Who makes the jump: Defensemen with a shot to make the Ottawa Senators roster

We've already looked at the forward prospects that might soon make the jump to the NHL, now we take a look at the guys on the blue line. With a lot of speculation as to whether RFA Chris Campoli and UFAs Anton Volchenkov and Andy Sutton sign in Ottawa, it's hard to know if there will be any room for defensive prospects.

After the jump, you'll see the names of the blueliners you might be seeing in Ottawa next season.

Jared Cowen

Regular season
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2006–07 Spokane Chiefs WHL 6 0 2 2 2 6 0 1 1 6
2007–08 Spokane Chiefs WHL 68 4 14 18 62 21 1 3 4 17
2008–09 Spokane Chiefs WHL 48 7 14 21 45
2009–10 Spokane Chiefs WHL 59 8 22 30 74 7 1 1 2 8
2009–10 Ottawa Senators NHL 1 0 0 0 2
WHL totals 181 19 52 71 183 34 2 5 7 31

Cowen, the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, is widely considered Ottawa's best prospect. Standing a mean 6'5" and 220lbs, he could add a very imposing presence on the blueline. He's also a defensive defenseman, something Ottawa could use with the probable loss of Anton Volchenkov. During his time in the WHL, he was more than willing to show off his size and some scouts even say he holds potential to be a possible offense threat with to his mobility.

The big problem though, is his knee. He suffered a knee injury that ended his 2008-09 season, and was the reason he dropped to the ninth spot in the NHL Entry Draft. Though he came back and had a decent WHL campaign last year--which got better as the year went on--he struggled to keep up with forwards at the World Junior Hockey Championship and found himself riding the bench through most of it.

If Cowen trains hard this off-season and gets his knee back to 100%, he should be able to push for a spot on the blue line. If he does not make the team, he'll be forced to return to the WHL due to the transfer agreement with the  CHL; in other words, he won't be playing in Binghamton.

Patrick Wiercioch

Regular season
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2006–07 Burnaby Express BCHL 42 9 16 25 46
2007–08 Omaha Lancers USHL 40 3 18 21 24 14 2 9 11 22
2008–09 Denver NCAA 36 21 23 35 26
2009–10 Denver NCAA 39 6 21 27 34
NCAA totals 75 18 44 62 60

Drafted with the Senators next pick (second round, 42 overall) after Erik Karlsson, Wiercioch is a graduate of the University of Denver, put up some great numbers in his freshman year in 2008-09 with 35 points (12 goals and 23 assist). Still, after a couple of seasons in the NCAA, he will probably need to get used to the pro game in the AHL. I expect him to start first pairing in Binghamton, put up some nice numbers (his college numbers, although a small sample size, look great), and challenge for a roster spot in 2011-12.

Like a lot of Senators defenseman, Wiercioch needs to work on his skating. He has great hands, and his size works well with him, but he needs to work on his speed and mobility. He's an intelligent guy, and will hopefully figure it all out by year's end.

Derek Smith

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2000–01 Wellington Dukes OPJHL 12 1 1 2 4
2001–02 Wellington Dukes OPJHL 46 5 15 20 26
2002–03 Wellington Dukes OPJHL 21 6 10 16 26
2003–04 Wellington Dukes OPJHL 44 8 26 34 34
2004–05 Lake Superior State U. CCHA 38 1 4 5 28
2005–06 Lake Superior State U. CCHA 36 2 8 10 18
2006–07 Lake Superior State U. CCHA 43 10 20 30 10
2007–08 Binghamton Senators AHL 52 2 11 13 18
2007–08 Elmira Jackals ECHL 1 0 1 1 0
2008–09 Binghamton Senators AHL 75 7 17 24 49
2009–10 Binghamton Senators AHL 74 14 37 51 24
2009–10 Ottawa Senators NHL 2 0 0 0 0
NHL totals 2 0 0 0 0

Derek Smith improved last season largely due to his size--he stands at 6'2" and 199 lbs. With that little more weight and after more than doubling his point-production year-over-year, D. Smith was able to improve his standing on the list of Ottawa Senators' defensive prospects. Smith has a great body for the NHL, he just needs a little more work and he could be a lot more than just a injury replacement minor-pro player.

He can score, and knows how to skate. If he can improve on the season he had last year, Smith could be a great surprise in the Ottawa system.

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