It's playtime for young Sens
Rookie camp gives fans hope
TIM BAINES, QMI Agency
|Senators prospect David Rundblad is one of the youngsters fans will get a chance to see plenty of in the near future. (QMI Agency file photo)
OTTAWA - The Senators won’t need to hunt down a crystal ball to peer into their future.
And no fortune tellers need apply.
Three hundred or so kilometres up Hwy. 401, in Oshawa, the Senators will send 23 players to participate in a four-team round-robin rookie tournament Sept. 10-13.
Young hopefuls from the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs will also be there.
It became evident after last season’s veteran purge at the trade deadline that the Senators need to get kid friendly. The team actually played better after dumping salary, buoyed by youthful enthusiasm — and some stellar goaltending by Craig Anderson.
Kurt Kleinendorst, coach of the Calder Cup-winning Binghamton Senators, and assistant Steve Stirling will be in charge of the Young Sens.
Eight of the invited players saw AHL action last season, while forward Stephane Da Costa, defenceman Patrick Wiercioch and goalie Robin Lehner played their first NHL games with the Senators.
Also on the Young Sens roster are five first-round NHL draft picks — Jared Cowen (ninth, 2009), David Rundblad (17th, 2009), Mika Zibanejad (sixth, 2011), Stefan Noesen (21st, 2011) and Matt Puempel (24th, 2011).
The players are tentatively scheduled to begin this year’s camp with an open practice at the Bell Sensplex on Friday, Sept. 9, at 9:30 a.m. before leaving for the tournament.
The tournament will be a stepping stone for some players — an opportunity to take a leap into the big leagues.
The Senators are in rebuilding mode — taking a couple of step backs, hoping to take a few giant steps ahead sometime in the near future. Maybe a Rundblad or Cowen or Zibanejad makes a quick jump into the big boys’ lineup.
It’s exciting to see the future.
And to think about another NHL season being just around the corner.