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News & Notes: Captaincy, Gustavsson, Tkachuk, Murphy

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After today’s practice, the Sens announced a bit of this and a bit of that.

NHL: Preseason-Montreal Canadiens at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

With the season opening tomorrow, the Ottawa Senators were on the ice today for practice. The team used that time to announce a couple of roster moves, give a few injury updates, and update the media on a new hire:

The Home Opener

  • In terms of on-ice news, Guy Boucher announced that Brady Tkachuk (mild groin strain) and Ben Harpur (healthy scratch) will both miss the home opener. It’s unfortunate news for Brady, and the fans who bought tickets to see him, because the kid has had a solid pre-season. His rough-and-tumble style has generated praise, but one of the costs of playing such a physical game is that you’re potentially introducing more room for nagging injuries. Boucher noted that he’s hopeful for Tkachuk to suit up on Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
  • Regarding Harpur: this move is expected. It’s clear that Max Lajoie outplayed him, Christian Jaros, and Christian Wolanin out of camp, and the team opted to take him to start the year with newcomer Dylan DeMelo. Although Lajoie and Harpur are only two years apart, it looks like the Senators are comfortable with the latter sitting in the press box rather than risk losing him (?) on waivers.
  • Off the ice, the Sens have reportedly sent an email to current season ticket holders offering them a pair of tickets to share with others for tomorrow’s home opener. Yesterday, tickets on StubHub were going for $12. It certainly appears that the team would rather take the short-term loss (for one night) in hopes of avoiding the national headlines.

The Captaincy

  • The Senators will officially start the season without a captain, as the team announced today that Mark Stone and Matt Duchene will don permanent ‘A’s on their jersey while Mark Borowiecki and Zack Smith will rotate a third letter on the road. There’s no surprise here, with Stone and Duchene being the team’s most skilled players, Borowiecki’s leadership abilities being a constant hot topic, and Zack Smith as the longest tenured Senator.
  • However, it is interesting that there’s a real chance that the former two are no longer in Ottawa as soon as next year, and that Zack Smith — who was controversially on waivers — is still given a letter when he could’ve very easily been in Belleville.

Filip Gustavsson

  • The goalie of the future will be starting the season... in Brampton. The team announced today that 20-year-old Swedish netminder Filip Gustavsson will start the year in the ECHL. Ian Mendes was quick to note that the move is primarily to integrate him into the North American game slowly without rushing him, so it may not be performance-related.
  • Gustavsson and Hogberg, the two “prospects” splitting time in the AHL this year with Mike McKenna as the “veteran mentor”, split the team’s preseason contests with Laval. Hogberg was the one with the shutout.
  • As you might recall, Gustavsson came over to North America to finish out the year in the AHL with the exact same rationale, and in his seven starts, his .912 save percentage led the team.
  • Ottawa’s been allergic to having two “kids” in net after starting an AHL year a few years ago with Matt O’Connor and Chris Driedger — both of whom have flamed out and were almost-universally regarded as less talented than Hogberg and Gustavsson. One of the Swedes would’ve had to start the year in the ECHL, and it appears that it’s Gustavsson’s turn for now.
  • Unlike last year, with Hogberg having to split the crease with Habs prospects as both organizations were affiliated with Brampton, the Sens have sole control now, and will ensure that Gustavsson will get the bulk of the starts. Jake Paterson, who was recently signed to an AHL-deal, will serve as the team’s backup.
  • Ryan Scarfo has also been assigned to the ECHL, joining Aaron Luchuk, Boston Leier, and Macoy Erkamps. This leaves Belleville with the following 24 players on their opening night roster (Note: the players are listed in alphabetical order)

Rob Murphy re-hired as pro scout

  • The Ottawa Senators have announced another scouting hire, this time to the pro department. Rob Murphy, one of the staff — along with amateur scout Greg Royce — who left for Buffalo with ex-AGM Tim Murray has returned to the organization.
  • Murphy was previously a scout for the Phoenix Coyotes organization, and had spent four years as a pro scout with the Sens when he departed for the Sabres to be their Director of Scouting.
  • Murphy is the first addition to the pro scouting group in a while; earlier this summer, the Sens added three new scouts to the team’s amateur group.
  • Pierre Dorion had this to say about the hire:

Rob’s hiring represents another important step in helping us rebuild,” said Senators general manager Pierre Dorion. “He brings with him a wealth of hockey knowledge which will be of great benefit to our staff; he’ll be relied upon to help us make decisions on potential trades, free agents and waiver reviews and will primarily spend his time scouting both NHL and AHL hockey. We made a commitment to add to our staff following last season and Rob’s addition is a significant part of that.