Senators preview: Rankings, predictions, playoff chances and more

A first-round pick in 2018, Brady Tkachuk provides some hope for the future for Senators fans. David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire

With the 2018-19 season fast approaching, we're running snapshots of all 31 NHL teams, including point total projections, positional previews, best- and worst-case scenarios and more.

The Ottawa Senators appear poised for a long rebuild. What should be expected out of them in 2018-19?

How they finished in 2017-18: 28-43-11 (67 points), finished 30th in NHL, seventh in the Atlantic Division

So there's this team, and it misses out on the Stanley Cup Final by the margin of one overtime goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. It decides it's so close to winning a championship that it goes all-in the following season and makes this trade for a former All-Star center who told his team he wanted out of a rebuild. Then, just a scant two months later, he discovers he is in the middle of a rebuild with the team that acquired him. And it's a rebuilding team that can't even properly tank because it traded its first-round draft pick for -- you guessed it -- the aforementioned former All-Star center with the rebuild allergy.

Oh, and then get this: Two teammates and their partners get embroiled in a cyber-bullying scandal, and one of them gets hastily traded for little return and ends up back in the division. The other player is the polar opposite of hastily traded, as this team holds on to a generational defenseman past his peak value at the trade deadline and the draft and gets a middling return for an unmitigated superstar. Also, the fan base revolts against the team's owner for criticizing the market and floating a relocation trial balloon during the NHL's 100th birthday party.

Now, you're probably saying, "This can't be an actual professional hockey team because this sounds like an episode of 'Black Mirror!'"

Thus forcing us to introduce you to the Ottawa Senators.

Over/under projected point total (per the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook): 70.5

Best-case scenario: Craig Anderson does that thing where he's impenetrable, except he does it three times a week for six months while the Senators harness the power of being counted out to be something respectable, if far from the postseason.

Worst-case scenario: More drama erupts. Matt Duchene and Mark Stone, the team's remaining best players, indicate they want to play elsewhere next season -- and they're traded for as underwhelming a return as the Sens got for Erik Karlsson.

Forward overview: Center Duchene, the aforementioned former All-Star, is in the last year of his contract and hence has a giant carrot dangling in front of him this season. The same goes for winger Stone, who is also facing unrestricted free agency after putting together a string of strong all-around seasons. The best news for the Senators is that there are a collection of young talents -- Colin White, Brady Tkachuk, Alex Formenton -- that represent the next wave for the franchise. The bad news is that this is currently the team of Bobby Ryan, Mikkel Boedker and two guys who are probably looking to escape at the first opportunity. Alas, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, one of the few bright spots for the present and future of the team, is out six months with a torn Achilles tendon. NHL rank: 30th

Defense overview: Karlsson played 26:44 per game and had 62 points in 71 games, and that was considered a down year. History will judge whether the Senators botched ... eh, who are we kidding, the totally biffed the Karlsson trade. As for the rest of the defense, Cody Ceci and Thomas Chabot are likely the top pairing, with Mark Borowiecki, Chris Wideman, the hulking Ben Harpur and former Shark Dylan DeMelo in the mix. NHL rank: 31st

Goalie overview: Anderson, like seemingly everyone else, had an awful season with an .898 save percentage -- a terrible campaign exacerbated by the fact that he received a contract extension that kicks in this season before last season even started. He's better than that, and Mike Condon is a capable backup. Both goalies are keeping the crease warm for Filip Gustavsson, one of the few blue-chippers that GM Pierre Dorion acquired in his sell-off this year. NHL rank: 28th

Special teams: The Senators were 27th on the power play (16.6) and 26th on the penalty kill (76.2), and Erik Karlsson is on neither of them now.

Pipeline overview: Adding the hard-nosed Tkachuk to a system that has a lot of higher-upside talents bolstered a deep forward pool that includes Alex Formenton, Drake Batherson, Colin White and Logan Brown. Adding Josh Norris and Rudolfs Balcers in the Erik Karlsson trade didn't move the needle a ton, but there's no question that the Sens have one of the deeper groups of prospects in the league right now. Read more -- Chris Peters

Fantasy nugget: Stone and Duchene are worth drafting but definitely later than most top-line forwards. After that, the Senators are packed with potential late-round fliers in the forms of Ryan, Boedker and Chabot. If the team can find better chemistry, there could be some fantasy value to go around with these no-risk acquisitions. That said, you probably don't need to seek them at the draft table. Keep an eye on early-season returns and the free-agent market instead. Read more -- Sean Allen

Coach on the hot seat? Guy Boucher's magic has always been fleeting. He had 103 points and made the conference finals in his first season with the Lightning and then missed the playoffs. He had 98 points and made the conference finals in his first year with the Sens and then missed the playoffs. He was let go in Year 3 with Tampa. Will the trend continue in Ottawa?

Bold prediction: Duchene is traded at the deadline, but Stone re-signs in Ottawa.