At this point in the proceedings, the major roster decisions have yet to be made for the Ottawa Senators. At least publicly.
With the on-ice performances so far in this exhibition season, when all is said and done, and with optimal health, the lineup will look something like:
Extra: Eric Gryba
Which brings us to the hard decision and the “W” word.
In the above scenario, both Mike Hoffman and Stephane Da Costa would have to clear waivers to be sent down to Binghamton. While exposing them to the league teams to pick them off is a scary thought to lose an asset for nothing, are we hubris enough to think that every team in the league is not in the same situation? (Edit: The Senators placed O’Brien on waivers Thursday)
The odds are that the players in question will clear waivers just like the hundred or so other players who have been sent down subject to waivers already have. Almost every team is in the same boat as the Senators, and Da Costa and Hoffman are no better than some of the others that have been subject to waivers and been passed over.
Yes, the risk is there, but Pageau has proven himself worthy of his spot on the team, and Hoffman and Da Costa, although playing well, have not forced the Senators hand by any means.
So while the possibility exists that some team might pluck one or both, the odds are that if the decision is made to expose Hoffman and Da Costa to waivers by sending them down, that they will indeed be reporting to Binghamton after the 24 hour period elapses.
Senators fans look inside and see quality prospects, but so do teams and fans of other team with regard to their own organization, and with a 50 contract limit in place and salary cap restrictions, it is unlikely. Not to mention that a team claiming a player on waivers has to keep that player on the NHL roster lest he be re-exposed to waivers again.
The waiver system is there for a reason, to allow players that are good enough the opportunity to play somewhere, and also to allow for some leveling of the playing field among teams. There was a lot of waiver action last season, but coming out of the lockout that was the exception rather than the rule.
So while it might make for a nervous time, chances are you can breathe easy and the Senators will not lose an asset for nothing.