With the 2012 NHL-lockout still in full effect, the Ottawa Senators AHL affiliate the Binghamton Senators opened training camp with hopes for a great season this year. Though names such as Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson are omission due to signing overseas Ottawa General Manager Bryan Murray is eager to get the AHL season started.

One of the biggest names on the Senators AHL roster this season is none other than prospect Jared Cowen. Cowen – 21 – was drafted 9th overall by the Senators in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Cowen spent all 82 games last season in the NHL registering 5 goals and 12 assists.

Even though Sens’ fans may worry about the development or attitude of Cowen playing in the minors, Murray seems to have no dismay whatsoever.

“Like every player that’s played in the NHL I think the first day is maybe a bit of a disappointment,” Murray said. “But beyond that I think he’s so competitive and he knows a lot of the players; he’s played down there before. This will help Jared refine his game somewhat too.

Joining in the excitement is 19-year old Swedish prospect Mike Zibanejad - best known for scoring the winning goal in a 1-0 overtime victory for Sweden over the Russians at the World Junior Hockey Championship in 2012. Yet, coming off a disappointing season due to poor performance and untimely injuries, Zibanejad knows he has a lot to prove to the Senators coaching staff.

“Our expectation is go down there, play, play real hard, play North American style and compete for loose pucks,” Murray said. “We know he has the tools to be a good player and he’ll have a chance when the NHL opens up again to be a good player at the NHL level, but I think this will be a real benefit for him to go and get games under his belt.”

Along with Cowen and Zibanejad, both Mark Stone – Drafted 178th overall in 2010 by the Senators, and posted 41 goals and 123 points in 66 games with Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL last season – and Jakob Silfverberg – Drafted 39th overall in 2009 by the Senators, posting 54 points with Brynas of the Swedish Elite League last season – will be sure to turn heads in the AHL this season. Both Stone and Silfverberg had the opportunity to represent the Ottawa Senators in their round one playoff matchup against the New York Rangers last season – Stone had an assist in one game.

When asked about the expectation of the league in general this season, Murray said, “It should be a very good league this year with the number of strong candidates that will be on entry level (contracts) that will be down there playing. It’s a good introduction (to professional hockey) and it gives them a chance to do things…so they will be good players at the upper level someday.”

Also joining in on the AHL experience will be Ottawa Senators head coach Paul MacLean. MacLean was nominated for the Jack Adams Award last season as NHL Coach of the Year after an impressive first season which saw him lead the Senators to 92-points during a season where there were no expectations.

The Senators kick off the season on Saturday, October 13th against the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins.


Adam Reid