Training Camp is always a time of hope and despair. Whether you’re Jason Spezza or Derek Smith, you always head into Camp thinking “I will make it, no matter what”. Well, that fairytale ending came true for Matt Carkner last pre-season, who came into T.C. trying to make the big club as a forward, but instead found a spot on the back six. We all saw how Matt did this season, and it’s a ray of hope for those journeymen dying to make the team.
Last year saw a huge battle for spots on the line-up, especially on D. Both Matt Carkner and Erik Karlsson found a way into the Six, nudging out Brian Lee and Alexandre Picard. This year, we should see a way bigger battle down low, especially for the 6th Defenseman spot.
The first four spots are basically reserved (Chris Phillips, Sergei Gonchar, Erik Karlsson, Filip Kuba). Although I won’t say reserved, Matt Carkner should be safe on the last pairing. Chris Campoli for the most part was the last defenseman for the season, but still has to find a contract and for waht I’m hearing he and the Sens will be heading into arbitration.
Brian Lee is an enigma of sorts. The 9th overall pick in 2005 has never been able to live up to expectations, and seems to always get caught in the dust. If the David Rundblad trade told us anything, it was that Lee’s time in Bytown may be over if he can’t make the team in early September. While I do believe Brian will show up at Camp fired and ready to prove his worth, I can’t see him making the team unless injuries persist.
The first of two rookies, Jared Cowen is a contender for the spot. He already has one NHL game under his belt. Weighing in at 6’5 and 220 pounds, Cowen is a lean and mean hungry boy who has phenomenal defensive skills but under-par offensive skills. Jared plays on the World Juniors team, but to me was simply rotted out by coach Willie Desjardins. The big thing scouts love about Cowen is his calmness on the back end. He’s a watermelon to me, solid on the outside but juicy on the inside.
When there’s a battle, there must be a wild-card. He comes by the name on Patrick Wiercioch. A big, physical defenseman with superb offensive abilities, Patrick is one of those late-bloomers. The 2nd Rounder has lead Denver U to a Numer One seed two straight season, but has never won the National Championship. It’s something that disturbs me, but I still believe Wiercioch may win this spot.
Last year there were always 7 defenseman, with one healthy scratch. So if Campoli does re-sign, than there will be four men battling four two spots. As I stare into my magical crystal ball, I believe that the two who make it are Chris Campoli and Jared Cowen.