Senators Rookie Profile: Jared Cowen

This is my second profile of a Senator rookie.

Jared Cowen, D, Contract: 1.325/14 (RFA)
1-9 2009 (Murray), 6’5, Shoots L, YOB 1991, Allan, Sask
2008-09 WHL 48-7-14-21 45pim (3 fights)
2009-10 WHL 59-8-22-30 74pim (2 fights)
2010-11 WHL 58-18-30-48 91pim (5 fights)

Heading into the 2009 draft, the Ottawa Senators had fired their coach mid-season (Craig Hartsburg) again and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1995-96.  They had the 9th overall pick, their highest since selecting Brian Lee in 2005.  Going into the draft the team had 9 NHL blueliners (Chris CampoliFilip Kuba, Brian Lee, Chris Phillips, Alexandre Picard, Luke Richardson, Christoph Schubert, Jason Smith, and Anton Volchenkov).  The system wasn’t very deep (Mattias Karlsson had already signed a deal to return to the SEL), but the previous draft had seen Erik Karlsson and Patrick Wiercioch selected, both high-end defencemen.  I make this long preamble to illustrate why Bryan Murray attempted to make a trade with Toronto’s Brian Burke (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kzgalcl3tD8) in order to land Nazem Kadri.  There are a lot of conspiracy theories that claim Murray Jedi-mind tricked Burke into taking Kadri, but I don’t think we can know that one way or another.  It’s reasonable enough to accept that the Sens preferred to draft a forward (11 of their last 14 picks have been forwards), although 6’5 blueliners don’t grow on trees.  Going into the draft, Cowen was ranked #7 by Bob McKenzie (other rankings #4-#9, www.tsn.ca/ draftcentre/feature/?id=11891), but his stock had dropped because of a serious knee injury.

There was no question that Cowen would be returned for at least one more year of junior given the depth in Ottawa.  He made Canada’s WJC roster, but did not play much in earning a silver medal.  Last season the blueline was still crowded with six one-way contracts plus Erik Karlsson, so Cowen was returned for his final year of junior.  He made the WJC roster again, this time enjoying a larger role (again winning a silver medal).  After Spokane was knocked out of the WHL playoffs, Cowen was sent to Binghamton where he became a key member of the blueline, logging big minutes alongside AHL veteran Andre Benoit on his way to winning a Calder Cup.

In the fall Cowen will play his first professional season.  Expectations are high, but once again he faces a crowded blueline.  Bryan Murray’s comments (senators.nhl.com/club/ news.htm?id=568466&cmpid=rss-brodie) are a good place to look, with Murray indicating he expects Cowen to be a “strong candidate” to make the team as compared to his comments about David Rundblad where “He should be able to play on our hockey team this year.”  I think the distinction is important.  Cowen has improved each year in the WHL, setting career highs in goals and assists this past season.  He isn’t expected to be a big point producer in the NHL, envisioned as a shutdown player who can make a good first pass.  While I don’t believe he’ll start in Ottawa, if he does and plays a full season he’ll put up 10-15 points with 2-4 goals.

Cowen‘s profile the year he was drafted: video.senators.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=45626
Cowen‘s Hockey Futures profile: http://www.hockeysfuture.com/prospects/jared_cowen
Cowen fight: http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/102382
An interview at this year’s development camp: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53sRIr0QgCI
Cowen scoring a hat-trick: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-pqarEmp5Y

I’m on vacation this week, so the next profile will be posted after that.

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