It's day three of our 2013 Prediction Panel, where the Silver Seven staff take a look at some of the biggest questions we think are facing the Ottawa Senators and try to fill in the blanks with knowledge! We've already looked at a key battle among forwards and the team's depth at goaltending.
Today, though, we're looking at the hole left on defense with the injuries to Jared Cowen (season-ending hip surgery to repair a torn labrum) and Mike Lundin (broken finger). Someone from Binghamton is going to play in the NHL this year, but... Which AHL defenseman will play the most games with the big club this season, and why?
Going with Patrick Wiercioch because currently the power play units have Karlsson, Gonchar and err...so there is that. That and I just prefer Wiercioch kind of players instead of the Borowiecki kind. Paul MacLean's system will favour him.
It's got to be Andre Benoit, right? It should be Benoit. He is the best defenseman on Binghamton and he has the most experience of the options. But my gut says Patrick Wiercioch, and so that's who I'm picking. I think Wiercioch's offseason training regime benefited him too much to ignore. At this point, I think he's at least equal to Kuba in what he could bring to the Senators, and he's shown really good vision on a consistent basis with the B-Sens. Just like with Kaspars Daugavins last year, Paul MacLean is going to find a way to use Wiercioch's size and skills that makes him too valuable to send back down.
Benoit, because he's boring (read: reliable) as hell.
Assuming Mark Borowiecki qualifies as an AHL defenceman, he's the name I'll put out there. I think the Senators penciled him into the 6-7 spot on the roster, anyway, mostly because of his physical abilities and his 'fit' in MacLean's system. Borowiecki seemed like a sensible replacement for some of the toughness lost with Matt Carkner's exit, but the injury to Jared Cowen makes it even more likely that he will be the chosen one to fill out the blue line.
Andre Benoit. Ottawa needs help on the second PP and Borowiecki ain't gonna be giving it. Of course, if Ottawa makes a move for a veteran who can do that job, my vote shifts to BoroCop. I'd like to see Wiercioch really take the reins as number one in Bingo, while Benoit gets a shot at the bigs. Of course, I realize this is a prediction panel and not a "What Bobby Wants" column. Although we should really do one of those someday.
Mark Borowiecki, because he brings that Matt Carkner angle and Andre Benoit would better serve the Senators by tending to the kids in the minors.
Boro will play the most because he adds the most physical play on the blue line. Wiercioch and Benoit will see plenty of time though and all will look comfortable in their NHL trials.
Andre Benoit, strictly because the Senators will need some additional experience on the back-end with the losses of Cowen and Lundin.
Patrick Wiercioch. I've been waiting for a few years to come on, and I think training hard with his old friend Kyle Turris this summer paid off for him big time. He's a big body, good skater and can play the power play. He's got the most upside and I think you give him an extended look if you can.
Oh man, we're all over the board with this one. Perhaps you can help break the deadlock?