Senators News: July 25th

-Ottawa signed their last RFA today as they gave Stephane Da Costa and one-year, two-way deal (reportedly for 800k).  Tim Murray said “We just feel if he can get stronger, get used to playing with higher competition and become a more consistent player away from the puck, that he’s got a chance to play in the National Hockey League.”  It’s a good deal for both sides as Da Costa has talent and deserves another season to see where he can take it.

Mike Hoffman talked about how he sees himself in the organisation:

I think I’m right there. Once training camp comes around (in September), time will just tell. If you don’t have confidence playing hockey, you’re not going to play up to your potential. Confidence is a huge part of the game and if you have it, that helps you out that much more. You always want to get better, you always want to work on things. You’re never going to be perfect so if you can do that, you help yourself out a lot … I thought last year’s training camp was pretty good. I thought I played pretty well. Then I got a game (against Carolina) and I thought I fit in pretty good. I’ve just got to work hard (this summer) and just get bigger and stronger.

Randy Lee added:

What’s attractive about him is that he can score, he’s got a great shot, he sees the ice pretty well and he’s got really, really good speed. And he’s not afraid — he played with an edge. In his exit meeting after playing with the Black Aces, I think he made an impression on both Bryan and Paul with his real seriousness, that he’s committed to being a pro and wants to play for the Senators sooner rather than later. It was a change in his work ethic (that made the difference). Rather than thinking he was entitled to play, he realized that he had to work toward it and I think he did that. He’s shown that he’s willing to work hard and he showed with conviction that ‘I want to be a pro player and I want to help this team win.’ That made a real impression on those guys. He is willing to stick his nose in there and that’s what he’s got to do. Sometimes, you have guys with good speed who become perimeter players just because they’re able to (do that) with their speed. He’s got to learn that’s one of his threats, to go wide with speed, but other times he’s got to drive and get in the dirty areas. He can finish in tight and he’s got a great release. He’s got that flexibility to play the point on the power play, which he does on a big-time basis down (in Binghamton). He’s got a great one-timer, he moves the puck really well and he can move laterally pretty well. And he’s not a real detriment defending if he gets caught out there. He can skate well enough to defend.

Those are high words of praise.  I think the challenge for Hoffman is making a niche for himself as a third-line player, as it doesn’t look like his offensive talents are enough to make him a top-six forward.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau talked about his chances of playing in Binghamton:

That’s my goal. I want to be in Bingo and help the team win. For me, it’s my personal goal. I’m going to work hard this summer to make sure that goal is going to be achieved. Mentally, I’m ready (to make the move), but I can improve more physically. I’m going to train hard this summer, come here with Chris and make sure I’m 100 per cent ready to go. Getting more strength is going to help my shot and my explosion on the ice, so for sure gaining more strength (is a goal) and it’s what I’ll work on this summer. I’m confident in myself and who I am. I know what I can do to help the team win. There is a great example in the NHL in Danny Briere and that’s what I try to follow. He’s a great example for me … We play hockey together in a league for fun (during the summer). He gives me good tips and I try to apply them when I can. He just tells me never to give up. People will say ‘you’re too small, you’re not going to make it.’ But he said if you just keep believing in your dream and keep working hard, it’s going to happen for you one day.

Randy Lee added:

He’s just got to prove that he can make the jump. It’s a huge jump — we always say they’ve got to respect that jump to the American league — and he’s got to prove he can make that jump and sort through the competition. Other guys ahead of him on the depth chart have got that one year (of pro) experience. We’ve taught him to look at guys like Wacey Hamilton, who went from being a 20-year-old (captain of the Medicine Hat Tigers) in the Western Hockey League to being in Binghamton, where he had to pay his dues and got stuck on the fourth line quite a bit. He had to deal with that frustration and we looked at how he handled that, and it was a good reflection on Wacey‘s character. We’ve talked to Jean-Gabriel about that, that it’s a harder transition than people think. You don’t just go on the top two lines (right away) and he’s a skilled, top-two line guy. So it’s going to be an adjustment for him. He’s worked hard. He’s made the commitment to come in with Chris Schwarz every day, and to be around Mark Borowiecki and Chris Neil and all those guys who are real workhorses in the gym. So that’s going to pay huge dividends for him. You overcome the size differential with compete, and he does that. In the Quebec league, he takes a beating. What we want to see is once teams start playing tough on you and targeting you, does your game change? And if your game doesn’t change, you’ve got what we like to make that transition to the pros. I think Jean-Gabriel can compete when the going gets tough.

These are cautionary words and do nothing to persuade me that Pageau won’t be sent back to the QMJHL for another season in junior (especially with all the forwards the Sens have signed).  There’s no need to rush and turn him pro.

Bruce Garrioch engages in a lot of speculation but excluding the absurdities (like Dallas moving Brendan Morrow) he confirms the Sens have tried to trade Bobby Butler.

Varada and Scott assess the Rick Nash speculation and I’m on board with Scott’s feelings that the rumoured package Ottawa was giving up for the Blue Jacket star was ridiculous.  It’s all moot regardless, since Nash was never interested in coming north.

Stu Hackel doesn’t see the  Nash trade as completely disastrous for Columbus, but while I agree with him that the hyperbole over the deal is a little ridiculous his reasoning ultimately doesn’t change the fact that the Rangers did not give up much to get a certifiable top-line player.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


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