|Senators forward Ryan Shannon is aiming to make the most of his third callup from Binghamton this season. He with the Sens on their road trip (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Ryan Shannon knows it might be his last stand.
His final chance to secure permanent employment in the National Hockey League.
But as he joined the Ottawa Senators for the start of their current five-game road trip, Shannon sounded optimistic about the opportunity that is currently being presented to him.
“Personally, it’s a great opportunity because I haven’t been able to stick in the NHL since my first opportunity with Anaheim (in 2006-07),” said the 25-year-old right-winger, a native of Darien, Conn. “I’m kind of getting fed up with going up and down (to the American Hockey League) and it’s getting to the point where the window of opportunity is closing.
“So I have to make the most of it. I have to approach every day as a chance to solidify my spot.”
The Senators summoned Shannon from their AHL affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y., last week and it appears he’s going to get a long look, starting with tonight's game in Buffalo against the Sabres (7:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1200). Ottawa head coach Cory Clouston certainly knows what he’s getting, having worked with Shannon as the B-Sens bench boss earlier this season before being promoted to the big club himself on Feb. 2.
“I know he’s not a big guy,” Clouston said of the 5-9 right-winger. “But he’s very tenacious, he’s a very good skater and he’s got some experience. He’s played parts of two seasons in the NHL, he’s got a Stanley Cup ring (with Anaheim) and he’s an extremely character guy.
“We felt that it’s an opportunity for him and he can help out with offence as well. He’s got a good touch around the net.”
Shannon believes his style happens to mesh perfectly with the high-tempo system that Clouston favours and has started to implement in Ottawa.
“We spoke when we were down in Binghamton,” said Shannon, who had a team-leading 25 assists for the B-Sens. “He let me know what type of role he wanted me to play. It’s different down there (in the AHL) than here, but I feel comfortable playing under his system. He lets me play to my instincts while still being accountable.
“It’s a good mix. I feel like I’m meeting my potential as a player under his system.”
Shannon expected to start the season in Vancouver – he played 27 games for the Canucks last season and had signed a new contract over the summer – but was dealt to the Senators before training camp in exchange for defenceman Lawrence Nycholat.
He saw a chance for a new beginning in Ottawa.
“I was a little disappointed being sent down after training camp, but that’s behind me,” said Shannon. “I was able to work myself back up and played well in Binghamton.”
Shannon thought his chance arrived earlier this season, when the Senators brought him up for a Nov. 13 game against the New York Islanders. But his big debut at Scotiabank Place ended early, when a vicious elbow by Thomas Pock left him with a concussion.
"I'm kind of getting fed up with going up and down (to the AHL) and it's getting to the point where the window of opportunity is closing. So I have to make the most of it. I have to approach every day as a chance to solidify my spot." - Ryan Shannon
“It was disappointing because it was my first chance to play with the team,” said Shannon. “I was thrown in with (Dany) Heatley and (Jason) Spezza, so it was an awesome opportunity. I thought I played well but instead of getting a second crack at it, I was out three weeks.
“I’m fully healed so in hindsight, it wasn’t a big deal. But when you’re going through it, it’s tough. You just hope for improvements every day.”
Shannon got another one-game shot in a December game against the Atlanta Thrashers but he hopes his third callup is the charm. He knows this one could very well be the most vital of them all.
“If you talk to a lot of guys in this room, they are their own worst critic,” Shannon said when asked if he’s putting any pressure on himself to succeed. “I don’t think I’m any different that way. I want to make it. This is a good chance. But with that being said, you can’t just go out there and be nervous all the time. You’ve got to relax and play your game. The more relaxed and composed I am, the better I’ll play.”
Around the boards
Brian Elliott (5-3-2) makes the start in goal tonight against the Sabres. Expect to see Alex Auld
at some point during the road trip. "When you play five games in seven nights, you’re going to have to be able to use both guys," said Clouston. "We have a Plan A and a Plan B, so we’ll see how that goes. Nothing has been carved in stone. It’s going to have to be adjustable as the games go." ... Forward Shean Donovan returns to the lineup tonight after missing eight games with a lower body injury. Defenceman Alex Picard (upper body) remains out ... Christoph Schubert will be a healthy scratch.