In a press release that came out this morning, the Senators announced the names of the twenty-two players who will compete in this year's 2010 rookie tournament. The rookie camp begins with a practice on September 10th before the team takees a glamorous busride down the 401 to London where they will square off against prospects from the Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins organizations.
On paper, it looks as though the Senators should have a strong team. Returnees from last year's squad include Robin Lehner, Craig Schira, Mike Hoffman, Jim O'Brien, Erik Condra, and Kaspars Daugavins. This core will be augmented by the likes of Jared Cowen (who was unable to play last year because of his ACL surgery), Eric Gryba, Patrick Wiercioch and Tim Spencer's fists.
The full roster and schedule can be read below:
Goaltenders: Brandon Foote (Guelph - OHL), Robin Lehner (Sault Ste. Marie - OHL, Binghamton - AHL)
Defencemen: Jared Cowen (Spokane - WHL, Ottawa - NHL), Eric Gryba (Boston University - Hockey East, Binghamton - AHL), Matthew Hobbs (Prince Edward Island - QMJHL), Craig Schira (Binghamton - AHL), Adam Sedlak (Peterborough - OHL), Patrick Wiercioch (Denver - WCHA)
Forwards: Jason Bailey (Binghamton - AHL), Bobby Butler (New Hampshire - Hockey East, Ottawa - NHL), Erik Condra (Binghamton - AHL), Corey Cowick (Ottawa - OHL), Jakub Culek (Rimouski - QMJHL), Kaspars Daugavins (Binghamton - AHL, Ottawa - NHL), David Dziurzynski (Alberni Valley - BCHL), Colin Greening (Cornell - ECAC), Mike Hoffman (Saint John - QMJHL), Jim O’Brien (Binghamton - AHL), Tim Spencer (Elmira - ECHL, Binghamton - AHL), Mark Stone (Brandon - WHL), Shawn Szydlowski (Erie - OHL), Adam Wallace (Windsor - OHL)
*Roster subject to change.
2010 rookie tournament schedule at London’s John Labatt Centre
Saturday, Sept. 11: Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa at 2 p.m.; Chicago vs. Toronto at 7 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 12: Ottawa vs. Chicago at 2 p.m.; Toronto vs. Pittsburgh at 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 14: Chicago vs. Pittsburgh at 2 p.m.; Toronto vs. Ottawa at 7 p.m.
Here is my list of three things to look for:
1) The Blueline
Since the unheralded trio of Brian Lee, Matt Carkner and Chris Campoli is expected to inherit the fifth, sixth and seventh blueline spots respectively on the big club's roster, there's is some hope from fans that a bluechip prospect like Jared Cowen or Patrick Wiercioch can impress at the rookie tournament and carry whatever momentum they can into training camp. Unlike Wiercioch or an Eric Gryba who could get the call from Binghamton to fill in for an injured player, Jared Cowen still has junior eligibility and cannot be sent to the AHL to start the season. If Cowen can push a veteran for a spot in training camp, the real intrigue here lies in whether or not he can force management into a difficult decision: Will another year of junior will benefit Cowen's development?
2) Robin Lehner
A large amount of offseason focus has been devoted to the impending free agent statuses of a number of players next offseason. With both Brian Elliott (restricted) and Pascal Leclaire (unrestricted) due for new contracts, Lehner can ease the burden on Bryan Murray to resign both netminders if he makes a smooth transition to professional hockey.
3) Where Art Thou Jim O'Brien?
As a late first round pick in 2007 (29th overall), Jim O'Brien had a disappointing first season as he made the transition to pro. Although his confidence wasn't helped any as the coaching staff utilized him in a fourth line capacity centering Tim Spencer and Jeremy Yablonski, his play improved late in the season as he was given more responsibility. O'Brien needs to continue his development or he risks getting passed in the prospect depth chart.