The Ottawa Senators’ 23-man roster and six-player taxi squad were officially released Wednesday morning. The majority of chatter wasn’t about which players were included among the opening 29 players that’ll enter the season with the big club – albeit six will remain in-waiting – talk was focused on who wasn’t.
Among 17 players assigned to Belleville, the Senators’ American League affiliate were forwards Logan Brown, Alex Formenton, defenseman Erik Brannstrom, Christian Jaros, and goaltender Filip Gustavsson.
For Brown, it must be disappointing to not crack the Senators’ main roster, but in reality, the 22-year old was beaten out for a centre spot by Josh Norris. Both players were given an opportunity to skate on a line with Brady Tkachuk and Evgenii Dadonov during camp. Norris just won out.
“I think coming into camp every year, it’s trying to make the NHL, this year especially. I’ve had a lot of time over the last nine months to get ready to be prepared to take a job here. That’s my plan. That’s my goal,” Brown said during a Zoom call last Thursday.
General Manager Pierre Dorion also spoke about Brown earlier in training camp, “Obviously with Logan, we think he’s our most talented prospect, especially with our group up front. And it’s up to him to see how much work he’s put in, in the off-season, to see if he’s ready to handle the NHL pace, the NHL execution. There’s no denying or questioning his talent.
While media members weren’t able to view scrimmages until three days ago, we can’t say for certain how the Senators’ 2016 first-round selection performed in those controlled games. However, we did see Brown play Monday evening. The six-foot-six centre was featured on a team of mainly AHL players and didn’t distinguish himself.
Unfortunately, he’s averaged under 46 games played the past four seasons – this includes his final campaign of junior hockey.
Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman suggested the Senators may be taking offers on the St. Louis resident. A solid start to the AHL season is a must if Brown is to make his mark with Ottawa in 2021.
Formenton is another young forward on the cusp of cracking the Senators’ opening roster. However, the addition of Cedric Paquette from the Lightning to the left side and the addition of Tim Stützle didn’t leave much room for the speedy 21-year old. There’s one thing for certain, the AHL’s second-leading rookie scorer in 19-20, (27 goals, 53 points) will receive a recall at some point this season.
D-man Erik Brannstrom was another player expected to be on the Senators’ roster prior to training camp. The 21-year old known for his foot speed and puck-handling ability ramped up his offensive game with Belleville towards the end of last season, compiling three goals, 20 assists in only 27 games. Brannstrom also added four assists in 31 appearances with Ottawa.
The main reason Brannstrom starts in Belleville is evident. The young blue-liner needs to be in the Baby Sens lineup daily and receive heavy minutes in all situations. He’ll get that opportunity.
It also didn’t help that Brannstrom was held off the ice until this past Saturday due to COVID quarantine protocol. He was also held out of Monday’s scrimmage with a minor injury.
Like Brannstrom, Christian Jaros is better-served playing in the American League. The Senators’ right side on the back end is filled with d-men who fill a similar role. Veterans Erik Gudbranson and Josh Brown are both stay-at-home, big body d-men.
Netminder Filip Gustavsson missed time during camp with an illness, leaving Joey Daccord to get more reps facing NHL shots.
Daccord, who signed a three-year contract this summer drew high praise from the Senators’ GM in October.
“We feel we have depth and quality at the goaltending position – first and foremost Joey Daccord. We had a plan for him last year. We wanted him to spend half a year in the East Coast League and half a year in the American League. His numbers, his play, we went from a fourth-place team to a first-place team with Joey Daccord in our net. We feel he’s a very talented goalie. Filip Gustavsson was a highly-touted prospect. He’s had his ups and downs in the minors. We feel he’s a goalie that has a high upside,” Dorion said at the time.
It will be interesting how “Gus” develops playing in Belleville this season. Being a member of the taxi squad, practicing with the parent Senators, Daccord will have the luxury of having hands-on coaching from Pierre Groulx.
Ottawa Senators 23-man Roster
Artem Anisimov – C
Drake Batherson – RW
Connor Brown – RW
Evgenii Dadonov – RW
Alex Galchenyuk – LW/C
Joshua Norris – C
Nick Paul – C/LW
Cedric Paquette – C/LW
Derek Stepan – C
Tim Stützle – LW/C
Chris Tierney – C
Brady Tkachuk – LW/C
Austin Watson – RW/LW
Colin White – C/RW
Joshua Brown – RD
Thomas Chabot – LD
Braydon Coburn – LD
Erik Gudbranson – RD
Mike Reilly – LD
Christian Wolanin – LD
Nikita Zaitsev – RD
Jonathan Aspirot – LD
Filip Chlapik – C/LW
Joey Daccord – G
Micheal Haley – C/LW/RW
Matthew Peca – C/LW
Artem Zub – RD
Vitali Abramov – LW