As a follow-up to that piece, I think that Mike Hoffman will have the inside track to earn one of the last roster spot over the young Pageau and some of the other hopefuls. And it boils down to simply a matter of the Senators managing their resources properly. Of the 18 forwards I feel have a legitimate shot to crack the opening night roster, there are 10 locks. That would leave 4 spots, assuming all are healthy and the Senators will carry 14 forwards on the roster. Of the remaining 8 players fighting for the 4 spots, 5 would have to pass through waivers in order to be sent to Binghamton.
So the odds are sort of stacked against Pageau. While Jim O’Brien and Matt Kassian might not play much, they are on 1 way deals and I am not sure the Senators would like to lose them for nothing even if they were willing to pay their full NHL salaries to play in the AHL. Kassian will be a 12th forward when the need might arise, but if he plays more than 30 games I would be shocked. O’Brien has his moments and although he wasn’t used down the stretch, he proved he can be competent in the lineup when called upon.
So that leaves 2 spots for 6 players – Cory Conacher, Pageau, Hoffman, Stone, Da Costa and Prince. Conacher has an inside track, based on the fact he was given the first audition on the 2nd line, and he would not likely clear waivers if the Senators tried to send him down.
Now Hoffman, Pageau, Stone, Da Costa and Prince are battling for the last spot, with Hoffman and Da Costa the only ones who would need to clear waivers. Would either get claimed? The jury is still out on the compete level for Da Costa, who started last season in Ottawa before getting sent down. Hoffman is a skilled forward with offensive upside who, remember, was called up before Pageau was last season and unfortunately got hurt early in his audition.
So for Pageau to make the team out of camp, he is going to have to play heads and shoulders above the level that Hoffman and Da Costa do, not to mention Stone and Prince. While he might indeed be one of the top 14 forwards in camp, like Derek said he could easily be the odd man out.
The inside track has to belongs to Hoffman, because the Senators aren’t in the habit of letting young assets get scooped up for free and he can play the wing. Da Costa is a centre, like Pageau and I don’t think he (meaning Da Costa) could transition very easily to the wing. O’Brien, Da Costa, Hoffman and yes, even Kassian are too valuable to let them get scooped up for absolutely nothing. It looks like they are already going to have to expose at least one of them to waivers, and if they keep Pageau it will be two.
Pageau will definitely be the among first in line for a call-up, but the numbers game doesn’t add up in his favor.