The Ottawa Senators did a very commendable thing at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline. Ottawa entered the deadline within striking distance of a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And instead of punting, they decided to go for it. They added defenseman Jakob Chychurn via trade with the Arizona Coyotes to push for that playoff spot.
Unfortunately for the Senators, things just didn't work out. They finished sixth in the Atlantic Division, six points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings. The final Eastern Conference playoff spot went to the Florida Panthers, who finished fourth in the Atlantic.
The Senators have had an interesting offseason, and that's not entirely limited to their hockey-related moves. Ottawa was up for sale for most of the 2022-23 NHL season. And as a result, that hung over the team as a cloud of uncertainty until the sale was finally finalized in mid-June.
That said, the Senators made some headline-grabbing moves this offseason. But what do they still need to do ahead of the upcoming season? Let's figure out what the biggest Senators roster concern is as the NHL offseason nears its end.
The Senators saw two notable players leave the team this summer. First, goalie Cam Talbot left as a free agent, signing a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings. Talbot struggled with injury during his lone season in Ottawa and things just generally didn't work out.
The other notable departure is forward Alex DeBrincat. DeBrincat informed the team that he preferred a trade away after the two sides failed to agree to a contract. In the end, the Senators traded the 25-year-old to the Red Wings. DeBrincat reportedly preferred Detroit, his hometown team, despite other teams having interest.
In response, Ottawa made a fair few additions to their roster. In the DeBrincat trade, the Senators acquired forward Dominik Kubalik. Kubalik spent one season in Detroit after signing a two-year contract last summer.
Ottawa's most interesting addition, however, is certainly Vladimir Tarasenko. After rumors of a contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, Tarasenko signed a one-year pact with the Sens. The veteran sniper split this past season with the New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues. He won a Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019.
Ottawa added some physicality to their lineup with Zach McEwen. He signed a three-year contract in Canada's capital city. McEwen split this past season with the Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings.
Finally, perhaps the biggest risk Ottawa took this offseason. The Senators signed goalie Joonas Korpisalo to a major five-year contract in NHL Free Agency. Korpisalo split this past season with the Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Biggest roster concern
The biggest Senators roster concern as of right now is their goaltending. Korpisalo can be a very reliable goalie in the NHL. However, there's no guarantee he can provide the type of goaltending they need. Furthermore, backup Anton Forsberg is a bit of a question mark given his own struggles with injury last season.
There have been criticisms about the team's forward depth. I don't think this is as big of an issue as their goaltending. Tarasenko's signing gives them an incredible top-six group. Kubalik and McEwen are solid additions to their bottom six, as well. It's not perfect by any means, but it works well enough.
Furthermore, there are questions about their defense. I honestly think their blueline is fine. And a full season from Chychrun should help matters there as well. This group is young and could improve as the season progresses, as well.
All in all, Ottawa's biggest risk of the offseason came in their signing of Korpisalo. If they make the playoffs, it'll be because he gave them the goaltending they envisioned when they signed him. However, that's not a guarantee, and it'll be the team's biggest concern until we see the results on the ice.