Senators Prospect Roundup: College Free Agency

Jesse Winchester was a college free agent signing by Bryan Murray.

No Ottawa Senators regular season can be considered complete before Bryan Murray signs an undrafted free agent out of college. Although Sens fans often cast a critical eye to his actions on and around July 1, his record with college free agency is exemplary. It has been written about before, and will be hashed over again, but that's no reason not to hash over it here for good measure. Chris Kunitz and Dustin Penner were signings Brian Burke Murray made while managing what were, at the time, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Since coming to Ottawa, Murray has remained active in scouting and signing players coming out of NCAA who flew under the radar during the draft.

Signed Jesse Winchester who had a productive four years at Colgate before being scooped up by Murray and the Senators. Winch has been useful for Ottawa, even if his playmaking prowess has not exactly translated at the NHL level. Out for much of the season with a concussion, he has been a capable fourth line presence throughout his career.

Signed Bobby Butler, a Hobey Baker candidate and Hockey East player of the year who showed a flourish for goal scoring while at the University of New Hampshire (and, for a fun little while, in the NHL). In signing Butler, an article from the CBC reports that the Senators apparently beat out New Jersey, Pittsburgh and Vancouver.

Signed Stephane Da Costa, another Hobey Baker finalist out of Merrimack. The undersized French forward was, for about a week, the focus of the hockey rumor world (grasping at straws post trade deadline day. And, come to think of it, before it as well). However, Da Costa's season was outstanding and it was initially reported that just about every team in the NHL was in on the kid. Even when it boiled down to a few remaining, it was a pretty tense few days before he picked the Sens.

Signed Pat Canonne. Compared to the Da Costa sweepstakes, this one fell pretty far under the radar. Accumulation of prospects is a good thing, and Canonne has been one of the B-Sens better forwards, playing the role of sniper productively.

Signed Cole Schneider. Read this excellent breakdown of Schneider from Silver Seven earlier this week, courtesy of Will Moran.

Ottawa also signed Wacey Hamilton last year, but he came out of the WHL and was not a college free agent. Semantics.

Sure, the organization has also missed out on some players, but not lately (Tyler Bozak) and not very publicly. Most players that Murray is rumored to go after, he gets. Hobey Baker winner Andy Miele signed with the Ducks last year, but after the hoopla surrounding the Da Costa signing, it would seem Ottawa scouts felt they had their man. This says a lot about the perception of Ottawa as an organization under the Murray team. It is also a testament to management's approach to prospect development. There is literally no reason not to go after these players, and they do not cost the organization any more than their contract. So, not much.

Other teams have that approach- common hockey wisdom indicates signing a top player out of college is akin to a free high to mid round pick. The real plus for the organization is not necessarily that these guys translate into players, but that talented college graduates continue to see this organization in a good light.

Other Prospect Notes:

  • The 6th Sens have been keeping on top of Ottawa's activities in the college UFA search, which seems to be focusing on defensemen. Give 'em a read.
  • Jakob Silfverberg won the Golden Helmet as MVP of the SEL's regular season. Battling an injury didn't slow him down, it will be exciting to see him around at training camp next year. I also hope that it looks a lot like this.
  • Matt Puempel will be joining the B-Sens some point soon. His recovery has taken some time- two months and counting. The Peterborough Petes this season were... not great.
  • Stefan Noesen's Plymouth Whalers are playing Guelph beginning later this week.
  • Speaking of the B-Sens, there's eleven games left in their season. They dropped two of three this past weekend. More time for Andre Petersson to get hole-in-ones. ;)
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