Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Puempel Must Show Ottawa Senators Coach Boucher He Can Keep Up with the Pace

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Puempel Must Show Ottawa Senators Coach Boucher He Can Keep Up with the Pace

Article excerpt

Puempel must show Boucher he can keep up

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OTTAWA - If Matt Puempel wants to play for Guy Boucher, he'll have to prove to the Ottawa Senators new head coach he can keep up with the pace.

Puempel, taken No. 24 in the 2011 NHL draft, is one of several "bubble" players Boucher is looking at closely. The 23-year-old forward has been getting a lot of game time so far this pre-season.

"We like what we see," said Boucher. "Right now, for me, what's important is: can the guys keep up the pace at an NHL level?

"The more we move on, the more there's NHL players in the lineup so you're playing against better players and can you maintain the pace you need? He's done well, but like all the young guys, you want to be better defensively."

Puempel has played in 39 career NHL games, registering four goals and two assists.

Projected to be a top-nine forward, Puempel has yet to show his offensive ability at the NHL level. He scored 30-plus goals three times with the OHL's Peterborough Petes and would've likely had a fourth if not for an injury.

He had 30 goals and 18 assists as a rookie with the AHL's Binghamton Senators in 2013-14. He has scored 12 and 17 goals, respectively, the last two years but to his credit was recalled to Ottawa.

The Senators signed the left-winger to a one-year, two-way deal this summer. And although Puempel is no longer waiver eligible, his top priority is playing well and impressing Ottawa's new coaching staff.

"I'm just enjoying each day and having fun with it," said Puempel. "Whatever happens you just control what you can control and then let the rest take care of itself."

Puempel played in consecutive pre-season games earlier this week and scored in one. Overall, he was satisfied with his performance.

"I was happy with how things went in the couple games," he said. "Obviously you're playing with different linemates a little bit more than normal so that's an adjustment. …

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