We’ve all heard the “Smurf” comments about the Montreal Canadiens and see that they’ve attempted to right the situation by drafting size more akin to a basketball team than a hockey team at the recent Entry Draft. The Canadiens will likely have five smaller players on their opening day roster barring any trades – Desharnais, Plekanec, Gionta, Gallagher and Briere.
On the other hand the Senators look like they’ll have Conacher (5’8 & 179 lbs) and possibly/probably Pageau to start the season. But... there are several more players who are pushing for roster spots or will be soon ready to.
Pageau, Prince, Hoffman, Petersson and maybe Da Costa bring the question to the forefront as each of them have made strides that would suggest that they may be ready to play in the NHL. Some have already had an audition and others are waiting for their chance.
I like what many of the above mentioned players bring to the game – much of it is speed, skill and puck possession. Who doesn’t want that on their team?
Pageau (5’9 & 163-171 lbs) had the most significant audition and will look to stake claim on his roster spot after hearing his name chanted during the play-offs. He’s a puck magnet with patience that bigger players have a hard time playing against.
Prince (5’10 & 181-189 lbs) started slowly after a leg injury and over the course of the season worked his way up to the top line. He’s lethal fast and looks like he’ll be able to handle the physicality of NHL players.
Hoffman (5’11 & 176 lbs) is slightly built and has proven over his three AHL seasons that he can score. Can he stand up against stronger players? Can he score at the NHL level? His audition is overdue.
Petersson’s (5’9 & 177 lbs) first AHL season was very good and he eventually ended the season as the B-Sens leading scorer (not a good team). Last season was torpedoed when he sustained a season-ending injury in late November. He’s very fast and proved that he could score against the bigger stronger competition that the AHL provided. Can he do it in the NHL? Hopefully he’s ready to prove himself.
Da Costa (5’11 & 173-185 lbs) proved last season that he could play a role in the NHL but his center ice position is crowded and other prospects have moved past him. I think the Senators would like to see him dominate more in the AHL but it hasn’t happened. He’s got a one-year contract to prove himself.
I’d be interested to hear how many spots in the forward ranks could potentially be filled by high-skilled “smallish” players before fans would start to worry about the size of the Senators? (NOTE: if two weights are listed they were from both the Ottawa Senators & B-Senators sites)