Brassard Injury Leaves Door Open For Prospects Up Front

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 17: Derick Brassard
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 17: Derick Brassard /

Second-line center Derick Brassard underwent shoulder surgery in June to repair a torn labrum sustained last spring. As October 5 creeps nearer, it is still uncertain whether the veteran center will suit up for the home opener.

Brassard’s absence would provide an opportunity for top center prospects to challenge for ice time in Ottawa. Among the rookies likely to step up are first-round picks Colin White and Logan Brown.

Expectations for White are high. One of two first-round picks in 2015, White signed an entry-level deal with Ottawa in April and played two games late in the season. While his ice time hasn’t been much, he is one of the most anticipated rookies going into camp.

However, White is not the only rookie who could be on the Senators roster in October. It is possible that 2016 first-round pick Logan Brown could be inserted into the lineup early in the season. Weighing in at 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, Brown could be the physical presence that Ottawa needs on the fourth line.

Paul, Perron, and Chlapik

While the media has focused almost exclusively on White and Brown, they are not the only prospects who could remain in Ottawa.

Nick Paul has been one of the Senators’ top forward prospects since Ottawa acquired his rights from Dallas in 2014. While the 22-year-old center has somewhat under performed in the AHL, Paul might turn his game around in camp. Like Brown, Paul is a big, physical presence on the ice, but possesses the additional benefit of experience at the pro level.

Drafted 190th overall in 2014 by the Senators, Francis Perron has been a pleasant surprise. The 21-year-old forward has made strides in his development despite some setbacks last season. On Saturday, his three assists helped lift Ottawa to an 8-2 victory over Montreal at this year’s rookie tournament.

Filip Chlapik could be another option for the Senators. The 20-year-old forward was a point producing machine in Charlottetown last season, posting 34 goals and 57 assists in 57 games.

Uncertainty Remains

The final verdict depends on how training camp pans out later this month. While the Senators have communicated that White is the most likely rookie forward to play in Ottawa this season, each player has a shot at earning their place in the lineup.

Additionally, head coach Guy Boucher may go with a veteran core down the middle, which could eliminate the need for an extra center and leave White sitting as a 13th forward.

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Zack Smith, who has played the last few seasons on the wing, may move back to the middle. The Senators also have former Anaheim Duck Nate Thompson, who signed a two-year deal with Ottawa this summer.

Because NHL teams may carry up to 23 players on their active rosters, look for the Senators to retain two or three prospects to begin the season. Right now, however, it is too early to tell which rookies may be in the lineup on opening night.