For all of you who were wondering whether the 'Will David Rundblad and Stephane Da Costa Be Cut?' Tour would end on the weekend, you'll have to wait a little longer. As expected, the Senators did announce more formal cuts to their training camp roster, however, a few of the more intriguing names will be sticking around for the interim.
Whether either of these two prospects had legimitately earned a spot on the roster is open to discussion but thanks to an assortment of injuries to Matt Carkner, Peter Regin and Jesse Winchester, Da Costa and Runblad will likely start the season on the opening day roster - leaving much of the handwringing and tough roster decision making, especially in Rundblad's case, until Ottawa's veterans return to health.
Mark Borowiecki, Robin Lehner, Kaspars Daugavins, Mike Hoffman and Patrick Wiercioch weren't so fortunate. As expected, each of these five players have been returned to Binghamton. It's worth mentioning that Daugavins, who the organization had to put through waivers so that he could be optioned to Binghamton, went through unclaimed. (Huzzah!)
After a strong performance in the preseason, one prospect who removed himself from the conversation of final roster cuts was Mika Zibanejad - a player whose handling and future this website has devoted a lot of discussion towards.
This past weekend, oneTwitter follower (@VinnieSens) took exception to our Mika Zibanejad comments from the last podcast and tweeted:
"Finally listening to your latest podcast. Your hate on for Zib is disgusting. Do you guys still feel that way now?"
Busted! You caught us. Tim and I just can't hide our mutual dislike for Mika Zibanejad any longer. It all goes back to that moment when that uber-talented prospect didn't have to take the time to call us and record a podcast interview from the airport in Atlanta mere minutes after his return flight from the Caribbean had landed. What a jerk. (Disclaimer: at the risk of having my words misconstrued by Vinny, please note that in the previous paragraph, I was being completely facetious.)
As I've said many times before, it's easy to get caught up in prospect porn and it's even easier to get excited when one of your favorite team's prospects perform well in the preseason. However, I'm an even-tempered person who steadfastly refuses to work myself up into fervour because it is the preseason - a period of time when the games are meaningless; the opposition's lineup consists mainly of AHL depth fodder; and we fondly recall the performances of Brandon Bochenski and Nick Foligno and laugh. Hell, Ottawa's preseason scoring leaders are Zack Smith and Chris Neil. So let's not invest too much emphasis on how much
Speaking of laughter, Vinnie's attempt to dismiss our own rational arguments for returning Mika to Sweden as disgusting or hate-inspired is comical. Disagreeing with my take on the situation is fine. I fully recognize and understand the arguments that can be made to support keeping Zibanejad because there is some merit to them, so obviously it's not going to bother me if you don't agree with what I have to say. What I will take exception to however, are the blanket generalities.
Mika's a fantastic NHL prospect and I'm certain that he's going to be nails for this organization. I'm just not convinced that he should start his NHL career this season. Tim even said on the podcast that Mika had warranted that 9-game window of opportunity before the first year on his ELC kicks in, so I'm not sure what else needs to be said on the matter other than, "Let's see what he can do."
Prospect Update: According to Renaud Lavoie from RDS, the Florida Panthers have cut Jonathan Huberdeau. The Florida Panther's official Twitter account then tweeted, "Dineen lauded Huberdeau's talent, would be tempted to play him often, might not be best for maturation. Emphasized great Junior situation."
Lines From This Morning's Skate
Sportsnet's Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) has tweeted the line combinations used at this morning's skate. Here they are:
Forward lines: Michalek-Spezza-Filatov, Greening-Zibanejad-Alfredsson, Foligno-Smith-Neil, Condra-Konopka-Butler.
Defence: Phillips-Lee, Kuba-Karlsson & Cowen-Gonchar.Judging from these combinations, it's reasonable to assume that Rundblad and Da Costa would be the odd men out once Regin, Winchester and Carkner return to health.
St. Louis Blues Send Ben Bishop to AHL...
In other words, Brian Elliott has won the battle for the Blues' back up goaltending gig.
Dear Mr. Garrioch, I've already taken the liberty of circling this date on your NHL calendar. You're welcome.
Surprised to find that you didn't offer a take on Butler skating on the fourth line with Konopka and Condra. What's up with that?
@slavitch Interesting. Four-to-six for Carkner? There's a big window of opportunity for Rundblad to usurp a vet.
@fmblair I've hit on that on Twitter, the blog and on the podcast. My take is that he has to be on Spezza's line to be an effective NHLer. That or he needs to develop into a more well-rounded player.
@Nichols6thSens Second time on same knee. Usually that extends things a bit as things really can't be pushed.
@Nichols6thSens My surprise was partly a product of your previous interest in the topic. I tend to agree with your assessment but I don't necessarily think that he has to play on third or fourth lines to become a more well-rounded player. Is it not possible for him to work on his backchecking etc. by playing alongside Alfie and Zbad?
@fmblair It's a fine line though. Obviously I don't have the opportunity to watch Butler's practice habits or see the behind-the-scenes stuff so I can't fairly comment on his work habits. From what I've seen of him in approximately 40 NHL games is that he plays a style that isn't necessarily flattering when he's not scoring.
The preseason is such a small sample size that I'm not surely fair if it's a good barometer to gauge him as a player right now.
@Nichols6thSens I don't think he should be banished to the end of the bench either, but I don't think that he should play with Filatov and Spezza. Together, they would provide as much goal-prevention as Brian Elliot. With a young defence corps behind them, is this option even realistic?
The issue of whether and to what extent he's criticized is important, but it shouldn't be determinative of where he or anyone plays.
My opinion is that he should be given a chance on the second line with Alfie and Zbad. That combination should, at least to a degree, hide Butler's defensive shortcomings while still affording him the chance to play offensive minutes.
@fmblair I don't think he needs to play on a bottom six line to develop those facets of his game. I think those minutes with inferior teammates will only help fuel the criticisms of his game and production. It'll be equivalent to what happened with Regin to start the season last year.
"What's wrong with Regin?" ~ media
"He's playing fourth line minutes with Winchester and Shannon."