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Ottawa-area prospects head to AHL as NHL lockout looms

Instead of sending out invites to next week’s training camps, NHL teams assigned a slew of eligible players to their AHL affiliates as the lockout clock ticks closer to Saturday’s midnight deadline.

While no announcement was made by the Senators — defenceman Jared Cowen is eligible to play for Binghamton — several players with local ties packed their bags for AHL destinations Friday.

Among those getting their first taste of pro hockey are former 67’s Tyler Toffoli (Kings/Manchester Monarchs), John McFarland (Panthers/San Antonio Rampage), Dalton Smith (Blue Jackets/Springfield Falcons) and Petr Mrazek (Red Wings/Grand Rapids Griffins) and Kanata’s Ryan Spooner (Bruins/Providence Bruins).

Senators prospects Shane Prince and Jean-Gabriel Pageau each have a year of junior eligibility left but are expected to join Binghamton, while Stefan Noesen (Plymouth Whalers) and Matt Puempel (Kitchener Rangers) will likely stay with their junior clubs.

During the 2004-05 lockout, the Senators assigned Jason Spezza, Chris Neil, Antoine Vermette and Anton Volchenkov to Binghamton, where Spezza won the scoring title and league MVP honours.

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