The Ottawa Senators have made a surprising decision to start the campaign, sending sophomore Mika Zibanejad to AHL Binghamton rather than beginning the year in Ottawa.
Zibanejad, 20, was Ottawa’s first-round pick (sixth overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and played well for the club last season, his first full NHL campaign. The Swedish forward finished fourth on the team in scoring (20 points in 42 games) — as a 19-year-old — then proceeded to score four points in 10 playoff games while averaging over 13 minutes a night.
The motives behind this decision are unclear, but it was known Ottawa wanted to keep Stephane Da Costa and were afraid of exposing him to waivers (Zibanejad doesn’t need to clear them to go to the AHL).
What’s more, youngster Jean-Gabriel Pageau has performed admirably this preseason and has apparently earned himself a spot on the team to start the year.
It’s also possible this move could’ve been cost-related. The Sens are working under a tight internal budget this season and Zibanejad, while still on his entry-level contract, does carry a cap hit of $1.74 million.
Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.
On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.
But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.
The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.
Lawson Crouse is going back to junior. The big 18-year-old winger confirmed it today on Twitter.
Crouse was drafted 11th overall in June by the Florida Panthers. Despite the club’s belief that Crouse could make “an immediate impact” on the roster, he finished the preseason with just two shots and one assist in three games.
Crouse will return to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, with whom he’ll look to improve on his modest point totals from last season.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure on the kid,” coach Gerard Gallant said last week. “If he doesn’t make the team this year he goes back to junior … and will have a lot of success.”