• Fri. Apr 16th, 2021

Excluded from bubble, Senators among 7 NHL teams to open training camp | CBC Sports


Dec 31, 2020

Pierre Dorion tackled the ultimate query fired his method in French.

After answering, and to verify there wasn’t any confusion, the Ottawa Senators normal supervisor switched languages to hammer the purpose residence a second time.

“There’s been a lot of talk about our young players integrating into our lineup,” Dorion repeated in English to conclude a video convention name with reporters. “Every young player that deserves a chance to be an Ottawa Senator this year will be an Ottawa Senator. We don’t want [anyone], whether it’s a young player or a veteran player, to come in and think they have a spot.

“They must earn it.”

Among the seven NHL teams left out of the league’s summer restart to a 2019-20 season suspended in March because of COVID-19, the Senators took the ice in an official capacity for the first time in nearly 10 months Thursday.

There were plenty of new faces at Canadian Tire Centre, including goalie Matt Murray, defencemen Josh Brown and Erik Gudbranson, and forwards Evgenii Dadonov, Alex Galchenyuk and Austin Watson.

Not yet part of the group are Derek Stepan — acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in a trade Saturday, but currently in a holding pattern as he and his wife await the birth of their third child — as well as fellow centre Cedric Paquette and blue-liner Braydon Coburn, who came over in a deal with the Tampa Bay Lighting on Sunday and are currently self-isolating.

There’s been plenty of chatter, and it ramped up further following the Stepan trade, that the Senators were creating unnecessary obstacles for the club’s greener roster options heading into what will be a 56-game season in the one-time-only North Division of Canadian clubs, which was borne out of necessity because of COVID-19 border restrictions.

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Dorion, however, doesn’t see the veteran additions as a problem for his youngsters — centres Colin White, Logan Brown and Josh Norris are among the names most often mentioned — but rather a challenge to be part of a franchise that clearly doesn’t want to find itself at the foot of the standings a fourth straight season.

“If a younger participant earns a spot, he’ll play,” said Dorion, whose team took the ice for the first time in 295 days Thursday. “We don’t need anybody strolling in pondering their spot is earned. We’ve completed 30th, 31st and 30th the final three years.”

In discussing the trade for Stepan, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $6.5 million US salary cap hit, but owed just $2 million this season, Dorion cited leadership, hockey I.Q., professionalism and an ability to play tough minutes on a nightly basis against a group of elite Canadian-based centres that includes Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat and Mark Scheifele.

“We’re going to present an opportunity to our younger gamers to play, as a result of lots of people query that transfer,” Dorion said. “But on the identical time, we wish them to achieve success of their improvement, and we wish as a lot inner competitors as we will.

“No one’s going to come into this camp thinking they’ve got a job.”

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As for the Tampa commerce that introduced again two extra pending UFAs and a 2022 second-round decide, Dorion mentioned shedding the contracts of Marian Gaborik and Anders Nilsson — each gamers will likely be positioned on long-term injured reserve by the Lightning — was additionally about bettering the roster for what will likely be a dash to the regular-season end line.

“Our job is to make Ottawa better, and we felt we did,” Dorion mentioned. “Both are high-character players. Both are players that we feel we’re going to need. We’re going to need a lot of bodies.

“We’re taking part in 56 video games in 111 days.”

One player not currently in camp, but a definite topic of conversation both in the nation’s capital and across the league, is Tim Stuetzle. Selected third overall by the Senators at October’s delayed NHL draft, the flashy forward set to turn 19 on Jan. 15 — the same day the Senators are scheduled to open at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs — has been turning heads with his speed and skill for Germany at the world junior hockey championship in Edmonton.

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Dorion said there’s no doubt Stuetzle has all the tools, but added he’ll likely start on the wing in the NHL.

“He’s bought a whole lot of traits of a centre so far as his skill to generate performs off the fly, how he carries the puck lots, how he good points the zone,” Dorion said of the player already with professional experience under his belt in Germany. “If you take a look at his analytic numbers, they have been off the charts so far as puck possession.

“As much as he’s definitely got high NHL talent … away from the puck, there still needs to be work.”

That final half is a good evaluation of the rebuilding Senators as an entire — “there still needs to be work” — however Dorion expects his membership will make some noise in a division the place Ottawa has been pencilled into seventh place by most observers.

“We’ve definitely added character,” he mentioned. “We’ve definitely added more NHL bodies.

“We really feel actually assured about this roster. We really feel we’ll be a really aggressive staff.”

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