As most Sens fans are aware, the team has an abundance of NHL caliber players signed for this season. Compounding that quagmire is the fact that the team also have several rookies who are NHL ready or close to it.
Obviously, some players are guaranteed a spot on the big club come training camp. We have the likes of Spezza, Heatley, Alfredsson, Vermette, Kelly, Neil, Fisher, and Ruutu up front, and Phillips, Volchenkov, Smith, and Kuba on defense.
That leaves one forward spot and two defensive jobs open.
Waiting to fill those spots are NHL experienced forwards Foligno, McAmmond, Donovan, Bass, Isbister, Shannon, and Schubert as well as NHL ready rookies like Winchester, Nikulin, and Zubov. All are battling for that one forward spot.
Couple that with NHL defensive veterans Schubert, Lee, Bell, Carkner, and Picard all fighting it out for two jobs on the blueline.
Something has to give. Players will not be happy no matter how you slice it. Guys patiently toiling in the AHL waiting for their shot will tire of the buses, and others will be sitting in the press box on a regular basis, which never bodes well for their morale.
In goal, Brian Elliot is chomping at the bit to get more NHL action and he's almost ready. Behind Gerber and Auld on the depth chart, can Elliot be patient and wait until Gerber's contract expires at season's end, or will he push for an NHL job sooner?
Even worse, some of these players (like Winchester) are on one-way deals. That deepens the conundrum for Sens management. Could a trade be in the works? My sources tell me me yes, but who and where?
Look for Russian forwards Nikulin and Zubov to threaten to play in the KHL if they are forced to wait too long for NHL action. Isbister will be chomping at the bit to return to the NHL, as will Picard and Shannon. Schubert won't be happy switching from defense to forward all season between his time in the press box.
My feeling is that vets like McAmmond and Schubert will be packaged with promising young talent like Nikulin and/or Zubov to a rebuilding team for a marquee goalie, stud defenceman, or a true top six power forward.
It's not a question of if, but when. Stay tuned. Training camp opens later this month and should prove very interesting.