Follow Notch's observations all week long at the Leaf's rookie tournament in Kitchener.
I am not sure why I decided to drive three and a half hours just to watch the prospects practice Sunday morning, but I did.
The four-team, three-game rookie tournament is being held at the Aud in Kitchener. Ottawa will be playing the Pittsburgh, Boston and Toronto prospects on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. I will be giving you insight that will hopefully give some of you in deeper leagues a leg up on your competition. If anyone has prospects they would like me to keep an extra close eye on from the Sens, Penguins, Bruins or Leafs, post in the comments below.
Onto today's practice. I am a goalie myself, so I naturally paid close attention to them. Anytime somebody mentions that they saw Robin Lehner, the first thing they say is that he is massive. I am not going to buck that trend. Not only is he huge, he has cat-like reflexes. If I lived in the Soo, I would definitely pay to watch this guy night in a night out in some great OHL action. He has the makings of a star. I can't see myself driving to the Soo, but I will be making a trip up to Barrie to watch him for sure. I want to see how he reads the play at game speed. I'll to have to borrow my buddy's Greyhounds jersey for the occasion. The rebound control problem that some people in the media harp on was nonexistent this practice as Lehner seemed to smother everything that came his way or at least deflect the puck into the safe areas of play. The future may be bright in the Senators' crease for years to come with Elliott and Lehner between the pipes.
Erik Karlsson will be on the Ottawa Senators this season...all season. He has a cannon of a shot with a. .308 rifles accuracy (that is good, by the way). Not only that but his poise with the puck, skating stride, acceleration and top speed was second to none from the back end today (granted, I'm comparing him to other rookies on the ice). GM Bryan Murray has hinted all summer that Karlsson is ready and I couldn't agree more. On your draft day please put Karlsson down as a 35-point-plus D-man because that is what he will get this year. Calder candidate. Not a bad early impression!
Jim O'Brien and Peter Regin looked great, but they should. They are some of the oldest at camp and have a wealth of experience over most others. I have Regin penciled in on the Sens starting lineup, but I fear I may be wrong. He seemed a little off today with his skating. I am not sure if he is nursing an injury to his lower body, but he was skating very awkwardly and I have never noticed that before in him. He was a little bit slower than I have seen before. I have lowered my expectations, but still feel he is the closest forward prospect we have and will be the first call up all year along with Ilya Zubov.
I also found myself watching guys that I have never seen before. There was this little spark plug flying around the ice and doing Datsyukian-like things with the puck on his stick. His name was Brandon Svendsen and he was signed in late July by Ottawa on an amateur tryout basis. Impressive. He could be one to watch in the AHL as the numbers in Ottawa just don't add up to him making the big club. He is now on my radar though, and he should be on yours, too. He had a coming out party for Bowling Green last season and ended the year toying with competition in the ECHL not unlike Alex Burrows a few years ago.
That's it for today - back with more all week.