The Belleville Senators completed their first training camp and played their first pre-season game in the team’s history, following a two-in-two with the Laval Rocket at Place Bell. The Senators went 1-1, winning 3-1 on Sept. 30 before losing 7-5 on Oct. 1 to round out their exhibition season.
The Belleville Sens’ roster has begun to take shape as the Ottawa Senators have started to assign players to their American Hockey League affiliate. Here, we dive into which Belleville Senators players are expected to make an impact in their inaugural season.
Goalie Andrew Hammond was assigned to the Belleville Senators following recent hip surgery and limited playing time in Ottawa’s exhibition season, suiting up for just one game, where he played only 28:45 and made four stops on five shot attempts. The White Rock, B.C., native had a rough year last season, posting the worst numbers of his professional career – he played a combined 11 games between the NHL and AHL.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound goalkeeper had been extremely productive in his career in Ottawa prior to his struggles last season, posting a career 2.32 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. “The Hamburglar” is best known for his amazing streak in 2014-15, when he posted a 20-1-2 record and 1.79 GAA as a rookie, helping the Senators gain a playoff berth.
— Belleville Senators (@BellevilleSens) September 29, 2017
The goalie’s AHL experience is a major asset that will make its way to Belleville’s crease, with Hammond playing a career 80 regular season games along with four playoff appearances. Of course, his NHL experience—55 career NHL games alongside two NHL playoff appearances—is another plus.
The Belleville Senators can be confident in the ability of Andrew Hammond in net this season as the veteran looks to prove his doubters wrong and show that he can indeed move back up to the NHL.
The Ottawa Senators’ top prospect will start the season in Belleville. Chabot has had an inconsistent pre-season, finishing with a team-low minus-5 rating in the Senators’ final exhibition loss to Montreal. The 20-year-old played an average of 17:30 per game in the preseason, adding one goal and one assist in five games.
Chabot also participated in the most recent edition of the World Junior Championship, as he helped Canada to a silver medal in his home province of Quebec. Chabot scored a point in every contest and finished the tournament with four goals and six assists in seven games. He was also named MVP of the tournament, having played 53:15, more than any other Canadian in the tournament.
The Senators’ 18th overall selection in the 2015 NHL draft was a dominant force in Major Junior in 2016-17, winning the QMJHL championship with the Saint John Sea Dogs and scoring 45 points in 34 regular season games before recording an additional 23 points in 18 post-season games.
The 6-foot 2, 190-pound left-shot defenceman took home an impressive amount of hardware following his final season in Saint John, winning the Émile Bouchard Trophy – Defenceman of the Year, Paul-Dumont Trophy – Personality of the Year and was named to the league’s First All-Star Team.
— Belleville Senators (@BellevilleSens) October 3, 2017
Ottawa has long been patient with their top defencemen prospects. Erik Karlsson and Cody Ceci, both 15th-overall selections, were sent down to the minors. Both stints were short-lived— Karlsson lasted just 12 games, adding 11 assists in that time frame. Ottawa recalled Ceci after just 27 games in the AHL after he scored 19 points. How long will Chabot be in Belleville before his name is called in Ottawa?
The Belleville Senators are gaining a winner and great player on and off the ice. The Sens’ top prospect will gain valuable experience and development in Belleville while being at the forefront of the Baby Sens’ blue line.
The Belleville Senators will lean on the leadership and size of Mike Blunden in their inaugural season at the Yardmen Arena. Blunden has spent the past season in Binghamton, where he was named captain of the Senators. The 6-foot-4, 217-pound right winger plays a heavy physical game that will certainly make him a fan favorite in the Friendly City.
Much like Andrew Hammond, the Toronto native provides the Senators with both NHL and AHL experience; at age 30, Blunden has played in 528 career AHL games, scoring 131 goals and 145 assists, along with accumulating 614 penalty minutes. Blunden has also played in over 100 NHL games, with 126 under his belt, scoring 13 career points and racking up 145 penalty minutes. Blunden also has a Belleville connection: his brother Stephen suited up for the Bulls from 2006 to 2009.
A pair of veterans and a highly prized rookie will look to make an immediate impact in Belleville as the club tries to make the playoffs. The Baby Sens have failed to make the post-season in three consecutive years, starting in 2014-15. Hopefully, a change of scenery from upstate New York to Quinte will help to end that dry spell.