OTTAWA – Bryan Murray just wants to see some action.
The Ottawa Senators general manager has had plenty of idle time on his hands due to the current NHL lockout, and so he’s excited for the start of the AHL Binghamton Senators training camp.
Camp gets underway Friday with 36 players reporting for medicals and testing.
Murray anticipates a highly competitive camp and is looking forward to seeing some of the Senators young prospects at work, including Jared Cowen. The defenceman is the only full-time Ottawa Senator from last season still on his two-way entry-level contract.
Though Cowen spent the entirety of last season with the big club, Murray isn’t worried about his development or his attitude playing with second-tier Binghamton.
“Like every player that’s played in the NHL I think the first day is maybe a bit of a disappointment,” Murray said. “But beyond that I think he’s so competitive and he knows a lot of the players; he’s played down there before. This will help Jared refine his game somewhat too.”
Murray anticipates the AHL being even stronger this season as many other NHL teams will have some young prospects playing.
“It should be a very good league this year with the number of strong candidates that will be on entry level (contracts) that will be down there playing,” said Murray. “It’s a good introduction (to professional hockey) and it gives them a chance to do things…so they will be good players at the upper level some day.”
Murray will be keeping a close eye on the development of forward Mika Zibanejad, the Senators first overall pick in 2011, as well as prospects such as Mark Stone and Jakob Silfverberg, who likely would have been fighting for roster spots in Ottawa had training camp opened on time.
After a disappointing season last year where the 19-year-old struggled offensively and dealt with injuries, Murray is hopeful Zibanejad will thrive in Binghamton.
“Our expectation is go down there, play, play real hard, play North American style and compete for loose pucks,” Murray said. “We know he has the tools to be a good player and he’ll have a chance when the NHL opens up again to be a good player at the NHL level, but I think this will be a real benefit for him to go and get games under his belt.”
Both Silfverberg and Stone played in the Senators first-round playoff series against the New York Rangers this past spring and Murray sees great potential in both.
While goalie Ben Bishop, who was acquired by the Senators late last season, is not currently listed as part of the 36 players to attend camp, there is a strong possibility he could sign a deal allowing him to play in Binghamton.
Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean will be in Binghamton for the start of camp, but this will definitely be Luke Richardson’s team. Richardson is making his head coaching debut with the AHL club, but Murray expects much from the former NHL defenceman.
While Murray would prefer to see his players in the NHL, he understands their desire to compete and said he felt Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson signing overseas will benefit their game. He also wouldn’t have any objection to seeing a few others, such as Kyle Turris and Zack Smith, finding an opportunity to play somewhere.