It has been a while since the Ottawa Senators had such a set lineup as they will be heading into training camp with on Sept. 11th. There will not be too many jobs up for grabs, which could either work to the Sens benefit or detriment.
Jan. 12, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators center Jason Spezza (19) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the third period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Senators won, 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports.
The Senators have 11 forwards on one-way contracts – Jason Spezza, Kyle Turris, Milan Michalek, Clarke MacArthur, Bobby Ryan, Colin Greening, Erik Condra, Chris Neil, Zack Smith, Matt Kassian and Jim O’Brien. Given the apparent financial restraints on the club, I wouldn’t expect the Sens to be paying someone a full NHL salary to play in the minors, so you can consider those 11 as roster players at the moment. Add in Mika Zibanejad, and you have 12 forward spots spoken for.
This means that assuming the Senators will carry 13 forwards, the battle for the remaining spot up front will be waged between Cory Conacher and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The Senators could break camp with 14 forwards on the roster, at least for the opening 6 game road trip, but again, finances might limit the number of bodies the Senators carry. Others who will be making a push for the roster openings will be Mark Stone, Stephane Da Costa, Shane Prince and Matt Puempel.
On the blue line, the Senators currently have 5 players on one-way deals: Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot, Chris Phillips, Patrick Wiercioch and Joe Corvo. Assuming Jared Cowen signs a contract extension that would make 6. Therefore the 7th defenseman spot will likely be a battle between Eric Gryba and Mark Borowiecki, with outside shots belonging to Cody Ceci and Fredrik Claesson.
Unlike last season, there are no question marks in net heading into this season, with Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner having a firm grasp on the Senators crease. They have the potential to be the best 1-2 tandem in the entire league.
Lots of potential players, not too many open jobs. This means the competition will be fierce, but hopefully those with 1 way contracts don’t become complacent heading into the new season, but with new challenges and a coaching staff that will not let the rest on their laurels, so I don’t see that happening. There are still too many players with something to prove, whether is be coming off injury, or in a contract season, or simply playing for ice time, to let a slip in the rebuilding plan occur.