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Coach MacLean on the NHL/AHL roster split

by Chris Lund / Ottawa Senators

Senators head coach Paul MacLean spoke to the media on Thursday after the team split its training camp groups in half. Here's what he had to say after the first round of "cuts"...

On the players absent at practice:

Nothing serious, we had some bobos with Michalek, Pageau and Condra, Condra being the more severe but for the most part it was precautionary today since we're in the middle of training camp, we're five days into it. When players come up with these types of things we want to be on top of it and shorten the length of time there's issues. At this point in time all three of them are day-to-day... If we needed them to play I believe all three of them could play. I think Condra's they felt was a little more serious but they could all play.

On Methot's injury:

We're trying to be real cautious and make sure, there's no sense getting players on the ice if there's an injury that can make it worse. We've tried to really monitor this and be on top of this stuff, we want players to be as healthy as they can be. Is it frustrating for Marc? It is frustrating. For myself, we need him on the ice healthy, not at 80 per cent, not 70 per cent. At the start of the season we need players to be 100 per cent to get going. When I say 70 or 80 I say that as a general term, not in Marc's situation. He has something that's keeping him off the ice and we're trying to make sure we get it taken care of before the season starts.

On if Methot's injury is related to his World Championship absence:

I think it's similar to that, I don't know if it's exactly the same, but it's similar.

On Methot's importance to the team:

He's an important part, he's on our top pairing so that makes him vitally important to success with our team so we're looking forward to getting him back on the ice. Because of that importance we're also not going to shovel him out there just to have him out there, we want to be sure he's going to be able to do the things he can do which is be a calming influence, be a physical presence, be able to move the puck with his skating abilities. We need him to be all that he can be, not just out there at 70 per cent.

On Buddy Robinson:

Buddy has come in and played very well. We've asked him to come in and, the way he played last year in Binghamton and the development to come in, use his speed on the forecheck and add some physical play to his game and he has done those things. Things that at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds can make him a very effective player. We really like the strides and commitment he has made to doing that and we'll just keep playing him and putting him on the ice and we'll see where it all ends up.

On if he was satisfied with Bobby Ryan's return:

Yes, I thought he skated good, he was up and down the rink, obviously shooting it into the net helps that a lot. Again, I thought their line was a factor all night long. Did they tic-tac-toe it and pass it and turn it back, a little bit of Globetrotters in their game? You expect that in the first part of training camp. It's a good sign.

On making room for players who don't have one-way contracts:

We're going to work it out, some how some way. When we look at it, this is a short window of everybody's career so we have to look at the whole thing. Where they were when they started, how far they've come, where are they going to get to, what's the best thing for them to get to where we want to be. If they're already there, now we have to make some tough decisions. If they're still in the process of getting to where we want them to be before we make them National Hockey League players, then those are decisions that are going to be made behind closed doors. Everyone that's here is giving a good account of themselves and that's what we want to see. Make it difficult for us to make decisions and force us to do something to get yourself in the lineup.

On if the team could waive or trade someone to make space:

That's not my department. We'll go through whatever process we need to have what we feel is the best team on the ice.

On the difficulty of separating the two groups in camp:

It's difficult, any time you're separating it's difficult, but the bottom line is — and it's not only for the coaching staff but also for the players — you get into a smaller group and practices can be better. You can work into a game and you can make yourself better. That's not to say that two guys today or tomorrow might come and join our practice and two other guys go to their practice. Basically it's to get the numbers down where we can have a workable group to get some things done at a better pace and rhythm.

On the numbers after yesterday's predictions:

We just separated them the way we did today and we'll make some decisions today after we've evaluated our practice. We talked about bringing five pairs and we decided on four so we'll evaluate after today's practice. Just myself, we'll probably bring two more.

On if there are moves coming:

I'm not sure if they're moves, we're just going to add guys to our practice tomorrow that are practicing in this one. The things we want to do tomorrow we feel we're going to need two more defencemen. We wanted to bring six lines and 10 defencemen, we decided to take eight and see how it goes. Today we're feeling we should probably have 10 defencemen on the ice so we'll do that tomorrow.

On if there are newcomers that have surpassed incumbent players:

We haven't made that evaluation yet, we're just trying to evaluate everyone and if you're playing well we want to keep you play. We'll make those evaluations at the end if anyone has gone by somebody, that's when we'll make those tough decisions.

On if he expected Puempel to impress this way:

I expected him to impress or try to impress. The expectation was everyone was coming here to make an impression and try to show that they want to be an Ottawa Senator and play in the National Hockey League. That's certainly something I believe all of them have done. The competition level and the energy level and the work ethic that we've showed through the first five days has been excellent. That's a credit to all of them.

On how far Puempel has come in a year:

I think he's closer. The question of how far, you have to project him as what he's going to be at the end of the day. He scored 30 goals in the American Hockey League, does that translate to 15 in the NHL? Does that translate to 10? Or does he have the potential to score 30-plus at the NHL level? That's where we are with Matt, we're still trying to gauge what that projection is going to be and we want to make sure we don't err on too big a projection and really narrow it down and get a good window on when he's going to be ready.

On why Puempel is having so much success:

I think his work ethic, he's got a passion to play the game. Ever since he has been drafted he has been very coachable. The work he has done with Chris Schwarz and Randy Lee is showing in his game and his belief and dedication to doing it the way the Senators want it done. He's not the only one. Curtis Lazar is the same, Buddy Robinson is the same, Freddy Claesson, all of these guys that are here and showing good signs as prospects and growing as prospects, it's the work they've done with Chris Schwarz and Rob Mouland and Randy Lee. Their dedication to that work is what's giving them the opportunity and that's what going to make them successful.

On what makes Claesson successful:

I think the biggest thing with Freddy is he loves to play. He loves to come to the rink, he loves to practice, he's a hockey player. He just loves being around hockey and he's got a great attitude, got a great sense of humour, good work ethic, dedication to everything we've talked to him or taught him about being a Senator, he's done all those things. He's a good skater, he's another good skater, he's got a good mind and he's got good quickness. Last year coming over and getting used to the smaller rink, he has really worked at that and has a real passion to play and think that's the big thing that really separates him.

On Claesson's excitement being paired with Karlsson:

Well, we wanted to make sure he could speak to someone on the ice so we didn't it only for communication purposes.... Freddy actually is a pretty humble guy and he doesn't show he was wowed by it. Erik can be hard to play with some times but Erik has made it easier to play for him, he has been very focused in the way he has played so far in training camp has been much different than it was. It's more consistent and it's another level of aging for Erik as well. The things he has gone through in his years here, he's starting to learn things and do things. We're starting to see the consistency of that day in and day out of the veteran guy that has been a couple hundred games in the League. He knows what he has to do and how he has to do things and that's good to see.

On if Karlsson is acting like a potential captain:

I don't know what a potential captain acts like but I think Erik, the maturity in his game, it has been really good to see.

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