Matt Puempel to Make Debut for Senators


The Ottawa Senators will give forward Matt Puempel a shot to make an impact on the roster as he makes his NHL debut this Saturday. Ottawa has been giving plenty of prospects a chance, with Shane Prince and Andrew Hammond making debuts this past week.

Puempel was the first round pick of the Senators in 2011 and has impressed in his time in the AHL. With the Binghamton Senators last year, he was a 30 goal scorer and this year has 12.

“He’s a real good prospect for us,” general manager Bryan Murray said to the Ottawa Citizen yesterday. “He looks like an NHL player out there with this group.

More from AHL

“He had 30 goals, mostly in the second half last year, and thought well, I’ll get 40 to 45 this year and, you know what happens, you start to press,” Murray says. “His game wasn’t as good, or the pressure to score took away from other parts of his game.”

Puempel says he has been focusing on improving his defensive play which he knows forwards need to have to compete at the highest level.

Surprisingly, Puempel has been a bit of a fighter in his career with 127 penalty minutes with the B-Sens last season. That fight in him could be what opened doors for him at the AHL level after he was never much of a physical player in the OHL and never had more than 50 penalty minutes in a single season.

“Sometimes when the puck is not going in, you have to find different ways to contribute,” Puempel said yesterday. “When your team is struggling, individuals are going to struggle in different parts of it,” says the 6-1, 204-pounder. “That’s no excuse, it’s just kind of how it’s been down there this year. If you’re talking about the goal situation, I obviously have fewer goals than I did last year, but I have more assists (20) than I finished the year with (18).”

Being 14th overall in goals per game with just 2.8, Puempel could provide a bit of a spark if he can adjust to the NHL level.

The Senators are pretty much out of a playoff situation in the Atlantic conference where the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers are battling for one of the final wild card spots.

Today they are taking on the Panthers after a 4-2 win over the division leading Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. They begin a tough west coast trip next week starting with going to Anaheim.