View the original article on Last Word On Hockey: Forward Battles: Three Ottawa Senators Prospects Shining in Camp
A week into training camp, NHL teams shift their focus to split NHL regulars and AHL players. While the Ottawa Senators have split up their groups, they have yet to cut anyone. A lot of teams have not made cuts either, only a few have done this in a week’s time. You can’t blame the Senators, in their two pre-season games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, many prospects have impressed. Out of all the forward prospects the Senators invited to training camp, three seem to be standing out. While Thomas Chabot looks like an NHL player on the blue line, the battle for the forward spots is a little tougher to predict.
When Chlapik was sent down to the QMJHL at the end of last year’s camp, he was left packing with criticism from management. He was told that he has to be more of a shoot-first player. Chlapik was also told he needed to be in better shape if he wanted to be apart of the Senators organisation. Chlapik took those critiques to heart, and improved his game. Not only did he get in better shape but he turned into more of a shooter. The youngster scored 34 goals for the Charlottetown Islanders in their 2016-17 season. In addition to his prolific scoring, he still passed the puck around. He also tallied 57 assists, ranking him fourth in the QMJHL in points.
Heading into this year’s training camp, Chlapik wanted to make a statement for himself. He suited up for the second game versus the Leafs on a back to back. Chlapik played a solid game both offensively and defensively. He netted an empty netter but people’s eyes don’t exactly light up when they hear that. Sens head coach Guy Boucher has stated on a few occasions throughout camp that he has been very impressed with Chlapik’s game. His off-ice and on-ice commitments are making it hard for management to cut him. With multiple injuries upfront for the Senators, Chlapik making the jump into the NHL might not be as impossible as it looked like at the end of last season.
Logan Brown has to be one of the most fascinating prospects the Ottawa Senators have. In his draft year, Brown scored 74 points in 59 games for the Windsor Spitfires. Last season was a different story for the young centreman. Brown got off to a hot start right out of the gate, but a wrist injury caused him to cool down considerably. He would also face handy injuries last year. Due to his injuries, Brown was only able to play in 35 games, scoring 14 goals and 26 assists for 40 points.
After a disappointing season in junior, Brown has come into camp with authority. Management has been impressed since the Senators performance in the rookie tournament. The Senators hope they have a special prospect in Brown, a former 11th overall pick. Similar to Chlapik, Brown has earned high praise from Boucher.
His size is an asset. The Sens are hoping he turns into a top six forward, with his 6’6″ 220 pound frame causing nightmares for the opposition. It looks likely the Sens will be without centre Derick Brassard to start the season. Colin White‘s broken wrist will cause him to be out of action for 6-8 weeks. Brown’s strong camp helps him to be a candidate to fill a forward role at the start of the season.
Another player who has stuck around longer than most analysts thought he would is Alex Formenton. Formenton, 18, was drafted in the second round of the 2017 NHL Draft. He only has one OHL season under his belt, playing for the London Knights. As a 17-year-old Formenton scored 16 goals and 34 points in 65 games. On a deep Senators team he often found himself on the second or third line.
The Senators drafted Formenton for his speed. The NHL has progressively gotten faster in recent years, and Formenton fits that mould. Eventually the team will send Formenton back to junior, as there is no room for him, and he needs more development time. Another year in junior would do nothing but help Formenton. However, he looked good in the Sens second pre-season game versus the Leafs. He didn’t appear on the score sheet but was given the opportunity to get his feet wet. Formenton played nearly 15 minutes and was also used on the power play.
Although Alex Formenton has impressed in camp, it’s hard to see him make the jump at this point in his career. The Sens wanted to see what he has to offer, and he certainly has not disappointed. If he’s impressing staff this much at his first camp, it leaves Sens fans thinking what could he do with a bit more experience.
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