Almost two weeks into camp and Senators management is getting a clearer picture of their upcoming roster. The Sens came into camp with 19 one way contracts, so there really weren’t too many spots available. But who plays where, and would gets sent to the AHL or to another league is still up in the air.
Goaltending is set. Craig Anderson and Alex Auld will split the games 62 and 20, providing everyone is healthy. It was apparent last spring Anderson is more than able to carry this team. Auld, who returns for a second stint in Ottawa, knows his role and plays it well.
Young Robin Lehner will start the season in Binghamton, and could still see some time in Ottawa. But the organization wants Lehner to build on his AHL playoff run of last year. Spending the season playing a full slate of games with the baby Sens will go a long way in his development.
The blueline has five guys on one-way deals, plus Erik Karlsson, who isn’t going anywhere. The two stories heading into camp were the ability of this unit to rebound from a disastrous 2010/2011 season and determining the level of play from two rookies.
While Karlsson was an All-Star in 2011, he wasn’t a shining star in the first half of the season. A consistent 80-plus games will be needed. Filip Kuba, Chris Philips and Sergei Gonchar have played a combined 2,700 games in the league and will be expected to lead this group and be better than they were last year.
Jared Cowen and David Rundblad are both highly touted and play different roles. Cowen is known for his play the defensive zone, and has shown a little offense this fall. The former WHL standout has all but made the team. Rundblad has great offensive instincts, but learning when to use them, and how to play in his own zone, will take some time. He is most likely bound for the AHL, but will see his fair share of time in Ottawa over the winter.
Again up front, it’s no real surprise as to who will make up the forward corps. The biggest battle is the second line centre position. Peter Regin is the incumbent, while rookies Stephane Da Costa and Mika Zibinejad have had strong camps and will make the coaching staff think long and hard. Regin has impressed new coach Paul Maclean, but he re injured his shoulder during the Leafs game. Word for now is he will take a week or two to heal.
Zibinejad has put up points, but what has caught the eye of many are his defensive instincts. When junior-aged players are returned to their junior teams, it is with the hope they improve the defensive game. The 6’2″ centre has proven he can play both ways.
Da Costa too has shown he can compete and provide some offense from the second centre spot. He is smaller, but his game is subtle, and has impressed many observers. Both he and Zibinejad should start the season with Ottawa ( especially if Regin is out for a few more weeks ) and get an extended look.
Other forwards who have made a name for themselves are Zach Smith, Nikita Filatov and Chris Neil.
With a week and a half to go before the start of the season, Ottawa has ssome time to sort out their roster. The Senators haven’t given any indication when final cuts will come.