(Editor's note: As the 2012-13 season draws closer, ottawasenators.com will take a daily snapshot look at some of the returning players from last year, with both a look back and a look ahead).
2011-12 stats: 82 GP, 5 G, 12 A, 17 PTS, 56 PIM, -4 rating
Last season: In his first full season in the NHL, the 21-year-old Saskatchewan native carved out a regular role for himself on the Senators blue line. At 6-5 and 230 pounds, the Senators' top pick (ninth overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft provided a physical, stay-at-home presence while chipping in offensively on occasion. In a 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 16, Cowen became the first defenceman in franchise history to record four points and a +4 rating in a single game. He also took part in all 82 regular-season games, one of only three Senators to do so (Colin Greening and Nick Foligno were the others).
The highlight: Cowen isn't known as much for his offensive ability, but the big blueliner stepped up in a major way in that area on the night of Dec. 13 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo. Fellow Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson found Cowen alone in the slot in the opening minute of overtime, and he redirected the feed past Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller for the game-winner in a 3-2 Ottawa victory.
Looking forward: The Senators clearly see Cowen as a big part — literally and figuratively — of their blue line for years to come. It's fair to suggest that he and James Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson figure to be two major cornerstones on defence for the foreseeable future. In his final season of junior hockey with the WHL's Spokane Chiefs, Cowen produced 18 goals and 48 points in 58 games, so there is clearly some potential for him to bring more offence to the lineup sometime in the future.
Quote: "I just want to get back, take a step forward and become more of a reliable player. That’s what I want, that’s what I’ve been before in my career and I don’t see why now would be any different. I want to be a big part of the team and hopefully, they realize that, too."