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For 14 years, the Senators had the same captain, Daniel Alfredsson. He was a constant in their lineup, someone they could rely on. Since 2013, they’ve had Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson be their captains, and last season they did not have anybody wear the ‘C.’ And as of now, there is nobody slated to be the captain for the second straight season.
However, when will that change?
I wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility that a new captain gets named before the season begins, as Spezza was not named until September 13th, 2013, and Karlsson was not named until October 2nd, 2014, so there is still plenty of time to announce something. Do I think it is a good idea to big the letter to somebody though? No, I think that would be rushing it, because they just
hit rock-bottom last season and got rid of almost all of their veteran players, so there aren’t many ideal candidates just yet.
Furthermore, it’s not as every team needs a captain, and I’d rather let this team develop and see which players emerge as leaders as opposed to making sure a certain player will
be a leader. Teams typically don’t spend more than two seasons without a captain though, so I’d be shocked if they began the 2020-21 season without one. Having said that, if they were to name somebody as captain for 2019-20, who could it be?
If any captain is named for the upcoming season, my money would be on Pageau. Mark Stone would’ve been such an obvious choice if he re-signed in Ottawa, but we all know what happened there. I have heard Pageau’s name thrown around as a potential captain this season, and that doesn’t sound too far-fetched. He’s a UFA in 2020 so he will need to be re-signed if they want to keep their potential captain around, although perhaps giving him the letter is a way to keep him happy.
It seems as if he has been one of the biggest leaders on the team over the past two seasons, and all of a sudden he is one of the “older” players too. To me, he seems like an imperfect fit because he feels more like a stopgap, but I can see the Senators wanting to give the C to somebody just for the sake of having a captain. If so, it’s most likely Pageau.
For a longer-term option, Chabot fits the bill. I don’t know if he’s ready to be the captain just yet at the age of 22, but he seems destined to fit that role eventually. If Ottawa really wants to have a captain this season and not have a stopgap like Pageau, then Chabot might be who they choose even though they might be rushing him.
I think the perfect time for him would be 2020-21 just so he has more experience and is off of his ELC, and there is really no need to rush him along. Coming into last season he was still somewhat of an unknown, so it’s not as if he has been around for a long time. Chabot is the future of this team but I wouldn’t give the C to him just yet.
Borowiecki is loved by the players, fans, and the organization, and he does seem like a great guy to have around. I think he is an important leader in the dressing room and someone who can keep things light. The Senators definitely know that, and they might think that his personality is best-suited to be a captain. It’s unlikely, but I wouldn’t underestimate the organization’s love for Boro.
I don’t think it’s a good idea to put the spotlight on a 6th/7th defenseman like that, because even without truly being in the spotlight, he still gets a lot of criticism. It’s also just not normal to have a depth player as your captain (the only two recent ones I can think of are Derek Mackenzie and Bryce Salvador), and it’s a bad look to have to scratch your captain on occasion. I love Borowiecki’s personality, but it’s probably not smart to name him the captain. Nevertheless, his name is certainly on the table.
Is it too early? Probably. Then again, Gabriel Landeskog was named the Avalanche’s captain in his age-20 season as well. I don’t see him as a captain for the Senators in the future, but he is a big enough part of the team’s plans that he will definitely be considered. The only time he was captain of a team was on team USA for the U-18 world championships, so it’s not as if he has been groomed for this role leading up to this.
The Senators see Tkachuk as a building block though, and I’d be shocked if he does not get at least become an assistant captain in the next few seasons.
Ryan is only on this list because he is a token veteran on this roster and is one of two players signed beyond the next two seasons. He is the third oldest player on the team and is also the fourth longest-tenured player, so he is definitely one of the more prominent voices in the room. At the age of 32, he is somebody who the young players will look up to.
It would be quite surprising if Ryan gets named the captain, but I can’t rule out some of these veteran players.
This is the biggest of wildcards, but you never know. Hainsey has only been an assistant captain three times in his career, and never a captain. However, DJ Smith loves him, and although it might be awkward to have a captain who is clearly only going to be here for one season, maybe Ottawa (especially Smith) wants to go with a true veteran for the captaincy in order to keep the room stable. The Senators have made some strange decisions over the past few seasons, so I wouldn’t even put this past them.
It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world as long as Hainsey would only be here for one season, because it’s not as if he would be a long-term captain. At the same time, I would rather just go captain-less than anything. I still believe they will not have a captain for the upcoming season, but there is a chance that someone such as Pageau will be named during September. If they go this season with just assistants, then it's almost assured that they will have somebody anointed by September 2020.
In the coming seasons, there will surely be other prospects that develop into NHL players who will become leaders, but it’s hard to know exactly who fits that mould from the group they have. It will take time to see what their true leadership group will be moving forward because right now there is still a lot of uncertainty as this team goes through a massive transitional phase.