Insider explained why Ottawa Senators recalled 27-year-old winger before facing Detroit Red Wings…

Jiri Smejkal is set to make his NHL debut as the Ottawa Senators called up the 27-year-old left winger from their AHL affiliate in Belleville ahead of their game against the Detroit Red Wings. Despite a strong showing in training camp, Smejkal was initially sent down due to the team’s salary cap constraints.

With three goals and nine points in 17 games for Belleville this season, Smejkal’s call-up provides an opportunity for him to showcase his skills in the NHL.

Having signed as an unrestricted free agent in May, Smejkal’s journey to the Senators involved a stint with Oskarshamn IK in the Swedish league last season. His offensive capabilities, evident in his 23 goals and 43 points in Sweden, make it intriguing to see how coach D.J. Smith will deploy him against the Red Wings.

The potential switch involving winger Zack MacEwen, who played a minimal role in the previous game, is a likely scenario, though the exact deployment will be clearer after the morning skate in Detroit.

Another winger, Dominik Kubalik, acquired in the deal that sent Alex DeBrincat to the Wings, is also in contention but has struggled with only four goals and five points in 21 games this season. Despite leading the Senators in the plus-minus category at minus-12, Kubalik’s potential scratching may not necessarily enhance the team’s performance. Smejkal’s desire to prove himself in the NHL adds an interesting dynamic, and the decision regarding Kubalik could send a message about the team’s priorities.

Jacob Bernard-Docker’s perseverance has been noteworthy, as he earned a recall after being initially sent down to Belleville during camp. With an impressive performance in his recent games, including scoring his first NHL goal, Bernard-Docker has solidified his place in the lineup.

With Thomas Chabot out due to injury, Bernard-Docker has another opportunity to contribute significantly and earn more playing time, having formed a productive partnership with former college teammate Jake Sanderson.

Despite the Senators’ frustration with their recent loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team recognizes the positives in their performance. Coach Smith commended the team’s efforts and highlighted the strong play against Leafs’ goalie Joseph Woll, who made 29 saves before leaving the game. The Senators aim to build on their solid performance and maintain their competitive edge, emphasizing the need to stay focused and positive despite the current challenges.

In the face of the loss, players like Claude Giroux and Josh Norris acknowledged the team’s overall strong performance and expressed optimism about building a successful foundation. While recognizing the frustration, the Senators remain committed to their strategic development, emphasizing the need to continue pushing forward and addressing specific areas for improvement, such as capitalizing on opportunities during power plays.

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