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5 Thoughts for Friday

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Mark Stone is primed for a dominant season, Mark Borowiecki signs an extension and the most concerning part of the Senators’ lineup all in 5 Thoughts for Friday.

NHL: Preseason-Ottawa Senators at Winnipeg Jets Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No time to waste. Thoughts. Five of them. Now!

Mark Stone Set to Dominate

After an injury-plagued, inconsistent regular season and an, at times, underwhelming playoff performance, Mark Stone looks primed for a dominant 2017-18 campaign.

For one, the 25-year-old seems as healthy as can be, which is a huge plus, given his concussion struggles the past couple years. Several months ago, Stone was hesitant in the corners and slower than normal. If last night’s game was any indication, he is in the best shape of his career.

His two goals, which highlighted his underrated shot and amazing hand-eye coordination, were a great sign, but the overall 200-foot game is what makes him truly special, and that was on display, as well. Intercepting passes, stripping pucks from sticks, engineering plays the defense isn’t expecting; it was the typical commanding execution that Sens fans have been used to for so long.

How Long Until Thomas Chabot Plays Consistent NHL minutes?

Don’t be surprised if the 20-year-old spends a great deal of time in the minors this season.

On TSN 1200’s In the Box with Steve Lloyd and Todd White, head coach Guy Boucher used numerous food and plant (seriously) metaphors to describe the difficulty of throwing prospects into the NHL at such a young age. What was easier to follow, he looked upon the elite defensemen of today that spent a year or more in the AHL before graduating to full-time NHL minutes.

Roman Josi, Dustin Byfuglien, P.K. Subban; the list went on.

The Senators have a plethora of NHL calibre defensemen. If general manager Pierre Dorion sees no sense in moving one of them to acquire a forward, the current D corps could look the same for quite some time and Chabot could be stuck in Belleville for the foreseeable future.

Having said that, you would hope that superb play with the B-Sens would garner the young blueliner at least a trial run in the big league midway through the season.

What Part of the Lineup Is Most concerning?

The Senators’ go-to offensive weapons can hang with the best of them in today’s NHL. Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, Derick Brassard and Bobby Ryan are all looking great to start the year, and with Erik Karlsson nearly ready to step into the lineup, the team shouldn’t have too much of problem creating more goals this season than last year’s almost strictly defense-oriented structure.

But when it comes to the shutdown combos, Boucher has nominated some less effective players to fit the role.

It’s not much of a change from May, actually. When things are back to normal, you can expect the pairing of Cody Ceci and Dion Phaneuf and the trio of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Nate Thompson and Tom Pyatt to handle the opponent’s best.

It is only one game, but last night’s attempt to soften the impact of Washington’s top lines didn’t go so well.

As for possession, Ceci boasted a minus-12 CorsiFor rating at 5v5, Thompson was a minus-7, Pageau was a minus-6 and Pyatt was a minus-2. We’ll leave out Phaneuf for now, as he was playing with Freddy Claesson on the second pairing.

The big question is how long Boucher and company will ride it out if the assigned players continue to handle the onslaught poorly. Through thick and thin, Ceci was his guy last year. The same went for Pyatt and Pageau, though neither produced defensive numbers that depicted strong play in their own end.

Mark Borowiecki’s Two-Year Extension

On Wednesday after practice, Borowiecki was asked about heading into the 2017-18 campaign without a deal in place for next season.

“I think 20 goals and 20 assists should be good to seal the deal for the next contract,” the 28-year-old replied with a laugh.

“That’s pro sports, man,” he said. “You’re going to be playing on expiring contracts. That’s just the nature of it. This is a place I’d like to be. I enjoy my time here; this is my home. My wife and I want to start a family here; we want to raise a family here. I love being a part of this organization. I think they respect what I do and how I play.”

Less than 24 hours later, Borowiecki signed a two-year extension with an average annual value of $1.2 million.

As stated countless times in the lively comment section of our breaking news article yesterday, among many things, the timing seems odd.

After a training camp in which management couldn’t stop talking about how good their depth on the backend is, why sign your six or seventh best NHL defenseman to a two-year deal in early October?

With Chabot, Christian Jaros, Max Lajoie, Ben Harpur and Andreas Englund all receiving positive reviews before heading down to Belleville to begin the year, why clog up the next two years of your NHL blue line depth before seeing how the promising prospects on your farm team fair?

It would make a tad more sense if a trade was looming. A tad.

There’s no denying what Borowiecki brings to the team. It’s a unique physical presence that Boucher uses to the best of his abilities. But is it so darn irreplaceable that you need to lock him up until 2020 before the puck is dropped on your 2017-18 season?

We’ll end on a positive note. Borowiecki truly looked fantastic for a sixth Dman last night against the Capitals. Maybe that’s a sign of things to come.

Shameless Plug

As some of you may know by now, our podcast, The Battle of Ontario, which is always featured on Silver Seven, is moving onto something new.

We’re extremely excited to announce that the show will now air on TSN 1200, Saturdays at 4 p.m.

A couple of changes are coming, though. The show will now be called The Battle of the Atlantic, and we are adding another voice to our lineup.

In addition to myself and Alec Brownscombe (editor-in-chief of Maple Leafs Hot Stove), The Athletic’s Marc Dumont will be joining us as a full-time co-host. Our new trio will focus on the Senators, Maple Leafs, Canadiens and overall NHL. So yes, we’ve simply just added Montreal to the mix.

In my opinion, it’s the perfect time for a show like this. It has been a hell of a long time since all three teams were relevant with regards to the current playoff picture and future success. The show will revolve around the three rivals, but in its essence, it will be an hour of modern hockey talk.

We’ll see how audiences react, but I’m confident if we put a great show together, the rest will fall into place.

Remember to tune in tomorrow at 4 p.m. on TSN 1200!