Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cowen Finally Making Some Noise

Maybe Jared Cowen makes this team after all.

I already had him back in junior hockey after the first pre-season game confirmed what I saw in the rookie tournament: a gangly kid who looked lost in all three zones.

Two games later, I'm not so sure anymore. To me, he's been the most improved player on the team since the start of camp. Last night against the Habs in Kanata, Cowen looked like an NHL player to me. Or at least close to it.

He made a few errors later in the game, but he finally started using his size and looked like he knew what to do with the puck for a change.

Now, I don't know what's happened with Eric Gryba. He had a great rookie tournament, opened a lot of people's eyes, but the team has only played him in one pre-season tilt so far, and when Ian Mendes interviewed GM Bryan Murray, Gryba's name wasn't even mentioned when the GM was listing the candidates to fill that one vacant spot on the blueline.

Reading the tea leaves, it sounds like Gryba is headed to Bingo. That leaves Cowen, Brian Lee and vet David Hale fighting for that sixth spot. Maybe two make it if the Senators keep seven defenseman like they have in the past.

I think it's a toss-up now deciding who gets it. During the telecast last night on Rogers, they showed a scrum with coach Cory Clouston who seemed to hint that possibly Hale could be the frontrunner. No one asked specifically about Hale, but Clouston volunteered the information and seemed to zero in on Hale in his comments, talking about his experience and solid play.

To me, this team needs Cowen and/or Hale more than they need Lee. They have a lot of guys with similar skill sets to Lee but only one guy, Matt Carkner, who is going to provide steady physical play. Hale is a known commodity. He's not spectacular at what he does, but he's not going to hurt you unless he takes a lot of penalties.

So now Cowen is the real wild card. Can he keep improving? If so, he looks like he may be the guy, especially with the knowledge that he would have to go back to junior if he doesn't make the team. Some say another year of junior would do him good. Some say he could develop best against better competition.

Either way, I've sure wasted a lot of virtual ink on what is going to be a marginal position in the big scheme of things.

But it proves one thing. This Senators team is on the right track if everyone is only worrying about who's going to be the sixth and seventh defenseman.

A good sign.


Michael said...

Depth is good.

Cowen definitely getting his nine games. He might stay up at the show because he's too big for junior and the AHL isn't fast enough. Lee Hale and Cowen will rotate as scratches, injuries will happen, and some of our vets will need to rest the first half of the season. Lehner needs a year in the AHL. We don't want a Cory Price situation here.

A year from now is when you bring him in, for more cap space in a year when Ottawa will have a lot of welcome churn of high priced talent.

This year is a middle of the pack year, but the rebuilding ends in 2011-2012. That's when the next generation starts taking over for a cup run.

Young said...

I agree Milksy, Cowen and Hale are much better options than Lee, and at this point, Lee isn't doing himself any favours.

I think a year of Junior does nothing for him. And next year we will have Runblad and Weircoch pushing for spots, and how many rookies are we going to go with on the blueline at once? That was why I wanted Karlsson to play last year, and why I want Cowen to play this year. Get these kids some experience. Insulate them, let them make some mistakes and learn.

But this is the 6th and 7th d-man spot we are talking about, so I agree, that's a good sign.

p.s Michael, Cowen is ineligible to play in the AHL

The Dutch Treat said...

I'm not sure what pre-season you guys are watching but Lee has probably been the most improved player next to Foligno.

As for your Hale predictions, he spent most of the night on the pine last night, while Lee and Cowen got the lion's share of the play. Lee looked very poised last night, even calling out the defensive set up.

We will keep Lee and Cowen and I predict Campoli is playing his way to another team. He hasn't looked impressive at all. Hale and his two-way go back to Bingo. He's a reserve injury call up.

Anonymous said...

I agree with The Dutch Treat.

Lee's looked good out there. I gotta think that Hale's got a two-way deal for a reason. First call up seems likely.