Just over a year ago, Jared Cowen agreed to a four-year, $12.4 million extension with Ottawa, one that would pay him $3.1 million annually until 2017.
Now — in year two of said extension — Cowen has become a very expensive healthy scratch.
The 23-year-old blueliner was dropped from Monday’s game against Florida and looks as though he’ll be a healthy scratch again on Thursday when the Sens make their home debut against Colorado.
“It sucks,” he said, per the Ottawa Citizen. “I’ve just got to be better. I need a better start and better consistency.”
More on the decision to park Cowen, from the Citizen:
[Sens head coach Paul] MacLean has told Cowen he needs to make simpler, quicker decisions to avoid turnovers in his own end. Cowen was benched in the third period of Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win over Tampa. His giveaway led directly to Brent Connolly’s tying goal with seven minutes remaining in the third period and he hasn’t played since.
“Jared has struggled with the puck, reading where the next pass is going,” said MacLean. “We’re not totally disappointed with his physical play and his defensive play has been better (than last season), but other guys have played better.
Dropping Cowen from the lineup is no small decision — literally. A towering presence at 6-foot-5, 230-pounds, Cowen broke into the scene in 2011-12 (his rookie campaign), scoring 5G-12A-17PTS in 82 games while leading all Sens defensemen in hits, but missed almost all of the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign recovering from major hip surgery and struggled to regain his form last season (he was parked as a healthy scratch last year too.)
Thing is, Ottawa doesn’t have a ton of depth on defense right now. Marc Methot is sidelined with a back injury, which has forced MacLean to lean on the likes of 36-year-old Chris Phillips (averaging nearly 24 minutes a game) and 20-year-old sophomore Cody Ceci (who played nearly 25 minutes against the Lightning).
MacLean doesn’t seem to mind doing it, though.
“We have seven defensemen and we need to play the six best guys,” he explained.