It’s a good sign that NHL hockey is just around the corner with the NHL Rookie Showcase getting underway this weekend in Belleville, Ontario. It’s also a good time for prospects in the Sens system to show development since last year and also give off a good first impression to new Senators head coach DJ Smith.
Here is a look at the Schedule for this weekend in Belleville, Ontario.
2019 rookie tournament schedule at Belleville’s CAA Arena:
Friday, Sept. 6: Ottawa vs. Winnipeg, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 7: Ottawa vs. Montreal, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 8: Montreal vs. Winnipeg, 7 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 9: Winnipeg vs. Ottawa, 7 p.m.
One of the strengths in the Senators farm system is in goal. The Senators will be bringing four goalies to the tournament. They will be Joey Daccord, Filip Gustavsson, Kevin Mandolese and 2019 second-round pick Mads Sogaard.
Belleville Senators coach Trent Mann will be behind the bench this weekend coaching the prospects taking part in the showcase. He said that Gustavsson will get the start Friday against the Jets, Daccord will face the Canadiens on Saturday and Mandolese and Sogaard will split time in the crease Monday against the Jets.
It will be interesting to see how Daccord looks between the pipes against the Habs on Saturday. Daccord is coming off an outstanding season at Arizona State University where he posted a 3.51 GAA and a .909 Sv %. After the NCAA season, Daccord signed his pro contract in April before making his NHL Debut against the Buffalo Sabres. Daccord will be fighting for the backup position in Belleville this year, but looks to me slated in starting the season in the ECHL.
One of the other players that fans will be interested in seeing is Michigan product Josh Norris. You may remember Norris as being a key piece in the Erik Karlsson trade last fall. Norris was having a nice season with the Michigan Wolverines last year until he was sidelined with a shoulder injury.
While rehabbing, Norris decided to sign his entry level contract with the Ottawa Senators. Norris, who stands at 6’1, could be an important part of the Sens future down the middle of the ice. Last year, he found a little more offence in his game as he put up 10 goals in 19 games with Michigan and six points in seven games with the US national team in the World Junior Hockey Championships. Trent Mann confirmed that Norris will only play in two of this three games this weekend.
GM Pierre Dorion and staff will be able to show off another piece they got back in a trade last year. Erik Brannstrom will be on the ice this weekend at the showcase. Brannstrom was drafted 15th overall in the 2017 Entry Draft by the Vegas Golden Knights and was part of the Mark Stone deal at last year’s NHL deadline. The Rookie Showcase will give a chance for Brannstrom to show is elite skating ability and offensive creativity from the back end. Brannstrom will be pushing for an opening night spot on the Sens NHL roster.
Training camp next week in Ottawa should be very competitive as about five to six players that are dressing this weekend for the Sens in the Rookie Showcase have a legit opportunity in playing NHL games for the Sens in the upcoming season. Also, it will be DJ Smith’s first training camp as head coach of the Ottawa Senators, so the pace will surely be high.
It’s great finally to have hockey back. It should be a great weekend in Belleville. Here are the line combinations for the Sens Friday night against the Jets:
Alex Formenton- Logan Brown- Drake Batherson
Jon Gruden- Josh Norris-Jonathan Davidsson
Vitaly Abramov-JC Beaudin-Max Veronneau
Parker Kelly-Mark Kastelic-Andrew Sturtz
Erik Brannstrom- Maxence Guenette
Trenton Bourque-Conner McDonald
Jonathan Aspirot-Nicholas Welsh