The Ottawa Senators gave their players the day off on Monday, but the front office was hard at work trying to find a solution to the club’s scoring woes.
General manager Bryan Murray indicated that the club would entertain the idea of making some roster moves when they returned home after Sunday afternoon’s shootout loss in Long Island. One player who is poised to join the NHL lineup is forward Mark Stone, who appears to have fully recovered from a broken finger.
The Senators — who rank 29th in the NHL with just 2.1 goals-per-game — have scored a total of just four goals during their current three-game losing streak. Stone appeared in three games for the Binghamton Senators on the weekend, collecting a pair of assists. He suffered a broken finger at the end of January and missed the entire month of February with the injury. In 38 games in the AHL this season, Stone has eight goals and 13 assists for 21 points.
“The idea of Mark was he had to play in some games. He had the broken finger so we sent him down (to Binghamton) to play. After the weekend, we’ll make some decisions if we’re going to make changes. He’d be one of the guys we’d take a look at,” Murray said on Sunday afternoon.
Stone showed off his scoring pedigree in junior, tallying 41 goals and 123 points in his final season with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings last year. At the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship, Stone led all Team Canada players with seven goals and 10 points.
Binghamton players like Shane Prince and Jean-Gabriel Pageau are probably not quite ready to make the leap to the NHL right now, so Stone seems like the most logical fit on the Ottawa roster if they want to make an internal move to add a scoring forward. Stephane Da Costa, who has appeared in nine games with the Senators this season, is also a possibility to be recalled given his offensive creativity. But if the club wants to add a scoring winger, then Stone is the most suitable candidate.
The front office certainly thinks highly of Stone, as he made his NHL debut in Game 5 of the Senators playoff series against the New York Rangers last April. He ended up assisting on Jason Spezza’s game-winning goal, but has not appeared in an NHL game since then.
Murray was asked outright if he thought about trading for some scoring help at the NHL level, but that does not appear to be a possibility right now. Exactly one month before the trade deadline, the Senators GM says the market is extremely thin when it comes to offensive players.
“I suppose if I traded one of our top end players, in the short term I could get a guy. But I don’t know of anybody who is a scorer, who is being offered around the league,” Murray said.
In addition to likely adding Stone to the lineup, the Senators could have their leading goal scorer from last season back in the lineup for Wednesday’s game in Toronto. Milan Michalek has missed the last nine games with a knee injury, but after a good skating session on Sunday morning, he appears ready to return this week.
“He’s getting real close. We’re hoping that after (the Islanders game), he’ll tell us that he’s good to play. He needs a couple of practices with the team and then he would know better,” Murray added.