OTTAWA - The Senators lightened the load before they make their pre-season debut at Scotiabank Place Wednesday.
Preparing to play their exhibition home opener against the defending Stanley Cup-champion Boston Bruins, the Senators sent six players packing and reduced their training camp to 53 bodies.
The Senators didn’t plan to use Stefan Noesen (Plymouth), Matt Puempel (Peterborough), Jakub Culek (Rimouski), Matt Stone (Brandon) and Jordan Fransoo (Brandon) in exhibition games. Tryout goalie Matej Machkovksy was released.
“We sent our least experienced junior guys back and they all have eligibility left,” said assistant GM Tim Murray. “Noesen and Puempel have two years of junior eligiblity left and we’ve got other guys that we want to look at (in the pre-season).
“They’ve both got a chance to play in the world juniors and I felt it was important they are there to start the season. We were able to get Stone into a game. He worked hard over the summer and he’s shown great progress.”
While the Senators are likely going to send more players back to their respective junior teams in the next couple of days, coach Paul MacLean said there won’t be a major cut until Monday after Ottawa plays Winnipeg in St. John’s.
The club’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton will open its camp Tuesday in Ottawa so you can expect the Senators will pretty much have the bulk of their team in place by then which means they aren’t in any hurry to make decisions.
With six games left on the pre-season roster, the Senators are going to continue to look at young players. 67’s winger Shane Prince, a third-round selection, is on the list of 26 players that could get a chance to suit up against the Bruins.
Goaltender Craig Anderson, who was given the night off in a 4-2 loss to the Maple Leafs Monday, will get his first tuneup and split the duties with backup Alex Auld. The club will also likely continue to look at its young defencemen.
Blueliners Jared Cowen, David Rundblad and Mark Borowiecki are all candidates to play against Boston. In Rundblad’s case, MacLean said he’s going to need time to adjust to North American game as evidenced by his performance in Toronto.
“He showed a little bit of that ‘it’s the first time playing against NHL players.’ That’s different and he showed that,” said MacLean. “As the game went on, he made some plays, but I think, for the most part, it was a great learning experience for him. He’s still a good player, a good prospect and you can’t judge them based on that first game.”
Centre Jason Spezza said he doesn’t expect to play against the Bruins and indicated he’ll likely return Friday against the Montreal Canadiens. Spezza said this camp has a different tone with MacLean emphasizing skating.
“It’s been a great schedule for me so far,” said Spezza, who was on a list of 25 players listed as possible for Boston. “I’ve gotten the chance to play a couple of intra-squad games and I’ve been able to do a lot of skating after practice. That’s what you need at this time of year.”