It probably wasn’t the end to the preseason the Ottawa Senators were hoping for as they dropped both games in split squad action against the New York Islanders.
And while losing to the Islanders twice on the same day is an accomplishment few if any teams have had before them, the Sens can take comfort in the fact that what seemed like an endless preseason has finally ended and the team is healthy heading into their opener this Friday. With the final preseason games in the books, let’s take a look at who impressed at this year’s camp.
5. Erik Karlsson
After playing through the playoffs at about 60% last year, fans were eager to see how Karlsson would look after a few months off. Don’t know about the rest of you but I certainly was not disappointed. While I would hesitate to say he was at 100%, he did look damn good. Karlsson racked up 5 assists in his 4 preseason games and was always one of the best players on the ice in the games he played. He looks like a guy ready to defend his Norris Trophy from a couple seasons ago.
4. Stephane Da Costa
Heading into camp there was one roster spot up for grabs really and it appears as though Da Costa was the guy to separate himself from the pack to take it. Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone were both in the mix as well but in the end it was Da Costa was the best of the bunch. He looks like a faster, stronger hockey player then when last we saw him and his audition on the top line in his last couple preseason games shows just how much the coaching staff thought of him. Whether it was enough to get into the line up remains to be seen but Da Costa played like he had something to prove over the last few weeks.
3. Jean Gabriel Pageau
His two way contract makes him an easy demotion. The fact that he’s usually the best player on the ice does not. After a great playoff, fans were eager to see what Pageau would bring to this year’s camp and the kid did not disappoint. He stands out in all three zones and despite being small in stature, it’s remarkable how often he wins puck battles along the wall. Because he had a two way deal, Pageau had to be one of the best players in camp to stick around with the big team. He was certainly that.
2. Patrick Wiercioch
For me, Patrick Wiercioch was the most pleasant surprise at this year’s training camp. With Sergei Gonchar gone to Dallas, the Sens needed one of their defenceman from last year to step up and grab that top four spot on the back end. After his performance through preseason, Wiercioch looks more than ready to do just that. He picked up four assists through four games was noticeably more confident handling the puck. He’s likely going to start on a pair with Jared Cowen and should see big power play minutes with Michalek, Spezza, Ryan and Karlsson. If he’s still available in your Fantasy hockey league, stop what you’re doing (reading this article I assume) and go pick him up.
1. Cory Conacher
With the second line right wing position up for grabs heading into this camp, MacLean was hoping one of the team’s forwards would stand out and proved that they could play alongside Turris and MacArthur on that second line. And Cory Conacher did just that. With four goals and an assist through five games, Conacher was probably the team’s best forward. Sure looks like he has the inside track on that second line position heading into the opener on Friday night.
So those were the players that I felt stood out during this year’s training camp and preseason. What about you? Who did you like? Was there anyone that was a bit of a disappointment?
Share your views in the comment section below.