The 23-year-old veteran is set to start his 3rd season in Bingo. The native from Abbotsford, BC signed a three-year entry-level contract with Ottawa in 2011 and made his pro debut with Binghamton following his sophomore season at Michigan State. The lanky, 6′ 3″ 200 lb centerman has been a key player for recent B-Sens teams including winning a Calder Cup in 2011.
After his last season as a Spartan in 2011, the 4th round pick in 2008 played in 14 games at his new home in Bingo. Derek ended up scoring a goal and adding 5 assists, while also playing in 7 playoff games scoring 1 goal and an assist. That lone playoff goal turned out to be the game winner against Manchester evening up the series at 1 game a piece. By many fans, that was a crucial one of the young playoffs. The B-Sens rallied back from a 3-1 deficit to win the series 4-3. (I included that goal by Grant below.)
-Grant leads and kills it on the pk
Grant centered wingers Shane Prince, Dave Dziurzynski, and Cole Schneider among others last season. He scored 19 goals and 9 assists in 63 games and a +11 for the Sens, along with getting his feet wet in the NHL for 5 games for Ottawa. He may not be the most gifted player on the ice in scoring points, but he has great vision, effective on face-offs and strong on his feet. He’s a hard worker with plenty of grit and likes to throw the body as well. Derek has been at his best on the pk where he lead the league in shorthanded goals with 5 last season and the B-Sens were tops in the AHL with 19. The team settled in at 85.6% pk success rate, good for 6th in the ‘A’ and he was a big part of that.
-Is Grant following the footsteps of former B-Sens Captain Kelly?
This is all heading towards a younger version of Kelly in the making the way I see it. The penalty killing specialist played 3 seasons in Binghamton and served as Captain his last two. Chris was (and still is) a great leader, and a smart player. Likewise for Derek. I’ll never forget, when I bumped into Chris after a game outside the Arena during a recent slump back then, I asked him what it will take getting out of it. (More like “Come on man, why are we losing so many games?”) He responded, “Not to worry” and “We’ll get through it and be ok”. I was instantly humbled. True story. I feel Grant would address that type of situation the exact same way if it happened today.
If current Captain Mark Borowiecki sticks in Ottawa out of camp for an extended amount of time, look for Grant to be the leading contender for that role to fill. Coach Luke Richardson told the Ottawa Sun during the recent rookie tournament just about that type of scenario;
“Leadership is not just wearing the ‘C’ and scoring,” Richardson said. “It’s all the things. I thought Grant and Jean-Gabriel Pageau both were tremendous on faceoffs, especially on the penalty kill in our zone. Both were physical and on the puck. And look at Grant. It’s a rookie exhibition game and he’s blocking shots that hurt like hell.
“Those are the kinds of things that provide leadership to young guys on their first time through here.”
I would also add Corey Cowick to be a candidate for similar reasons. Either way, this will be Borowiecki’s last season in a Binghamton jersey as he will be playing for Ottawa in 2014-’15. (Boro has a one way deal that kicks in that season.) So, as the team goes through the process of selecting a new captain, Grant will be considered and he just might be chosen as the guy players will look up to the most on and off the ice. Just like Chris Kelly was.
That is, of course, if Grant is still available then and not killing penalties outside La Ville d’Ottawa.
2013-’14 Projected AHL Totals: 18 goals, 16 assists in 62 games
Derek’s memorable 2011 Calder Cup playoff’s sudden death winning OT goal against opening round opponent Manchester Monarchs and their goalie Jeff Zatkoff to tie up the series at 1 game apiece. The B-Sens went on to eventually win that grueling, long series in 7 and advance to win it all to be the 2011 AHL Champions. Good guy Grady with the call.
Next Profile Up: Forward Corey Cowick