Silver Nuggets: The Remaining Few

There are officially 33 players left at Senators training camp: 18 forwards, 12 defensemen, and three goaltenders. Other than the "established" NHL group, there are a couple players on the bubble, and those are the players we'll be focusing on today. Top prospects? AHL vets? Free-agent signings? All accounted for in this grouping. I'll quickly provide a bit of info on each player, and would like to hear your thoughts on them in the comments! Here we go.

Curtis Lazar

What needs to be said about the wonder kid? I personally think that Lazar should get his 9 NHL games and finish his last year of junior eligibility while captaining Team Canada, as there are too many NHL bodies at forward this season. Without giving these currently players a chance, we may not maximize their value and that, to me, is poor asset management. The kid certainly has the chops to play in the NHL - unknown whether it's at centre or on the wing - and i'm sure that he'll make the decision tough for management.

Matt Puempel

Scoring at a goal/game pace will get you noticed, even if it's just the preseason. In a similar situation as Lazar, Puempel excelled last year in Binghamton. Are Lazar and Puempel going to be better than some of the NHL talent we'll see this season? Very likely. Will extra development help? Probably. Rounding out his two-way game with Luke RIchardson may give the Senators a more complete player last season, and continuing to work on his skating (something he addressed this summer) will be key in order for Puempel to be an effective NHL goal scorer. He also has a chance to stick around for a couple of NHL games, but that may end up axing the next player on our list.

Mike Hoffman

I'm going to give Hoffman different treatment here because he's an older player who's served his time in junior and at the NHL, and has likely learnt all that he has in the AHL. I'm still confused as to why he was told to be "grittier" in his exit interview, as his strength is using his speed and his puck skills to get his great shot off, but this could be tied into the organizational philosophy to have every forward be an effective two-way player (*shoves Chris Neil in a bush*). I'm a big believer that speed kills, and Hoffman has the ability to carry the puck into the zone quickly and create scoring chances for himself - something that the Senators will need to help offset the loss of Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky. I hope that Hoffman stays in the NHL this year, as despite his two-way contract, he'll require waivers to go down, and I do think that he's earned his shot. I haven't heard him pointed out much by Senators management, so he's still a "bubble player" by definition.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau

We've talked about Pageau quite a bit recently, and he also brings speed in the centre-ice position that MacLean loves. He runs into an issue as David Legwand and Zack Smith look to be the bottom-six centres this season. I'm all for giving Zack Smith a final chance this season to show what he can do with more offensive players because it certainly looks like he can do more when I watch him play and he has solid foot speed. He's also signed to a cheap deal, but if he ends up blocking a much better player in Pageau, the team will have to consider moving him soon. Note that Zack Smith wasn't drafted (played in the BCHL), is older, and his career high in AHL points is 48 (in 72 games - rookie year), whereas Pageau had 44 points in 46 games during his sophomore AHL year. I think Pageau will see time in the NHL this year, but he may have to wait for an injury or two and have to capitalize on his chances when he gets the opportunity to stick for an extended period of time.

Buddy Robinson and David Dziurzynski

I put these two together because they're essentially fighting for the same role on the big club - a grinding winger in the mold of Chris Neil to be strong on the forecheck and crash the net. Dziurzynski was a Murray favourite - an overage signing out of the BCHL that has been working on his game in the AHL for a few years. Robinson, signed last year out of Lake Superior State, is a big (6'5) winger with plus speed. Notably, Robinson is younger than Dziurzynski and has put up more points in his rookie AHL season that Dziurzynski has in any season. It's clear who I'm favouring - the player who can bring more to the club. Despite all of this, I just don't see a spot opening up for either until Chris Neil retires or is traded, as he still has two years (counting this year) left on his deal.

Aaron Johnson and Alex Grant

Put together for the same reason that the previous two players were, Johnson and Grant are two veteran AHL defensemen who are here because a couple of the Senators defensemen - Methot and Gryba - have been nursing injuries. If a bottom-pair defenseman gets injured for a short period of time during the year, look for one of these two to get a call-up to provide some fill in duty. These are pros who have been around longer and will settle into their role very nicely for the coaching staff. It helps that both are puck movers too.

Fredrik Claesson

Who played the most minutes for the BSens last season? Fredrik Claesson. The young (three years younger than Borowiecki) Swede had a fantastic year, and is a primarily defensive defenseman, despite leading the BSens blueliners in even-strength points last year. With Borowiecki graduating, he's going to play a ton this year as well, although he has some AHL veterans to insulate him. The issue with Claesson isn't his, but is the fact that there are players in a similar mold who have NHL contracts for this year or next - Jared Cowen, Eric Gryba, and Mark Borowiecki. Other than Cowen, I see Claesson with the best chance for improvement and ultimately the potential to provide quality minutes for the Senators soon, and I sincerely hope he gets a chance soon. Coach Richardson said that Freddie was ready for minutes last season, and I can see him getting a shot if a blueliner gets injured for an extended period of time (3+ games) as to not disrupt the BSens blueline too much.

What do you think about these players, and do you see any getting some NHL time this year?


Sens Links

  • As always, check out the Inside the Senate blog for player thoughts. Usually I link to everything, but I find that it may be a bit of an overkill, so I'll link to the front page here! [Inside the Senate]
  • Paul MacLean was on TSN1200 yesterday with an insightful training camp interview. [Audio, 6th Sens transcript]
  • The folks over at Bonk's Mullet have been undergoing their own Senate Reform. The always-funny Chet Sellers is taking a blogging break, but four fresh bodies have been brought in to provide content this season. [Bonk's Mullet]
  • In other blogosphere related news, Black Aces will be on hiatus this season, but can be found posting content on Tumblr! [Black Aces]
  • Eden is back writing Senators content on the Storied Sens - check out the latest piece on preseason action [The Storied Sens]
  • Ken Warren has a couple of nice pieces this week. The first is on a Cowen - Karlsson pairing, which was pretty common last season, and may be again given Marc Methot's injury. [Ottawa Citizen]
  • Nichols has a column on the potential second-pairing that we outlined last week - Jared Cowen and Cody Ceci [6th Sens]
  • The Citizen's "Five Takes" for this week! [Ottawa Citizen]
  • Varada has a great article outlining tips for the Sens organization to follow when talking to the media (which I agree with). [WTYKY]
  • One of my favourite prospects is defenseman Fredrik Claesson. Though the young Swede is likely a year away, mainly due to the amount of NHL bodies, he's been trending upward and should get a ton of minutes in the AHL this year. [Ottawa Citizen]
  • Continuing his tirade (love?) re: Matt Puempel, James talks about how rare it is for Binghamton to have a 30-goal scorer (hint: less rare than a shiny pokemon) [WTYKY]
  • Coach Luke Richardson wants the BSens to be a quick, puck-moving team. With a defense full of AHL veterans, they should be able to break out of the zone quicker and get the puck to the talented forward grouping. Let's see how they start the season off v. Syracuse in FRANCE! [Ottawa Citizen]
  • Jeff has the last two entries of his "Scouting the BSens" series over on SenShot! The first tackles goaltending, and the last tackles coaching. [SenShot I, II]
  • A nice fanpost by user millerkai on how ice-time changes as you age. The conclusion is intuitive but it's nice to have data to back up your observations! [Silver Seven Fanpost]
  • A review of the recent Sens Fan Fest by SensForLife11. Did any of you attend, and how did you find it? Reaction on twitter seemed overwhelmingly positive. [Silver Seven Fanpost]
  • Our Silver Seven season preview continues, this time with the staff's predictions on penalties, and Craig Anderson.
  • Lastly, we contributed to the excellent SB Nation NHL preview. Here are three pertinent questions from Sheer_Craziness, Michaela, and Mrs. O [SBN]

NHL Links

  • A Ken Holland interview where he talks about the vaunted "Red Wings philosophy" [O Canada]
  • An interesting analysis comparing a couple of NHL greats: Howe, Orr, Gretzky, and Crosby. [Hockey Graphs]
  • One of my favourite things about the NHL playoffs are the CBC pre-game montages. Ever wondered who created them? Here's an interview with Tim Thompson - the man behind the montage [National Post]

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