Stephane Da Costa, College Star Signed By Senators, To Make NHL Debut Saturday

The Ottawa Senators swooped in and grabbed Merrimack College star Stephane Da Costa, a free-agent that just about every team in the NHL had interest in.

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Stephane Da Costa To Make NHL Debut Saturday Vs. Toronto

Merrimack College star Stephane Da Costa shunned most of the NHL when he signed with the Ottawa Senators earlier this week, and it seemed as though he picked the Eastern Conference's worst team because he felt it was a great shot to make the NHL.

Yep, good choice. Da Costa will make his NHL debut on Saturday night -- Hockey Night In Canada, no less -- when his Sens take on the Toronto Maple Leafs. To sweeten the pot even more, the Sens can officially eliminate any long hopes the Leafs may have of making the playoffs if they pull out a win.

SB Nation's Silver Seven has more.

Even though I'm not expecting much, I'm still excited: Da Costa is yet another new player to step in on a team that desperately needs some young faces to shine. There are few things better than seeing someone step onto the ice in a Senators jersey for the first time, and even though it's happened too many times to count this season, it's still exciting. 

The game is on CBC at 7 p.m. Eastern on Saturday night. 

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Ottawa Senators Land Merrimack College Standout Stephane Da Costa

Almost half the NHL reportedly had a chance to land his services, but the Ottawa Senators were ultimately his choice. Merrimack College star Stephane Da Costa has chosen to join the worst team in the Eastern Conference, according to a press release from the team. 

As a sophomore in 2010-11, Da Costa led the Warriors to within one game of the Frozen Four. It was the best season in the school's Division 1 history. He put up 45 points in each of his two college seasons after two solid seasons with Sioux City of the USHL. He was draft eligible in 2008 but was overlooked in the event.

Following that year, he made serious jumps in his development, to the point where he's become one of the most sought after young free agents in hockey. 

Da Costa was pursued by several teams, and the Philadelphia Daily News reported on Thursday morning that 15 teams had put in firm offers for his services. Among those teams were Boston, Minnesota, Philadelphia and obviously, Ottawa.

It seems as though Da Costa picked a team that he has the best chance of cracking the NHL roster next season. That would eliminate many current playoff teams from the equation, and it makes teams like Ottawa who are down and out without many firm NHL pieces on the club more attractive. Via the Daily News:

With the Flyers, Da Costa was less interested in money and more interested in how quickly he could crack the roster. Holmgren could not promise anything, as he already has a stacked NHL lineup.

[...]

For the most part, money is the same for all teams involved in a chase like this one. The collective bargaining agreement states that a player of that age must sign a multiyear, entry-level deal, with a yearly limit of $900,000, the same as those taken in the 2010 entry draft.

Players like Da Costa are interesting. In order to be signed out of college as a free agent, you have to be a bit of a late-bloomer. After all, there's always a reason when all 30 teams overlook you in your draft year. There's also a reason why all 30 teams showed a bit of interest, of course. It'll be interesting to see Da Costa's development.

For more on the signing, check in with SB Nation's Silver Seven.

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