Anders Nilsson gets the nod in net tonight against the Blues, a pair of highly touted prospects will make their NHL debuts for the Senators and more great pre-game stuff before our 7:30 puck drop at Canadian Tire Centre.
A pair of prospect debuts
Fans will get another glimpse of the future tonight as prospects Max Veronneau and Erik Brannstrom are scheduled to make their NHL debuts. Veronneau, an Ottawa-native who was signed as a college free agent on Tuesday, joined the team for practice yesterday and his whirlwind week continues tonight against the St. Louis Blues.
"I'm excited but pretty nervous too," said Veronneau this morning. "It's my first NHL game so it will be pretty nerve-racking but I'm full of excitement. Should be a lot of fun."
Video: Mar. 13 | Max Veronneau's First Sens Practice
Brannstrom was the key piece the Sens received for Mark Stone from Vegas at the NHL's Trade Deadline a little over two weeks ago and the 19-year-old blueliner has appeared in 5 games with Belleville since the acquisition. Selected 15th overall by the Golden Knights in 2017, Brannstrom's stock has soared since his draft year and he joins a plethora of young, high-end talent in Ottawa's pipeline.
"Erik Brannstrom is the top defence prospect in the game; simply a dynamic talent who will be a major component of our future," said general manager Pierre Dorion in a release following the trade. "He was undoubtedly the best prospect available at the trade deadline and in addition to his talent, he is a natural born leader. We could not be more excited to look at the future of having Erik join the other young prospects in the Senators organization. He'll be a cornerstone player of our rebuild."
Veronneau and Brannstrom will join 5 other Senators (Brady Tkachuk, Max Lajoie, Drake Batherson, Rudolfs Balcers and Marcus Hogberg) who have all made their NHL debuts this season for a young Ottawa squad. Zack Smith, the longest tenured player on the team, will have an up close look at the pair tonight and is slated to skate on a line with Veronneau.
"It's always exciting to see a young guy play his first game," said Smith. "We've had a few of those over the past year so it never gets old."
Sens interim head coach Marc Crawford kicked off his media availability this morning with a few injury updates that ultimately lead to Veronneau and Brannstrom checking into the line-up tonight against the Blues.
"Borowiecki is sick so we're not sure if he's going to play," said Crawford. "We've got a couple of defencemen dealing with some issues so our line-up could be different and we'll update you later in the day."
"We thought that White would be available but it doesn't look like he'll be available today," the coach continued. "So all the other forwards will play and Max Veronneau will play his first game."
Video: Sens vs. Blues - Coach Pre-game
Brannstrom's recall was announced by Dorion during a conference call with season seat members following the coach's presser so it's probable that Borowiecki has indeed been ruled out for tonight's contest with an illness. As a result, the Sens have also recalled defenceman Cody Goloubef from Belleville.
Based off this morning's line rushes and coach insights, here's a look at tonight's Sens projected line-up:
Tkachuk - Pageau - Duclair
Balcers - Tierney - Ryan
Smith - Lindberg - Veronneau
Boedker - Paajarvi - Gibbons
Wolanin - Ceci
Brannstrom - DeMelo
Harpur - Jaros
As mentioned above, Nilsson (11-17-1) will make his first start in a week and has been pretty solid so far this month for the Senators. In two appearances in March, Nilsson has a record of 1-1-0 with a .919 save percentage in games against the Panthers and Islanders and he looks to get back into the win column tonight against the St. Louis Blues.
Video: February's MCC winner is Anders Nilsson
Where to Watch
It's a 7:30 p.m. start time at Canadian Tire Centre tonight and as I mentioned earlier it's a great opportunity to catch a pair of the Sens' newest prospects in action for the very first time. If you haven't already, scoop up some tickets right here and come on out.
Can't make it to the rink? Then why not grab some friends and check out Hooley's on Elgin where they'll be serving up Molson Canadian Drafts for just $6.50 all game long.