Lehner Survives the Latest Round of Roster Cuts

The 2013 Senators training camp first roster casualties should have shocked few, forwards Stefan Noesen and Mike Hoffman have been reassigned – Noesen was returned to the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL and Hoffman rejoined his teammates in Binghamton – while defenceman Cody Ceci was returned to the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack.

The real news isn’t that Ottawa has cut Noesen or Ceci, two players whose fate was ordained from the moment that each player was brought up to training camp and set foot within the dressing room. This was simply a look-see for the coaching staff and an opportunity for them to get a closer look at their development. And conversely, this was an opportunity for the players to take whatever imparted knowledge and confidence that he muster from this experience and positively translate it into their performance for the second half of the junior season.

And no, the real news was not that a dark horse candidate like Mike Hoffman was unable to play his way onto the team. With the business side of hockey being playing such a pivotal role in the personnel decision-making process, the likelihood of the Senators exposing a well-liked player like Kaspars Daugavins – who is also on a one-way contract – was remote.

The real news is that their respective departures signify the next event in a sequence of events leading up to Saturday’s afternoon tilt with the Jets. And with goaltender Robin Lehner surviving the latest round of cuts, one has to wonder why the team would keep him around in the interim, unless they had some designs to ultimately play him. 

It's worth mentioning that the Senators did have a team dinner last night, so it makes sense that they would want to keep Lehner around to be a part of it and feel like he's part of the team. Even if it means that he's eventually assigned to the minors. If you've been paying close attention to Lehner's quotes from development camp, he is seemingly cognizant of his situation and knows that he will be 'the guy' at some point. Playing in games and getting that development in is what's vital for him at this stage of his career, and with two other NHL-calibre goaltenders around the team, I have no qualms about letting Lehner continue to develop in the AHL while hoping that Craig Anderson or Ben Bishop can improve their trade value throughout the course of the season. 

Line Combos From Practice

Kudos to Sylvain St-Laurent (@sly_st_laurent) for yesterday’s line combinations from practice:

Michalek-Spezza-Silfverberg

Latendresse-Turris-Alfie

Regin-O’Brien-Condra

Greening-Smith-Neil

Daugavins

Methot-Karlsson

Borowiecki-Gonchar

Wiercioch-Phillips

Benoit extra skater

PP1:

Michalek-Spezza-Silfverberg

Karlsson-Gonchar

PP2:

Latendresse-Turris-Alfie

Methot-Wiercioch

A few things stand out. It’s interesting to see O’Brien play with two players with noted puck possession prowess. Should this line control the rock, and limit the other team’s opportunities, the ‘ROC’ line moniker may stick.

Marc Methot seeing time on the second unit power play is of particular note because the defenceman averaged only three seconds of power play ice-time per game with the Blue Jackets last season. In fact nine other defencemen on Columbus averaged more than three seconds of power play time and one other, averaged the same as Methot. It’s not a one-year hiccup either. Methot’s never been a consistent participant on a NHL power play. Over the past six seasons, he has only averaged more than 10 seconds per game once (20 seconds per game in 2010/11).

We can downplay the significance of the second pairing to a certain extent because of the volume of minutes that Karlsson and Gonchar will inevitably log on the PP; especially since in the greater scheme of things, it is just one practice. Assuming today’s line combinations hold true, Methot’s presence on the 2nd PP reaffirms that the Borocop will draw in ahead of Benoit to start the season. For me, that’s somewhat of a surprise given: 1) the familiarity and chemistry that Wiercioch and Benoit have had playing together this year; and 2) that Phillips and Gonchar have played together before as well. It looks like I wrongly assumed that Borowiecki would be the seventh guy and that Benoit would get a crack at the second PP unit.

Perhaps Benoit will be on that second unit on nights he dresses, but Methot’s presence on the second PP unit emphasizes how vital Wiercioch’s development and performance will be. For what it’s worth, he led Binghamton defencemen with 10 goals at the time of his recall.

Cannone Waived

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Pat Cannone has been waived by the Senators organization as a formality because he did not make the NHL team. Hell, he wasn’t even invited to the abbreviated training camp. I doubt the organization has any concerns about Cannone getting nabbed, but with the waiver wire being oversaturated with comparable players, the likelihood of him getting claimed is remote. 

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