-The Sens are experimenting with Jakob Silfverberg on the top line, but Paul MacLean isn’t committing to anything:
We think if you give somebody an opportunity, they’ll show you if they can handle it, or not. That’s what we’re going to do. (Silfverberg) has been an elite player … and playing in a small rink (in Binghamton) has helped him a lot. We’re just giving him the opportunity to show us he can do it. If he can’t do it, we can always go back to what we did. We can always play Alfie (Daniel Alfredsson) there. We can always put Colin Greening back. We can always go back to what we had before, that we felt worked for us. But we’re trying to give him an opportunity to show he can play. We did that today, but I’ve got a funny feeling we might be changing that by (Monday). Or by Wednesday … before we get to Saturday. It might end up the way it is right now on Saturday, but I can pretty much guarantee you that the next few days, it’s not always going to be the same. We’re here to try and find out who they can play with.
MacLean dismissed the notion that either Cody Ceci or Stefan Noesen would make the team, while implying Andre Benoit was a lock and that either Patrick Wiercioch or Mark Borowiecki would get the other spot.
-Jeremy Milks expects the Sens to reach the second round of the playoffs:
They have a Norris Trophy defenseman in Erik Karlsson. A Jack Adams finalist for the coach of the year in Paul Maclean. They have goaltending depth the rest of Eastern Conference would envy. They are strong down the middle with Jason Spezza and Kyle Turris, overloaded on the wings and their best prospects are either fighting their way onto the team or leading their AHL affiliate to a possible championship season in Binghamton. Sure, the defense is depleted on the bottom pairing but they have plenty of cap space or tradeable prospects to address that as soon as they need to.
This is as optimistic an appraisal as I can imagine. Before I play devil’s advocate in response to this, I’m curious who Jeremy thinks the Sens can get to fill in that bottom pairing (and who they would have to give up for that player). I think his premise is off in terms of the need in the short term, as what Ottawa requires is a top-four blueliner to allow Chris Phillips to play the same protected minutes he enjoyed last season (we all recall the results of the last time the Big Rig was in the top-four [-35]).
The devil’s advocate way of looking at Jeremy’s expectations: that goaltending the league “envies” includes a starter who was awful the previous season and two untested rookies; Turris has one decent half-season to his name; the “overloaded wings” have only two established players (Michalek and Alfredsson), one of whom is 40 years old and the other is an injury waiting to happen; the blueline is composed of a rock star (Karlsson), a 38-year old declining Gonchar, a 34-year old declining Phillips, a Blue Jacket coming off an awful season (Methot), and a Wild cast-off who can’t stay healthy (Lundin). Does that summary sound like a second round team?
I have no problem with Jeremy’s optimism, but mine is tempered. The team enjoyed a surprising year last season, but there’s no guarantee that in the midst of a rebuild they will enjoy the same success again, especially with the injury to Jared Cowen.
-There’s simply no escaping the five-point formula as Roy MacGregor joins in the arbitrary numeration. Roy wonders about Alfredsson, the goaltending, Karlsson, the blueliners, and Paul MacLean, which is on par with what we’ve seen before.
-As Nichols posted yesterday Andre Petersson is done for the year as he needs surgery to repair a torn labrum (the same procedure Jared Cowen just went through). It’s an unfortunate turn of events for the talented Swede who had a rocky start to the season.
-In other Binghamton news, Wacey Hamilton is expected to play either Wednesday or on the weekend after missing the entire season thus far.
-Bobby Kelly and Mark Parisi talk Binghamton Senators and before I tackle what they discussed I have a correction for Bobby: Tyler Eckford was not with the B-Sens last season (also, Andre Petersson hasn’t established himself because he’s been injured since December). On their basic points: I disagree with Mark that Stephane Da Costa has played better than Mike Hoffman–Da Costa has the better ceiling, but Hoffman has been more consistent and is better defensively. I also think Mark is off-base thinking Mika Zibanejad should have been included in training camp–he needs to get himself right before he even thinks about the NHL. I’m with Bobby in believing Binghamton will suffer most for losing some of its blueline, but the flip side of that coin is that it will be a true test for fringe players like Chris Wideman and Ben Blood. I don’t know what Mark is seeing out of Jean-Gabriel Pageau as a darkhorse to produce more–the B-Sens are only losing one forward and I wonder if the return of Wacey Hamilton will knock Pageau into the pressbox or down to Elmira. Mark wonders why Mark Stone hasn’t been getting more minutes and the easiest answer to that is who has playing ahead of him on rightwing: Jakob Silfverberg.
-Scott Gomez has been shutdown by Montreal in the same fashion that the Rangers have told Wade Redden to stay home. While this has upset some (one?), it’s a no-brainer for the Habs. Trading for Gomez was a bad idea and he (like Redden) clearly has nothing left in the tank.
-Elmira signed Kelly Miller who played with Trenton last year and was with the Danbury Whalers in the FHL this season.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)