The Ottawa Senators joined the NHL in 1992, and the expansion team watched the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first four years of their existence. The club then went on an 11 year run of making the post season, losing in the cup finals to Anaheim in 2007. They missed the post season last year, but as I write this, the Sens have won 11 straight games and look fairly secure in returning to the post season tournament. The Sens farm team resides in Binghamton.
Here now is a snap shot of the Senators top prospects.
Top Forward: Ilya Zubov
Salavat Yulaev/CSKA Moscow
6.00, 201, 25 GP 3-3-6
The Senators drafted Zubov in the 4th round of the 2005 draft, but had their been more confidence in Russian players coming to North America, he likely would have been taken higher. Zubov is loaded with skill and speed, and put up 52 points in 65 games with Binghamton last season. However when he was sent down from the big club this year he demanded a trade. Eventually the Senators allowed him to return to Russia and play in the KHL, with hopes that he’ll one day return to North America.
Top Defenceman: Erik Karlsson
5.11, 165, 52 GP 1-22-23
He’s not the biggest defenceman but what Karlsson lacks in size he makes up with hockey sense. Karlsson was the first Swede taken in 2008, when Ottawa selected him 15th overall. He started with Binghamton this season putting up 11 points in 12 games before getting promoted to the big club. There was some thought that the Sens would make him available to the Swedish national team for the 2010 World Junior Championship, but he wasn’t loaned to the bronze medal winning team.
Karlsson has terrific vision, can pass the puck tape to tape and is patient when trying to get his shot on net. A good power play quarterback.
Top Goalie: Robin Lehner
Sault St. Marie
6.03, 220, 17-9-3, 2.79, .916
Another Swede in the Sens system, but with some major size. Lehner has put up good numbers in his first season in North America and was the 3rd goaltender for team Sweden at the World Junior Championship. Lehner makes sure to use his biggest asset to his advantage, his frame. He takes up a lot of the net even when in the butterfly position and can at times get aggressive by challenging the shooter. Lehner is still a few years away from the NHL, but possesses the raw materials to be a dominant goalie down the road.
Most Underrated: Erik Condra
6.00, 195, 45 GP 9-14-23
A 4 year player for the Notre Dame fighting Irish, Condra is in his first pro season with the baby Sens. He was an All American while in college and was a contender for the Hobey Baker award in his senior year. Condra put up 158 points in 159 games for the Irish, leading the team in scoring each year and topping out with 48 points in his sophomore season. Ottawa nabbed him in the 7th round of 2006, and he could end up being a steal. While he might not live up to his lofty college totals, the speedy forward could play an energy role in the NHL while chipping in with some 2nd-3rd line offence.
Buzz Worthy: Jared Cowen
6.05, 220, 40 GP 6-14-20
The Senators first pick, 8th overall in 2009 just put his name on an entry level contract with Ottawa. Cowen played a big role in the Spokane Chiefs Memorial Cup victory in 2008 when he was +27 with 62 penalty minutes in 68 games. Cowen did suffer a major knee injury the next season and while some think he still hasn't recovered, after struggling during the 2010 World Juniors, the Senators seem convinced.
A few thoughts:
Ilya Zubov may be the top forward in the system, but he's effectively done with the organization. I would be fairly surprised if he was qualified this summer, so if he does return it will probably be for another organization. It is too bad because he improved a lot over his time in Binghamton. That being said, if Zubov is ignored, and Peter Regin is considered graduated, the cupboard is incredibly bare, so maybe you are doing Sens fans a favour. It would probably be Andre Petersson, Jakob Silfverberg or Zack Smith otherwise.
In regards to Karlsson, he actually started the season in Ottawa but was sent down a month or so later to get some seasoning. He's been absolutely sensational lately, before a shoulder injury and I would suggest his listed height is out of date. He looks 6'0" out there at least. Still needs to bulk up, but his dynamic play and end to end rushes are exciting already.
Condra for most underrated is a good call. The kind of prospect every organization has, but Condra's a particularly good bet to turn himself into a useful role player. Was an outstanding four-year player at Notre Dame, and a pre-med student to boot. Kaspars Daugavins is another candidate.
What have you guys heard about Cowen out West lately? Sens fans were either discouraged or in denial after watching his play at the WJCs, where he looked more like a future Cory Cross than Tyler Myers.
Keep up the good work guys.
I personally think the concern over Cowen was a little overblown. You're right on Karlsson, he was playing great and it's terrible that he injured his shoulder.
I do consider Regin graduated, thanks for your thoughts.
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