B-Sens’ Prince playing the ‘right way’
Hoping for a call up to the NHL
A bright light in a dim season for the Binghamton Senators, Shane Prince is trying to put a block on all the outside noise.
Will the Ottawa Senators trade a veteran or two, finally opening the door for Prince to make his NHL debut? Have the big-league Senators seen enough to re-sign the 22-year-old left winger when his entry level contract expires following the season? Where does he stand relative to fellow left winger Matt Puempel and the other forward prospects?
“If you think too much about it, it can mess with your mind a little bit,” says Prince, in a master understatement. “To me, it’s a mindset. I’ve battled through obstacles my whole life. All of those decisions are out of my control.”
The former Ottawa 67’s star, drafted 61st overall in 2011, is anxious to show himself when the struggling B-Sens take on the Toronto Marlies in Sunday’s matinee at the Canadian Tire Centre.
Now in his third pro season, Prince has put up solid numbers — 17 goals and 20 assists in 45 games and netted a hat trick at the AHL All-Star Game last month — but he’s been frustrated as the losses have piled up.
If you thought the Sens are having a rough year, it’s nothing compared to Binghamton, which went into Friday’s game against Lehigh Valley having lost seven of eight. They had won three of 16 games in 2015, plummeting to the AHL’s Eastern Conference basement.
There will be no run to the Calder Cup, as was the case when the bigleague Senators bottomed out in 2011, an exercise which provided valuable playoff experience to the organization’s young talent.
“Nobody likes losing, I hate losing,” Prince says. “It’s hard. It kind of becomes contagious. When you’re winning, everything goes right. When you’re losing, nothing goes right.”
Prince has, however, discovered how to play the “right way”, according to Senators assistant general manager Randy Lee.
Prince, who scored 43 goals and 90 points in 57 games with the 67’s in 2011-12, has always been a natural goal scorer and point producer. But he has also embraced the messages from Binghamton coach Luke Richardson to become a complete player.
“Luke has worked with him on the things he needs to do, not just the things he likes to do,” says Lee. “Playing harder without the puck, harder on the wall. He has done a pretty good job with that.”
Prince believes he has made “leaps and bounds in trying to become that kind of player,” and he’s welcoming the chance to show his stuff in the bigger arena on Sunday.
“For sure, it’s obviously important as far as (Senators management) watching, but it’s also just about getting back to Ottawa. I’m really excited about being back there.”
The goal is to stay here, of course, and perhaps nothing illustrates the lifestyle difference between the NHL and AHL than the travel schedule.
After playing Lehigh Valley in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Friday night and busing to Ottawa, the BSens were expected to arrive here at about 4 a.m. on Saturday.
They’ll practise here and take in Saturday’s game between the Senators and Edmonton Oilers.
After Sunday’s game, the B-Sens will jump back onto the bus for the ride to Toronto and a Family Day matinee rematch against the Marlies on Monday.
Lee suggests that fans will like what they see from defenceman Chris Wideman, who is essentially Erik Karlsson-Lite, with 13 goals and 23 assists with Binghamton.
“He’s the quarterback of the power play, but he’s not a liability defensively, he says.
“He’s a guy who has been targeted because he’s a top end point producer and a smaller guy (5-10, 170 pounds), but he competes hard.”
Assistant GM Lee also labels multi-purpose forward Max McCormick as a “Baby Boro,” likening his determination to that of Senators defenceman Mark Borowiecki.
“He has carved out a role for himself where he’s an energy guy, and he’s been versatile,” he says.
“He practises like Borowiecki, he’s a real positive in the room.
“He’s got edge, sandpaper, playing the type of style down in Binghamton that he would have to play if he made it to the NHL.”