It's been quite the fall for Jared Cowen. Still ranking in the top 5 on our list two years ago, he fell to 11th last year and down to 17th now. That doesn't just put him as the lowest rank player with NHL experience on this year's list, but it also makes him the second lowest we have ever ranked a player with a full season's worth of NHL experience.
Why the further fall?
First, as Peter mentioned in last year's edition, he is out of excuses. No major injury, no missed training camp, and even a pretty consistent partner.
Second, he started to lose the coach's confidence, both of them. Paul MacLean was scratching him only two games in to the season, not even making it as far as the home opener. Dave Cameron went even further - Cowen barely saw the ice during "the run", and not at all during the playoffs.
Third, most simply, he just had another season where he wasn't very good despite some brief flashes of competence.
For most of the season, the same consistent problems in his play continued to crop up. He didn't use his size effectively - either not using it, or using it poorly while "playing angry" and ending up suspended. He was frequently drawn or caught out of position, sometimes while trying to use his size. His decision making regularly appeared to be a step or two behind, giving opposition players that extra moment or two they sometimes needed to make the play. Worst of all was probably the sound bites from when he was benched, where he would put the blame on a bad game or two and not fundamental problems that he could potentially fix.
It wasn't all bad for Cowen in 2014-15, though. Cowen has demonstrated an effectiveness on the penalty kill, where he showed above-average shot supression last season. This has become a trend over several seasons now, and one we hope not only continues in 2015-16, but expands outside of the penalty kill. Also, he was serviceable in games where he stuck to the basics and didn't try to do too much, actually looking like a reliable bottom pairing player.
There are two things we know the future holds for Cowen. First, the Senators are still hoping he will develop properly so he's going to get yet another chance this season to become the defenseman we all hoped he would be after his junior career and first NHL season. Second, this is the lowest he'll drop on our Top 25 list - he turns 25 in January.