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Season preview: Ottawa Senators

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Season preview: Ottawa Senators

To get you ready for the 2015-16 season, we will be previewing all 30 NHL in 30 days, division by division. Check the bottom of the page for a schedule of each preview.

Today’s team: Ottawa Senators

2014-15 record: 43-26-13, 4th in the Atlantic

How they finished: Lost in six games to Montreal in the Conference Quarterfinals

Coach: Dave Cameron (2nd season)

Notable additions: None

Notable subtractions: G Robin Lehner, C David Legwand, D Eric Gryba, RW Erik Condra

RELATED: Ovechkin vows NHL players will be in 2018 Olympics

Schedule against the Capitals: Wed. Dec. 16 at Washington, Sun. Jan. 10 at Washington, Tue. Mar. 22 at Ottawa

Outlook: After a slow start to the season last year, the Senators really took off when Dave Cameron took over as head coach for Paul MacLean. Because of the team's success with so many young players, the Senators have decided to double down this year by electing to trade away veterans like David Legwand and Eric Gryba and also allowed Erik Condra to sign elsewhere.

Cameron made a real commitment to his young players and that trend will surely continue which gives prospects like Shane Prince and Chris Wideman a chance to make the team.

Something scary to consider is that Erik Karlsson who has already won two Norris Trophies is only 25. We may not have even seen him hit his peak yet. With so many young players on the roster who are only getting better such as Karlsson and Mark Stone, the Senators could have a fairly dangerous lineup.

The real question with this team comes down to goaltending. Am I the only one who thinks Ottawa made a big mistake by trading away Robin Lehner?

Last season, Andrew Hammond was able to carry this team into the postseason with an insane 20-1-2 record. Despite how much they depended on him to get them there, the Senators were pretty quick to turn to Craig Anderson after falling into an 0-2 hole in their series against Montreal.

In the offseason, the 27-year-old 'Hamburglar' was signed to a 3-year deal at $1.35 million per year. Compare that to Devan Dubnyk's new deal. Dubnyk, 29, was acquired during the season by Minnesota in a trade. He also carried his team into the playoffs and he was rewarded with a six-year deal at about $4.333 million per year.

Money talks and the money says that the Senators don't trust Hammond as much as you may think. He was abandoned quickly in the playoffs and what amounts to a backup goalie's contract.

If they want him to backup Anderson, that's fine. Anderson has been phenomenal for the Ottawa...when he's on the ice. After being traded from Colorado in 2011, Anderson has had a lot of injury issues, playing in 50 or more games for the Senators only twice.

So Ottawa decided to trade away the 24-year-old Lehner in favor of a goalie who even they don't seem to trust and the injury-prone Anderson. If they didn't believe in Lehner either, then perhaps this is an understandable move, but it could blow up in Ottawa's face if their tandem struggles and Lehner excels as Buffalo's starter.

Expectations: The Senators are going to be an interesting team to watch because they have all the pieces to be a very good team, the trick is going to be finding a way to make it all click the way it did when Hammond stepped in for them last season.

With a full season to play under Cameron, a healthy Anderson and the continued development of young stars like Karlsson and Stone, Ottawa can make a lot of noise this season. They need more out of Bobby Ryan, but the potential is there.

They could also just as easily flop.

The young players may not be as far along as the team had hoped or Anderson may suffer yet another injury and who knows how Hammond will play this season?

There is a lot of uncertainty here.

If everything falls their way, this is definitely a playoff team and one capable of an upset or two, but not yet a contender. If things don't fall their way, the mantra could quickly turn into developing the young players for the 2016-17 season.

MORE CAPS: Should Kolzig be in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

See more team previews:

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Central Division 
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Atlantic Division 
Boston Bruins
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Detroit Red Wings
Florida Panthers
Montreal Canadiens
Tampa Bay Lightning 8/21 
Toronto Maple Leafs 8/22

Metropolitan Division 
Carolina Hurricanes 8/23 
Columbus Blue Jackets 8/24 
New Jersey Devils 8/25 
New York Islanders 8/26 
New York Rangers 8/27 
Philadelphia Flyers 8/28 
Pittsburgh Penguins 8/29 
Washington Capitals 8/30

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Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

When the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempny on Monday, that put the team at the maximum of 23 players on the roster including eight defenseman.

Another move seemed likely and the Caps made it on Tuesday by placing veteran blueliner Taylor Chorney on waivers.

Teams now will have 24 hours to potentially claim Chorney. Should he clear at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, it is expected that he will be sent to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Whether he is claimed or sent to Hershey, his entire $800,000 cap hit will no longer count against the Capitals' salary.

One important thing to note, however, is that placing Chorney on waivers was not required in order for Washington to remain under the salary cap.

Having eight defensemen would mean scratching two every game — assuming the team does not dress seven and after that failed experiment in last year's playoffs, why would they — which means it would be a struggle to make sure everyone gets consistent playing time in the final weeks of the season.

Perhaps placing Chorney on waivers is the team trying to get him more playing time to keep him sharp in case the team suffers injuries on the blue line and he is called upon in the playoffs.

Or perhaps it could mean something else.

RELATED: RANKING THE CAPITALS' TOP PROSPECTS

Chorney played on Feb. 15, but that was during the mentor's trip. Barry Trotz's policy for those trips is to get everyone in at least one of those two games. Before that, Chorney had not played since Jan. 2. It certainly seems like the team was comfortable with him being the designated No. 7 and was not all that concerned about getting him regular playing time before now.

When asked if the Kempny trade would mean any roster moves, Trotz said Monday that he was not sure and hinted that perhaps more moves could be coming from general manager Brian MacLellan. Moving Chorney's salary off the books does not clear much cap room, but it does clear some.

Perhaps MacLellan has another move up his sleeve before Monday's trade deadline.

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Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

On Sunday, Michal Kempny was a defenseman struggling for a spot in the lineup for a team poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. On Monday, he became potentially an important piece on the roster of the first place Capitals.

The last few days have been quite the whirlwind for Kempny who tallied an assist for Chicago on Saturday in a 7-1 blowout against what is now his current team. While the Blackhawks may have gotten the better of Washington that night, Kempny is excited about the postseason opportunity that now lies in front of him.

"Nobody knows what's happening in Chicago, but I'm really happy and I'm really glad that I can be here," Kempny told reporters on Tuesday after his first skate with the team. "There is option of play a playoff and I'm very happy for it."

RELATED: WHERE MICHAL KEMKPNY FITS IN THE CAPS' LINEUP

The 27-year-old Czech defenseman played only 31 games for the Blackhawks this season, but considering Washington's need to shore up its defense before the trade deadline and the team's willingness to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, it is likely he will have a much more significant role with the Caps.

"I thought that I [was] going to get more space on the ice and more ice time, but I didn't play more than half games," Kempny said of his decision to originally sign with Chicago. "But now I'm here and I'm really glad that I'm here. Washington is amazing city and great organization and I hope I will get a chance to access myself on the ice more than in Chicago."

Kempny will not play in Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but did say he expects to play Thursday when the team visits the Florida Panthers.

When he does get into the lineup, it is unclear just how big a role he will play initially or how the team foresees utilizing him going forward. He is a left-shot defenseman and did tell reporters he prefers to play on that side. It seems unlikely the team would acquire him just to put him on his offside.

As of now, however, everything regarding his role in Washington is up in the air.

"I need everything settle down a little bit," he said. "New teammates, new people around here."

MORE CAPITALS: MEET MICHAL KEMPNY