|Defenceman Mark Borowiecki played a key role in the Binghamton Senators' march to a Calder Cup crown in June (Just Sports Photography).
Mark Borowiecki's arrival as a full-fledged Ottawa Senators prospect couldn't be better timed.
With the Senators in the early stages of building toward a more youthful future, the 22-year-old Kanata native figures he might just be someone who's exactly where he needs to be on the path toward the National Hockey League.
"Before I even signed, when I was talking to my agent a bit, we said this is a great opportunity," said Borowiecki, a 6-1, 205-blueliner who left Clarkson University after his sophomore season to ink a two-year entry level deal with the Senators in March. "The club's going with a youth movement and, hopefully, I can be a big part of it."
Borowiecki, a fifth-round pick (139th overall) by the Senators in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, has seen his stock within the organization grow immensely in just a few short months. He wound up playing a vital role on the injury-ravaged Binghamton Senators blue line en route to a Calder Cup championship back in June. And he turned more heads with his efforts during the Senators annual development camp in July.
No wonder, then, that's he's looking toward this week's Senators rookie camp, followed by the NHL rookie tournament in Oshawa, Ont., against top prospects from the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs. The Senators' rookies will hit the ice at the Bell Sensplex on Friday morning before making their way to Oshawa later in the day. The tournament runs from Saturday through Tuesday at the General Motors Centre.
"It's a totally new experience for me," said Borowiecki. "It's my first one. I've been working really hard this summer, especially, and I feel like I had a pretty good playoffs (in Binghamton). I made people realize that I'm a legitimate prospect, but I feel like I've got a lot more to prove and a lot more to show people."
While Borowiecki played the shutdown, stay-at-home type of role with the B-Sens, he's eager to prove he can be a more well-rounded defenceman.
"Most people probably know that I'm responsible defensively," he said. "That's my game and I'm going to stick to it. Playing in the (AHL) playoffs gave me so much more confidence and I feel a lot more confident with the puck on my stick, too. I want to show that I can be more of a two-way defenceman and not just a physical, shutdown player."
Given the current logjam on the Ottawa blue line -- the Senators have six defenceman on one-way contracts, with top prospects David Rundblad and Jared Cowen
expected to push hard for jobs in training camp -- Borowiecki knows it's likely he'll start the 2011-12 season in Binghamton. But more than ever, he's also aware that he's closer to his biggest hockey team than ever before.
"No one is shooting to go to the minors, but I'm just 30 games out of college hockey," he said. "I've got a ton to learn and I'm going to make the most of it wherever I am and, hopefully, get up here as soon as possible ... There's a lot of good young players with a chance to crack the big club and I want to be in the mix badly. I've been working hard here and, hopefully, I can get that shot."