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Senators Announce Opening Night Roster

January 13, 2021, 3:57 PM ET [22 Comments]
Michael Stuart
Ottawa Senators Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
After ten months of anticipation, the Ottawa Senators announced their 2021 opening night roster today. True to their word, the Senators appear to be giving a number of young players the opportunity to make their mark in the National Hockey League; however, not every young player is going to be given that chance. Here’s a breakdown:

The first thing that immediately sticks out is that Tim Stützle has made the team. While this doesn’t come as a surprise given the team’s continued insistence that they expect him to play in the NHL this year, it does represent a monumental step forward in the team’s rebuilding efforts. After a stellar World Junior Championship and impressive performance at training camp, the German forward is ready to begin what will hopefully be a rewarding career in Canada’s capital.

For fans looking to see prospects turn players, the good news is that Stützle won’t be alone. Both Drake Batherson and Josh Norris are also included on the opening night roster, having established themselves as go-to pieces during the team’s camp and scrimmages. It is expected that both will have room to maneuver in Ottawa’s top-six, which should provide them with ample opportunity to put up points and deliver entertainment for those watching at home.

On defence, Christian Wolanin has cashed in on absurdly good scrimmage stats to make the team out of camp. Considering the talent, or lack thereof, on the blue line around him, there’s a very real argument to be made that he is immediately one of Ottawa’s better defenders. Assuming that DJ Smith will be running a meritocracy behind the bench, Wolanin should be able to outshine names like Braydon Coburn, Nikita Zaitsev, and Erik Gudbranson in a quest to earn minutes.

Of course, the story of who made it is complemented by the story of who didn’t. Many expected Logan Brown and Erik Brannstrom to push for spots on this year’s Senators team, but both have fallen short. The team has sent them to the American Hockey League, where they will continue to refine their skills until called upon.

For Brown, in particular, the decision has to be disappointing. Everything about his AHL performance to date suggests that he has little left to prove there; it’s questionable as to whether there’s much developmental value left for him in that league. Having been apparently passed on the depth chart by some of the young players who did make the cut, it’s quite easy to predict that the relationship between Brown and the Senators is heading southward. It’s probably not a coincidence that Elliotte Friedman was reporting rumor of his availability on the trade market.

Even with disappointment for Brown and Brannstrom, the bottom line is that, with this roster, the Senators should be infinitely more entertaining this year than they were last year. Sure, there are still holes to be fixed before the team is ready to compete for the Stanley Cup, but this team looks much more fun and competitive than the one that ended the 2019-20 campaign in March. It’s hard to ask for much more.

As always, thanks for reading.
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