The Senators defence became a huge question mark when its two brightest young stars needed "season-ending" surgeries.
Without Jared Cowen and Erik Karlsson, heavy responsibilities fell to NHL-inexperienced guys like Andre Benoit, Mark Borowiecki, Patrick Wiercioch and Eric Gryba. Extra burdens would be placed on Sergei Gonchar, Marc Methot, Chris Phillips and Mike Lundin, who ran into his own injury problems. Surely, the blue line would crumble.
Yet the collection not only survived, but thrived, and now, with everyone at full health, the Senators have a defence that any GM in the league would trade his for. The only possible exception might be the blue line GM Stan Bowman has assembled in Chicago.