Meszaros making mark

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:37 PM ET

Andrej Meszaros is itching for a shot at the big show.

By all accounts, he's going to get one.

The Senators top defensive prospect joined the WHL's Vancouver Giants last season because the 19-year-old was determined to learn the North American game and master the English language.

It seems he was successful in both areas. There hasn't been much to write home about among the five teams taking part in the annual Senators rookie tournament, which wraps up today at the Civic Centre.

But Meszaros has been a bright light among Ottawa's prospects.

"I just want to come here and show that I can make this team," said Meszaros, a Slovak who played with Senators defenceman Zdeno Chara at the world championship in Helsinki last spring.

"I'm just trying to do the best that I can do. I know this is going to be a tough task for me, but I feel like I'm ready to make the jump. I just have to go into camp and try to perform really well so that I can make the team."

With the departure of veteran Curtis Leschyshyn and the decision to deal Greg de Vries to the Atlanta Thrashers as part of the Dany Heatley trade, there are two openings on the blueline.

Meszaros will compete for a spot with Binghamton veteran Christoph Schubert, while Brian Pother should win the other vacant position hands down.

There is no question the young Slovak has made an impression during the rookie camp.

"I like what I've seen of Meszaros," said Binghamton Senators coach Dave Cameron yesterday. "He looks to me like he's got a great shot and he's not afraid to use it.

"I haven't had a chance to see a lot of him, but I think just from seeing him in this camp, he's a guy who is going to be in the mix to make (the NHL team). I haven't seen any glaring weakness with Meszaros. He's a guy who reads the play and reacts well. It's a matter of where he's going to fit in here and I guess that's a question that has to be answered."

MAIN CAMP HOPEFUL

Meszaros just wants to fit in when main camp opens Tuesday with medicals at the Corel Centre.

"I want to show Ottawa that I can play in the NHL," he said. "I'm going to come to practice and work as hard as I can. I'll play whatever role they want me to play. If the coach wants me to contribute offensively, I'll do that.

"If they want me to play a defensive role, I'll do that. I just want to play whatever they want."

Last night, Meszaros had an assist as the Senators rookies whipped the Florida Panthers 5-0.

Patrick Eaves, Dave Bouchard and Danny Bois each collected a goal and assist for Ottawa, while Neil Komadoski and Guillaume Labrecque also hit the scoresheet.

Kelly Guard stopped 20 shots for the shutout.

Earlier, the Carolina Hurricanes dumped the Montreal Canadiens rookies 5-2.

The tournament wraps up today at the Civic Centre, with the Panthers and Leafs facing off at 4:30 p.m., followed by the Sens and Habs at 8 p.m.

THIS 'N' THAT: Single game seats for games from October-December home games go on sale next Saturday ... The Senators will hold their annual coaching clinic on Oct. 1 at the Corel Centre.

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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