As was telegraphed by Bob McKenzie and Seth Jones earlier in the week, came this news yesterday...
"The Ottawa Senators announced today the club has signed free agent defenceman Troy Rutkowski to a three-year entry-level contract. Rutkowski is currently playing in his fifth season with the Portland Winterhawks, the Western Hockey League’s top-ranked team."
Rutkowski is an interesting case, drafted by Colorado 137th overall in 2010, the Avalanche chose not to sign him and relinquished his rights. He re-entered the draft last year, and was passed over, making him a free agent at the age of 20.
So what kind of player is Ottawa getting here? Well he's 6'2, 199, a right shot, a team captain, and a consistent offensive performer:
Though it should be said that Portland has been stacked with talent over this span so he isn't exactly playing with nobodies here. The concerns with his game seem to hinge on his ability to skate:
.@tsnbobmckenzie saying OTT to sign Rutkowski. 2nd in D scoring in the WHL. Puck mover with a cannon of a shot, has struggled with skating.— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) March 13, 2013
At the least this acquisition brings talent to the organization that only costs money, which should be applauded. The Winterhawks are up there among Memorial Cup favourites so it's somewhat doubtful we'll see Troy in Binghamton anytime soon.
An Ian Mendes story on March 6, had Murray sounding optimistic on Spezza's recovery from back surgery:
"Jason has been cleared by the doctors for hard work and to get it going. We're hoping in about two to three weeks we'll be able to put him into the lineup for us."
On Wednesday Renauld Lavoie tweeted this:
And on Thursday, Murray had this update:
"There's nothing different. What happended was he overdid it one day. He just had some discomfort with muscles in hsi back that he hadn't worked out for a long time. Somebody had to aske me if there'd been a setback and I just said he'd be a little longer than I probably though, simply because he just has to get back in condition. It's going to be his timetable. We don't want him to overdo it to the extent when he comes back, he's not in 100% condition. In turn, I know he's working hard and getting ready. We hope it won't be too far down the road."
Nothing's changed, but we're not hearing two week timelines anymore. Got it.
Maybe I'll be singing a different tune after the weekend, but right now the prospect of another month without Spezza doesn't really scare me that much. The Sens are in every game, and if that holds they'll get points one way or the other.
In response to a question on Milan Michalek's condition today, MacLean had this to say from Buffalo:
"Everything's the same with him. There's been some improvement, but not significant...he's not availble for the weekend."
This is really starting to feel like a replay to the end of his 2010 season.
Stone Down, Sdao Signed
Playing 5:51 in a game that went 65 minutes vs Montreal, maybe should have been a clue that Stone was soon to be back with the B-Sens. I didn't think he looked awful out there, and there were glimpses of his hockey sense (especially vs Toronto), but his skating still limits what he can do in the NHL. Development wise - the AHL is where he should be.
Another body was added to the Binghamton roster yesterday in Michael Sdao:
"The Ottawa Senators announced today that the club has singed defenceman Michael Sdao to a one-year entry-level contract. Sdao has signed an amateur tryout agreement and will report to the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League."
Taken 191 overall by the Senators in the '09 draft, Sdao played four years at Princeton. Like Kassian he's big at 6'4, 230, but unlike Kassian indications are he can actually play hockey.
A big, strong, 23-year-old defenceman with modest offensive tools? Right now, who's gonna bet against this guy playing top-pairing minutes on the Senators within the week?
College Free Agents
Last night Bob McKenzie had a primer on the NCAA free agent crop with the college hockey season drawing to a close. As expected Dekeyser and Sustr are the big names mentioned, and both are names said to have been pursued by Ottawa in the past. Detroit's the big favorite on Dekeyser, and Sustr has participated in a Ranger camp...but then again Tim Murray is pretty good at this game too. Graeme wrote on Dekeyser here, and Sustr here if you're looking for a little more background.