The Ottawa Senators have lost veteran rearguard Filip Kuba for an estimated five to six weeks after Kuba broke his right leg during the team’s skating session on Saturday.
Kuba’s skate was caught in a rut in the ice after ten minutes in his first practice at Scotia Bank Place. It “looks like it will be five to six weeks, minimum, before he’s able to play,” general manager Bryan Murray told reporters Sunday morning.The Czech defenseman only played 53 games last season for the Senators because of groin and back injuries. The 33 year-old Kuba also missed the playoffs last year because of an injury.
The injury opens the door for a young prospect to crack Ottawa’s starting line-up out of training camp.
Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar, the only other offensive defensemen on the team, stand to benefit from Kuba’s injury the most as they will log heavy minutes on the power play.
Chris Phillips, Chris Campoli and Matt Carkner round up the Senators’ defensive corps which leaves two spots up for grabs for the organization’s young defensemen. Jared Cowen, David Hale, Brian Lee and Patrick Wiercioch are the most likely candidates to land a roster spot during training camp.
Cowen, the Senators’ first round pick, 9th overall, in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, played one game with Ottawa last season after playing 59 games for the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL, notching eight goals and 30 points. The 6’5”, 220 lbs, rearguard is a hulking defenseman who is mobile and gritty, while being able to contribute offensively. He is often compared to Adam Foote.
Wiercioch, a 2nd round pick selection by Ottawa in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, played for the University of Denver last season, recording 27 points in 39 games. Wiercioch, who has a nice blend of size and skill, is a good all around defenseman. Albeit being mobile puck moving defenseman with a very good set of hands, he still needs to improve his skating to perform at an elite level. He also needs to bulk up his 6’3”, 180 lbs, frame to become effective down the road. The 20 year-old signed an entry-level contract last April to turn pro. He will likely start the season in AHL, but Kuba’s injury could help him crack the NHL roster with a great training camp.
Lee, the Senators’ first round pick, 9th overall, in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, split last season between Ottawa, where he played 23 games, recording three points, and its AHL affiliate in Binghamton, where he dressed for 41 games, notching three goals and 15 points. The 6’3”, 205 lbs, defenseman can play in all situations, is a fluid skater and likes to join the rush despite limited offensive instincts. Lee has excellent hockey sense and handles the puck with ease. The 23 year-old regressed last season and younger defensemen like Cowen and Wiercioch have passed him on the Sens depth chart.
Hale, signed via free agency as an insurance policy this summer, split last season between the Lightning and its AHL affiliate in Norfolk. Hale, 29, is a strictly defensive-minded defenseman as his three goals in 302 contests in the NHL show. Hale will likely start the season in the AHL as Ottawa signed him to a two-way one-year contract, whereas Brian Lee is signed to a one-way deal.
My bet is Brian Lee grabs the Senators’ 6th spot on defense, while David Hale is kept as an insurance policy and the team’s 7th defenseman, unless one of Wiercioch or Cowen has an amazing camp and forces the organization to keep him in the NHL.
Filed Under: NHL
About the Author: Working as a freelance sports writer and translator, Fred, 33, graduated from Laval University in Quebec City, earning a bachelor of translation in 2002. An avid fan of the Northeast division teams, he's also a long time fan of the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens. Fred also speaks fluently French and Spanish. http://twitter.com/FredPoulin98 www.traductions-quebec.com