There was a packed house at the SensPlex for the Ottawa Senators Development Camp scrimmage on Thursday night; I'm pretty sure the place was above capacity, and may in fact have been a fire hazard. But it was great to catch a glimpse of some of the team's top prospects, and it's abundantly clear that people in Ottawa can't get enough hockey. I'd say it was ridiculous, but... I was there, too. I drove from Barrhaven to catch a 50-minute scrimmage...
Anyway, although not everyone stood out so I haven't made notes on each player in the camp, I wrote down a few thoughts for some of the more noticeable guys. If there's an individual you're curious about feel free to ask me in the comments, but I can't guarantee I noticed much...
Mark Stone: Looks big and fast; at least in the development camp, his speed doesn't seem to be an issue. He was strong on the forecheck most of the night, and his line with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mike Hoffman was far and away the top line in the game. Stone also scored a nice goal, low glove-side, during the shootout between periods.
Mike Hoffman: He was, as mentioned, on the top line of the scrimmage, and he scored the lone goal during actual play (I think Cole Schneider scored on a penalty shot, but I can't say for sure; didn't get a good look). Hoffman had a good level of intensity all game, and he's got flow that would make Milan Michalek jealous. He led the B-Sens in scoring last year, and will turn a few heads in Ottawa's training camp.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau: The centreman on that top line, Pageau's got a lot of speed. He set up Hoffman with a really nice drop-pass, but it wasn't converted. Still, the speed and his offensive instincts were strong assets.
Stefan Noesen: Was probably the best player on Team Black. He likely led the team in shots, probably had the best scoring chance, and looked like a guy who wasn't afraid to pay the price to generate offence. There's an edge to his game, I'd say.
Darren Kramer: Was surprisingly speedy, but there are obvious limitations to Kramer's skill against elite-level talent. Still, his big frame and good speed let him make a couple of chances, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him suiting up for the Senators at some point--down the road, for sure, and likely on the fourth line, unless he makes big strides in Binghamton. He had one particularly nice rush with Ryan Dzingel, but the shot was stopped.
Corey Cowick: Wasn't quite as mean as last year when I saw him, but still a physical guy out there. He also drew a tripping penalty, but hit the crossbar on the ensuing penalty shot.
Mika Zibanejad: Coach Paul MacLean said after the scrimmage that he "would have liked to have seen more" from Zibanejad, and I could see what he was saying. In Zibanejad's defence, though, he seemed to have little support from his linemates, and appeared to get frustrated towards the end of the scrimmage. He started taking runs at guys (not illegal runs, mind you, but bigger hits than one would expect) and drove straight to the net instead of trying a fancier play. That kind of grimy game seems to be a good starting point for Zibanejad, although he certainly has the speed and skills to build on it and become more of a skilled scorer. Zibanejad did score on his one shootout opportunity.
Cody Ceci: Looked outstanding on a pairing with Mark Borowiecki. Ceci was obviously the more offensively inclined of the two, and set up BoroCop for a few good point-shots, but the two had a good balance between them. Despite being among the younger players, he looked like one of the bigger, stronger ones, too. Future's bright with this kid.
Mark Borowiecki: As the second part of that dominant pairing with Ceci, Borowiecki displayed some good offensive instincts (he was the highest-scoring B-Sens defender last season, after all), but defensive defence is obviously his game. He stood up Brad Peltz nicely at the defensive blue line, separating Peltz from the puck and obviously getting under his skin a bit. I'm not positive that Borowiecki is ready for a significant role on the blue line, but I'd say he's probably ready to step up in some capacity.
Trevor van Riemsdyk: I think I only noticed the kid because of his hair. He thinks he's Erik Karlsson or something, with flow like that. He also wears number 56... coincidence? (Seriously, though, he didn't stand out--in a good way, or in a bad way. That's never a bad thing for a defenceman, especially an undrafted camp invitee.)
Cole Schneider: Signed with little fanfare last season, Schneider had a strong start to the scrimmage, but seemed to blend in a bit as it went on. He did display some great speed, though, earning a penalty shot as a result (and I'm pretty sure he scored on the penalty shot, on Robin Lehner to boot).
Jordan Fransoo: I didn't really notice him while he was playing, but he appeared to take a puck to the face while standing in front of the net. Was down for a while, and left the ice and didn't return. It was likely a superficial thing (maybe a tooth gone or a big gash), but you never like to see an injury like that in a scrimmage. Hopefully he's alright.
Jarrod Maidens: Obviously wasn't on the ice because he's still nursing his head injury, but I can't get over how nice this guy is. He seems to have an honesty and genuineness that will serve him well in the Senators organization, I think. I certainly hope his rehab goes well and he makes the team, because he's definitely a player I'd love to cheer for.
I'm hoping to transcribe my post-scrimmage interviews with Maidens, Borowiecki, and Stone tomorrow and have them posted this weekend or next week, time permitting.
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