Although the NHL regular season has been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still news emerging from the NHL teams. In this post, I want to help Ottawa Senators fans stay up-to-date with the latest news and rumors emerging from the team.
Item One: Jacob Bernard-Docker Will Return to the University of North Dakota
I always think it’s wise when a young hockey player continues to move towards a university degree. Life as an NHL player is iffy at best and almost always short. Often by the time you’re 35 years old, your NHL career is over. So for me, it’s good news that Jacob Bernard-Docker will return to the University of North Dakota for his third season in 2020-21. The Senators have no issue with that choice either.
The Senators chose the 19-year-old defenseman as their 26th overall pick in round one of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. And, during his second collegiate season, Bernard-Docker scored seven goals, 18 assists, and 25 points in 32 games.
Because the Fighting Hawks were considered one of the favorites for the national title this spring before COVID-19 wiped out the NCAA season. He was particularly upset with the suspended season, noting, “I just think the way the season ended didn’t sit well with most of us.”
He added, “For me, personally, I think I have more to accomplish in college. With the guys we have coming back, it’s pretty exciting. One more year there is really going to set me up well to come into Ottawa,” the youngster said.
Bernard-Docker is working to develop his game while, at the same time, trying to help UND win a national title. We wish him good luck. (from GARRIOCH: The Senators have no issue with Jacob Bernard-Docker’s decision to stay in school,” Bruce Garrioch, Ottawa Sun, 11/04/20)
Item Two: The Senators Sign Mark Kastelic to a Three-Year, Entry-level Contract
The Ottawa Senators announced they have signed Mark Kastelic to a three-year, entry-level contract. Kastelic scored 30 goals and 68 points in 58 WHL games this season with the Calgary Hitmen. He was the Senators 125th overall pick in round five of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Senators GM Pierre Dorion issued high praise for the 21-year-old Arizona-born center: “Since being drafted just last June, Mark has worked hard to earn this contract. We were pleased to see how he progressed in his overage season in Calgary, where he served as Hitmen captain for two consecutive seasons, and where he was on track to post his most productive major junior season. He’s a solid two-way center who shows strong attention to detail in his play.”
Item Three: Mark Borowiecki and Anders Nilsson’s Injuries Aren’t Healed Quite Yet
Although Senators’ head coach D.J. Smith is hopeful the Senators will be able to finish their season, he isn’t sure Mark Borowiecki’s ankle injury would be sufficiently healed to allow him to return should the 2019-20 season resume. Borowiecki injured his ankle on February 13 against the Arizona Coyotes, but there wasn’t a timetable for his return. He’s also unsure Anders Nilsson’s concussion would allow him to play, either.
Smith noted about both players, “It’s hard to say because without skating and without doing the day-to-day things in the NHL, it’s hard to say where they’re at. Both are certainly doing way better than they were, but without being on the ice, being able to see the trainers on a day-to-day basis and doctors it’s tough to say where they’re at. Certainly, this time off helps them and everybody heal.”
Nilsson hasn’t played since December 16 because of a concussion he suffered. Like Borowiecki, there wasn’t a definable timetable for Nilsson to return after the NHL paused its 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
(from “Coach D.J. Smith remains hopeful the Ottawa Senators will be able to finish their season, Bruce Garrioch, Ottawa Citizen, 09/04/20).
Item Four: Coach Smith Lauds Hogberg, Chabot, and Tkachuk for Their Seasons
In the same article noted above, coach Smith reported that he that goaltender Marcus Hogberg, defenceman Thomas Chabot, and forward Brady Tkachuk all made strong progress during the 2019-20 season year prior to the season being paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s Next for the Senators?
Despite the fact that it was a rebuilding season, Smith hoped for a chance to finish the 2019-20 season. He noted, “I’m hopeful that we can get out of the house, get back to work and get joking with the guys.”
Smith added in a video-conference that his team wanted “to finish on the right note and finish with the message we’re going to work right to the very end, to the very last buzzer and give the fans what they deserve.”
He also noted that he’s looking at ways to improve either next year or this season if it continues. Smith noted that he especially hoped to correct the Senators’ special teams issues where the team was ranked No. 31 on the power play and No. 28 in penalty killing.
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