Cuts loom for Senators

Senators coach Paul MacLean says making the final roster cuts won't be easy. (BRIAN SNYDER/Reuters)

Senators coach Paul MacLean says making the final roster cuts won't be easy. (BRIAN SNYDER/Reuters)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:53 PM ET

OTTAWA - The Senators will unveil their new look at Scotiabank Place Saturday with an open practice in their specially designed Heritage uniform.

It could be the only chance for some of them to pull on the sweater.

With the start of the season less than a week away and the exhibition schedule complete, the Senators will cut down to what will be close to their final roster heading into Friday’s opener against the Red Wings in Detroit.

With question marks surrounding the health of Jesse Winchester (shoulder), Peter Regin (shoulder), Chris Phillips (back) and Matt Carkner (undisclosed), the Senators will likely cut down to about 25 players on Saturday.

It appears rookies Mika Zibanejad and Jared Cowen are locks to start the season with Ottawa. It will be interesting is to see what the Senators do with rookie blueliner David Rundblad.

Rundblad has suggested he might return to Sweden if he doesn’t make the final roster, but after steadily improving in camp, he could be kept around because Ottawa only has six healthy defencemen at the moment.

Rookie centre Stephane Da Costa started off camp strong, but has been troubled by a leg injury and hasn’t been able to win a spot. He could be kept as an extra forward. Rookie defenceman Mark Borowiecki just needs time in the AHL to hone his skills.

Coach Paul MacLean, who will sit down with GM Bryan Murray and assistant GM Tim Murray to make the final selections, was pleased with the competition in camp.

“I’d be really concerned if I came in here and it was just vanilla,” MacLean told the Sun before the club’s 2-1 victory over the Bruins Thursday. “That would give you some pause, but the fact we have to make some tough decisions on some really good players, I think that’s positive.

“That bodes well for us down the road to get to where we want to go. We’re building a foundation here. How far down the road? I have no idea. But having tough decisions to make here in (my) first year, first training camp, I think that’s good news.”

MacLean likes what the club has accomplished.

“It’s been a good (camp),” he said. “The work ethic has been really good. I like the way the team has taken direction and worked at it. They’ve done what we’ve asked them to do. We’re finding out with every game that our structure is coming (along). We’re going to keep working at it.”

MacLean is aware the expectations are not high for the Senators ... many hockey publications have picked Ottawa to finish last in the Eastern Conference.

It doesn’t surprise or bother MacLean.

“Somebody has to be (picked to finish last),” said MacLean. “In life, you get what you earn. Obviously, we haven’t earned enough respect from the media types because they don’t think we’re going to be better than everybody else.”

Goalie Craig Anderson, who made 39 saves vs. Boston, will be expected to shoulder the load by playing 70 games.

“He’s been a No. 1 goalie for the last five years and those are the numbers that No. 1 goalies play,” said MacLean. “His numbers will be based on his health and his play.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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