Senators Rookie Profile: Stephane Da Costa

This is my third profile of a Senator rookie.

Stephane Da Costa, C, Contract: 1.325/12 (RFA)
FA 2011 (Murray), 5’11, Shoots R, YOB 1989, Paris, FR
2008-09 USHL 48-31-36-67 23pim (1 fight)
2009-10 NCAA 34-16-29-45 41pim
2010-11 NCAA 33-14-31-45 42pim

Stephane Da Costa‘s hockey career began in obscurity in the French junior system.  He left Amiens in the fall of 2006 to join the NAHL’s Texas Tornado’s.  The spring of 2007 was his draft eligible year and he was not going to impress scouts playing in France.  While he enjoyed a productive year with Texas, he was not drafted and the following year joined the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL.  Da Costa finished sixth in scoring and was passed over in the 2008 draft.  He broke out in his final year with Sioux City, leading the team in points and being named a USHL second all-star.  He committed to Merrimack College in the NCAA and it was at the college level that Da Costa began to make waves.

He was the NCAA rookie of the year and one of a number of hotly pursued college free agents (including Bobby Butler).  Da Costa decided to spend one more year at Merrimack and I have to reference Allan Muir’s SI article to perhaps explain the decision: “The question is whether he’s physically ready. He’s listed at 5-11, 180, but one scout who saw him recently said “he looks like McLovin” with his shirt off” (m.si.com/news/archive/archive/detail/2429977/full;jsessionid= 5B1B459D803D26474CBB5CECB64C7310.cnnsi2).

Da Costa lead Merrimack in scoring again, deciding to sign this year with Ottawa on a deal similar to Bobby Butler‘s (earning more money, but burning a year of RFA eligibility by playing a few games in the NHL).  As many as 20 NHL teams contacted Da Costa before he signed, with Minnesota, Philadelphia, and Florida believed to have the most interest (http://aol.sportingnews.com/nhl/story/2011-03-31/senators-snag-college-star-stephane-da-costa).  In his four NHL games Da Costa didn’t show much, but the sample size is essentially meaningless.  Ottawa fans received a longer look at him during the team’s Development Camp, but he did not stand out (no one in the organisation made specific comments about him except to say he would have a chance at camp).  Da Costa‘s need to bulk up is apparent.  Red Line Report‘s comments prior to his signing: “One thing we really like is the work he put in on his deficiencies. Improved his strength level and defensive play.  Still known mainly for his dynamic and creative offensive skills.  Despite dramatically increased focus from opposing checkers, has continued to show his deft passing skills with clean, crisp passes through seams.  Lacks strength and explosive straightaway speed, but has a special feel for the game and knack for sensing weak spots in coverage.  Puck skills are off the charts – can dangle and use his great change fo speeds to beat defenders.  Very patient with the puck and one of those guys who slows the game down.  Possess both a rocket slap shot and a great wrister.

Despite the organisations claim that Da Costa can make the NHL roster, it’s difficult to see how.  His only shot would be to become the team’s second line center, but I think Mika Zibanejad has a better opportunity to do that and don’t believe he will accomplish that either.  What’s likely is that Da Costa will be sent down to Binghamton where he’ll play behind Corey Locke as the team’s second-line center.  He should do well at the AHL level–top-end NCAA players typically do–which should earn him a call-up or two during the year.  The real test for Da Costa and his place in the organisation will come when the season is over.

Dan Sallow’s scouting report (from 2010): http://dansallows.com/player-profile-stephane-da-costa/
Hockey Futures: www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/12872/ten_collegians_drawing_nhl_ free_agent_interest/ (the comments here are not included in his actual profile)
Interview while at Merrimack: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIENq2-_-aY
Runs a Danish player from behind and fights Mads Bodker: www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzpHnH2Z88Q&feature=related

The next rookie I’ll look at is Mark Borowiecki.

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