The Ottawa Senators have had a successful off-season, re-signing Mark Stone, Mika Zibanejad and Jean-Gabriel Pageau to very reasonable bridge deals and essentially winning arbitration cases with Mike Hoffman and Alex Chiasson. The three goalie situation was resolved with the Robin Lehner trade to Buffalo that somehow resulted in getting a first round pick in return while also dumping David Legwand’s $3.5 million salary. A roster spot on defense was created by trading Eric Gryba to Edmonton, allowing the team to re-sign Chris Wideman.
At forward, the Senators have 12 players on one-way contracts plus Curtis Lazar on an entry-level contract (ELC). On defense, there are six one-way contracts plus Cody Ceci on an ELC and Wideman on a two-way contract that would require him to clear waivers if sent to Binghamton. Include two goaltenders and the 23-man roster would seem set. It is possible that Ottawa starts the season without any other changes until a contract is traded or an injury replacement is required.
@martybiron43 I liked about Colin Greening "he is still a LW and big"
— Ray Ferraro (@rayferrarotsn) July 2, 2015
The most likely roster spot available is at left-wing where Clarke MacArthur, Milan Michalek and Hoffman lead the depth chart. The off-season departure of Eric Condra opens up competition for the fourth spot. The team has some options with existing roster players. For instance, Colin Greening may have improved considerably (anything is possible) or Zack Smith could move over from centre or Alex Chiasson from right-wing. However, the following three players all have much more skill and potential and will push management to make room for them.
Matt Puempel – LW
2014-15: Binghamton 12G 32P in 51 games, Ottawa 2G 3P in 13 games
Selected 24th overall in the 2011 draft, Puempel is a gifted goal scorer who displayed NHL calibre ability in his 13 game debut last year before a high ankle sprain ended his season in March. Based solely on merit, he should make the team; however, that may only be possible if the Senators are willing to put Greening on waivers and pay him his full $2.75 million salary to play in Binghamton.
Nick Paul – C/LW
2014-15: North Bay Battalion 44G 81P in 73 games
Acquired in the Jason Spezza trade, he dominated at the OHL level and was very impressive for Team Canada at the World Junior Championship. He will almost certainly start the year in Binghamton; however, he will likely be a call-up throughout the season. According to GM Bryan Murray, we should not be surprised if Paul is a full-time roster player in the second half of the year, “He looks like the kind of player you send him to the minors and let him play some pro games down there and by the second half you’re saying, why isn’t he on our team?”
Shane Prince – LW
2014-15: Binghamton 28G 65P in 72 games, Ottawa 0G 1P in 2 games
Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft, Prince has now played three full pro seasons in Binghamton. He looked impressive in his two NHL games last year before being returned to the AHL in favour of Puempel. He is not only competing for an opportunity against four left wingers with one-way contracts, but also the likes of Puempel and Paul. This is the last year he can be sent to the AHL without having to clear waivers so his big opportunity might not come until 2016-17.