(UPDATE 1:03 PM)- Sens GM Bryan Murray has made a minor splash in the free agent market, signing tough guy and former Ottawa 67 Zenon Konopka to a one year, one way deal. The contract pays Konopka $700,000 next season. He is a hard working guy that was great on faceoffs last year. Make the Sens bottom six a little more crowded but a solid pick up.
With the Development Camp now in the books, the short off season begins for a number of Ottawa Senators hopefuls. A lot of the guys that were in camp will take the good portion of July off and then it’s back at it in August to ramp up for training camp with the big team in September.
For the Ottawa Senators, that figures to be one of the most competitive training camps in years.
With a rebuilding hockey team, the young guys will be given every chance to crack the roster. There are still a number of veterans holding down spots up front and on the back end, but those guys can expect to be pushed hard this September.
Here are a few players that made a great impression at the Development Camp and while they remain longshots, will definitely be pushing for a spot this fall.
Mika Zibanejad- The Sens first round pick looks like a guy who is pretty close to NHL ready. He is a big kid at 6’2, 191 pounds and will be in the mix this fall. Obviously the club doesn’t want to rush him but if he can put on some muscle this summer, he could get a shot as the team’s second line centre.
Andre Petersson- Petersson fought back issues for the majority of last season and seemed to fall off the radar a little bit. But he came to the Development Camp in great shape and has already committed to playing in North American this season. If he can’t find a spot on the wing in Ottawa, he should be a key player in Binghamton this season.
Mike Hoffman- Hoffman was a regular in the run to the Calder Cup and continued to impress at camp last week. A speedy player with great vision and good hands, Hoffman has certainly been turning heads the last little while. A 5th round pick in 2009, Hoffman is starting to look like a bit of a steal. With the forward ranks relatively open heading into camp, he could surprise some people.
Jakob Silfverberg- I know, I know- he’s definitely returning to Sweden next year. But I’m still hopeful the Sens can convince the kid to stay. He was one of the most dominant players in camp and is definitely ready to make the jump. Murray has made it clear that he will try to convince him to stay or at least let him know that he is ready to play in the NHL.
Mark Borowiecki- Borowiecki burst on to the scene this year in Binghamton and instantly made a name for himself in the AHL playoffs. The Kanata native built on that success and was a force at the development camp and was named the Hardest Working Player. While I didn’t have a chance to see him first hand, I did see a lot of him in the AHL playoffs. He is a player that battles hard everywhere on the ice and always makes the smart, safe play. If he brings that work ethic to camp this fall, he is going to make life extremely difficult for the Sens coaching staff.
Ben Blood- Another player that has made a name for himself with hard work and determination. Blood is an extremely physical, stay at home type of defenceman. He is likely to get caught up in the numbers game on a crowded blue line but Blood is another guy that could turn heads at camp.Expected to return to the NCAA otherwise.
Jared Cowen and David Rundblad were both left off this list because they have pretty much locked up spots with the big club. Murray will still need to do some maneuvering to make room but I expect both of those guys to start in Ottawa. Da Costa is the wild card up front. He has a great shot at making the team but will need to come to camp in September ready to play.
Who do you expect to surprise at camp in September?
For a great breakdown on each of the players in camp and what to expect from them next season, check out Eye on the Sens.