With over 1,800 games of NHL experience currently sitting on the sidelines in the form of Sergei Gonchar and Filip Kuba, Senators fans are getting a glimpse of what the future holds on the Ottawa blue line.
After Chris Phillips and his nearly 1,000 games, the other 5 defensemen on the roster have played a total of exactly 500 NHL games. Erik Karlsson, Brian Lee, David Rundblad and Jared Cowen make up the framework of what the Sens blue line will be in the future. Matt Carkner rounds out the current corps, but he can’t be considered part of the future per se.
You can argue whether or not Lee should be included in that group, but as of right now, he is still a young, developing defenseman who, according to Bryan Murray is a legitimate NHL player.
The development has started and the future looks bright. They are all under 25, and all bring different skill sets to the game, and it looks as though they will compliment each other once some chemisty is established.
There will be growing pains as the young defensemen learn the ropes of everyday life in the NHL. Rundblad has to mature and realize that things happen quicker in the NHL than even the Swedish Elite League, and needs to make his decisions faster. This will cut down on turnovers and also make his work on the power play smoother than it is right now. He will have his struggles this season but should be all the better for this steep learning curve. Quite frankly I expected a more polished defenseman right off the bat, but once in a while he does show signs of the player he could be, and will be.
Karlsson’s game is still improving every time out, and he is on the verge of becoming a truly elite blueliner, if he isn’t already. Cowen isn’t too far behind in joining that group, although his game is vastly different than Karlsson’s. He is gaining more responsibility every game and seems to play better the more he is counted on.
There is definitely 3 solid building blocks that, if the Senators can keep them together, should form the defense in Ottawa for the next 10 years. Fans and management need to be patient and accept the blunders, trusting that they will learn from them and be better off having made them.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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