The Ottawa Senators have six players skating in North American junior leagues this season. All six were acquired by the club in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft. There are four forwards, one defenseman and one goaltender in the group.
Jared Cowen, D – Spokane Chiefs
Acquired: 1st round (9th overall), 2009
January 25th, 1991, 6’5, 220 lbs
Since being returned from the Ottawa Senators main training camp, Jared Cowen has been logging some heavy ice time for the Spokane Chiefs. As the team’s top defenseman, he routinely plays over 25 minutes a game including time on the penalty kill and power play. Save for a couple of games in October when he found himself a -3, Cowen has been a rock for the team.
Although putting up points is generally not something Cowen is known for or expected to do, he is on pace this season to set a personal best in goals and assists. Through 16 games, he has three goals and nine assists. Two of his three goals have been on the power play. More importantly than his offensive numbers, Cowen is a +5 so far. It is safe to say that last season’s knee injury has not slowed him down.
Cowen will have plenty of opportunity this season to showcase his talent on the international stage. On Nov. 25 and 26, he will represent the WHL in the Subway Super Series against Team Russia. A month later, Cowen will no doubt be one of the strongest bets at Team Canada’s U20 selection camp to make the squad and represent his country at this year’s World Junior tournament.
Corey Cowick, LW – Ottawa 67’s
Acquired: 6th round (160th overall), 2009
August 1st, 1989, 6’2, 201 lbs
Cowick’s season got off to a false start so to speak when he was injured on his first shift of the 67’s very first pre-season game against the Kingston Frontenacs. He was injured on a questionable hit from center Nathan Moon. The injury to his right shoulder wasn’t thought to be terribly serious at first, however, tests would eventually reveal significant damage. Cowick underwent surgery and is expected out until late January at the very least. It is important to note that Cowick has had injury troubles in the past involving his left shoulder.
Robin Lehner, G – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Acquired: 2nd Round (46th Overall), 2009
July 24th, 1991, 6’4, 220 lbs
This season marks the North American debut for the big Swedish netminder after spending the previous season with Frolunda of the Swedish Junior league. Lehner made the jump to the CHL to fast track his development and play against better opponents. To date he has been splitting games with 17-year-old Bryce O’Hagan.
Lehner’s record of five wins and five losses is deceiving. In several of his losses, Lehner has stood on his head and was the best player on the team. He was stellar in an Oct. 10 loss to Oshawa when he faced 44 shots, allowing only two goals. On Oct. 30 against the Windsor Spitfires he was shelled with 66 shots. Despite the .500 record, Lehner has showed great promise and adapted well to the North American game. He has a .923 save percentage and 2.82 GAA.
This season Lehner has a little more than OHL hockey on his mind. The battle for the second goalie spot on Team Sweden’s World Junior squad will most likely come down to Lehner and New York Islanders draft pick Anders Nilsson. Given Lehner’s previous international experience with Sweden‘s U18 team and the fact that he is already acclimatized to the smaller North American rinks, he stands a solid chance at being Jacob Markstrom’s (FLA) backup at this year’s IIHF World Junior Championships.
Mike Hoffman, C – Saint John Sea Dogs
Acquired: 5th round (130th overall), 2009
November 24, 1989, 5’11, 175 lbs
Despite being hampered by a hairline fracture in his foot, Hoffman has been on a better than point-per-game clip and has been a huge factor in the Sea Dogs’ dominant play this season. In only 14 games, he has potted 10 goals and chipped in seven assists. Now with his fourth team in the CHL and also playing in his fourth season, Hoffman is one of the leaders on the deep Sea Dogs team that is expected to challenge for a spot in the 2010 Memorial Cup.
Jeff Costello, LW – Cedar Rapids Rough Riders
Acquired: 5th round (146th overall), 2009
November 20, 1990, 5’11, 202 lbs
Last season as a rookie with Cedar Rapids, Costello’s work ethic and dedication helped his team finish one point out of first place in the regular season standings. This season, the all-star left winger is picking up where he left off and is proving to be the Rough Riders’ best forward. After bulking up during the off-season, Costello is hitting more and is using his physical game to create more scoring chances for himself. In eight games, Costello has scored five goals and added five assists. He is well on his way to eclipsing his scoring totals of last season. He also currently sits at +5, third-best on the team.
Costello recently took some time off from the Rough Riders to join team USA at the 2009 World Junior A Challenge in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. His hard-nosed play helped team USA take the gold medal in the tournament for the second straight year.
Brad Peltz, LW – Boston Junior Bruins
Acquired: 7th round (190th overall), 2009
October 2, 1989, 6’1, 185 lbs
After being forced to miss all of last year with a viral infection, the native of Mt. Kisco, New York has rebounded well in his first season with the Junior Bruins. Through his first 19 games with the club, Peltz has managed six goals and seven assists and currently sits fifth in team scoring. Among his six goals, two were on the power play and one was a game winner. Perhaps a result of being rusty after the missed season, he has been a streaky scorer, going pointless in 10 of his games this season. Peltz will use the rest of the campaign to build confidence and momentum going into the 2010-11 season when he makes his NCAA debut with Yale.