Ottawa Senators: Possible Training Camp Battles

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 20: Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach D.J. Smith looks on against the Florida Panthers during the third period at the Scotiabank Arena on December 20, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 20: Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach D.J. Smith looks on against the Florida Panthers during the third period at the Scotiabank Arena on December 20, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Looking to the defence

OTTAWA, ON – APRIL 01: Christian Wolanin #86 of the Ottawa Senators skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Canadian Tire Centre on April 1, 2019 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andrea Cardin/NHLI via Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON – APRIL 01: Christian Wolanin #86 of the Ottawa Senators skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Canadian Tire Centre on April 1, 2019 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andrea Cardin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The recent injury to Christian Wolanin probably made the coaching staff readjust their thought process for what the defence could look like this season. I think when the coach said there were one or two spots available on defence he was already pencilling Wolanin in one of those spots. I think the defence is a little trickier than the forwards, simply based on limited spots and contract situations.

Related Story. Christian Wolanin out four months. light

I think the coaching staff likes the idea of Thomas Chabot paired with Nikita Zaitsev as the first pairing. Then everything else goes into the blender to see what works and what doesn’t work. Just looking at the roster you can tell who is going to be on the big club coming out of camp. You know Chabot and Zaitsev are there. You know Dylan Demelo, Ron Hainsey, and Mark Borowiecki are also going to be there. That leaves one spot needing to be filled.

Ottawa Senators
OTTAWA, ON – MARCH 14: Ottawa Senators Defenceman Erik Brannstrom (26) keeps eyes on the play during first period National Hockey League action between the St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators on March 14, 2019, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Now we’re looking at guys like Max Lajoie, Christian Jaros, and Erik Brannstrom as players that could fill the missing spots. I think Max Lajoie and Christian Jaros have the inside track over Brannstrom simply because they have more experience at the professional level than Brannstrom does.

I think the organization also likes the idea of having Brannstrom playing another year in the AHL, allowing him to go down there and run the defence. Allowing him to make mistakes in the defensive zone, but without having the added pressure of playing in the NHL.

Now what the pairings could look like, here’s my best guess:

Chabot/Zaitsev

Lajoie/Demelo

Borowiecki/Hainsey

Extra: Jaros

I could definitely see that, just like I could see the coaching staff having Hainsey with Demelo and Borowiecki with Jaros and Lajoie is the extra. I think we’re going to see both combinations throughout the season. I would hazard to guess that Lajoie and Jaros are going to be the ones rotating in and out of the lineup, and then the pairings will adjust based on who is in and who isn’t.

The fun thing about training camp is that there are so many different possibilities and there will be storylines that unfold that will definitely change the makeup of the team in the next two/three weeks. Just look at the Wolanin injury as a prime example. He was a guy that the coaching staff was going to rely on to run the second powerplay unit. Now he’s out for at least four months and the staff has to readjust and find some other option. All part of being in the NHL.

The first Ottawa Senators pre-season game comes next Tuesday, September 17 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. I don’t know about you guys, but I am really excited and happy to see hockey again. Put aside all the negative aspects of this team, put aside all the expectations of them finishing at the bottom of the league again, I’m just really excited to see the young kids play. You can find the full training camp roster here. You will also find information about the upcoming FanFest taking place tomorrow, September 14 at the Canadian Tire Centre here.

What about you Sens fans? What part of training camp excites you the most? What are your thoughts on which young players have legitimate shots at cracking this roster? Let us know in the comment section below!