With the end of training camp nearing, it is now time to go from a projected roster, based upon hope, to projected roster, based upon performance.
I have avoided blogging after each pre-season game, because, individually, they are rather un-important, and focusing on one particular performance, loss, or win, can muddy the information they can, on the whole, produce.
Tonight’s match versus Winnipeg will be the final game to make an impression, good or bad, for those players hoping to crack the final roster, even if only for 10 games.
The stand-outs, thus far, have been Cowen and DaCosta. Both have all but assured themselves of a spot on this team, particularly Cowen.
The hulking defenseman, a boy trapped in a mans body, has been nothing short of stellar through-out this camp (and the rookie tourny). He has played physically when needed, has shown a solid ability to skate with the speedy NHL forwards, and, most surprisingly, handled the pace of the game, processing the on ice situation quickly enough to apply his superior hockey IQ, and physical talents, at NHL speeds.
But is there even a spot on the roster for him? As of right now, the simple answer is, no.
What complicates matters has been the play of Brian Lee. The kid has looked very, very good. He seems to have truly solidified himself as a regular shift NHL’er, and more than deserves the chance to prove otherwise. Unfortunately, his solid play has not likely earned him any value on the trade market, making him worth more in a Sens uniform, then as trade bait. Kinda like that car with 300k on it, that runs great, but you can’t get a dime for…might as well just keep it. In Lee’s case, if he plays well going into the season, his value will only rise, and he could fetch (should the team wish to trade him) a handsome return come the deadline, from a contender needing blueline depth.
Simply put, Lee has to play, to pay. His being once again resigned to sitting on the bench will do nothing for anyones best interests, franchise, team or player.
This, of course, leaves Kuba. Oh Kuba, why did you have to suck so badly during this camp? The fact is, with his contract (3.7M/1yr), he is an immoveable object, at least at this particular point in the season. I have no doubt that, if a deal could be worked out with a Euro club, the Sens would gladly eat the salary to have him off the roster.
As for DaCosta, he too has looked solid. He has shown strong play-making abilities, good speed and has not been physically bullied (although he does need to add more weight, as the long season will wear him down to the nubs). Among his top rivals (Regin, ZBad, and O’Brien) he has been the best of the bunch. I think he’s punched his ticket to the NHL. He may start in Bingo, to give ZBad his 10 game taste, but he’ll be back up given the first opportunity.
So here’s my final 23 man roster, in no particular order.
Filatov, Spezza, Michalek, Foligno, ZBad, Alfredsson, Butler, Regin, Greening, Neil, Konopka, Smith, DaCosta, Winchester (Greening)
Phillips, Karlsson, Cowan, Gonchar, Carkner, Lee, Kuba