For the seventh year in a row, the Ottawa Senators have missed the postseason.

The team was officially eliminated from playoff contention a little over a week ago after falling well short of expectations on the year. Entering the season, excitement levels around the team were higher than they've been in a long time, and reaching the playoffs seemed like a legit possibility. The front office stocked the team up over the offseason, and on paper, it was a fairly well-built roster.

With the core of their team in place, the Senators should be taking steps towards being more competitive. However, the team couldn't even muster a winning record this season, let alone get close to the playoffs. So with that in mind, let's take a look at three big reasons to be concerned with Ottawa's future beyond their struggles in the 2023-24 campaign.

Senators failing to build any sort of momentum

When a team enters a rebuild, they always do so with the assumption that they'll be able to come out stronger on the other side. It's natural for a team to struggle during this time, as they will trade away veterans for future assets, leaving very little left as they stockpile prospects and wait for them to make an impact.

But where the Senators stand is a little different. Those prospects have joined the lineup, becoming the core of the team; the problem is that there haven't been any improved results. Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle, Drake Batherson, and others have all  been with the team for four-plus years now, but the results have remained the same, even as they have improved individually.

Not only that, but the team has brought in help during that time as well. We've seen the likes of Jakob Chychrun, Claude Giroux, and Joonas Korpisalo added, as well as Alex DeBrincat and Vladimir Tarasenko, both of whom were traded within the past year. At this point in the process, you'd expect to see some results.

While there's a level of patience for a number of years during a rebuild, it seems like the progress has stagnated. That's not to say that Ottawa can't progress from here, given on paper, you'd think it would be a given that they would. But if the results don't come soon, it could have an impact on the team's ability to continue building around their current squad.

Ottawa has traditionally been seen as an undesirable playing market. However, with what's been seen as a bright future, the Senators have been able to attract some quality players, likely with the thought that they can be competitive soon. But at a certain point, the momentum slows down and that “bright future” isn't so bright anymore. If a player can't see a future where the team is likely to succeed, it becomes much more difficult to ensure players will sign with the team, further halting the ability to build.

The Senators still have a promising future, but the results need to come soon.

Senators have to figure out Jakob Chychrun's contract status

Ottawa Senators defenseman Jakob Chychrun (6) skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period at Amalie Arena.
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

A little over a year ago, the Senators made a huge splash, acquiring Jakob Chychrun from the Arizona Coyotes.

The defenseman didn't come cheap, with the Senators moving the 12th overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft and two second-round picks in exchange for him. A year later though, there's a possibility Chychrun will be on the move again. He only has a single year on his deal at a $4.6 million cap hit, and his next contract is likely going to come in at a much larger number, possibly even on a maximum-term deal. However, the Senators already have two other left-handed defenseman locked up in Thomas Chabot and Jake Sanderson.

The other reality is that Chychrun's first full year in Ottawa wasn't all perfect. He was able to produce offensively, but he still didn't provide the overall impact the team hoped for. Sanderson and Artem Zub were facing the tougher matchups on a nightly basis, but Chychrun still posted only an ugly minus-30 rating on the year.

However, trading him doesn't seem like much of a better option either, as it would be a step backwards for Ottawa, and there's no guarantee that the Senators would be able to recoup the assets they gave up for him. The DeBrincat trade noted above is a prime example of what could go wrong for Ottawa if they were to move him in yet another trade.

So while the Senators do have options with Chychrun, none are exactly ideal. The longer he goes unsigned, the more attention the storyline will receive, so it's clear that Ottawa has to be very careful when it comes to making the right decision on Chychrun.

The Senators have a murky goaltending situation

To be fair, goaltending was far from the only issue the Sens dealt with this season. The team's offense wasn't as strong as anticipated, ranking only 2oth in the league in goals per game, they struggled mightily on defense, and their special teams ranks in the bottom ten in the league in both categories.

But when Joonas Korpisalo was brought in, the hope was he could stabilize the team's goaltending situation. Korpisalo was coming off a run with the Los Angeles Kings where he looked like an undisputed starter, so it seemed like a good addition.

However, the netminder has been no help for Ottawa, posting a brutal .890 save percentage across 55 games. His goaltending partner, Anton Forsberg, hasn't been any better.

The issue is that, as of now, the Senators are more or less tied to Korpisalo and Forsberg moving forward. Both remain under contract, with Korpisalo's deal continuing until 2028. And while Forsberg only has a year left on his contract, it's doubtful anyone would take on his $2.75 million cap hit for free. Even burying the deal would mean $1.6 million being counted against the cap.

Perhaps Ottawa could bite the bullet and look to add someone to replace Forsberg, but good goalies won't come cheap, either in price to acquire or cap hit. With Korpisalo's deal costing $4 million as well, adding anyone else could end up meaning a significant amount of cap space being allocated to goaltending.

The Senators had a lot of problems this season, but it's always going to be tough to win with poor goaltending. With both goalies still under contract, it looks like they could have a hard time improving the position in the future too.