Young Sens players try to crack lineup dominated by loyalty
Skilled forwards Curtis Lazar, Matt Puempel see little chance to make team with current roster
Ironically, the Ottawa Senators are bound by their loyalty.
Let's ignore the departures of Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson after long stays. When the Sens draft a guy they stick to it through that player's complete development.
The Senators are a budget team that lacks in star talent, hoping for their next draft pick or acquisition to be a home run. That hope doesn't wane easily.
- Projected Senators lineup (as of July 10)
- Jason Spezza traded by Senators to Stars
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Logic suggests, with the trade of Spezza, a new era is underway in the nation's capital.
Calder Cup winners are NHL role players
Bringing in a new era means doing more than just sending out the captain after one season with the "C". It means going after players who won the Calder Cup in Binghamton in 2011.
Entering a third season since that championship, it's time for Ottawa to realize most of those men will only peak as role players.
Young players with much larger potential need to be given the NHL opportunity and experience now.
As I write this, the unfortunate problem is this lineup leaves little room for change on either forward or defence due to that aforementioned loyalty.
Contract quandary, again
By signing Grant, Gryba and Hoffman to contracts this summer, the team has a similar look to past years in camp.
One of the young players, Mark Stone, should make the team this year on the second or third line wing. However, the acquisition of David Legwand and Alex Chiasson will take spots vacated by Spezza and Ales Hemsky.
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When I opined about a search for offence without Spezza, Milan Michalek was as good as gone in my eyes. But his return takes another wing spot that might go to a young player.
That means the only way to free up a spot for those young players would be trading a bottom six forward. One of Condra, Smith and Greening would have to be on their way out.
I have my doubts unless an amazing offer comes the way of the Sens management.
Here's how the lineup looks to me:
Outside: Lazar, Puempel, Hoffman, Grant, Prince, Pageau
Outside: Gryba, Borowiecki