The Ottawa Senators finally promoted one of their top prospects in 2015 first-rounder Colin White on Saturday with three games left before their bye week starts. It would be a perfect time for the 20-year-old center to prove himself to head coach Guy Boucher and the organization. However, Boucher is well-known to put little faith in young players as he prefers not to place young players in stressful situations. He proved that in White’s first appearance Saturday by giving the youngster a whopping 7:50 of ice time. At this rate, he’ll be reassigned after the next two games and not seen again for quite a while.
“We’re going to try to manage him as best as we can,” Boucher said before Saturday’s game. “We’re playing the best team in the league. The one thing we have is the last change (as the home team), so we’re going to have him play against players he’ll be able to manage. If we say it like it is, Tampa’s third line can beat most team’s first lines. In that respect, we have to be smart.”
And what makes that so difficult for fans is that the Senators are stockpiled with young talent. If the team continues to struggle, the fans want to see their young players give them hope. It took their other 2015 first-rounder Thomas Chabot a long time to get the confidence of Boucher, assuming he even has it. Chabot was rarely given a chance to prove himself at the NHL level and only now seems to be getting solid minutes with the franchise.
Ken Warren of The Ottawa Citizen writes that the best chance any fans have of seeing some of their top young players such as White, Chabot or Filip Chlapik getting legitimate minutes would be if the Senators completely fell out of the playoff race. Chlapik is another example of a player recently sent down to Belleville. He’s played in six games for Ottawa this year, averaging 9:06 of ice time. Not exactly enough time to learn your way around the NHL. Even 2017 secound-rounder Alex Formenton, who surprised many when he made the team out of training camp, only managed to get into one game for 4:54 before he was eventually returned to his junior team.
However, Warren says its about time to start taking time away from the veterans who haven’t produced enough for the team to enjoy the same success they had a year ago. Players like Alexandre Burrows and Gabriel Dumont might have to give way for progress, and find out if some of their youngsters can handle the pressure of life in the NHL. Neither has produced much as fourth-line players.
And there is even more talent on the way. The Athletic’s Ary Maharaj breaks down (subscription required) that many top Senator performers in the World Junior Championships, including Drake Batherson, Formenton, Markus Nurmi and 2016 first-rounder Logan Brown. Along with the likelihood that the Senators could end up with a top-ten pick (or none at all) in the upcoming 2018 NHL Draft, talent is definitely not their problem. Getting them on the ice will be.