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New Think Tank below!
Jacques Martin a potential option?
Now that the Pittsburgh Penguins season is over, you can add one more name to the potential list of head coaches for the Ottawa Senators: Jacques Martin. Martin obviously coached the Senators for nine seasons between 1995-2004, but he was only able to get them to the Conference Finals once despite some incredibly talented teams.
Martin has been an assistant coach with Pittsburgh for the past three seasons, and was also there in 2013-14. However, his contract is apparently up this summer:
Martin was also the head coach of the Florida Panthers from 2005-08 and the Montreal Canadiens from 2009-12, so he hasn’t been a head coach for seven years. I’ll be honest, Martin’s era in Ottawa happened when I was quite young, so I can’t say with too much authority whether he would be a good fit or not. He is obviously a smart X’s and O’s coach who knows what he is doing, although I have to question whether or not he is the best man for the job in 2019 with the game changing so much over the past 15 years. Furthermore, who knows if he even wants to work in Ottawa.
They could definitely do worse for their next head coach, but I would rather go in a different direction.
If you had asked me a week ago who I thought the two least likely teams were to sweep a series in the first round, I would have said Columbus and New York. Yet here we are, and both of them have done it. The Islanders sweep is impressive, but the Blue Jackets one is historic. That is the first time that a President’s Trophy winner has ever been swept in the first round, and Columbus did it in dominant fashion. You could make a case that this was the biggest upset of all time.
Tampa Bay finished tied for the most wins ever in a regular season (62), and they didn’t really have any flaws on their roster. Anything less than a Stanley Cup victory was going to be a massive disappointment for them, and they ended up with as many playoff wins as the Ottawa Senators. Columbus definitely had the potential to be better than they showed in the regular season due to their depth up front and Sergei Bobrovsky’s potential to revert back to his old self, but it still seemed incredibly unlikely that they were going to beat one of the best teams I’ve seen in my lifetime.
In terms of points differential, it might not quite
be the biggest upset ever in the NHL:
However, it has to be up there. None of those aforementioned teams swept the higher seed either though, so that makes the Blue Jackets performance even more impressive. This series was one for the ages that broke up at least 90% of people’s playoff brackets.
Matt Duchene could be re-signing in Columbus
Before the Blue Jackets had made the playoffs, I talked about how it might actually be a good thing for them to make the playoffs, even though it might mean a slightly lower first round pick in 2019. Their first round pick is still staying where it is, although if they beat either Boston or Toronto in round 2, it will drop into the 28-31 range. That would be less than ideal, although it might convince Duchene to stay in Columbus, which would give Ottawa an extra first round pick in 2020 for the trade they made.
In fact, just one series sweep might even convince him that he should re-sign. Just read what he had to say about their fans:
He has clearly loved playing for this team, because all he wanted all along was to play for a competitive team. That’s what the Blue Jackets are, and I’m sure he will be confident that they are headed in the right direction, even if one of (or both) Artemi Panarin or Sergei Bobrovsky leave in the summer. Columbus has to be willing to give Duchene a big contract as well so this is far from a given, but I’m feeling good about this situation now. Having three first rounders in 2020 would be huge for Ottawa’s rebuild, especially if the Blue Jackets miss the playoffs. Hypothetically, if the only way that Duchene was going to re-sign is if they make the Conference Finals, then moving down nine to twelve spots in the first round is totally worth the extra pick in 2020. The best case scenario would be for Columbus to lose their next series and he is still willing to re-sign, which could very well happen.
Stone nominated for the Selke
In his fifth full NHL season, Mark Stone is officially nominated for the Selke for the first time in his career:
He is incredibly deserving of the nomination, and I would argue that he deserves to win it. While I am happy for Stone and it would be nice to see him win, it also irks me that he is only just getting recognition now that he is out of Ottawa. He was always a fantastically talented all-around player while he was a Senator, but now he is getting on a bigger stage, and fans around the league are finally realizing how good he is. The last time a winger was nominated for the Selke was David Backes in 2012, and the last winger to win was Jere Lehtinen in 2003, so if Stone wins, it'll be a huge deal. I doubt he will though, even if he probably should.
New favourites to win it all
After Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh’s early exits, who do you think could win it all now? It looks incredibly open to me, with so many different options in both conferences. In the West, I really like Vegas’ chances as their top-six is incredibly lethal right now. In the East, Washington always has a chance, although I wouldn’t be surprised if Toronto or Boston are able to go far as well. But then again, I could legitimately see any of the 14 remaining teams make it to the Conference Finals, as Columbus has some magic voodoo going on, New York is getting incredible goaltending, Winnipeg and St. Louis have the depth to get it done, and so forth. Suffice it to say, I don’t feel confident at all right now. Who do you have to win it all now that Tampa Bay is out?
Mark Borowiecki nominated for the King Clancy
Lastly, Mark Borowiecki is the Senators nominee for the King Clancy Award, given to someone who “best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.” Here are the rest of the nominees around the league:
I doubt he is going to win the award, but I’m happy for Mark. Over the past year or so he has shot up my list of likeable players just because of the person he is off the ice. He is a very caring person who helps out around the community and I do think that he helps the team chemistry behind the scenes. Good luck to him!