Senators Have Roster Decision to Make After Sokolov’s Strong Development Camp

The Ottawa Senators‘ Development and Rookie camp kicked off this weekend and will run until Sept. 20 at the Canadian Tire Centre. Development camp, from Sept. 11-14, will focus on on-ice skills and training as well as presentations off-ice. Rookie camp, from Sept. 15 through Sept. 20, will mainly focus on daily on-ice practices, led by head coach Troy Mann and his assistants, David Bell and Ben Sexton of the Belleville Senators in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Sens fans have their eyes on many players. In goal, Mads Sogaard and Kevin Mandolese will garner attention. On the blue line, there’s Jacob Bernard-Docker and Lassi Thomson. And upfront, Ridly Greig and Shane Pinto are expected to take big strides in their progression. According to Senators reporter Bruce Garrioch, a handful of rookies will make it to the main camp on Sept. 22, though he’s not sure how many. However, no one seems to be getting more attention than Egor Sokolov.

Sokolov Has Arrived

The 21-year-old, 6-foot-4, 216-pound winger made an immediate impact this weekend. Development coach and former Senator Shean Donovan had a front-row seat for all the action and said Sokolov is making an impression not just on the ice but off it, drawing comparisons to Mark Stone.

Egor Sokolov Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
Egor Sokolov with the Cape Breton Eagles of the QMJHL (Shawn Davidson/QMJHL)

“He’s been really fun to work with and Jesse (Winchester) has done a lot of work with him. Since day one when he got here, he’s wanted so badly to play. He called (Jesse) after every skate in camp last year and asked how he was doing. This summer, he got after it and you can see it. Everybody is excited to see it, he dropped (some weight) and he’s built himself into a real good body. He just reminds me, and you don’t want to make a comparison, but it’s just like when Mark Stone came in and it was like, ‘I’m here for a job.’ To me that’s what Sokolov looks like.”

– Shean Donovan (from ‘GARRIOCH: A big development as the Ottawa Senators’ prospects hit the ice’ Ottawa Sun, 11/09/21.)

After being passed over twice at the NHL Entry Draft before the Senators ultimately selected him at No. 61 in 2020, Sokolov is ready to go. According to reports from journalists at the Canadian Tire Centre this weekend, he was by far the best player on the ice.

Sokolov is quickly becoming the new fan-favourite prospect, which might also be because of the report that he trained with Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon, Brad Marchand and fellow teammate Drake Batherson in Halifax last month. Who wouldn’t love to hear that? He spent the 2019-20 season with the Cape Breton Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and dominated with 92 points (46 goals, 46 assists) in 52 games. He earned a roster spot with Belleville the following season when he led the team with 15 goals and 25 points in 35 games as a rookie.

Perfect Timing for the Senators

After fantastic play over the last two seasons, Sokolov is knocking on the Senators’ door, and the timing couldn’t be better. As reports have indicated all offseason, the Senators are looking for an upgrade at centre and on the wing. The combination of Sokolov’s size and scoring ability should fit well into head coach D.J. Smith’s plans. Not to mention the team’s right-wing depth is a major concern, and maybe they won’t have to make a deal after all. 

It’s presumptuous to assume that Sokolov will make the team, but if he keeps trending in this direction, who’s to say he can’t? On top of his play, he is also appreciated by his teammates, the media and fans, which could make him a marketable star on a team that is built on character.

When Rookie Camp gets underway, we’ll keep an eye on which players, Sokolov included, might get an invite to the main camp. The on-ice sessions are limited to media and will not include daily public access, but, fortunately, if you’re a Senators season-seat member, you’ll be able to watch the action against the Montreal Canadiens rookies on Sept. 18 at the Canadian Tire Centre.