2011 NHL Entry Draft - Portraits

Senators’ system boasts intriguing young talent


There were many reasons why Erik Karlsson’s 2011-12 was amazing, but winning a Norris Trophy as a 22-year-old probably takes the cake.

Really, Karlsson’s beyond-his-years production might be a microcosm of an Ottawa Senators system that is rife with intriguing young talent.

Hockey’s Future ranked them third overall in the NHL, raving about young forwards such as Mika Zibanejad (pictured) and Jakob Silfverberg in particular.

Zibanejad was Ottawa’s early first-rounder in 2011, wowing the Senators brass with his mixture of offensive skills and encouraging nastiness. The Swede played nine games at the NHL level and prospered at the World Junior Championships, so his time just might come next season.

Another noteworthy guy seemingly on the verge of everyday NHL work is goalie Robin Lehner. With Ben Bishop signed and Craig Anderson implanted at No. 1, Lehner likely needs to wait, though.

(Although an injury could change things, as that’s what gave him a brief chance last season.)

Karlsson is the headliner among young defensemen, but Jared Cowen recently graduated to the NHL level as well. Cowen’s size and intensity represents a very different set of assets to Karlsson’s scoring.

Whether it’s next season or one after, the Senators’ prospects might represent the franchise’s best chance to keep the momentum going.


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Video: Eichel’s first career NHL goal

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Didn’t take long for Jack Eichel to make his mark at the NHL level.

The No. 2 overall pick at this year’s draft scored his first-ever NHL goal in his first-ever NHL game on Thursday night, cutting Ottawa’s lead to 2-1 in the third period of Buffalo’s season-opener.

Marcus Foligno and another new Sabre, Evander Kane, registered the assists on Eichel’s marker, which came on the power play.


Tough start: Lehner knocked out of Sabres debut, won’t return

Matt Puempel, Alex Chiasson, Robin Lehner
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Chances are Robin Lehner won’t look back fondly on his first game as a Sabre.

Midway through Buffalo’s season-opener against Ottawa, Lehner — facing his old team for the first time since getting traded this summer — suffered a lower-body injury, and was forced from the contest.

During the second intermission, the Sabres ruled out Lehner for the night.

It was a difficult turn of events for 24-year-old, who admitted he was keen to go up against the Sens. He had a bit of a chip on his shoulder about his time in the Canadian capital; Lehner felt he never got a full opportunity to run with the No. 1 gig, and probably wasn’t thrilled GM Bryan Murray opted to keep Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond instead of him.

As for tonight’s injury, details are scarce. All that’s known is the ailment was serious enough for Lehner to leave and not return, forcing backup Chad Johnson into duty.

Prior to getting hurt, Lehner had stopped 11 of 12 shots faced.