We've already looked at the forward prospects that might soon make the jump to the NHL, now we take a look at the guys on the blue line. With a lot of speculation as to whether RFA Chris Campoli and UFAs Anton Volchenkov and Andy Sutton sign in Ottawa, it's hard to know if there will be any room for defensive prospects.
After the jump, you'll see the names of the blueliners you might be seeing in Ottawa next season.
Cowen, the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, is widely considered Ottawa's best prospect. Standing a mean 6'5" and 220lbs, he could add a very imposing presence on the blueline. He's also a defensive defenseman, something Ottawa could use with the probable loss of Anton Volchenkov. During his time in the WHL, he was more than willing to show off his size and some scouts even say he holds potential to be a possible offense threat with to his mobility.
The big problem though, is his knee. He suffered a knee injury that ended his 2008-09 season, and was the reason he dropped to the ninth spot in the NHL Entry Draft. Though he came back and had a decent WHL campaign last year--which got better as the year went on--he struggled to keep up with forwards at the World Junior Hockey Championship and found himself riding the bench through most of it.
If Cowen trains hard this off-season and gets his knee back to 100%, he should be able to push for a spot on the blue line. If he does not make the team, he'll be forced to return to the WHL due to the transfer agreement with the CHL; in other words, he won't be playing in Binghamton.
Drafted with the Senators next pick (second round, 42 overall) after Erik Karlsson, Wiercioch is a graduate of the University of Denver, put up some great numbers in his freshman year in 2008-09 with 35 points (12 goals and 23 assist). Still, after a couple of seasons in the NCAA, he will probably need to get used to the pro game in the AHL. I expect him to start first pairing in Binghamton, put up some nice numbers (his college numbers, although a small sample size, look great), and challenge for a roster spot in 2011-12.
Like a lot of Senators defenseman, Wiercioch needs to work on his skating. He has great hands, and his size works well with him, but he needs to work on his speed and mobility. He's an intelligent guy, and will hopefully figure it all out by year's end.
|2004–05||Lake Superior State U.||CCHA||38||1||4||5||28||—||—||—||—||—|
|2005–06||Lake Superior State U.||CCHA||36||2||8||10||18||—||—||—||—||—|
|2006–07||Lake Superior State U.||CCHA||43||10||20||30||10||—||—||—||—||—|
Derek Smith improved last season largely due to his size--he stands at 6'2" and 199 lbs. With that little more weight and after more than doubling his point-production year-over-year, D. Smith was able to improve his standing on the list of Ottawa Senators' defensive prospects. Smith has a great body for the NHL, he just needs a little more work and he could be a lot more than just a injury replacement minor-pro player.
He can score, and knows how to skate. If he can improve on the season he had last year, Smith could be a great surprise in the Ottawa system.