Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Odds and Ends

Though the hockey news seems to be slow over the summer, it sure adds up. From gaining a new head coach in John Paddock to possibly alienating their second longest serving player in Wade Redden to restocking the Senators' minor league affiliate in Binghamton, much has changed since I last updated the night of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

While I wish I could retread to comment on the "news", analysing Tom Preissing's departure 6 weeks after the fact isn't of much use. That said, there have been plenty of happenings from the Senators' annual development camp to the trading of Peter Schaefer that I hope to comment on at some point before the season gets underway. I'd like to do as in-depth as possible an analysis of the additions and departures and their potential impact on the organisation, grade Bryan Murray's first three months at the helm, and offer my expectations for player and team performance as training camp comes and goes. In the interim, I'll update on any major signings or moves the Senators make, offer my opinion on the Senators new logos and uniforms (the logos have been leaked; the uniforms will be unveiled on August 22nd at Scotiabank Place), and discuss odds and ends in general.

Despite having a shorter summer than 28 of the other NHL teams, it can't seem to fly by soon enough.

O'Brien Inks Entry Level Contract

Though rumours have been floating for a good week, Senators GM Bryan Murray made the signing of his first draft pick official on Monday, inking 2007 29th overall draft pick Jim O'Brien to a 3-year entry level contract. The signing is something of an oddity, in that O'Brien is far from NHL-ready. He will be forgoing NCAA eligibility and is expect to join the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL.

The reasoning for the young centre's departure from the University of Minnesota is unclear. It was suggested around the time of his drafting that O'Brien might be splitting time at centre and defense for the 07-08 Golden Gophers; it had been more recently insinuated by the Gophers coach Don Lucia that O'Brien would essentially be converted to defense. Some reports insinuate that O'Brien requested the move himself, though his departure seems to indicate otherwise. In commenting on the signing, Murray expressed his concern at the lack of ice time O'Brien was slated to receiving in Minnesota, and confirmed that he would receive further opportunity to develop his offensive game in Seattle. The Senators seemingly drafted O'Brien with the intent that he would end up a centreman, however it was known at the time that he was capable of playing two positions and would likely be used in both positions next season, much like Senators everyman Christoph Schubert was used over the 06-07 NHL season.

O'Brien was the youngest player in the NCAA last season, and at 18 years of age is essentially one year ahead of development.

O'Brien will be attending the Senators training camp in September after having sat on the sidelines at the development camp in July as he rehabilitated from off-season surgery. He is not expected to make the NHL team, with an all-but-full roster already set in Ottawa and a recently replenished Binghamton squad.