Senators report card

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

Gee, it sure is quiet around here these days.

The kids have gone their separate ways. No post-season party. No dancing in the streets. Heck, there wasn't even a flood of e-mails to the inbox and calls to The Team 1200 to complain after a devastating playoff defeat.

Instead, the Senators just packed their bags after their worst regular season since 1997-98, when they also had 83 points, but made the post-season.

This season, they missed the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.

Instead of dwelling on that fact, they're selling optimism for next season, when there won't be Craig Hartsburg to kick around.

But there will be new faces on the ice, including goaltender Pascal Leclaire, who should be healthy and ready to go for training camp.

Before we put away the chalk and clean the blackboard for another year, let's grade them one final time.

The good news: Only 146 days until training camp.

GM Bryan Murray

Well, that was fun. He installed his fourth coach behind the bench in three years, hiring Cory Clouston Feb. 2 to replace the fired Craig Hartsburg. Murray gets high marks for making that move. He has to make more changes in the off-season and will have to juggle money with the Senators close to the salary cap.

GOALIES

Brian Elliott

Came into a tough situation and performed well. But it's hard for a young goalie (he's 23) to be considered a saviour. He did the best he could, but has a penchant for giving up bad goals at bad times, something he'll have to fix to become an elite goalie.

Alex Auld

He was fine. Nothing special. Played down the stretch to see if the Senators could find a taker for him before the draft in June. Has always been streaky and that didn't change in Ottawa. His $1-million contract will be hard to move.

DEFENCE

Filip Kuba

Was the club's best blueliner most of the year. He didn't score enough goals (3), but contributed at both ends of the ice. Was a plus player and that's saying something on this team. When you don't notice him, you know he's playing well.

Brian Lee

Another player the organization has to decide what to do with. If Erik Karlsson makes the Senators next season, Lee -- who plays a similar style -- could find himself left out of the mix. A trade candidate.

Chris Phillips

Didn't have the kind of season he or the Senators expected. Certainly played better once Clouston took over and brought some structure. His plus/minus improved dramatically. He's reliable, but might not be counted on so heavily next season if there are major changes.

Brendan Bell

An interesting situation to watch. Was called up in November and stayed all season. A looming restricted free agent, the Senators will likely qualify him on a two-way contract. He could opt not to sign and become unrestricted. Faces some tough decisions.

Chris Campoli

Not sure what to make of this guy. He came from the Islanders -- where it appeared to be a free-for-all system -- to a coach who demands structure. Can move the puck and contribute offensively, but has to do it more consistently. His defensive play must also improve.

Anton Volchenkov

Never question his effort or heart. He does it all and isn't fancy. Never afraid to throw his body in front of a shot and is always playing hurt. Just a smart player. Had a tough year, but still managed to contribute.

Alex Picard

Missed most of the second half with an injury. Hasn't worked out the way the club wanted. Has to be better in his own end. Can make costly errors. Wouldn't be surprised if he's dealt in the off-season.

Jason Smith

To call his season a disaster would be an understatement. Not only did he not perform up to expectations, he missed the last month of the season with a knee injury. Can he be better playing a full season under Clouston? The Senators can only hope.

Christoph Schubert

The Senators tried to trade him and nobody wanted him. That's the part he doesn't get. They will try to deal his $900,000 contract again. Has to stop whining about wanting to be a defenceman and earn his playing time.

FORWARDS

Daniel Alfredsson

Tough year for the captain. Still was the club's best player and is showing no signs of age (36), but the rest of the Senators forgot to follow their leader. Missing the post-season didn't sit well with this Senator for life.

Nick Foligno

One of the big positives. Had to establish himself as an NHLer and did. Is willing to play at both ends of the ice. Has shown he could be a consistent 20-goal scorer. Has to work hard because he's not gifted offensively. Will play more next season.

Ryan Shannon

A nice surprise. Called up from Binghamton when the club was looking for help, he came in and earned himself a new contract, along with a spot on Team USA at the world championship. Did his job playing mostly with Fisher. Now has valuable experience at this level.

Shean Donovan

A role player who plays his role. But had a tough time staying in the lineup under Clouston. Can be on the fourth line any time. If Chris Neil doesn't return, Donovan's role might expand.

Jarkko Ruutu

A guy you love to have on your team and hate to play against. Has to be more disciplined in some situations, but that's just him. Loves to make the opposition take penalties. Did his job, for the most part. Might be dealt in the off-season.

Dany Heatley

Didn't have a dominant year by any stretch of the imagination. His play was hurt by inconsistency. But he has to have more ups than downs or this team goes nowhere.

Jason Spezza

Another player who is difficult to judge. His numbers were decent, but his play left a lot to be desired. Maybe playing at the worlds will help him next season. Has to take his play to another level every game, not once in a while.

Mike Fisher

Played better under Clouston, but is another guy who struggled with his consistency. Is a rugged player who must produce more offensively. Has always worked hard, he hasn't always worked smart and that made his season difficult.

Jesse Winchester

Found out pretty quickly he's not an offensive player, but a role player. Given a role by Clouston to be a rugged fourth-liner, Winchester got the job done. Seems headed in the right direction.

Chris Neil

Another player who will be interesting to watch. Fought a lot this year, will be a UFA and wants to be paid accordingly. Doesn't have the offensive numbers to demand big money on the open market, but it only takes one GM to pay Neil what he wants.

Chris Kelly

A top candidate to be dealt in the off-season. The Senators were disappointed in his play at both ends of the ice and his penalty killing wasn't up to scratch, either. Demanded a big contract and got it. Now he has to be better. Big money means big expectations.

Mike Comrie

Acquired in the Islanders trade, he didn't have the kind of finish he or the Senators hoped. Troubled by a groin injury all season. He'll have to take a pay cut to stay.


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