|Senators forward Jesse Winchester is enthused about the new elements the team has added in the off-season, including head coach Paul MacLean and some young forward talent (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images).
He's not exactly a grizzled old veteran just yet.
But with a wide grin on his face, Jesse Winchester
admits he's enthused about the energy a young new wave of talent figures to bring to the Ottawa Senators lineup in the season ahead.
"It's exciting," said the 27-year-old native of nearby Long Sault, Ont., who's about to enter his fourth full season with the Senators. "We're brand new and and I think it's going to be a fun team to watch. It's going to be exciting and hard-working, and we're going to have a good one."
"Brand new" in this case refers to the likes of young forwards Bobby Butler
, Colin Greening
, Erik Condra
and Zack Smith
, who spent a good chunk of last season in the American Hockey League with the Binghamton Senators but saw significant time in Ottawa over the final 20-25 games of the campaign. All have signed new one-way contracts, a clear indication they're with the big club to stay.
Winchester, for one, believes the Senators can't help but benefit from the championship experiences that group — which played a key role in Binghamton's march to its first Calder Cup crown — will bring to the mix in Ottawa.
"The last game they played, they won, and we’re going to try to feed off that," he said. "They’ve been through some pretty cool ups and downs this year and I played with a bunch of them. It’s going to be a fun group to be with.
"(Winning the Calder Cup) was remarkable — it was such a big win for them. I can’t wait to get back on the ice and really grind it out with them. They had a great experience down there. We’re going to be a lot of fun to be around. There’s going to be a lot of energy and we’re going to be hard-working. That bodes well for the future of the team."
That newness also stretches to the bench, where former Detroit Red Wings assistant Paul MacLean heads up a new coaching staff that includes Dave Cameron and Mark Reeds, two highly successful junior hockey coaches who guided their teams to the Ontario Hockey League final and the Memorial Cup last spring.
"I can't wait to get going," Winchester said when asked about the addition of MacLean. "Coming from Detroit and having been through the experiences he has ... it's going to be awesome for us.
"I'm just strating to get the real itch to get out there. It's a new beginning and (there's) a lot of excitement about what's going on around the team. It's just going to be a good training camp in about a month."
This morning, Winchester spent time at the Bell Sensplex with about 100 youngsters on the ice as part of the annual Ottawa Senators Summer Hockey Camps. He's one of several Senators players who will make appearances as part of the camps, which continue throughout the month of August.
"It's something I love to do," said Winchester. "I love getting out on the ice with young guys and having fun. You see how much fun they have every day at the rink and it's something I like to do (as part of) my daily routine at the rink. It's refreshing to come out and be a part of that with the little guys."Daugavins inks new deal with Senators
Forward Kaspars Daugavins
, who played a key role in the B-Sens' drive to the Calder Cup, inked a one-year, two-way deal with the Senators today.
The native of Riga, Latvia, a third-round pick by the Senators (91st overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, notched 19 goals and 54 points with Binghamton last season. In the Calder Cup playoffs, Daugavins contributed 10 goals and 20 points to the B-Sens' championship run.