Here's something you may be very surprised to hear: Guillaume Latendresse, the veteran forward signed by the Ottawa Senators in the off-season, is actually more than a year younger than Colin Greening, the left-winger who notched a very impressive rookie season just last year.
Hard to believe since it seems like Latendresse has been around forever, but it's true. And it goes to show that Ottawa's decision to take a flyer on Latendresse with a short-term incentive-laden contract was a very low-risk but potentially highly rewarding move.
Of course, there is no shortage of questions about Latendresse, first and foremost among them being his health. Latendresse played 80 games in his rookie season, but hasn't matched that since, and has played just 27 games in the last two seasons combined due to a groin injury and concussion problems. Has he fully recovered from those? Can he get back to the form that saw him notch 37P in 55GP with the Minnesota Wild just three seasons ago?
Speaking of form, Latendresse's conditioning was apparently an issue with the Canadiens, and at least part of the reason why he was dealt to Minnesota in the first place. He hasn't played an NHL game since December 2011, and didn't do much aside from a few charity games during the lockout. With a short training camp and no pre-season games, how long will it take for Latendresse to get into game shape?
Something that bodes well for Latendresse, though, is the fact that he'll be playing alongside Kyle Turris and Daniel Alfredsson to start the season. Those two demonstrated chemistry last season, and Latendresse seems like a round peg on the line: He's big enough to stand in front of the net while the other two work the puck around, but he can also be an offensive complement to them where need be (and specifically on the powerplay). He's not the swiftest skater, but the line won't be run-and-gun offence, in all likelihood. Latendresse has some of the same assets possessed by Nick Foligno, who meshed with Alfredsson and Turris while playing with them for much of last season, but is a fair bit bigger and more offensively inclined. He sounds like a good fit for Paul MacLean's system, at least on paper.
Plus there's no question about the stakes for Latendresse, who has a very limited number of chances left for his career. He's been criticized for his work ethic in the past, and a lacklustre effort early this season will quickly see him bumped down (and possibly out of) the lineup and may spell the end of his NHL career. That's pretty good motivation, and the fact that it's a shortened season means a shorter period of time to maintain his intensity.