The Ottawa Senators have spent the past five years outside of the playoffs, collecting draft picks and developing a solid young core.
This summer they have signalled an intent to end their rebuild stage and become far more competitive by being aggressive in free agency and the trade market, adding proven point-producers Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat and reliable goalie Cam Talbot.
|What||NHL Season 2022/23|
|Where||USA and Canada|
|When||7th October 2022 - June 2023|
|How to watch||Premier Sports & bet365's Sports Live Streaming|
COL Avalanche 17/4, TOR Maple Leafs 8/1, FLA Panthers 9/1, TB Lightning 10/1, CAR Hurricanes 11/1
Giroux brings a wealth of 1,018 regular season games experience to Ottawa which for the 34-year-old is almost like a move back home.
Hailing from Hearst, Ontario, 943 km away from Ottawa, Giroux has amassed 923 regular season points (294 goals, 629 assists) over a 14-year NHL career which has mostly been spent captaining the Philadelphia Flyers.
In 95 post-season appearances, the super-skilled Giroux has 81 points (28 goals, 53 assists) and will provide an invaluable level of leadership to a young Senators dressing room.
DeBrincat, 24, has averaged 32 goals per-season since coming into the NHL five years ago, and adds a significant amount of fire-power to Ottawa's line-up.
Last season was his best, scoring 41 goals with the Chicago Blackhawks, who drafted him in 2016. The career-high took his total regular season tally to 160 goals. With 147 assists he has an impressive total of 307 points in 368 games.
The pair are expected to be centred by 20-year-old Tim Stutzle who has committed his long-term future to the organisation by signing an eight-year deal, $66.8m contract extension.
Ottawa's top line of Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris and Drake Batherson is expected to remain intact after an excellent 2022/23 which saw them combine for 166 points (82 goals, 84 assists).
The Senators were able to trade unwanted Matt Murray and his sizeable $6.25m contract to the Toronto Maple Leafs (retaining just 25 per cent), and replace him with 35-year-old Cam Talbot who was acquired from the Minnesota Wild.
Talbot provides the Senators with much needed stability in net, after Murray was unable to stay healthy throughout his two-year stay with the organisation.
Talbot played 49 times for the Wild last season with a .911 save-percentage and 2.76 goals-against-average (GAA). In 396 total regular season appearances with five different teams, he has a very respectable .915 career save-percentage and 2.63 GAA.
In playoff action, Talbot has appeared 33 times with a .921 save-percentage and 2.51 GAA. He will be partnered 29-year-old Anton Forsberg, who played a career high 46 times last season with a solid .917 save-percentage and 2.82 GAA.
With the additions of Giroux, DeBrincat and Talbot, Senators General Manager Pierre Dorion has significantly raised expectations for his team in 2022/23.
The history of the trio suggests they will make a considerable difference, but whether the Senators are able to realistically challenge for a spot in the playoffs or not will largely depend on whether their exciting young core can take the next step in their development in a new higher-pressure situation.
A win-now philosophy now exists, and the likes of Tkachuk, Norris, Batherson and Stutzle will be heavily relied upon to produce.
Like Stutzle, the Senators have shown faith in 23-year-old centre Josh Norris by signing him to an eight-year, $63.6m contract this off-season.
The 6'1" forward had an NHL career-high in goals (35), assists (20) and points (55) in 66 games last season.
On the back-end, dynamic 25-year-old Thomas Chabot is entering his prime, and will again be looked upon to lead Ottawa's offence from the blue-line. The first-round pick in 2015 has 188 points (42 goals, 146 assists) in 313 regular season games, with 38 points (seven goals, 31 assists) coming in 59 games last season.
The Senators' next highest point producer from defence was Artem Zub, who had 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) from 81 games, and whether it comes from Zub, veterans Travis Hamonic or Nikita Zaitsev, or rookie Jake Sanderson, Ottawa will need more contribution from those alongside Chabot if they are meet expectations this season.
On paper, the Senators appear one of the more improved teams in the NHL and look well set to improve on their seventh-place finish in the Atlantic Division (33-42-7) last season.
Their next level might not make up the 20-plus points required to turn them into a playoff contender just yet, but for the first time in a long time, there is hope and excitement for the Senators heading into a new season.