The post Three Reasons For Senators Fans To Keep Watching Amid Struggles appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

You can make a compelling argument that over the last seven years, no fanbase in professional sports has been more humiliated, underwhelmed, and unfulfilled than those cheering for the Ottawa Senators. As the NHL regular season enters its final stretch, the Senators find themselves in what has become their natural habitat: the bottom of the standings. For fans of the team, there was no question that this was the year things would turn around. Anything short of the playoffs had to be deemed a failure, and seeing where the team is with 20 games to go, it’s hard to find anything remotely positive to say about the Senators this year.

Brady Tkachuk trade rumors Senators

So, at this point, why bother watching? That’s the question Senators fans have had to ask themselves for the last couple of weeks. With the Trade Deadline in the rearview mirror, the closest thing for fans in the capital to look forward to is the NHL Draft Lottery. This likely won’t happen until the first round of the playoffs in late April, over a month away. So, in this last month of the season, why should Senators fans keep watching? Here are three reasons for the people of Ottawa to stay tuned in.

NHL Auditions From AHL Belleville

The Senators’ prospect pool is certainly not what it once was. Nearly all of the team’s top prospects have graduated to full-time NHL roles throughout the seven-year rebuild. However, there are still some interesting names currently on the Belleville Senators of the AHL who may get some looks with the big club before the end of the year. It’s always fun seeing glimpses of players who could play significant roles for the NHL squad down the road.

Angus Crookshank is Belleville’s leading scorer with 44 points in 48 games. A fifth-round pick in 2018, Crookshank has played seven games with the NHL Senators this season, scoring his first NHL goal and adding an assist in his time with Ottawa. Crookshank’s stellar play in the AHL this season suggests he could be a potential reliable option as a bottom-six forward for Ottawa next season. It won’t be a surprise if management wants to see him in a few more NHL games down the stretch to evaluate.

Angus Crookshank Senators and Bellville AHL top prospect

Zach Ostapchuck played his first NHL game Tuesday night against the Penguins and didn’t look at all out of place. The 39th overall pick in 2021 has 22 points in 56 AHL games in his first pro season. It’s pretty promising that a player gets an NHL look in their first pro season out of junior. There is a lot to like about Ostapchuck’s grittiness and sound defensive game as a forward. He’s a name that Senators fans will continue to get familiar with as he remains with the big club, expected to play his second game in a row on Thursday.

On the back end, Tyler Kleven already has 13 games of NHL experience with the Senators over the last two seasons. The 22-year-old is having a nice first season in Belleville, leading the team in plus-minus and adding 16 points in 40 games. With so many questions about Ottawa’s defensive core, it wouldn’t come as a shock to see Kleven come up and play some games in the last month of the season. His audition will be evaluated closely as the Senators remain undecided on how their blueline could look next season.

It should be noted that Belleville is in the middle of a heated playoff race in the AHL’s North Division. There’s a benefit to players staying down there to get experience making a playoff push. However, NHL experience is important in its own right. We’ll see what course of action Senators’ management decides to take.

The Final Act For Some Key Players

It has become clear ever since the lead-up to the Trade Deadline that there will be substantial changes coming in Ottawa. Although there was nothing big done before March 8th, this will likely be a busy summer for GM Steve Staios. Names like Josh Norris, Jakob Chychrun, and Thomas Chabot have all been thrown out as possible trade casualties for the Senators in an attempt to get back to respectability on the ice next season.

Thomas Chabot Jackob Chychrun Senators

With that being said, these final weeks of the season are a chance for fans to watch some of these players as Senators for possibly the final time. For some, this may bring some sadness and hard feelings, but it can also be looked at as an opportunity to make the games meaningful. It’s been a hard road for Ottawa, and some of these players have been through quite a lot with this team. It hasn’t often gone right, but there’s no doubt that the players have tried under, at times, unworkable circumstances. Use these last handful of games as a proper send-off. Cherish your time with these players who you’ve watched for the last half-decade or more because there’s no telling what the roster might look like when October comes around.

Fans Can Watch Senators Be an Impactful Spoiler Team

Sens fans are probably sick of this one. Although the playoffs are off the table, the Senators can still be a factor in the playoff race. In their final 19 games of the season, Ottawa plays the Islanders, Blues, Capitals, Sabres, Lightning, and have two more tilts with the Devils. All of these teams are right in the thick of the Wild Card race. Their games against the Senators will have an intense, urgent, playoff-like feel to them, and that always makes them more fun to watch. It’s an opportunity for some Senators players to regain confidence and know that they’ve made a difference in the season.

The ability to drastically alter a team’s playoff chances is an awesome power. If you can’t be one of the 16 teams to get in, you might as well assert yourself and make your mark on the playoff race any way you can. The unfortunate reality of the Senators’ situation is you have to make your own fun as the season winds down. What’s more fun than having an entire fanbase mad at your team despite being 18 points behind them in the standings?

It’s tough out here in Ottawa, there’s no debating that. But, hockey at its core should be fun. It’s frustrating, it’s annoying, and it’s not what anyone wanted, but Senators hockey for the next 19 games is going to come down to enjoying the little things. Stay strong, Sens army – there are better days ahead.

Next: 3 Reasons to Keep Hope During Buffalo Sabres’ Rebuild

The post Three Reasons For Senators Fans To Keep Watching Amid Struggles appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

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