The Binghamton Senators will kick off their 2013-2014 regular season Saturday night at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena and there will be plenty of familiar faces on ice.
The Ottawa Senators finalized their 22-man roster Monday and sent 29 players to Binghamton, including Mark Borowiecki, David Dziurzynski, Derek Grant, Mike Hoffman, Jim O'Brien, Mark Stone and Mika Zibanejad, who all logged significant minutes in Ottawa last season.
O’Brien is on a one-way contract, but he was placed on waivers Thursday and was not claimed by Friday’s deadline, clearing the way for him to be sent to Binghamton. On Monday, he was officially sent down. O’Brien will still make his full NHL salary of $650,000.
Stephane Da Costa, who was sent to Binghamton last season due to his struggles with the big club, impressed General Manager Bryan Murray and the rest of the Ottawa brass enough to earn a spot on the roster in the capital city.
“We made the decision to have an extra forward and an extra D only,” Murray said in a conference call. “We had Jim go down and play rather than sit in the press box night after night. That's basically the approach we took.”
Zibanejad was snubbed in favor of Pageau, who became a favorite in Binghamton pretty quickly. His energy, speed and willingness to work likely impressed Ottawa as much as it did the fans in Binghamton last season. He is definitely a spark plug and will likely stick in Ottawa.
“We brought him up last year and he played as well as he did you keep waiting for him to slip a little bit because of his size and strength and competition level but it did the opposite,” Murray said. “He stepped up. He was probably our most productive player in training camp and every day, every practice he worked harder than most.”
Murray did not speak as highly of Zibanejad when discussing his assignment to Binghamton.
“I think when you let two guys come in and take your job — and we said that to him — you saw how Pageau was playing and you saw how Da Costa was playing and you didn't step up and say I better pay attention and keep my spot,” he said. “We felt he let that happen. All we can do and all the coaches can do is encourage the player, give him linemates and give him opportunity in the game to go play and then we have to sit back as judges and make a determination at the end of camp and we try to do it in a very fair way.”
Players assigned to Binghamton (by position)
Forwards: Corey Cowick, Jakub Culek, David Dziurzynski, Derek Grant, Wacey Hamilton, Danny Hobbs, Mike Hoffman, Ludwig Karlsson, Darren Kramer, Jim O’Brien, Andre Petersson, Shane Prince, Matt Puempel, Buddy Robinson, Cole Schneider, Mark Stone and Mika Zibanejad.
Goaltenders Scott Greenham, Andrew Hammond and Nathan Lawson.
Binghamton finished the 2012-2013 regular season with a record of 44-24-1-7 under first year coach Luke Richardson, who signed an extension this offseason that will carry him through the 2014-2015 season. They were swept out of the Calder Cup Playoffs by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Binghamton will welcome East Division rival Syracuse in for Saturday’s season opener, which is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m.
Bryan Murray quotes courtesy of: ottawasenators.com