"The Ottawa Senators are going to the playoffs," said Moad Saeed, a public relations student at Algonquin College.

League-wide NHL training camps started on Sept. 22, and the Ottawa Senators had a big off-season.

Fans and rivals have differing expectations for the team’s roster this season.

The playoffs were approaching when news about the passing of longtime Senators’ owner Eugene Melnyk shocked the hockey world. The Senators brought in two big pieces for their forward group: Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat, along with a new goaltender, Cam Talbot.

The moves have somewhat divided the hockey fan base at Algonquin College.

“They have upgraded their forwards. They’ll be an offensive club, but will suffer on the back end defensively. And they’ve improved in goal,” said Joseph Ieradi, a professor in the police foundations program.

Tyler Cyr, a recent graduate of the radio broadcasting program, feels optimistic about the team.

“This season is going to be a real test for the Senators come Oct. 13 in Buffalo against the Sabres, and I’m super excited about the team and for the fanbase. This is arguably the best Ottawa Senators lineup the team has seen in years, and while the core is quite young, they have the potential to surprise many people,” said Cyr.

While some feel the team is still a year or two away in terms of allowing the younger guys to develop and get used to the speed and size of players in the NHL, Cyr remains optimistic.

Frankie Benvenuti, a former journalism student who graduated in April 2022, also feels optimistic about the Senators’ young roster.

“I think there’s general excitement about the team right now. Some of the additions they made — Giroux and DeBrincat — have proven they are ready to actually go after it and compete this season,” he said. “That’s something we haven’t seen for some time. Adding the new acquisitions to the young group they already have is going to be interesting. I think expectations are really high.”

While the team looks promising on paper, growing pains are a real possibility according to Benvenuti.

“I think expectations are high, but I wouldn’t be surprised if things took a little while to fall into place,” said Benvenuti.

Greg Avgeropoulos, a radio broadcasting student, feels as though Senators fans need to reel in their expectations, as the additions didn’t occur a few years ago, which changes the narrative.

“I think they are becoming way too overrated by their fans. They got a 34-year-old Giroux, who everybody seems to think is still a 25-year-old. He is still a good player, but not what he once was,” he said. “They also got a 35-year-old Cam Talbot, who was decent last year but lost his starting job, and their defence still stinks.”

The Senators have certainly divided Algonquin students, with some students viewing the team as pretenders who won’t go far in the playoffs, while others see the potential for a dark horse and a team that might surprise hockey fans.

With on-ice practices starting on Sept. 23 the start of training camp is upon us, and fans won’t have to wait very long to get a glimpse of the group set to represent the Senators in the upcoming season.