Projecting the 2013-14 Ottawa Senators Blueline

With the concern about the depth of the Ottawa Senators defense corps heading into 2013, the best description might be that it is “adequate”.  The injury to second year pro Jared Cowen has left a pretty big hole, and until Mike Lundin gets into game shape and has a few matches under his belt we won’t really be sure what the Senators have in him.

Jared Cowen’s injury has left a big hole on the Senators blue line this season. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

That being said, it is never too early to project what the Sens blueline will look like next season.

Looking at what the Senators are currently icing on any given night, you will see:

 

Marc MethotErik Karlsson

Chris PhillipsSergei Gonchar

Andre BenoitPatrick Wiercioch

Mark Borowiecki (spare) – Mike Lundin (injured)

 

Those are the 8 bodies that will be given most consideration into the lineup, with the ninth option, if needed, likely to be Eric Gryba who is having a solid season in Binghamton.

 

That being said, here is how I think the Senators were hoping to line up this season:

Methot – Karlsson

Gonchar – Cowen

Lundin – Phillips

Wiercioch (spare)

Cowen’s season-long injury has thrown a wrench into that plan.  So, how about the look of the defense corps going forward?

Gonchar, Lundin and Benoit will be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. At 38, Gonchar will not likely be back, and Benoit is a depth player who has been in and out of the Senators system over the past couple of years.  He could be retained to be a leader in Binghamton, but he is not in the Sens long term plans.  Lundin is essentially in an audition, and if he plays well he would stand a good chance of being resigned in Ottawa in the 3rd pairing slot.

So barring any trades or free agent signings, the opening night lineup might look like the following:

Methot – Karlsson

Cowen – Wiercioch

Lundin – Phillips

Borowiecki (spare)

This assumes that Cody Ceci will not yet be ready for NHL duty next year, and will at least start the 2013-14 season in the minors.  Other contenders to make the team could be Gryba or Fredrik Claesson, but this is how the blue line projects.

Wiercioch and Borowiecki are both restricted free agents after this season but Ottawa should not have an issue getting either player under contract.

Wiercioch has shown early on this season and by his play in Binghamton that he is an NHL defenseman now and next year could easily handle top 4 minutes.  Phillips will have 2 years left on his contract and will be better suited in a 5-6 role where his minutes can be properly managed.  His days of being an effective player for 20+ minutes are past him, especially if the Senators want to be considered a contender.

As for Jared Cowen, there has to be some concern about his ability to recover after the hip injury that comes on the heels of a bad knee injury suffered in junior.  He is still young, but long term questions about durability and the effect on his mobility will have to be answered.  But you have to pencil him in for a top-4 spot until he proves otherwise.

Topics: Chris Phillips, Erik Karlsson, Jared Cowen, Marc Methot, Mike Lundin, Ottawa Senators, Sergei Gonchar

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