If you're a Senators prospect or consider yourself a supporter of Senators prospects, it's likely this has been an eventful week for you. First, preliminary rosters were named for the upcoming World Junior Championship in Russia, including a few and conspicuously excluding a few prominent players in Ottawa's system. Then, there was management's decision to invoke their contractual rights over Mika Zibanejad, preventing him from taking part in the competition. Yesterday, the organization revealed that Jean-Gabriel Pageau would not be returning to Chicoutimi this season and would remain in the big leagues, which speaks well for his play and bodes even better for his wallet. Then there was all this rampant speculation about negotiations and meetings and potential dates for Training Camps that has left the rest of us loudly claiming our cynicism and jaded attitude toward this petulant process, all the while secretly hoping against hope that this is the real deal.
Back to the World Juniors front. This column is a bit late on the uptake, but Stefan Noesen was named to the American team, Mikael V/Wikstrand to the Swedish contingent, while Matt Puempel and Cody Ceci were given the noticeable slight by Hockey Canada. Stefan Noesen has been a stalwart leader and two-way contributor for the Whalers for several seasons now and Mikael Wikstrand has had an explosive season this year, which I wrote about over a month ago. In the interim, Wikstrand has continued to put up decent numbers, now posting 18 points through 27 games, playing on Mora. Cody Ceci's exclusion from the Team Canada blueline is a disappointment for the first round pick who has put up top offensive numbers from the 67's porous defensive group. Scott had some good words on it over at the6thSens:
With two right-shot d-men essentially locks in Dougie Hamilton and Ryan Murphy (who plays for head coach Steve Spott in Kitchener), the opportunity for another offensive d-man on that side was always going to be limited.
Speaking of playing for Steve Spott in Kitchener, Matt Puempel's fate was likely decided by the shoulder separation he suffered last week. Puempel should be healthy in time for the competition, but not in time for camp. Puempel was already going to be in tight competition for the roster spot, even if healthy. And you know what? Maybe it's not all negative. Puempel missed a lot of time last year with his concussion and already has a laundry list of injuries before turning pro. If he stays in Kitchener and keeps working his way towards a forty goal season and beyond, some stability might do some good. Also, playing for Spott might have attracted a little attention and people could have insinuated Puempel had an inside track to a roster spot, so we're all better off without that kind of moronic conjecture. Think I'm being silly? It's Canada, it's the World Juniors and this time last year TSN was showing clips of the kids opening their hotel room door in the morning to hear if they'd made the team.
The news of Jean-Gabriel Pageau staying in Binghamton shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Pageau hasn't put up a ton of points (5 in 17 games), but I've already waxed poetic about how I've found his two-way play to be noticeably competent and mature. Indeed, I would have been taken aback by news he was heading back to the QMJHL. Doesn't seem to be much left for him to accomplish there, and besides, there may yet be a solution to Bingo's glut of forwards.
Other Prospect News and Notes:
Robin Lehner has captivated everyone's attention with his standout performance so far this year in Binghamton and Ben Bishop has been making his way into the conversation of late. Sens fans may not be used to this, but the conversation about Sens goaltending depth intriguingly does not end in the AHL. Chris Driedger and Francois Brassard are both playing in the CHL and have actually put up oddly similar stat lines: through 21 games for the Hitmen, he has a .922 sv%, GAA of 2.26 and a shutout. Brassard has played 23 games for the Remparts with a sv% of .909, GAA of 2.54 and two shutouts. For his part, Brassard was rumored to have an outside shot at being invited to Canada's selection camp, but was passed over.
We naturally tend to hear more about prospects who are playing in the CHL than we do about those developing in college. Ryan Dzingel is one of them. He put up a productive season last year for Ohio State and is on track for a marginally better campaign in his second season. As a sophomore, Dzingel is probably enjoying some increase in his ice time. Fellow Buckeye and Sens prospect Max McCormick is actually on track for a less productive campaign: the 8 points he has halfway through the season are not on par with the 22 he had in his freshman year.
Again, it's hard to say from a distance what is just the result of more reliable ice time, but junior left winger Jeff Costello out of Notre Dame is enjoying a point-per-game campaign, certainly his most efficient yet in his CCHA career. I wonder what Costello thinks of his school's chances in the BCS.
If we don't hear much about college prospects, we hear even less about the USHL. 2012 pick Robbie Baillargeon is still there and has 13 points in 21 games for the Indiana Ice. He had 48 through 54 last year.