In four preseason games, Cory Conacher has scored 4P (3G, 1A) and drawn numerous penalties. The stat lines for his competition have been less good: Mark Stone has one assist through two games, and Mika Zibanejad has one goal in three contests. Conacher is all but a certainty to take Daniel Alfredsson's place alongside Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur when the season starts.
Meanwhile, Jean-Gabriel has played well enough to earn a spot on the roster, which of course leaves Ottawa with six centers and just four center positions available. Jason Spezza, Kyle Turris, Zibanejad, Pageau, Z. Smith, and Jim O`Brien are all good enough, but the best four are Spezza, Turris, Zibanejad, and Pageau. O'Brien has already been placed on waivers, so he is likely to wind up on Binghamton or on another team. If last year is any indication, Z. Smith will probably convert to wing to allow Pageau to continue at center.
That's great news for the top six, but kind of crappy news for the bottom six, since the two remaining centers don't exactly get to play with the kind of talent that befits their skill sets. Given that Zibanejad and Pageau are set to play at center, try making some scoring lines with the following pieces:
Even assuming O'Brien is not available, there's still not enough scoring talent to go around. Give Zibanejad the two best remaining players, Greening and Condra, and Pageau gets stuck with either Z. Smith and Neil or Kassian and Neil. This is what happened on Wednesday in Ottawa's 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. The result? The top six scored four of the five goals, and added four assists. Erik Karlsson added three assists, and even goaltender Andrew Hammond got in on the action. The bottom six players managed just one point--a Zibanejad goal, which was the result of him being on the ice with Milan Michalek and Karlsson, who had the assists on that goal. The remaining five players in the bottom six had no points.
Neil, however, did have two fighting penalties, and Kassian managed to land himself a misconduct late in the game. Pageau was limited to just 13:58 and just one shot on goal--as good as he is, he's not good enough to spin straw into gold. Neither is Zibanejad. So if those are the options, what's the point of having all that talent at center? No doubt Pageau or Zibanejad will make the best of their minutes, and injuries and play will surely get them different opportunities over the course of an 82-game season, but it seems like an awful mistake to place skill guys with checking linemates and then expect production.
- Amelia has thoughts. You should read them. [S7S]
- Chet Sellers recaps last night's game, kind of. I don't blame him for being distracted. It wasn't very good. The game, I mean, not the article. [RBM]
- Craig Anderson is happy with how he played last night. Which is weird because I don't think he was at max effort. [Senators Extra]
- Scott talks about Jim O'Brien. [The 6th Sens]
- Meanwhile, Nichols looks at Bryan Murray's continued evisceration of John Muckler's mistakes. [T6S]
- Jared Cowen is fully healthy, which qualities him to give an opinion on Erik Karlsson's health. [SE]
- The Florida Panthers have been sold for $250M. I can't believe they're worth that much. [Twitter]
- Daniel Alfredsson will play for the Detroit Red Wings tonight. WHO CARES? [MLive]
- Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues thinks Calgary Flames fans need to be patient with their rebuilding team. Man, you know you're in for a crappy year when opponents are telling your fanbase to chill. [PHT]
- NHL coaches are upset over the fine the Buffalo Sabres' Ron Rolston got in the big Maple Leafs/Sabres dustup. And rightfully so. We're fining coaches for "player selection" now? [Toronto Sun]