Sunday, September 12, 2010

So Rookie Camps Are Fun, but Are There Any Spots?

As of this writing, the Ottawa Rookie Senators are currently winning 7-3 in the third period to Chicago's rookies. Yesterday, the Rookie Sens lost to Pittsburgh 5-3.

One very bright spot in the loss to Pittsburgh was the play of Bobby Butler, who picked up two goals and was all over the ice, having excellent chemistry with Mike Hoffman.


Bobby Butler, the Hobby Baker finalist and top NCAA player from last season is a player the management are very high on, and who looked quite promising in two games last year. Bryan Murray describes him as a very smart player who is "a goal scorer". We know he can put the puck in the net at the collegiate level with 29 goals in his last year, and appears to be able to put the puck in against his prospect-peers.

So the question is simple, can he do the same at the NHL level? Oakes did a sweet piece back when the Sens first signed him that can be found here, that talks about what we might be able to expect.


Another, exceedingly intriguing prospect is Roman Wick. A similar type of player to Butler in that he is an offensive winger (an area where the Sens are not so deep), Wick is a prospect from the past. He was brought back into the consciousness of the fanbase while playing for the Swiss at the Olympics. He is big, strong and could look good on a line with someone like Milan Michalek.

The question with him is, can he bring the success from the Swiss League, playing for the Kloten Flyers, to North America? And if he cannot right away, how long is he willing to stay here improving in the AHL?

Now I would say these are the two most NHL-ready forward prospects the Sens have (assuming, as I do, that Zach Smith is a lock for the 4th line, and is therefore not a prospect), and they are exciting because they offer at the chance for some offence. But is there even a roster spot for either of these gentlemen?

Well let's look at the roster. Under one-way forward contracts, the Sens currently have

Spezza, Kovalev, Alfie, Fisher, Michalek, Regin, Kelly, Ruutu, Neil, Winchester, Shannon, Foligno.

That's twelve, and technically, that's all you need. But if you remember, I said I believe Z. Smith is our fourth line centre, so now we are at 13, which is the number most teams carry. So let's look at line combos with these thirteen.


This is, in all likelihood, the most safe bet as to how the lines will start this season. I'm not Winchesters biggest fan, I think Z.Smith does everything Winchester does, only better and with more intensity. I'm also not a huge Shannon fan.

So in reality, in Training Camp, Wick or Butler only has to outplay Ryan Shannon for a roster spot.

Now there are pros and cons to this. Would Butler and Wick benefit from 4th line duty? Or is it better to give them more minutes at the AHL level and use them for injury call-ups (remembering that Locke and Keller will also be in line for call-ups)? In addition both players need new contracts after this year, and you want to keep them happy and around for the not-so-distant future when Kovalev and Alfie retire leaving huge holes in the top six for wingers.

So how do you handle these two young players?


GelatinousMutantCoconut said...

I'd like to see Butler and Wick given a year to develop in the AHL. Especially Bobby since he can be paired up with Mike Hoffman, who he seems to have ridiculous chemistry with.

Then, when some spots open up next season, the trio can make the team.

How does this forward line-up sound for 2011-2012?


Add to that a defense that might just look like


And I think I'm more excited for the 2011 season...

GelatinousMutantCoconut said...

Oh and Winchester is much more suited for the 4th line than Shannon. Shannon is speedy and a good forechecker, but he's also VERY small.

Winchester lacks the same speed, but he's still an efficient checker and is good along the boards. yes, Smith does all the same things better, but he;s a centre and Jesse is a pair them together, add Ruutu or Foligno on the left wing, and you have a VERY good 4th line!

Young said...

A very good fourth line if you are hoping for only bang-crash, but we already have Kelly-Ruutu-Neil for that and it seems a shame to pidgeon hole Foligno into that role. I like to think of the Foligno line and the Kelly line as 3a and 3b lines, and I only suggest Shannon over Winchester in the hopes of getting some offence out of that line.

GelatinousMutantCoconut said...

Yeah, that make sense.

But Winchester and Shannon had the same amount of assists last season. And Shannon only had 3 more goals. The big difference? Shannon played in 14 more games.

Winchester was pegged as having some offensive ability when he was signed.

Young said...

But he has never really shown it, and while their point totals were similar last year, I never felt that Winchester creates when he is on the ice, where as Shannon at least gives the illusion of offence.

I think though GMC we can at least agree we would both like a better option than Winchester or Shannon for that spot!

Canucnik said...

Will not happen but...



and we dominate from the 4th line up!

Young said...

That line up would be exciting, for sure but what are you going to do with the rest of the one way contracts?!