WARRENSPIECE: What’s in Zaitsev’s future, Greig sleeps quietly and Stutzle mum on Giroux face-off magic

Barring injuries in the last five exhibition games, it’s possible Zaitsev could be placed on a waiver.

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When the training camp musical chairs game ends on the Ottawa Senators defense, will there be spots for Nikita Zaitsev and Erik Brannstrom?

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While Brannstrom struggled in Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, coach DJ Smith gave him a hard time, saying his final position won’t be judged on the basis of a single outing against a loaded Jets formation.

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« The games this weekend and the games in the East (October 6 in Gander, NL, and October 8 in Moncton, NB, against Montreal) will dictate how we feel about his camp in general, » said he declared.

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As to whether veteran Zaitsev can hold his own in the top six, playing every night, Smith was more cautious.

« Pro sport is like that and apart from the stars getting spots, pro sport is… you fight all the time, » he said. “Not just for ice time, (it’s about) who comes out first on the penalty kill, who comes out first on the power play? And that’s only part of it.

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Zaitsev, 30, struggled with multiple partners throughout the 2021-22 season and the Senators attempted to trade him this summer.

The biggest problem is his remaining contract. After receiving a $2 million signing bonus as part of his contract this summer, he has a 2022-23 salary of $2.5 million. He is also slated to receive a $2 million signing bonus next summer and a $2.5 million salary for the 2023-24 season.

Barring injuries in the last five exhibition games, it’s possible Zaitsev could be placed on a waiver.

Smith says there will be extensive discussions between the management team and the coaching staff about « who’s going to be here at the end, who’s going to play and what’s going on. »

At this point, the only data on the blue line is that Thomas Chabot and Artem Zub will play together.

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Rookie Jake Sanderson hasn’t gotten anything yet, but he’s staying with Travis Hamonic for now.

« (Nick) Holden is going to be in there and these (other) guys are going to fight, » Smith said.

With Brannstrom under pressure to hold on to a berth, Smith says he’s been impressed with Senators’ draft picks Jacob Bernard-Docker, Lassi Thomson, Max Guenette and Jacob Larsson, who played 165 games with the Ducks. Anaheim over the past three seasons. .

« These guys are in competition, » Smith said. « I’m not saying they’re going to be in the starting lineup, but at some point this year I think we’re going to see all these guys. »

HAVE A MATTRESS, GO TO SLEEP: Ridly Greig has given new meaning to the phrase « low maintenance ».

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Greig has since moved in with captain Brady Tkachuk, but at one point shared a room with Jake Sanderson and Shane Pinto.

When Pinto’s parents arrived and the house filled up, he was temporarily relegated to the unfinished basement.

« I had to come down and help them out a bit, » Greig said. « It was a bit difficult, but then I switched to Brady’s and it was an upgrade. »

What exactly were the facilities in the basement?

“It was pretty much a mattress. We bought some rugs. I don’t know, I’m not too demanding. I come from the west. It wasn’t really a big deal for me. I thought that was fine. I’m sure other people wouldn’t want to do this, but I thought it was OK.


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With the off-ice arrangements clearing up, Greig has also taken all necessary steps to return to play following the left shoulder injury he suffered while with Canada at the World Junior Tournament in August.

He will be in the lineup either Friday against Toronto or Saturday against Montreal.

« Taking that non-contact shirt off and roughing it up a bit (in training) was kind of the last part, so it feels good and I’m looking forward to it, » he said.

Greig, an edgy center whose style has been compared to former Buffalo Sabers center Mike Peca, had 26 goals, 37 assists and 92 penalty minutes with the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings the last season.

He ended the season playing in the final playoff game for the Belleville Senators and will likely start the 2022-23 season there.

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« This is about long-term development for Ridly, » Smith said. « We’ll see how he looks in those games, but the organization knows he’s going to be a good player for a long time and we’ll do what’s right for him. »

SECRETS OF SUCCESS (FACE-OFF): Tim Stutzle continues to shadow Claude Giroux during free time before and after practice, leaning on the veteran to learn the ropes of the face-off.

After all, Giroux has won 17,399 draws in his career, winning 9,707 – or 55.8% – of them.

Stutzle only won 188 of the 500 draws he won, for a success rate of 37.6.

Whatever Giroux tells him, Stutzle isn’t ready to share.

« I think it has to stay within the team, » he said. « I don’t know if the media should know that. But (Giroux) has been so good for so many years, so I don’t want to say what he’s doing. I think everyone knows. He just keeps winning and winning faceoffs.”



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