Looking ahead for the Ottawa Senators: The rebuild begins in earnest

Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire

As each NHL team is eliminated from playoff contention -- either mathematically or by losing in the postseason -- we'll take a look at why its quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in 2018-19, along with three keys to its offseason, impact prospects for 2019-20, and a way-too-early prediction on what 2019-20 will hold.

What went wrong

Everything. OK, nearly everything.

The season began with the trade of star defenseman Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks ahead of his pending free agency this summer. While the return was seen as paltry at the time, it did bring back Chris Tierney (who set a new career high in points this season) and young defenseman Dylan DeMelo. But after a brief flirtation with contention -- the Senators were a .500 team for the first two months of the season -- their season ended up in the basement after a 5-15-1 stretch from mid-December through February. There is, shall we say, quit in this team: Through 69 games, the Senators were 5-22-1 when trailing after the first period.