On Tuesday afternoon, the Ottawa Senators announced the 23-man roster to compete at the annual rookie tournament, held this year in Oshawa. The tournament is a yearly tease for the return of hockey and, barring a visit to Oshawa, is quite inaccessible for fans. While we have been limited to endless conjecture about who will ride shotgun with whom and which defenseman will fall victim to the logjam, Senators prospects have had development camps, training camps and conditioning to ensure a comparatively busy summer.
While the victor of the rookie tournament (Ottawa is competing against Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs) has claim to some of the most insignificant bragging rights in professional sports, it is an added opportunity for Ottawa's staff, most prominently Binghamton coach Kurt Kleinendorst, to evaluate the contents of the prospect cupboard. Thus, it is interesting to consider who has been excluded and included in the group of twenty-three headed down the 401 to almost-Toronto.
The Senators have once again chosen to invite an undrafted goalie to camp. This year it will be Matej Machovsky, who played a few seasons with junior teams in his native Czech Republic before coming to play for the Brampton Battalion and Guelph Storm of the OHL. Notably, he was a member of the OHL Second Team All-Stars, as well as the winner of an award for the best rookie GAA. Matej follows in the footsteps of Guelph Stormer Brandon Foote, an OHL overager, and Shane Connelly from the year before-- he now plays in the ECHL.
From afar, the roster is a mix of players that will be in the Ottawa system in the coming year, or returning to their junior team. David Rundblad, Jared Cowen, Patrick Wiercioch, Mark Borowiecki, Mika Zibanejad and Stephane Da Costa will all be battling for roster spots on the big club. Jakub Culek, Jordan Fransoo, Darren Kramer, Stefan Noesen, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Shane Prince, Matt Puempel and Mark Stone are all likely or guaranteed to return to CHL careers. Robin Lehner, Corey Cowick, Louie Caporusso, Derek Grant, Andre Petersson, Josh Godfrey and Wacey Hamilton are the players that can expect to be playing in Binghamton.
It merits mention that the Senators elected to bring in Jordan Fransoo over a player who has longer been in the system, such as Craig Schira. Also excluded are forwards such as Mike Hoffman, David Dziurzynski, Jim O'Brien and undrafted college signee Pat Cannone. Perhaps management feels they know what they have in these players. However, there are often re-invites. Jakub Culek is attending for a second straight year, as are Eric Gryba, Mark Stone and Corey Cowick.
Although the regular season is still some moons away, seeing any semblance of a roster is an encouraging sign that the summer is drawing to a close.