Senators News: January 9th

Luke Richardson talked about Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad:

The beginning of the season, Silfverberg and Zibanejad were offensive guys who were used to having a lot of room on the big rinks (in Europe), and they found it an adjustment to how hard the American league really was. It was an eye-opener, for sure. Both of them have developed quite nicely, but Silfverberg lately has really been taking over games. He didn’t have too many points at the beginning of the year, and points don’t mean everything, but his play over the last month has been dominating. He can do it at the next level. He’s a smart, skilled player and he’s really starting to take to the North American game. He’s a lot more forceful in the areas that require a bit more physicality and he’s not afraid to go to the net. People will be shocked when they see him shoot the puck, it really is unbelievable. It will be fun to watch him at the next level.

He [Zibanejad] really had his body run down. He’s just back practising full-time now, he looked great (Tuesday) in his first full-on practice, taking a regular turn on a line, taking extra faceoffs after practice. At this point, he hasn’t played a game in a while, so I don’t know what the thought process is and I know (the Senators) are still trying to figure things out on how many players they want and who’s coming up (from Binghamton), but I would guess they’d want him to play some (AHL) games first. Is he behind a bit because he’s missed some time? Maybe, but he’s a young, strong athlete who can rebound quickly, so I’m sure that will be a topic of conversation this week and I wouldn’t be surprised either way.

Paul MacLean talked about the upcoming season and sadly didn’t say much of anything.  One thing that I think Nichols (whose transcript I’ve linked) is right in questioning was this:

I think whoever plays the best is going to play. I don’t think it gives him any more of an advantage. Robin Lehner has been very good in Binghamton. The games that I’ve gone to see, he’s been the best player on the ice. I’ve seen Ben Bishop play down there and he’s been the best player on the ice. So both of them have played very well. Craig Anderson is our number one goaltender at this point in time and I think between the three of those guys, we’ve got two real good goalies and two of them are going to be here. I think it would be unfair to say that just because one player’s contract says this that they get the position over the (other) guy. I think the best player is going to be here.

As much as I respect MacLean I think there’s zero chance Bishop doesn’t make the team–he’s on a one-way and cost the team a 2nd round pick–they want him to have a chance at the NHL level.  MacLean talked about the depleted defence:

Well the injury to Jared Cowen has been, we all knew it was a blow at the time. That would have given us a solid four. Now with Michael Lundin, now his injury is also (adds) a little bit of heat.  The opportunity for him to come in and take one of those four spots, he’s going to be a week or two into the season and we’re going to be into… so we’ll see how that affects him. But, the good thing is … good young players… Patrick Wiercioch has played very (well) in Binghamton this year and he just might be ready to come in and play. Last year with Jared Cowen, we gave Jared Cowen the opportunity. We kept putting him back out on the ice and that made him a better player as the season went on. Patrick Wiercioch and Mark Borowiecki as well, he’s playing very well in Binghamton. And these young players, we’re still a team of opportunity for young players. We don’t want to lose track of that thought with the success that we had last year. Yes, we want to be successful and continue down that road, but we also want to be a team of opportunity for young players. This is an opportunity for Mark Borowiecki and Patrick Wiercioch to come in and say, ‘Hey, I’m a NHL player and I want to be an Ottawa Senator. I can do it and know what the coach needs me to do to play in this league and if you keep giving me that opportunity, I can.’

MacLean also made an interesting comment about the loss of Nick Foligno:

Nick was really a good soldier for this team. And really did a lot of good things for us. He’s a player who I think is really on the verge of blossoming into the type of player that he believes he is and everyone believes he is. But at the same time, you have to give something up to get something. And we felt with the drafting of Jakob Silfverberg and being the player of the year in Sweden, Mark Stone coming in and playing in the playoffs and playing very well and Mike Hoffman’s play, we just felt that we had depth at that position at forward. We felt that we needed a top four defenceman to put into our mix with Filip (Kuba) leaving and that ended up being… we felt that we made that deal from strength and made our team better.

So the combination of solid forward prospects and a need on the blueline played into Foligno‘s departure–this isn’t new per se, but I find it interesting Hoffman is included with the two more highly touted forward prospects.

MacLean also made it clear that his expectation is that Peter Regin will be playing on the third line, which fits most people’s projected lineups.

Allen Panzeri looks at the six Binghamton players he’s identified to push for a spot with the Sens: Silfverberg, Mark Stone, Patrick Wiercioch, Mark Borowiecki, Andre Benoit, and Robin Lehner.

-Binghamton faces Wilkes-Barre (15-16-3) tonight; Beau Bennett leads the Penguins in scoring (23 points) while Jeff Zatkoff handles the load in goal (11-11-0 2.22 .912).

-In a surprise move Brad Peltz (a healthy scatch for last 12 Binghamton games) has been loaned to the Trenton Titans rather than Elmira; presumably this is to find him ice time rather than a problem with the Jackals organisation.

-NHL power rankings are a largely pointless exercise, but I’m including them so they can be looked back on when the season is over to see how well various journalists did.  Here’s Adrian Dater‘s, with Ottawa at #19 saying:

It’s nice that Daniel Alfredsson didn’t have his career ended by a fully lost  season. His return figures to be a boon for the Sens on and off the ice. These guys were better than people (hand raised) thought they’d be last year, and they gave the Rangers fits in the playoffs. But this team is aging somewhat, with  five players 30 or older. In this league, it gets harder and harder to get by on  veteran moxie. If Craig Anderson can have a big season in net, though, another  playoff spot is very possible.

The “aging” thing makes me shake my head.  The only key players who are truly aging are Alfredsson and Gonchar–that’s an important element, but doesn’t define the whole team.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)