Prince started his first pro season with a leg injury that hampered the start of his season. Fast-forward to the end of the year and he’s played himself onto the top line, stayed healthy for the entire season after the leg injury and was one goal away from being the team’s leading goal scorer. I can’t watch Prince without giggling at how fast he is and salivating at the thought of him joining the Senators - sooner rather than later. Players that grow that much in their first pro season and end the season on a high are generally ready to explode in their second year. I hope he gets some NHL games in this season; he’s going to be an exciting player.
Under the Radar:
Schneider’s college free agent signing was a footnote for most Senators fans. He began last season as a healthy scratch over the first portion of the AHL season, he slowly worked his way into the lineup and over the last third of the season his SOG steadily improved and he started to show up fairly consistently on the score sheet and in the three-star selections. Like Prince, he earned his way in and up the lineup and finished as the third leading goal-scorer, one behind Prince. If he starts out, where he left off, the parent Senators should be happy. Coach MacLean mentioned him as one of the standouts during the development camp. He’s big (6’2 – 199 lbs), physical and does everything well. Could he eventually play in the Senators top nine or be an upgrade to someone in the bottom six? The role he plays this season will probably define what the Senators project for him at the NHL level. Could he be groomed as Erik Condra’s replacement (but with better hands) in a year or two? In the 4-5 mid season games I watched he was noticeable and making a difference in the game.
Stone (NHL goal scorer or the next Brandon Bochenski?) With all due respect, I’ve seen what he did at the World Juniors and I’ve seen his numbers in junior – he’s great. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen a handful of games (8 or 9) during the AHL season where he was completely invisible. I’ve seen the transformation – on the stats sheet – but I haven’t bought into the fact that it’ll translate at the NHL level. Yes, his skating has improved a lot but can he keep the pace in a top or bottom six role? I’m not convinced. As well, despite being a big body I’ve yet to see him engage physically and if he did, it would slow him down even further. He’s got a lot to overcome particularly under the 200 foot game that the Senators play.
Something to Prove:
Petersson – led the team in scoring with 23 goals on a much less talented team in 2011-2012. Small and very fast, it’s time for him to realise his potential. Size suggests that he likely fits into a top-six role and needs to play there. Lots to like but needs to stay healthy as injuries are hampering his overall development.
Hoffman – injuries have been an issue and it remains to be seen if his slight build can withstand the physicality of a full NHL season and whether he can score at the NHL level? Love his speed as much as I dislike Stone’s slow skating.
Da Costa - Unless he develops more strength and a defensive acumen I believe he’ll have problems securing an NHL job with the Sens. However, he could help another rebuilding team that needs immediate help and can give his development a longer timeline. I personally liked his vision and creativity but I can understand why the Senators want him to be stronger.
Cowick, (energy player in-training) big body, good skater, played himself back onto the Senators prospect radar by setting career highs in goals, assists and points. He was asked to do more when injuries and call ups were taking a toll and responded nicely. Hopefully, he can continue to progress as a late-bloomer; turns 24 in August.
Dziurzynski – looks like a decent 4th line player in the NHL who can play a checking shutdown role and be disciplined while doing it. Decent skater, big body, can chip in occasional hard working, dirty goal. Signed one-year contract; could be part of a trade package. It would help his stock if he could put together a better year than he had in the AHL last season.
Grant – led B-Sens in goal scoring with 19 and had a short audition with Senators during the season. He’s very close to being able to play and be effective in the checking role that he’s being groomed for. His goal scoring in that position would be a huge bonus. With a little more... edge... grit... jam added to his game he could jump past Jim O’Brien (if JOB still has one). Zack Smith holds the position that he wants. I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith is tradeable because of Grant’s development.
Hamilton – missed big part of last year with a concussion. He’s not a big guy, he’s not a scorer, he’s good defensive forward – something that the Senators aren’t lacking. Not sure what, if any plans the big club has for him. A healthy year will give him an opportunity to show what he brings to the table.
Puempel – will have more attention put on him to succeed as the "other 1st round pick" that’s still with the club from the 2011 draft that included Zibanejad and Noesen. I haven’t got a feel for him as a player yet. It’d be great to be developing an authentic goal scoring winger. Does anyone else know about his game?
Culek – not sure where he’ll fit in given his injuries and the ridiculous year he had playing and not playing hockey last year. Will he start in the AHL or will extra bodies require him starting his pro development at the ECHL level?
Robinson – there’s lots to like about a big, fast and strong player. I doubt he’ll be a goal scorer but he could develop into a player that no one wants to play against. Not sure if fighting is part of his hockey acumen, but size can sometimes work as a deterrent in that regard.
Kramer – while his worth to a team is not measured in point totals I think he needs to develop into a better hockey player for him to play a regular role in the AHL. Not sure if his 21 games were based on his particular skill set or bodies were needed for roster spots at AHL level.
Ludwig Karlsson – another college free agent signing heading to B-Sens? Left winger with good size at 6’3 and 200 lbs. Not yet confirmed by Senators.
More depth to develop or an extra body to fill in when the next big trade comes?