With a rebuild in progress, the youth of the Senators was primed to take over the club, and part of that mix was young Jared Cowen. Ottawa’s first round pick in 2009 was given an opportunity to step in and play a prime role. He was expected to continue a learning process on the job, and although mistakes were inevitable, would be tolerated amid expectations of club mediocrity.
Cowen showed right from the start that he would not be overmatched in the NHL. He was able to use his size and strength defensively, while showing a potential to eventually develop some offensive contributions. The highlight game for Cowen came against the Pittsburgh Penguins in December, where he became the first defenseman in franchise history to score 4 points (1G, 3A) and a +4 rating in the same game. That game came in a stretch that saw him get some Calder Trophy talk.
As with any young defenseman, there were some growing pains for Cowen. He, like many other players, just needs to develop consistency and a bit more of a mean streak that will vault him to the upper echelon of shut-down defensemen in the NHL.
Cowen played all 82 games this season, and finished 6th among rookie defensemen in scoring with 5 goals and 12 assists for 17 points. He also played with grit and notched 56 PIMs while putting up a respectable but not gleaming -4 rating in his rookie year.
Cowen had a very good initiation into the NHL, and his stock is only going to rise from here. My grade for Jared Cowen for the 2011-12 season: