Top 25 Under 25, No. 14: Shane Prince
Shane Prince remains steady on this year's Top 25 Under 25, showing up at number 14 on this year's list for the third time in four rankings.
Shane Prince is a very interesting prospect for the Ottawa Senators. A 2nd-round pick (61st overall) in the 2011 NHL draft, people seem to have trouble predicting his ceiling in the organization. Prince joined the Senators with a lot of hype, having played for two-and-a-half seasons for the local OHL team, the Ottawa 67s. His first two OHL seasons were nothing special, totalling 12 points in 63 games in 2008-2009 for the Kitchener Rangers, and then 30 points in 65 games in 2009-2010 split between the Rangers and 67s. In his third season in the OHL, his offensive totals exploded, scoring 88 points in 59 games en route to his draft position. He followed this up with a better 2011-12 season, netting 90 points in 57 games.
As expected, he turned pro the following season, joining Binghamton, scoring 35 points in 65 games, respectable totals for a rookie. This past season, he scored 48 points in 69 games for the B-Sens, good enough for sixth on the team. He also notched 2 points in 4 playoff games for the B-Sens, behind only Stephane Da Costa and Mark Stone for team scoring.
For many Sens fans, the frustrations with Shane Prince are not his talent, but the question of whether or not he can improve into a player deserving of an NHL spot. In Winter 2012, he was rated 14th by the Silver Seven staff in the Top 25 Under 25 series. In the Winter 2013 rankings, he was rated 14th again. Last off-season, he fell a couple spots, to 16th. He seems to be a prospect with skills that could translate well to the NHL, but also has not shown that he deserves it more than others who could also merit the opportunity.
Rumours surrounding Prince have certainly not helped his cause. It was rumoured around the trade deadline that if he was not given a serious shot at the NHL, he would bolt for the KHL. This of course was denied by both the Sens and by Prince's camp, but it left many with bad tastes in their mouths concerning Prince, especially since Matt Puempel and Stefan Noesen, other Sens draftees picked earlier in the same entry draft, had yet to be given their NHL shots either. Many remembered these accusations when he was removed from development camp for a day this summer due to an undisclosed injury, as many suggested this meant a trade was imminent. However, he returned to development camp the next day, claiming to have suffered from a sore hip, and appears to be happily headed to Binghamton this fall.
It remains to be seen what the Sens have in Prince. Many projected him to get a couple of games of NHL action last season, since he already had one season of professional hockey under his belt. However, with players like Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman ahead of him offensively, and guys like Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Derek Grant offering more defensively, one can see why he hasn't been given a shot yet. The Sens have shown a propensity for players with an Ottawa connection under Bryan Murray, pursuing players like Marc Methot and Pageau, and someone who played junior in town would seem to fit the same mould. However, it seems Prince will have to have a stand-out season for the B-Sens and will need enough players on the NHL team to get injured if he is to get a serious chance in the NHL. And if he doesn't get a shot, he may not be a Senator much longer.