NHL Rookie Tournament - Toronto Maple Leafs v Ottawa Senators

Senators prospects could earn roster spots with strong showings

While prospects from eight different teams will gather for the 2011 Traverse City tournament in Michigan, the Ottawa Senators plan on watching their own youngsters very closely in a different rookie competition that also involves players from the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs.

One would imagine that Senators training camp will serve as more substantial proving grounds for young players who hope to make the 2011-12 roster, but GM Bryan Murray hopes to see something from those prospects during the next few days. He also admitted that the franchise would be willing to trade veteran players if prospects prove that they’re ready to compete at the NHL level.

Bruce Garrioch tabs five different Senators prospects who will probably receive the most attention during the tournament, which runs through Tuesday: defensemen David Rundblad and Jared Cowen, forwards Mika Zibanejad and Stephane De Costa and goalie Robin Lehner. Each one of those players could conceivably make a case for themselves to jump to the NHL in the short-to-mid-term future, but it all comes down to Murray being willing to open that door. Murray told Garrioch that the team would do what it takes to give younger players that opportunity, if they earn it.

“We’ll look at what has to be done,” Murray said at the Bell Sensplex. “If some of these young guys are ready to play, then it’s up to me to try to create a spot for them. That may mean we have to do something.

“I think we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. We’ve got to go through training camp and pre-season and see who really deserves a chance to be on the team. If the young guys are good enough to play, we’ll let them play. There may not be a spot at the beginning of the year, but as we go forward if they deserve to play, at some point they’ll get a chance to do that.”

That rookie tournament represents a small sliver of the assessment process for Ottawa, but that doesn’t mean those prospects should take that opportunity lightly. They should seize every chance they get to impress the Senators’ front office, so this weekend represents the first test of the 11-12 season for these prospects.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.