Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ottawa's Shot In The Dark

Can Brendan Bell make the Ottawa Senators?

The Ottawa native will have to outplay either Lawrence Nycholat or Brian Lee, hope that Craig Hartsburg, like Bryan Murray and John Paddock before him, prefers Christoph Schubert at forward or, in a last case scenario, fill in for Andrej Meszaros who could be an NHL holdout playing in Russia this season if his contract situation doesn’t get worked out.

Bell doesn’t have much going for him at the NHL level in terms of experience or scoring (48 games, 1 goal and 7 points) and his inability to stick with his relatively weak past two clubs, Toronto and Phoenix, is a bit of a blackmark against him.

But if Bell is going to be appreciated anywhere, it will be in Bytown. The team is currently overloaded with stay at home defenseman and are precariously relying on young players like Lee, Meszaros and Nycholat to fill Wade Redden’s rather large skates on the powerplay.

Bell, who was born in Ottawa and attended St. Pius High School and played for Brian Kilrea’s 67’s, has posted respectable numbers in the AHL since leaving the OHL.

Last year with the San Antonio Rampage, the Coyotes farm team, Bell had 7 goals and 31 points in 69 games while posting 7 points in 7 playoff games.

His best year since junior was in 2005-2006 with the Toronto Marlies where he racked up 43 points in 70 games.

At 25 years old, Bell is right in that age group for defenseman when they either get to the next level or cement their reputation as career minor-leaguer's or marginal NHL players.

So what do I think?

Fucked if I know.

I’ll eat my keyboard if Brian Lee doesn’t make the team so that’s one slot for Bell taken away.

As long and drawn out as it seems, I can’t see Meszaros and Murray not coming to some sort of agreement. At this point, Murray has to see that Meszaros has the team by the balls, so to speak. Losing him would really hurt the chances for this team to succeed now and in the long term. Meszaros may not be worth 3 million right now but that deal probably looks good in two years. The guy is still so young and is already worthy of top four minutes on almost any other team in the league. Just pay him. They'll have to dish out that money to replace him eventually so why not give it to the proven commodity.

Bell may very well outplay Nycholat and stick around as a 7th defenseman and an injury fill-in. If given that chance, here’s betting Bell makes the most of it. It could end up being the Senators signing of the summer if all the breaks fall in the right way.


The North Bay Nugget (amazing newspaper name) ran a piece on Shean Donovan who makes his summer home up there. Nothing earth shattering or new but Donovan comments on the burnout of the big three last season under John Paddock:

"It was kind of like the perfect storm --every little thing that could have happened, went wrong. We had such a good start to the season, but I think the big boys got tired out. They played pretty hard, our big line of (Jason) Spezza, (Dany) Heatley and (Daniel) Alfredsson.

The league is so good now, there's so much parity. I think last year when we started struggling, some guys tried to work too hard and then everyone's on their own page and that's kind of the way it unravelled...

He (Hartsburg) is going to take control of the room pretty good and just make sure we do things right, get the proper rest and be ready...

I think they (team management) knew the big boys got pretty tired last season, so they want to make sure we get four lines going, because teams that win now have four full lines."

North Bay Nugget

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