The regular season is less than a week away! The Ottawa Senators will play their penultimate match of the preseason as they play the Winnipeg Jets on the road. Here is the projected roster for the game:
This roster includes most of the intended players for the Senators, although it's very notable and worrisome that Josh Norris will once again not be suiting up. The team has said he is not playing for precautionary reasons, but he was supposed to play at least twice. Now that'll be impossible, and it's fair to wonder if he's even fully healthy and ready before the season begins. Considering his shoulder problems of the past and that he came back too soon last season, Ottawa needs to be extremely careful here.
In this morning's skate, we learned who of the above players would actually be involved in tonight's preseason action.
It's understandable to see Drake Batherson and Roby Järventie sitting tonight. Both have played in a bunch of preseason games and DJ Smith will want to give them a rest as well as get a better look at a few other players. Notably, Josh Bailey is back in the lineup tonight as the Senators inch closer to decision day on his professional tryout.
We'll, once again, get a look at Smith's ideal six defenders as Maxence Guénette skated as the seventh blueliner this morning. Ridly Greig will line up with Vladimir Tarasenko on his right, and Mathieu Joseph on his left. Joseph, likely serving as a placeholder for Drake Batherson on that line. Depending on how things shake out on Saturday, the writing appears to be on the wall that if neither Norris nor Shane Pinto are available for opening night, Greig is the likely candidate to fill in as the second line centre.
Speaking of Norris, DJ Smith mentioned this morning that while the centre is skating and practicing, he needs to be "mentally ready" to play. Reading between the lines, it sounds like Norris may be physically healthy enough to play but needs to get over the hurdle of being afraid to get hurt again after missing so much time. This is a pretty typical and understandable trauma response. After all, the last two times he went to play NHL games, he's ended up missing a significant time with shoulder injuries. With the pace and physicality of the NHL, you can't play with the idea that you'll get hurt in the back of your head. So, while it's disappointing to see Norris remain on the outside looking in, we can certainly understand what might be troubling him at this point.
Other training camp updates include:
- Egor Sokolov and Jacob Bernard-Docker cleared waivers and were assigned to Belleville. This is good news for the organization, and not overly surprising. Sure, JBD is a former first-rounder, but he's 23 and has 15 points in 99 career AHL games. Sokolov has had much more success in the AHL as he led the B-Sens with 59 points in 70 games, which I thought would have been enough to give him a shot in Ottawa. The two of them could still play NHL games this season, although it's clear that the organization doesn't think they'll be with them long-term. Either way, it's good to keep that depth around because injuries happen.
- Owner Michael Andlauer was asked about the Shane Pinto situation by Pierre LeBrun, and he had this to say:
“I think it’s a situation, like a lot of teams right now, in the fact we’ve been stuck at the salary cap … it is what it is,” Andlauer said. “From all accounts when talking to the players and the coaching staff, everybody loves Shane Pinto. He’s been a great asset to this team. We’re in a bit of a pickle obviously with it.
“I’m not going to comment about the discussions between (general manager) Pierre (Dorion) and the agent through this process. But we’re desirous of having Shane onboard and we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to get there. I feel for the young man because I know he wants to be there and you know the situation when there’s a player who misses training camp — sometimes it hinders their performance moving forward.”
- Maxence Guénette is the only extra defenseman remaining, so if they keep seven of them to begin the season, he will have made the team. It's quite a shock considering Thomson, Bernard-Docker, and Kleven we seemingly ahead of him, but Guénette has always had potential and it'd be interesting to see what happens if he gets into some games. I'm happy for him.
The game against the Jets begins at 8 pm Eastern and can be seen on TSN3 and TSN5. Almost back to real hockey!