At long last we’re into the exciting part of camp: figuring out who’s going to make the team. Most of the real long-shots have been sent back to the AHL or perhaps their junior teams, and what’s left are a few youngsters battling to stake their claim in the NHL. For the Senators, maybe more than any other team in the league, the kids have a real chance to make the squad out of camp. It’s....an exciting time to be a Sens fan?
- The Ottawa Senators released a list of eleven more cuts after Saturday evening’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. Most of the cuts were to be expected, but Max Lajoie, Alex Formenton, and Max Verroneau’s early return to Belleville may come as a bit of a surprise. The demotion of Lajoie would seem to strongly suggest Erik Brannstrom will start the year in Ottawa, while Logan Brown, Filip Chlapik, Drake Batherson and Vitaly Abramov are the remaining young forwards with a chance to crack the regular season line-up. We’ll know more after the Sens’ two games in Vancouver on Monday and Wednesday.
- DJ Smith had some nice things to say about a potential Nikita Zaitsev - Thomas Chabot pairing on Saturday:
“He’s an elite player in this league and Zaitsev’s a much more underrated player given as to what some people thought of the way he played last year,” Smith said Saturday morning. “He was a lot better than people thought, and people are going to learn to like him here.”
Smith believes the duo will complement each other once they understand the way both play the game and their tendencies.
I’m not quite as high on Zaitsev as Smith is, but it’s not necessarily a bad idea to try to find a partner for Chabot who will be able to do more of the heavy lifting in the defensive end. Chabot’s been an excellent driver of offence in his first two years in the league, but his defensive results haven’t exactly been stellar. Zaitsev’s going to get the first chance to show what he can do with the franchise defenceman, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if we see a whole cast of characters to Chabot’s right throughout the year.
- In former Senators’ news, Eric Gryba announced his retirement Sunday night:
I’m hanging up the skates! I am proud of the career I was able to put together and couldn’t be more grateful of all the support I received along the way. I am excited for my next chapter and all the challenges that are to come. Now let’s hunt!#timetohunt #nextchapter #retirement pic.twitter.com/kUrLSe8o7U— Eric Gryba (@grybes02) September 23, 2019
The big rearguard was drafted 68th overall by the Senators in 2006 and played 165 games for the team across three seasons before making his way to Edmonton.
- While Patrik Laine remains unsigned, he is apparently going about mending fences with some of his teammates, after some quotes he gave to a Finnish newspaper appeared to be critical of his regular linemate, Bryan Little. On the one hand, I’m somewhat sympathetic to what Laine is saying: there’s a clear difference in talent between Mark Scheifele and Little, but it’s not like he’s been hurting for power-play opportunities. The Jets have a lot of top-end talent, but they’re now paper thin — especially on defence. Failing to come to terms with the 21 year-old goal-scoring phenom would be a massive blow to a team that not that long ago had championship ambitions.
- Lastly, Jonathan Willis had an interesting piece over at the Athletic on the weekend about the fall waiver wire. Fans (and writers!) can sometimes fall prey to the idea of improving the roster via the fall waiver wire, but the simple reality is most claims never pan out.