Which is more likely...
Eric Gryba plays 60+ games or that Mark Borowiecki plays at least 25 games?
During the 2012-2013 season, Eric Gryba had his first shot at playing in the NHL because of the injury to Erik Karlsson. That season, Gryba had some flashes of being a solid 5/6 shutdown-D at times, but he was inconsistent. He played in 33 games and posted a -3 plus/minus, which was one of the worst on the team.
Gryba was scratched for several games during the first half of the 2013-2014 season because of sub-par play. Part of his issues, though, were from an off-season leg injury. The second half of the season was a different story, however, as Gryba looked more comfortable on the ice. His positioning was better and he was making solid defensive plays. In my opinion, he wound up being one of the more reliable and stable defensemen on the team. Gryba suited up for a total of 57 games and posted a +9 plus/minus, which was 3rd best on the team only behind Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur. That's impressive considering the Senators defensive woes last year. Obviously plus/minus is not the only tell-tale sign of defensive play, but it provides some statistical evidence that Gryba has been improving.
Mark Borowiecki, on the other hand, has played in 21 total NHL games with 13 of them coming last year. The rest of his time has been spent in the AHL. A few years ago, it seemed as though Borowiecki was going to be the next of Binghamton's defensemen to move on to bigger and better things, but the development of other players such as Wiercioch, Gryba, and Ceci, have kept Borowiecki in the AHL. He's full of energy and a hard working player with decent skill at the AHL level, but he's also notorious for taking a lot of penalties (157 PIM in 53 games with Binghamton and 48 PIM with Ottawa last year).
The main challenge in the upcoming season for Borowiecki is that six other Senator defensemen are on one-way NHL contracts and are arguably better players. The rapid development of Cody Ceci has also thrown a wrench into Borowiecki's plans. Even though Ceci is on a two-way contract and is waiver-exempt, he seems to have surpassed Boro in every way and he's four years younger. In reality, Borowiecki is the team's 8th option on defense.
One thing to consider that might benefit Borowiecki is his contract. In March of 2011, Borowiecki signed his first NHL contract. Given that it has been three years since the signing date, Borowiecki is no longer waiver-exempt. This means that if the Senators don't put him in the lineup and wish to send him down to Binghamton, he would have to clear waivers. Any team interested in Borowiecki could then pick him up and wouldn't owe the Senators anything in return. If no one picks him up, his one-way deal means that he will make $600,000 in the AHL, something that the Binghamton organization may not want.
Regardless of his complicated contract situation, however, I believe that in order for Boro to suit up for the Senators in more than a handful of games, someone is going to have to be either traded or will have to miss significant time from injury.
What do you think? Make sure to vote in the poll and let everyone know why you chose what you did in the comments!