Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion made it known all offseason, he was seeking forward help, especially after dealing right wing Evgenii Dadonov to Vegas.
While the expectation of a trade or free agent signing was high heading into training camp, it came as a bit of a surprise when it was announced versatile forward Tyler Ennis was joining the team on a PTO.
Meeting the media post-practice Friday, Ennis explained his decision, “I had quite a few options to think about what I wanted to do. My familiarity with D.J. and this group of guys too was the biggest factor. I enjoyed my time here. I believe in D.J.. I believe in what they’re trying to do. They’re a better team now than two years ago when I was here. Those were my biggest factors in my decision-making.”
If Ennis eventually signs with the club, it’ll be his second go-round with the Senators after originally signing as a free agent with the club on July 1, 2019. The right wing played 61 games in the ’19-20 campaign, posting 14 goals, 19 assists prior to being dealt to Edmonton at the trade deadline.
The soon-to-be 32-year-old left a solid impression on the organization due to his solid work ethic and knack for timely goals.
No beating around the bush on this one. Tyler Ennis scored an absolute beauty. pic.twitter.com/lRXp68C28f
— NHL (@NHL) November 23, 2019
Meeting local media for the first time since returning to Ottawa, Ennis appeared relaxed and focused on cracking a spot on the Senators’ roster.
“It’s nice to be back, good to see the guys again. It’s a great room here. Good to see a lot of our friends,” said the Edmonton native. “I’m comfortable with the coaching staff. It’s good to see some familiar faces and be back here.”
“From what I’ve seen from even my first camp that some these habits that D.J. was trying to instill in the team my first year here, has started to become part of their everyday game, practice, so that’s nice to see.”
After playing 667 games including playoffs over 12 seasons, Ennis’ focus is on the prize that awaits.
“To earn a contract, make the team. Just work hard every day, set a good example – be a good teammate – prove I can contribute in this league still.”
With the potential of playing with a young group, Ennis realizes what he needs to do to assist his mates, “I’ve been the young guy that’s come in to be looked at to come in offensively. I’ve learned over the course of my career, it’s important to progress your game, not just offensively, but 200 feet. It’s so important getting better in other areas is important. Everyone is talented in this league, you always have to get better. My experience was coming into the room every day, playing hard, practicing hard.”
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One of the reasons for Ennis’ return is for him to slide onto the second power play unit. The right wing notched five goals, five assists wth the man advantage during his time in Ottawa.
Senators head coach D.J. Smith, “Enzo has got ability to make plays, but I think where his skillset – where we’re going to judge him is on the power play. He’s always had very good analytic numbers on the power play. He was very good on the power play for us a couple of years ago when he was here, and that’s what we’re lacking is goals. He’ll have an opportunity on the power play and we’ll see from there.”
Though he’s only spent a few short days with the Senators, Ennis is already impressed with the team’s young guns.
“I hadn’t played with some of these young guys. Timmy (Stützle) is a very talented player. Obviously, I played against him last year. He’s the kind of guy who can do everything, speed, hands, make plays, passing – he’s impressive. (Egor) Sokolov, (Shane) Pinto, have been fun to play with the last couple of days. Sokolov can shoot it really well. He’s got a bomb. Pinto is a good smart centre. I still have some learning to do with some of these new guys,” Ennis noted.
He also had a firsthand look, skating against Drake Batherson and Josh Norris while with the Oilers last season.
“I played a bit with Drake in my first stint here. You could tell he was going to be a great player. He’s a great kid. He sees the ice well, shoots it well. That was a good signing in my opinion. He’s going to be a star. And (Josh) Norris, I didn’t play with, but played against last year. That’s an important piece. He’s a centreman who skates, sees the ice well. He’s a first-round pick, so he’s got so much upside. The pieces are here. We just got to continue to grow, keep those habits, building those practice habits. It’s an exciting time for this team for sure.”