|Mike Hoffman is one of the talented young players now joining the ranks of the AHL's Binghamton Senators, after making an showing at training camp in Ottawa. The B-Sens are camping out in Newfoundland, where they'll play three pre-season games (Claus Andersen/Getty Images).
Kurt Kleinendorst got an eyeful during his first look at some of the young talent in the Ottawa Senators organization.
Now the Binghamton Senators head coach begins the task of putting together the team that will embark on a new American Hockey League campaign in 10 days' time. The B-Sens arrived in Newfoundland on Wednesday for the first stage of their training camp, which runs through Monday before they return to the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena to make final preparations for the Oct. 8 season-opener at home against the Adirondack Phantoms.
"We’re ready to get going," said Kleinendorst, who was behind Ottawa bench at the recent rookie tournament in London, Ont., and spent several days at the Senators' main camp observing the talent on hand. "This has been a lot of fun for me — it's a new organization and it’s nice for me to come in and meet people, and a chance for me to get to know the players.
"We all know the NHL guys. It’s the other guys, the American league guys that are in the system, the kids that are in the junior ranks (that I wanted to see). It’s been a very positive experience."
Sixteen of those players were on the flight to the Rock on Wednesday and the big club figures to send another six to eight players down to the farm by the beginning of next week. Kleinendorst said he was "very impressed" by the players he saw at Senators camp, who are now in his hands.
"We have a lot of quality pieces and now it’s just a matter of how those quality pieces come together, fall together and how (well) the big club can stay healthy," he said. "But I’ll tell you, I think there’s some skill, I love the character so far from what I’ve seen. The guys seem like they’re genuinely good people and they want to be here, which is what we want out of our young players."
While the B-Sens have been described already by a number of observers as a younger group this season, Kleinendorst is quick to add "I would think there are a lot of teams in the American league that are going to be youthful. It is the nature of the beast."
"But I’ll tell you, I think there’s some skill, I love the character so far from what I’ve seen. The guys seem like they’re genuinely good people and they want to be here, which is what we want out of our young players." - Kurt Kleinendorst
"But the other thing I like about this group — and again, it depends on how (well) the big club stays healthy and some of the decisions Bryan (Murray, the Senators' general manager) will need to make and what decisions he does make — is we’re going to have a very strong group of core veteran players. That’s a very important ingredient when you’re trying to develop young hockey players. So I think they’ve done a really nice job of putting this team together."
The Newfoundland excursion includes a trio of pre-season games against the Hamilton Bulldogs, the primary affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. They face off tonight in Corner Brook (6 p.m.), Saturday in Grand Falls-Windsor (12:30 p.m.) and Sunday at Mile One Stadium in St. John's (12:30 p.m.).
"We’ll use it as a team-building opportunity," Kleinendorst said of the Newfoundland camp. "It’s going to be a first chance to get away together as a group. It gives these guys a little bit of closure now, because everyone comes (to Senators camp) with high hopes and expectations. But the one thing that we want to make perfectly clear is that no final decisions have been made.
"Until the NHL season starts, there are still things that can transpire and can happen. So what we’ve got to do ... is keep them ready to go and have them ready to go if something happens (in Ottawa) and they’re needed there."
The Binghamton Senators' training camp roster, as announced by the team:Goaltenders:
Mike Brodeur, Barry Brust. Defencemen:
André Benoit, Patrick Coulombe, Eric Gryba
, Geoff Kinrade
, Craig Schira, Brennan Turner. Forwards:
Jason Bailey, Erik Condra
, Corey Cowick
, Kaspars Daugavins
, Justin Donati, David Dziurzynski, Colin Greening
, Mike Hoffman
, Jim O’Brien, Tim Spencer, Andrew Sweetland, Yannick Tifu, Roman Wick.