On July 1, the Ottawa Senators signed Tyler Ennis to a one-year, $800,000 contract. It was not what followers hoped the staff would do, anticipating common supervisor Pierre Dorion to be a a lot larger participant in free company. But, when the mud settled, Ennis was the one free agent signing who provided offensive potential; solely the commerce for Connor Brown provided extra. It’s left many nervous in regards to the 2019-20 season, anticipating a repeat of final season.
Nevertheless, there may be purpose to consider that Ennis might be probably the greatest additions obtainable to the Senators. He brings veteran expertise to a depth function, very like he did for the Toronto Maple Leafs final season. He additionally has the flexibility to push the staff, as he is without doubt one of the most seasoned forwards on the staff.
Dorion is doing his greatest to orchestrate this rebuild appropriately, and Ennis’ versatility, velocity and scoring contact, mixed together with his NHL expertise, might be precisely what the Senators have to progress.
Former Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Tyler Ennis congratulates goalie Frederik Andersen (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports activities)
Destined for Stardom
Whereas it looks as if ages in the past, Ennis isn’t that far faraway from being a prime prospect. The Edmonton native first drew consideration in his rookie season with the Drugs Hat Tigers in 2005-06, 13 years in the past. As a 16-year-old, he was chosen to play on the World U-17 Match the place led his squad with 9 factors in six video games, propelling them to the bronze medal recreation, which they misplaced to the Czech Republic.
Drugs Hat Tigers Brand
The next season, Ennis broke out with 26 objectives and 50 factors, including one other eight objectives and 12 factors within the playoffs on the best way to profitable the WHL’ prime prize, the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
The 2007-08 season, Ennis’ draft yr, noticed him take one other large step ahead as he scored 43 objectives, second amongst WHL gamers, and 91 factors, the fourth highest whole within the league. Regardless of solely standing at 5-foot-9, his efficiency, as properly a his velocity and excessive hockey sense, made him one of many WHL’s prime prospects within the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
The Buffalo Sabres snapped up the gifted sniper, utilizing their second first-round choice on him, 26th general. Ennis returned to play another season in Drugs Hat, scoring one other 43 objectives and practically broke the report for objectives in a single recreation with six. It appeared there was little he couldn’t do, and the Sabres had been ecstatic to convey him into the group.
Ennis rapidly adjusted to the skilled recreation, incomes AHL Rookie of the Yr honors in 2009-10 after scoring 65 factors in 69 video games. His velocity and hockey sense had been tough to include, even on the NHL degree; a late-season call-up noticed Ennis rating eight factors in 9 video games, then one other 4 in six playoff video games. He was the spotlight of the Sabres’ brief postseason run.
Ennis seemed to be the way forward for the Buffalo Sabres in 2010. (THW Archives)
After the 2010 Playoffs, the Sabres had been glad to present Ennis a everlasting place within the lineup for the 2010-11 season, and he continued to point out how invaluable he was to the staff. In his first full season, the fast sniper had 20 objectives and 49 factors, fourth amongst his rookie class, which was greater than Taylor Corridor, Derek Stepan and Brad Marchand.
Ennis was briefly slowed down early within the 2011-12 season when he jammed his ankle right into a purpose publish throughout a recreation in opposition to the Tampa Bay Lightning, maintaining him off the ice till April. Nonetheless, he managed to attain 34 factors in 48 video games. When hockey resumed for the 2012-13 season, he emerged as one of many prime offensive threats, scoring 31 factors in 47 video games, third on the staff. He adopted it up with a 43-point season in 2014-15 and the promise that 2015-16 can be Ennis’ for the taking.
Accidents Take Their Toll
As historical past will inform us, Ennis by no means did emerge as a prime scorer, largely resulting from a slough of accidents that derailed his profession. First, he suffered a lower-body harm in October of 2015, inflicting him to overlook two video games, adopted by an upper-body harm in November, maintaining him out for 12. Then, an enormous hit from Alex Ovechkin in December left him with one other UBI, this time touchdown him on the injured reserve (from ‘Ennis’ season continues to sink as Sabres ahead is ‘week-to-week’ with harm’, BN Community – 1/2/16).
Tyler Ennis was anticipated to interrupt out within the 2015-16 season, however accidents put a cease to that. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
His accidents had been stored beneath wraps till February, when it was revealed that Ennis had suffered a concussion and can be out indefinitely. He solely performed 23 video games in 2015-16. Issues didn’t enhance in 2016-17, as he was once more on IRL in November, recovering from groin surgical procedure, which restricted him to 51 video games and solely 13 factors.
Regardless of signing a profitable five-year, $23 million contract in 2014, the Sabres determined to surrender on their as soon as future star, sending him to the Minnesota Wild in 2017. Ennis was in a position to stay wholesome in St. Paul, however his confidence took a beating and he was a wholesome scratch a number of instances all through the season. After 73 video games, he had 22 factors and the Wild opted to purchase out the ultimate yr of his deal.
The Toronto Maple Leafs signed him to a one-year, league-minimum deal to fill a depth function for the 2018-19 season. It appeared like match: Ennis wanted to regain confidence and the Maple Leafs had a wonderful medical employees. But, after taking a shot off the ankle, Ennis was as soon as once more on the injured reserve, limiting him to 51 video games and 18 factors.
Former Toronto Maple Leaf Tyler Ennis celebrates his hat-trick with teammates. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
Future with the Senators
Ennis involves Ottawa with a lot the identical as final season, however there are just a few particular circumstances that might make his time with the Senators far more profitable.
The very first thing to notice is that he’s a pure winger, which he performed in junior and through his most profitable years in Buffalo, however he additionally performs heart and has executed so often within the NHL. Meaning he can match into practically any spot within the lineup, relying on the place he’s wanted.
Only a few roster spots are safe on the Senators. Solely Brady Tkachuk and Colin White look to be assured top-six roles. The remainder of the staff might find yourself just about wherever, relying on their coaching camp.
That provides Ennis the chance to fill in as wanted. New coach D.J. Smith is acquainted with him – and likewise Ennis with Smith’s system from taking part in in Toronto – and will depend on him so as to add stability early within the season whereas rookies like Drake Batherson get their ft beneath them. There’s additionally some familiarity with new growth coach Clarke MacArthur, who performed in Drugs Hat from 2002-05, leaving simply earlier than Ennis arrived. MacArthur might use him to assist mentor younger gamers.
Clarke MacArthur gives a Drugs Hat connection for Ennis (Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports activities)
Nevertheless, Ennis was signed to fill within the bottom-six, and he gives a ability that the Senators want desperately: a scoring depth heart. As I discussed in an earlier article discussing the collection of Shane Pinto, the Senators are missing dependable heart depth. Sooner or later, Pinto is anticipated to fill that function, however for now, there are few higher choices than Ennis. He has the talents and intangibles and has confirmed he can rating when wholesome. That’s precisely what the Senators want after a painful 2018-19 season.
Associated: Senators’ Strategic Collection of Shane Pinto
Lastly, there’s the truth that Ennis is a small hockey participant, similar to Erik Brannstrom. Standing solely 5-foot-10, Brannstrom has needed to battle stereotypes from conventional hockey minds and discover ways to survive in a league the place most gamers are a number of inches taller. Over eleven seasons, Ennis has discovered how greatest to method the sport when measurement is a drawback. Whereas they play totally different positions, there’s probability that Ennis might change into an unofficial mentor for the Senators’ future star, serving to to change into a wiser and extra harmful hockey participant.
Thus far in his profession, Ennis had defied expectations: an undrafted try-out who made the Tigers in 2005, a shock first-round choice in 2008, and practically a 50-point scorer in his first full NHL season, regardless of being properly beneath what was thought of NHL measurement. Accidents have wreaked havoc on his once-promising profession, however he nonetheless has the drive and ability to succeed. He’s, in spite of everything, solely 29 years outdated.
Positive, Ennis wasn’t the big-name acquisition many have been hoping for, however he gives far more to the staff than others might, whereas additionally coming in at a really inexpensive price ticket. It units up the Senators completely for the longer term, regardless of how the season goes.