Here’s a look at the Binghamton Senators’ top 10 players with the best chance to graduate to the next level, playing in the NHL this coming season for the Ottawa Senators or perhaps, playing outside the organization. This may be an injury fill in that could lead to a long-term project or perhaps right out of camp, as these are my picks coming off this past season with all being a no brainer to most Sens fans but let’s roll them off anyways in no particular order.
Cole Schneider – RFA
Nice find by the organization’s scouts in signing the free agent in 2012 as he opened some eyes last season scoring 20 goals with 34 helpers in 69 games for the Binghamton Senators. Handled some adversity getting shifted amongst lines throughout last season and being the reliable go to guy as his uncanny ability around the net yielded results. The 23-year-old Williamsville, NY native should get a call up wherever he lands as Ottawa hopefully re-signs Cole to a two-way deal during the off-season.
Mark Stone – Entering third year of current contract
The Winnipeg, MB native will have his chance out of camp for Ottawa next season and might make it if he stays off the injured reserve list and leave his time in the AHL behind him. Great on ice vision and always anticipating playing the role of a play-maker. Mark is not the fastest skater but that doesn’t slow down his point production scoring 15 goals and 26 assists in only 37 games for Binghamton last season.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Entering third season under contract
Might start the 2014-15 campaign in Binghamton but will eventually suit the bottom six forward position in Ottawa perhaps next season. For someone his size he gives it his all and fits in playing a feisty roll and likes to get dirty in the corners. Great attitude and team player as Luke Richardson utilized Pager consistently on the special units throughout last season.
Shane Prince – Entering last year of current three-year contract
The jury is still out on whether he can make the next step up for Ottawa. If not, Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray might soon be calling for his services. The speedy winger put up some decent numbers in 2013-’14 (21g 27a, 69 games) despite being benched a handful of games to help him get motivated for his desired potential. I do believe Shane will get his shot at some point just because he has the desire, just not for Ottawa.
Fredrik Claesson – Entering third year of current three-year contract
Binghamton’s most notable and reliable defenseman should see some ice time next season as Freddy is returning for his third season for the B-Sens that should help solidify the defensive corps. Just an all around sound defenseman serving on the penalty kill while sacrificing his body laying out some thunderous hits in the corners. The 21-year-old Swede should get a call up next season and could see some significant time filling in for any injuries on the blue line for Ottawa.
Mark Borowiecki – Entering second year, one way deal
His one way deal kicks in next season at the tail end of a two-year deal which calls for $600,000 regardless where he winds up. The AHL’s most feared hitter might start the season at 1 Stuart Street in downtown Binghamton and eased into Ottawa as the season unfolds as Mark continues to improve on his defensive game under Richardson’s tutelage. The Senators Captain is entering his fourth season as a pro.
Alex Grant – UFA
Acquired in a deadline trade to help bolster the young B-Sen’s defense for outgoing forward Andre Petersson. Alex had a taste for the NHL last season playing in two games for Anaheim recording two goals in two games for the Ducks. Poised, 25-year-old defenseman played well for the Senators but might be testing the European market with the current glut of players on the blue line in the organization. Was however hoping he’ll return and sign a two-way deal as he had some meaningful minutes towards the end of the season.
Derek Grant – RFA
Crafty centerman and masterful penalty kill forward has finished his third full season for Binghamton that saw him get a glimpse of the big show this previous one. Led all AHL players with five shorthanded goals as I’m going to guess Ottawa will sign Derek on a two-way deal coming up. At which point, he’ll get another opportunity playing in Ottawa. Just needs to check his slight attitude at the front desk and return to grinding it out on the ice for the B-Sens.
Matt Puempel – Entering second year of current three-year contract
Wicked shot from wherever on the ice, this kid has that raw offensive talent that will land him soon in Ottawa as his abilities in scoring goals comes natural. The 21-year-old winger scored 30 goals with 18 assists in his first full season as a pro. Deserves a look next season as this dynamic package is loaded ready to roll for the big show very soon. Needs some work on his defensive end as that should be the focus next season in Binghamton.
Stephane Da Costa – RFA
Had 58 points in 56 games finishing his third year in Binghamton and was voted the team’s MVP. Paris born Stephane flashes his strength at times handling the puck but sometimes gets caught up in the play. His meal ticket might be punched as his recent performance helped the French reach the quarterfinals of the World Championships. I don’t see him re-signing as he might be staying afoot in playing on the other side of the pond next year.
Calder Cup Update
Texas took the opener 6-3 led by Scott Glennie‘s two goals and an assist along with three assists from team-mate Dustin Jeffrey. The IceCaps won Game 2 by a score of 2-1 behind netminder Michael Hutchinson‘s 49 save effort. Game 3 shifted to ‘The Rock’ as the Stars’ Travis Morin scored in overtime in leading his club winning 2-1 to take a 2-1 series lead. Game 4 and 5 are set for Monday and Tuesday in Newfoundland.
*Cover photo courtesy of Alicia Strauch.