giving him a shot and moving him in and out of the lineup every few games could be a great way to use him. Giving others rest and letting him show what he can do.

Veronneau made the team near the end of last season but he may just not have a spot on this roster. Unless the Sens make a move it seems smarter to have Paul as the 13th F and let Veronneau and Chlapik work on their game in the minors for a little longer. A post-deadline or injury call-up could be in their future. However, they could be the odd men out opening night. While it would be beneficial to see them at some point it also could be beneficial to let them develop in big roles in the minors a little more. Veronneau may be able to play a depth role but if Chlapik is in the lineup he should be put in a skilled spot, which just isn’t open currently.

2019 Ottawa Senators Forwards

Overall, the Sens forwards on opening night could have some promise. There are lots of young and exciting pieces whom fans should be looking forward to watching. It likely won’t be enough to carry them to a playoff spot but it may be entertaining anyway. Going forward, the Sens will hope that other prospects such as Josh Norris, Vitaly Abramov, and Alex Formenton are also ready. A high draft pick this season could also potentially increase the skill of this forward group.

For 2019-2020, the Sens will look to play a quick transition type of style. With guys on almost every line that can forecheck hard and dig pucks out, this Sens team will have to rely on work more than skill from their forwards.

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