Over the next month, SenShot will be doing off-season report cards for all your Ottawa Senators. Let’s see each player’s grade for the 2010-2011 season.
In his third season as a NHL pro, Jesse Winchester was probably one of the only Senators that fulfilled his role. As a fourth line center, Winchester provided physicality and energy in his limited ice time. With a career high in goals with four (seriously), Winchester also notched 13 points and 101 hits in 72 games. Solidifying himself as the fourth line center, Winchester was a regular on the penalty kill and was counted on as a strong defensive center.
But not all was rosy for Winchester last season. Consistency was Winchester’s biggest battle all season long as he had goal less streaks of 13, 20, and 29 games. With a total of 201 NHL games under his belt, Winchester only has a grand total of nine goals to his stat line. Hyped as a potential goal scorer when he signed with Ottawa as a NCAA free agent, Sens fans quickly found out that Winchester’s game was build on a solid two-way game rather than as a sniper.
With only two fights last year, Winchester needs to bring more intensity to his game if he hopes to be in Ottawa for the long haul. With the trade last year of agitator Jarkko Ruutu, Winchester had his role increased. However, in his last 29 games of the season, Winchester had three assists, eight penalty minutes and 37 hits. These stats hardly scream out that he stepped up his game. Winchester was even past on the depth chart as AHL call-ups Colin Greening and Erik Condra (who are comparable to Winchester) received more playing time then Winchester.
When the puck drops on the 2011-2012 season, Winchester will be about to turn 28 years old. Entering the last year of his current two year deal he signed with Ottawa in 2010, Winchester will need to give the Sens brass a reason to resign him and make him part of their long-term plans. With many young prospects coming up in the system, Winchester has a few prospects nipping at his heels for his roster spot. Ottawa even brought in extra help in the bottom six grit department as they signed free agent grinder Zenon Konopka who will battle Winchester for minutes.
In a contract year, Winchester will be in tough for minutes this season. With a potential bottom six consisting of Winchester, Chris Neil, Nick Foligno, Zenon Konopka, Erik Condra, Colin Greening, and Zach Smith, nothing will be guaranteed for Winchester. He will need to battle every night to stay in the line-up and may have to pick up his intensity to stay on the roster.
Winchester did what was pretty much expected of him last season. He provided energy from the fourth line, helped out on the penalty kill and played solid defensively. However, Winchester failed to take advantage of the opportunity given to him by all the trades Ottawa made. This did not hurt his grade for last season, but it may have hurt his standing, long-term with the organization. Winchester’s grade for last season is a “B -” as he did what was expected.
Contract Status: one more year at $750,000, and then he becomes a UFA.
Trade Status: Low. Winchester is a useful NHLer, but he is not a game changer. He may be flipped at the trade deadline if Ottawa deems him not to be in the long term plans of the team. But his return will be low.
Check out the SenShot Report Cards handed out so far:
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