Senators News (May 5th)

chris-lee-and-brad-watson

It has been a month or so since I last posted a news update.  In the interim the Sens finished their remarkable run to make the playoffs (leaving a little egg on the face of a snarky Bob McKenzie from a few days before the end of the season), before falling 4-2 to the Habs in the first round.  The accolades came pouring down before the season’s end (and after), and it’s a season that has to be viewed as a success (I didn’t see the Sens as a playoff team even before the season started).  Clearly Dave Cameron benefitted from injuries to useless veterans, along with the improbable run of Andrew Hammond.  Has the organisation finally figured out that they are saddled with useless players?  There are small signs the message is finally getting through.  As Nichols says:

Pundits will be quick to point out how Ottawa’s success cannot be sustained and that eventually they’ll regress. The pundits are right, but no one in Ottawa really cares.

As Luke Peristy says:

By far the weirdest thing about this whole “improbable run to make the playoffs” thing is the knowledge that we’ve already seen the most absurd thing the Senators are going to do this year.

Going back to does the organisation get it question, caution has to be exercised–Dave Cameron dumping Mike Hoffman onto the fourth line is a worrying sign.  This is also the same brain trust that tried to sign David Clarkson, give Jared Cowen an enormous seven-year deal, signed David Legwand, and so on and so forth.  Bryan Murray has an addiction to aging veterans and “tough guys” that’s clogging his internal budget.

Prior to the playoffs, Scott Cullen offered his thoughts on potential edges in the series via shooting percentage and found that Ottawa has a slight one over Montreal, which as determinants go did not amount to much in the series itself.

matt o'connor

Nichols notes that the Sens promised NCAA free agent Matt O’Connor that if he signed with them they would move a goaltender.  Nichols wonders if the space promised would be in the NHL or AHL, but I think it’s safe to say it would be the latter (and despite comments from his agent I take that posturing to get more teams to bid for his services).  I still don’t think any team can offer O’Connor as clear an opportunity as Edmonton and that’s where I imagine he’ll sign (especially with Peter Chiarelli as the new GM).  It’s still concerning that the Sens are apparently prepared to move Robin Lehner (or Craig Anderson) to make room for an unproven NCAA goaltender and (presumably) Andrew Hammond (although I’m less certain of that).  As I’ve said before, I’d rather they move Hammond and stick with the current tandem.

Speaking of roster decisions, the Sens have apparently pre-emptively loaned Mikael Wikstrand back to Sweden for next season.  This is truly bizarre, as it would burn the second year of his ELC (the first already went up in smoke this season).  I’d like to think he has an opt-out in his contract, but without further details I can’t say.  Given how weak Binghamton’s blueline was this past season, I have no idea why they wouldn’t bring him over.

Prospects

miles gendron

Nearly all the Sens prospects have wrapped up their seasons, but Tobias Lindberg and Vincent Dunn are still playing (Miles Gendron won the BCHL championship).

Three players from my free agent list have already been signed: Columbus inked Markus Hannikainen, Nashville signed Kristian Nakyva, and Artemi Panarin signed with Chicago.

One major chestnuts in the fires of traditional hockey commentators is the importance of faceoffs.  You need a good faceoff guy, right?  So the analytics guys at TSN took a look at numbers and it turns out faceoffs don’t actually mean much in terms of generating goals (the best number they could find over the last eight years was Patrice Bergeron whose totals equal four goals throughout the entire season–no one else was even close to that).  Presumably on the defensive side this also means that losing faceoffs has an almost meaningless impact as well when it comes to goals against.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Binghamton Senators: Year in Review

The long season for the Binghamton Senators has ended at last.  It’s a lost season in terms of team performance, where despite leading the conference in GF (242), they finished 11th (34-34-8), hampered by their awful GA (258, worst in the conference).  In comparison to last year the BSens scored 34 less goals and allowed 26 more.  Below I’ve graded each player specifically for their play in the AHL (for last year’s examination go here); acronym note: ppg=points-per-game and DOB=dater of birth; I put RFA’s in green and UFA’s in red.  Grade rationale is simple: A – above expectations, B – met expectations, C – didn’t grow, but didn’t decline, D – below expectations, F – awful.  I’ve been critical of grading systems in general, but that’s when they aren’t attached to specific meanings.  I’ve left Pageau out of the following as he spent more time with Ottawa this season; I also cut out the ECHL call-ups that aren’t Sens prospects.

Shane Prince RFA (2-61/11) DOB 92 72-28-37-65 0.9 ppg  [NHL 2-0-1-1] Grade A
The final year of his ELC, Prince enjoyed a career year (a 17 point improvement over last season and he finished 6th in overall scoring in the AHL).  There’s nothing left to prove for him at this level and he’s certainly an upgrade over some of the dead weight on Ottawa’s roster

Chris Wideman UFA* (4-100/09) DOB 91 75-19-42-61 0.81ppg Grade A
The Eddie Shore winning defenseman missed out on an NHL debut due to the glut of middling one-way contracts clogging up the arteries of Ottawa’s blueline; it’s a 10 point improvement over last year and he lead the AHL in scoring by a defenseman.  If it weren’t for his size I think he’d be a slamdunk to bump some of Ottawa’s current blueline out
* as of July 1st

Cole Schneider RFA (FA 2012) DOB 90 66-29-29-58 0.84ppg Grade B
A slight statistical improvement for him (4 more points than last year), notably he scored 9 more goals and shot the puck more (30 more attempts than last season).  He doesn’t get the hype of the high draft picks, but he remains a solid NHL prospect who deserves a shot somewhere (even if it’s not with Ottawa)

Carter Camper UFA (FA 2014) DOB 88 75-15-37-52 0.69ppg Grade D
Was awful to start the season, but when Binghamton had no chance to make the playoffs he suddenly caught fire; while his actual point total isn’t off the norm, his points-per-game are his lowest since he turned pro

Derek Grant UFA (4-119/08) DOB 90 73-21-17-38 0.52ppg Grade B
Set career highs in goals, points, and points-per-game while playing a checking role; I’m not sure what his NHL upside is (part-time fourth-liner or full-time player?), but there’s not much left for him to prove in the AHL

Aaron Johnson UFA (3-85/01 Clb) DOB 83 73-6-29-35 0.48ppg Grade C
Didn’t make the blueline any better, but put up his usual numbers

Ryan Dzingel 15/16 (7-204/11) DOB 92 66-17-17-34 0.52ppg Grade B
While a work in progress defensively, given how he was used in the lineup these are good numbers for the rookie

Buddy Robinson 15/16 (FA 2013) DOB 91 75-12-22-34 0.45ppg Grade C
Despite flashes here and there, this season was one of treading water for the big winger

Alex Grant UFA (4-118/07 Pit) DOB 89 58-6-27-33 0.57ppg Grade D
He struggled to stay healthy and while his offensive output was fine, defensively he was a mess

Matt Puempel 15/16 (1-24/11) DOB 93 51-12-20-32 0.63ppg [NHL 13-2-1-3] Grade D
Tread water in terms of his numbers; got a courtesy call-up to Ottawa when things were disastrous for the Sens and then hung on until injured

Patrick Mullen UFA DOB 86 54-5-24-29 0.54ppg Grade D
Much like Alex Grant above, his offensive production was fine, but he struggled to stay healthy and did nothing to solidify a struggling blueline defensively

Max McCormick 15/16 (6-171/11) DOB 92 62-10-10-20 0.32ppg Grade B
Slotted into a grinding role, he fought too much (11 times), but otherwise he had an excellent rookie season with signs of growth for next year

Fredrik Claesson RFA (5-126/11) DOB 92 76-4-15-19 0.25ppg Grade C
A tough season for the player coming off such a great year; his numbers dropped, but that’s largely because of the glut of veteran players eating up offensive opportunities; I take the season as a blip and he’ll be fine next year

Alex Guptill 15/16 (3-77/10 Dal) DOB 92 61-9-9-18 0.30ppg Grade F
Discarded by Dallas in the Jason Spezza trade, he was awful this season

Darren Kramer RFA (6-156/11) DOB 91 70-5-12-17 0.24ppg Grade C
Was dressed far more often than he should have been, but that’s not his fault; what can you expect from a player with his limitations?

Garrett Thompson RFA (FA 2014) DOB 90 65-6-8-14 0.22ppg Grade F
An awful free agent signing who showed no signs of potential (why they kept him in Bingo all year is beyond me)

Brad Mills UFA (FA 2014) DOB 83 34-4-10-14 0.41ppg Grade F
I have no idea why the Sens decided to sign the veteran to an AHL contract after he was suspended for PEDs, nor why they insisted on giving him ice time over actual prospects

David Dziurzynski 15/16 (FA 2010) DOB 89 39-4-10-14 0.36ppg Grade C
Missed more than half the season, but when he played he was his usual, dependable self

Daniel New UFA DOB 89 33-2-7-9 0.27ppg Grade D
Signed to be a call-up from the ECHL, injury kept him up all year where increased exposure showed his shortcomings as an AHL-regular

Troy Rutkowski 15/16 (5-137/10) DOB 92 15-2-2-4 0.27ppg [ECHL 54-6-18-24] Grade F
While his numbers improved in the ECHL, he still hasn’t established himself as an AHL-regular and as a drafted prospect that’s failure

Michael Sdao 15/16 (7-191/09) DOB 89 33-2-2-4 0.12ppg Grade D
I can’t call this season a failure given how little he played; it’s worth keeping in mind how many veterans and higher end prospects he has to play behind, however–you don’t put up good numbers if you play on the third pairing without powerplay time

Scott Greenham UFA DOB 87 15-11-2 2.77 .916 [ECHL 1-4-2 3.50 .903] Grade B
Signed to start in the ECHL, he wound up being Binghamton’s most consistent goaltender this season

Andrew Hammond UFA (FA 2013) DOB 88 7-13-2 3.51 .898 [NHL 20-1-5 1.79 .941] Grade F
His grade is for Binghamton only; he was inexcusably bad in the AHL, especially given what he’s shown in Ottawa

Peter Mannino UFA DOB 84 6-10-4 3.99 .891 Grade F
I have no idea why the coaching staff kept starting him; he was awful; in hindsight they should have simply brought Driedger up rather than signing him

Chris Driedger 16/17 (3-76/12) DOB 94 6-0-0 2.55 .923 [ECHL 8-27-4 3.78 .885] Grade D
He was fine when playing for the BSens, but was awful in Evansville (admittedly for a bad team, but other goaltenders there put up better numbers)

Scanning through the performances the most alarming issues are organisational choices (the players signed), with a minor nod to bizarre coaching choices.  Clearly the major issue was on the blueline and in goal.  Ultimately Greenham (and, perhaps, Driedger) offered a certain amount of stability, but the blueline never really improved despite being loaded with veteran players.  While UFAs allow the team to change both ends of the equation drastically, the apparent decision to let Mikael Wikstrand spend yet another year in Sweden while under contract boggles the mind.

It’s difficult to know where the organisation will be next season–will they finally stop signing useless veterans?  And which prospects will they bring in?  As it stands it’s a mostly underwhelming group composed of Vincent Dunn, Ben Harpur, and Nick Paul.  The former two look like marginal players while the most exciting signed prospect (Wikstrand) doesn’t seem to be in the cards for next season.  There are still players who could be signed, like Tobias Lindberg or Marcus Hogberg, but it remains to be seen.  As it stands here are the players on the roster for next season and some guesses on who will join them:

Forwards (8): Ryan Dzingel, Buddy Robinson, Matt Puempel, Max McCormick, Alex Guptill, David Dziurzynski, Vincent Dunn, Nick Paul
Defense (4): Fredrik Claesson, Troy Rutkowski, Michael Sdao, Ben Harpur
Goaltenders (1): Chris Driedger

I think Shane Prince, Cole Schneider, Derek Grant, and Chris Wideman will be retained.  I don’t think they’ll win the Mike O’Connor sweepstakes in goal, which will push them to sign Hogberg.  I see no reason for them not to sign Lindberg, but this still leaves them short on the blueline and I’m not sure how they’ll address that.

Another question is: will Luke Richardson still be coaching the team?  I’m not so certain.  A better question is would the team be better without him?  Thus far I’d have to say yes, so long as a competent coach replaces him.  Regardless, we can hope next year will be a banner one for the BSens.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News (April 7th)

As the Binghamton Senators were officially eliminated from playoff contention in the AHL, their NHL brothers have separated themselves out as the only team with a realistic shot of still making it (RIP Florida).  It seems no coincidence that the return of Zack Smith has created some turmoil in player usage (although he’s generally only receiving fourth line minutes).  Speaking of dead weight, the Sens are 17-4-3 without Chris Phillips and Chris Neil.  Bryan Murray isn’t a numbers guy though, so this may not mean much to management.

Despite all the playoff excitement, the blogosphere has been pretty dead other than game recaps, although it looks like Kristopher Bras at Hockey’s Future actually knows what he’s doing covering Ottawa (a first on that website).

Prospect update (players signed are in green, those for whom decisions must be made this year are in red).  All regular seasons are over:

wikstrand

SHL (Sweden)
Mikael Wikstrand (DOB 1993, DL, 7-196/12, Frolunda) 46-5-15-20
He finished 14th in scoring by a defenseman; 12-0-4-4 in the playoffs thus far
Andreas Englund (DOB 1996, DL, 2-40/14, Djurgarden) 49-2-3-5
His season is over
Marcus Hogberg (DOB 1994, GL, 3-78/13, Linkoping) 12-11-4 2.30 .917
Finished 10th in GAA and 8th in save percentage; he’s 1-4 3.18 .903, splitting duties in net

A48U8530.jpg

CHL
Tobias Lindberg (DOB 1995, C/RW, 4-102/13, OHL, Oshawa) 67-32-46-78
Finished 20th in overall scoring; 5-3-1-4 in the playoffs
Francis Perron
(DOB 1996, C/LW, 7-190/14, QMJHL, Rouyn-Noranda) 64-29-47-76
Finished 26th in overall scoring; 6-3-4-7 in the playoffs
Nick Paul (DOB 1995, LW, 4-101/13 Dallas, OHL, North Bay) 58-37-29-66
Finished 36th in overall scoring; 4-3-3-6 in the playoffs
Vincent Dunn (DOB 1995, CL, 5-138/13, QMJHL, Rimouski) 46-19-13-32
Has not played since last time
Ben Harpur
(DOB 1995, DL, 4-108/13, OHL, Guelph/Barrie) 57-5-26-31
4-2-3-5 in the playoffs
Miles Gendron (DOB 1996, DL, 3-70/14, BCHL, Penticton) 54-5-12-17
16-0-10-10 in the playoffs; did he sleepwalk through the regular season?

Quentin+Shore+OaGRoS-3oopm

NCAA
Quentin Shore (DOB 1994, C/RW, 6-168/13, U Denver) 39-10-16-26
Two points in his last two games
Robbie Baillargeon (DOB 1993, CR, 5-136/12, Boston U) 28-3-12-15
No points in his last two games
Shane Eiserman
(DOB 1995, LW, 4-100/14, U New Hampshire) 35-4-11-15
His season is over
Kelly Summers (DOB 1996, DR, 7-189/14, Clarkson) 33-6-4-10
His season is over
Chris Leblanc (DOB 1993, RW, 6-161/13, Merrimack) 28-5-4-9
His season is over

NCAA-III
Tim Boyle (DOB 1993, DR, 4-106/12, Endicott) 18-3-8-11
His season is over

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News (March 27th)

As fans celebrated the Sens attaining a playoff position in the standings I can’t help but think how vindicated many of us feel in that the success is tied to the absence (or reduced role) of terrible veterans who clogged up the arteries of the Sens lineup.  As much as we love the Andrew Hammond story, goaltending has not been the team’s primary problem and isn’t the key element to their success (as Nichols echoes): player usage and lineup have had the biggest impact.  No longer bogged down with Paul MacLean’s favouritism or pressure to play people like Chris Phillips and Chris Neil, the team has soared (Richard McCrae also explores this).  The question remaining is has the organisation learned the right lesson or not?

Speaking of Nichols, via the same link above he continues to beat on the drum that the Sens system is clogged with mediocrity:

I don’t think anybody questions the assortment of quality young talent that Ottawa has. They are a young team that is vying for a playoff spot. The problem is that they have been in this position for a number of years now without taking a significant step forward as a franchise. It’s foolish to expect linear growth on an annual basis, but I have reservations about how good this team can become by expecting or relying upon significant growth from its young players. That isn’t meant to be a crack on who is on the parent roster, but from a talent projection standpoint, I just don’t see how this team can take the next step in its development without a ton of room for exponential growth from many of this team’s players. (Note: obviously there are a few exceptions.)

As I mentioned in my Binghamton article (link below), I think this reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what depth means.  For Nichols it seems, if the player isn’t a slamdunk top-six, top-four, or starting player, they just aren’t that valuable, which is a funny thing to consider given how much he loves Erik Condra.  I agree with him that there’s no elite talent still in the system (a first-line forward or top-two defenseman), but there’s certainly plenty of quality in the ranks (indeed, even his note of exceptions undermines his point).  I wish we could cure Nichols of his Cory Pronman addiction (do I need to bring up Ben Blood again?), but I digress.

I missed referencing Travis Yost‘s post looking at Patrick Wiercioch and Bryan Murray’s apparent inability to figure out what he does well.  Since the post Wiercioch has produced (9-1-4-5, his best stretch of the season), so perhaps at least Dave Cameron has figured out what he can do.

It’s interesting to note that the Dallas Stars have not profited (yet) from the Jason Spezza trade–the Stars have fewer points than the Sens and while Spezza‘s production is about what you’d expect, his Ottawa co-pilot Ales Hemsky (not part of the trade, but a component of the Stars plans) has been a disappointment and throwaway prospect Ludwig Karlsson has already been loaned out of the organisation.  In other words, a change meant to produce immediate dividends has not done so.  That’s not to say the Sens are getting much value out of Alex Guptill or Alex Chaisson, or that Nick Paul or the upcoming 2nd round pick will ever be as good as Spezza, but it’s something worth noting.

For those who missed it I did an update on the Binghamton Senators last week (thanks to The Silver Seven‘s Amelia for the shoutout).  You can read TheIanAlex BSens update for their last few games as well.

I also took a look at Free Agent Europeans of interest.  The Sens have rarely dived into this pool (preferring NCAA free agents, like the moribund Garrett Thompson or excellent Cole Schneider), but I think it’s worth paying attention too.

Prospect update (players signed are in green, those for whom decisions must be made this year are in red).  All regular seasons are over:

wikstrand

SHL (Sweden)
Mikael Wikstrand (DOB 1993, DL, 7-196/12, Frolunda) 46-5-15-20
Regular season is over; he finished 14th in scoring by a defenseman; is injured and missed the playoffs thus far
Andreas Englund (DOB 1996, DL, 2-40/14, Djurgarden) 49-2-3-5
Regular season is over; did not dress in the playoffs and his season is over
Marcus Hogberg (DOB 1994, GL, 3-78/13, Linkoping) 12-11-4 2.30 .917
Regular season is over; finishes 10th in GAA and 8th in save percentage; lost his only game (thus far) in the playoffs

A48U8530.jpg

CHL
Tobias Lindberg (DOB 1995, C/RW, 4-102/13, OHL, Oshawa) 67-32-46-78
Three points in his last three games, finishing 20th in overall scoring
Francis Perron
(DOB 1996, C/LW, 7-190/14, QMJHL, Rouyn-Noranda) 64-29-47-76
Two points in his last two games, finishing 26th in overall scoring
Nick Paul (DOB 1995, LW, 4-101/13 Dallas, OHL, North Bay) 58-37-29-66
Two points in his last two games; finishing 36th in overall scoring
Vincent Dunn (DOB 1995, CL, 5-138/13, QMJHL, Rimouski) 46-19-13-32
Has not played since last time
Ben Harpur
(DOB 1995, DL, 4-108/13, OHL, Guelph/Barrie) 57-5-26-31
No points in his last game
Miles Gendron (DOB 1996, DL, 3-70/14, BCHL, Penticton) 54-5-12-17
Has nine points in thirteen games in the playoffs; did he sleepwalk through the regular season?

Quentin+Shore+OaGRoS-3oopm

NCAA
Quentin Shore (DOB 1994, C/RW, 6-168/13, U Denver) 37-10-14-24
One point in his last two games
Robbie Baillargeon (DOB 1993, CR, 5-136/12, Boston U) 26-3-12-15
No points in his last two games
Shane Eiserman
(DOB 1995, LW, 4-100/14, U New Hampshire) 35-4-11-15
No points in his last game; his season is over
Kelly Summers (DOB 1996, DR, 7-189/14, Clarkson) 33-6-4-10
His season is over
Chris Leblanc (DOB 1993, RW, 6-161/13, Merrimack) 28-5-4-9
His season is over

NCAA-III
Tim Boyle (DOB 1993, DR, 4-106/12, Endicott) 18-3-8-11
His season is over

I hadn’t realised former SenShot scribe and Matt Kassian fan Jared Crozier had picked up the Travis Yost mantle as the Sens writer for Hockeybuzz (once Yost left I stopped visiting the site).  Once upon a time Jared used to lurk around here and I wish him all the best.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

European Free Agents of Interest

This is the fourth year I’ve looked at interesting free agent prospects in Europe, focussing specifically on those who are 24 and under.  For successful free agents from Europe I talk about it here; for the issues of comparing stats in Europe to production in the NHL go here.  The players are organised by league and “PPG” here means points-per-game:

Toni Rajala RW/LW DOB 91 4-101/09 Edm 5’10 SHL 31-14-13-27
The former Oiler prospect has already established himself as a point-per-game player in the AHL; after a brief stint in the KHL he produced at about the same clip in the SHL; he’s undersized and has been dumped by one organisation already, but given how dysfunctional Edmonton is I’m not sure it’s a true black mark; I suspect he’d be given an opportunity elsewhere, but Rajala may not want to come back to North America to play in the minors

Tim Heed D DOB 91 5-132/10 Ana 6’0 SHL 50-10-27-37
Another former draft pick, he enjoyed a breakout season right after Anaheim’s rights to him expired, finishing second in scoring by a blueliner behind former free agent wunderkind Cory Murphy (but ahead of him in PPG); he’s also tops among the 24 and under crowd (including forwards), so there’s a lot of reasons for teams to approach him

Kristian Nakyva D DOB 90 6’0 SHL 55-10-19-29
Brought over from the Liiga after three strong seasons, he posted similar numbers in the SHL (a better league) and finished fifth in scoring by a defenseman; I’m not sure his numbers are remarkable enough to be signed, particularly given that he doesn’t have typical NHL size, but it remains a possibility; he’s someone I identified back in 2013

Joel Lassinantti G DOB 93 5’9 SHL 1.88 .928
The diminutive goaltender might still be draft eligible (I get a bit fuzzy about the European rules as they vary from league to league), assuming he’s not eligible he’s 2nd in GAA and save percentage, so the only thing holding him back is his size

Jan Kovar C DOB 90 5’11 KHL 60-24-44-68
Someone I identified back in 2012, he’s put up crazy back-to-back numbers in the KHL and it’s likely a question of any NHL team being willing to pay the 24-year old enough to come across the pond

Artemi Panarin LW DOB 91 5’11 54-26-36-62
The 23-year old lead SKA St. Petersburg in scoring, playing with Ilya Kovalchuk and Vadim Shipachyov (the latter appeared on this list a few years ago, but no one has pried him out of the KHL); how much Panarin‘s numbers are inflated by his teammates is an open question, but it didn’t stop Roman Cervenka (now a teammate) from getting a shot in the NHL, so we could see the same for Panarin

Emil Garipov G DOB 91 6’2 KHL 1.78 .933
His second season as the backup for Ak Bars Kazan, he played a third of the games and had excellent numbers behind one of the best teams in the league; it’s difficult to say how much of his success is based on the team in front of him, but he’s surely worth a look

Lino Martschini RW DOB 93 5’6 NLA 50-23-24-47
At just 5’6 I’m not sure what it will take to get the opportunity to cross the pond; he’s 1st among the 24 and under and 4th in overall scoring; it took Mats Zuccarello (who is about the same size) leading the SHL in scoring and a successful Olympic experience to get his shot with the Rangers, but even then he left the team for the KHL for part of a season before becoming fully established

Inti Pestoni RW DOB 91 5’8 NLA 30-9-15-24
Passed over in the draft largely due to his size (a common theme), he’s put up good numbers in an injury-shortened season–currently 2nd in PPGs among the under 24 players; I suspect his size will keep him off the radar again this year and that he’ll need a bigger season to overcome that

Joonas Donskoi RW/LW DOB 92 4-99/10 Flo 6’0 Liiga 58-19-30-49
The Panthers never signed the Finn who enjoyed a breakout season with Karpat (fifth in overall scoring); the Finnish league is a good league, but not on the level of the Swedish (Eric Perrin leads the Liiga in scoring); the numbers are still significant enough to get noticed and as a former draft pick teams can much more easily assess the risk of signing him

Charles Bertrand LW/RW DOB 91 6’1 Liiga 60-16-31-47
The Frenchmen is in the midst of a true breakout season with Sport, sitting at 7th in overall scoring and 2nd amongst the 24 and under crowd; not only are these career numbers for him, but he’s also doing it on a talent-deprived team, so he should earn some looks from scouts if nothing else; he’s someone I identified back in 2012

Markus Hannikainen LW DOB 93 6’2 Liiga 60-19-27-46
I think he may still be eligible for the draft (see above), but assuming he’s not eligible, he’s 9th in overall scoring and 3rd in the 24 and under group (behind Donskoi above); his numbers might be getting inflated by teammates Perrin and Jani Tuppurainen, so that’s something for GMs to consider

Eetu Laurikainen G DOB 93 6’0 Liiga 2.10 .933
The former Swift Current Bronco sailed through the draft as a WHL backstop, but has had a remarkable season back in Finland where he’s 3rd in GAA and save percentage; a bit undersized, Finnish goaltenders have a well-deserved reputation for technique that might overcome that objection, so I could see him signed

Tomas Filippi C/RW DOB 92 6’1 Czech 52-16-24-40
The former QMJHL player had a career year in the Czech league (his third there); he was the second most productive under-24 player and as someone familiar with scouts; it’s worth remembering the Czech league is pretty weak so his production there isn’t as appealing as it would be in other leagues

Jakub Jerabek D DOB 91 5’11 Czech 48-7-25-32
The undersized defender had a career year; the weakness of the league means he’s more likely to sign in the KHL, but it remains a possibility that a team will take a look at him

Yasin Ehliz RW DOB 92 5’10 DEL 48-11-34-45
The German league is not generally a place where free agents are signed, but it does happen occasionally; Ehliz has his size against him, but he’s made good progress in the DEL; he’s 13th in league scoring and 1st among players under 24

A final note: the Norwegian league is not a good league, but I’ll mention Alexander Reichenberg‘s injury shortened season (13-18-17-35; yes, that’s 2.69 ppg), but it’s too short a sample size to mean much other than (perhaps) an offer in the Allsvenskan or SHL

How have previous versions of this list done?  It’s always interesting to go back and look “where they are now” after a successful and/or breakout season.  I first wrote about this three years ago, before I knew as much as I do now about judging player performances, but even then I hit some targets (those in green become regular NHL players, those in blue remain NHL prospects):
Damien Brunner (NLA) was signed and played parts of three seasons in the NHL before Jersey loaned him back to the NLA
Ronalds Kenins (NLA) signed at the end of last season and is playing in the Vancouver organisation
David Wolf (DEL) signed at the end of last season and is playing in Calgary’s organisation
Simon Moser (NLA) was signed the year after and spent a season in Nashville’s organisation
Richard Gynge (SHL) attracted NHL interest that year, but had already signed in the KHL to mixed results (his best season is this one, but it’s not remarkable enough to attract interest I’d guess)
Sakari Salminen (Liiga) there was also interest, but like Gynge went the KHL route instead; he’s posted up excellent numbers in the Russian league and would certainly attract NHL interest now (he’s 26 so I didn’t include him above)
Vadim Shipachyov (KHL) the twenty-eight year old likely makes too much money to be brought over
Jan Kovar (above) was on the list
Charles Bertrand (above) was on this list
The following year I noted far fewer players, but one mentioned is worth mentioning:
Joel Vermin (NLA) signed an ELC with Tampa, putting up middling AHL numbers this year
Last year (again with a smaller list) here are the notables:
Dennis Rasmusen (SHL) was signed by Chicago where’s he’s been unremarkable
Michael Keranen (Liiga) was signed by Minnesota has been decent on their farm team
Borna Rendulic (Liiga) Croatian player was signed by Colorado and looked solid in an injury-shortened season

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Binghamton Senators Update

It’s been well over a month since my last update.  Back in January, the B-Sens were 6-10-2, including a particularly ugly losing streak.  The team has gone 9-9-3 since my last update; their 197 GF has them 1st in the Conference, while their 209 GA has them last.  As for individual numbers, here’s a quick look:

Name Pos GP G A PTS +/- PIM PPG SHG Pt/G PIMPG SOG
18 Shane Prince LW 58 20 30 50 +10 29 7 0 0.86 0.50 147
6 Chris Wideman D 61 16 33 49 +9 96 7 0 0.80 1.57 188
11 Carter Camper C 62 13 31 44 +3 16 1 0 0.71 0.26 98
15 Cole Schneider RW 55 22 21 43 +3 12 7 1 0.78 0.22 130
Not active on this team 9 Matt Puempel LW 51 12 20 32 -13 31 5 0 0.63 0.61 146
57 Derek Grant C 59 18 13 31 -7 39 8 1 0.53 0.66 143
14 Patrick Mullen D 52 5 24 29 0 30 3 0 0.56 0.58 65
20 Alex Grant D 46 5 23 28 -10 49 4 0 0.61 1.07 86
10 Buddy Robinson RW 61 9 18 27 +12 60 0 2 0.44 0.98 139
* 43 Ryan Dzingel C 53 15 11 26 -5 48 2 0 0.49 0.91 89
72 Aaron Johnson D 59 5 21 26 +5 68 1 0 0.44 1.15 94
Not active on this team 44 Jean-Gabriel Pageau C 27 11 10 21 +9 27 1 3 0.78 1.00 103
* 17 Max McCormick LW 48 7 9 16 0 120 0 1 0.33 2.50 82
3 Fredrik Claesson D 62 3 13 16 -7 40 0 0 0.26 0.65 69
37 Darren Kramer LW 60 4 11 15 -3 225 0 0 0.25 3.75 71
22 David Dziurzynski LW 39 4 10 14 +1 79 0 0 0.36 2.03 49
* 27 Alex Guptill LW 48 7 6 13 +1 50 0 0 0.27 1.04 66
* 16 Garrett Thompson C 53 6 7 13 -11 27 0 0 0.25 0.51 65
19 Brad Mills C 25 3 7 10 -1 73 0 0 0.40 2.92 52
8 Daniel New D 31 2 7 9 -5 19 0 0 0.29 0.61 34
Not active on this team 24 Colin Greening LW 12 5 2 7 -2 13 0 1 0.58 1.08 25
* 12 Danny Hobbs LW 13 2 1 3 -5 2 0 0 0.23 0.15 20
7 Guillaume Lepine D 26 1 2 3 -1 57 0 0 0.12 2.19 21
4 Michael Sdao D 26 1 2 3 -5 78 0 0 0.12 3.00 16
21 Matt Tassone (total) click to view the entire list for Matt Tassone C 6 1 1 2 -2 11 0 0 0.33 1.83 7
     Rochester Americans LW 3 1 0 1 -1 7 0 0 0.33 2.33 3
     Binghamton Senators C 3 0 1 1 -1 4 0 0 0.33 1.33 4
Not active on this team 24 David Marshall RW 4 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0.25 0.50 1
Not active on this team 5 Nick Tuzzolino D 10 0 1 1 +2 23 0 0 0.10 2.30 8
Not active on this team 30 Andrew Hammond G 25 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.04 0.00 0
Not active on this team 5 Marc Methot D 1 0 0 0 -2 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 1
Not active on this team 84 Todd Bertuzzi RW 2 0 0 0 -3 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 2
Not active on this team 41 Jakub Culek C 2 0 0 0 -1 2 0 0 0.00 1.00 4
Not active on this team 33 Chris Driedger G 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 0
Not active on this team 21 Shawn Szydlowski RW 3 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0.00 0.67 2
* 2 Troy Rutkowski D 4 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0.00 0.50 1
31 Peter Mannino (total) click to view the entire list for Peter Mannino G 19 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 0
     Portland Pirates G 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 0
     Binghamton Senators G 16 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 0
35 Scott Greenham G 23 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 0
1 Scott Greenham 23 1318:39 57 1 2.59 12 8 2 719 662 0.921
2 * Chris Driedger 2 119:57 6 0 3.00 2 0 0 55 49 0.891
3 Andrew Hammond 25 1368:43 80 2 3.51 7 13 2 782 702 0.898
4 Peter Mannino (total) click to view the entire list for  19 1085:08 67 0 3.70 5 8 4 656 589 0.898

.

Carter Camper has finally started to produce as expected, with 21 points in his last 19 games, but it’s far too late for that to matter to the team; otherwise players have stayed the course.  Shane Prince is 13th in overall scoring, while Chris Wideman is 16th (1st among defensemen).  Michael Sdao has returned to the lineup after missing almost two months of action, and Troy Rutkowski has been recalled from Evansville, but the B-Sens blueline remains a mess.  I think the team wound up signing too many vets who fill the same role (Alex Grant, Patrick Mullen, and Aaron Johnson).  Not only have those players not performed up to expectations, but they’ve meant limited room for prospects to grow behind their wall of ice time.  Other than Wideman I’d argue none of the B-Sens blueliners have improved.  The forward group is better, although there’s no need for someone like Brad Mills to be taking ice time away from players who could use it to develop.  I think Richardson shares Paul MacLean’s hangup of over being overly reliant on veterans (which makes no sense in the AHL).

As Andrew Hammond continues to excel in Ottawa, Scott Greenham (5-4-1) has been Binghamton’s best goaltender despite splitting time with Peter Mannino (4-5-2).  Exactly why the goalies are receiving equal time is beyond me.

Nichols (6th Sens) likes to shit all over the Sens depth in Binghamton and I think a lot of his reasoning comes from how highly he values the opinion of Corey Pronman (for example)–I’ve discussed my issues with Pronman before (he somehow included Ben Blood as a worthy prospect, for example).  There’s a disconnect between people like Nichols and Travis Yost (now at TSN) on the value of prospects–they seem to think that if the player isn’t guaranteed to be elite then the prospect doesn’t matter.  This an odd approach in that these are the same analytics fans who love Erik Condra (a late pick who wasn’t remotely exciting as a prospect).  The flipside of this can be found on the HFboards or SenShot where prospects are given far too much weight.  On average only 1 or 2 players from each draft class is ever going to become an NHL player.  The point of all this is that there are still players in Binghamton with NHL potential.  Prince certainly deserves a shot, as do several others.  Unfortunately for Binghamton fans the mix of players this season simply wasn’t good enough–the free agents brought in to solve the defensive and goaltending problems failed to do so.

There’s still a month’s worth of games before the season ends, but it’s time to start thinking about who is responsible for the failed season.  Tim Murray signed the free agents, so the blame for the roster is certainly his.  That being said, Luke Richardson has also made some peculiar coaching decisions, particularly in how he’s handled his goaltenders.  Richardson can’t be blamed completely for the Jekyll and Hyde act Hammond put on (if Greenham can put up a .920 save percentage with this defense, the Hamburglar should as well), but he did fail to adjust how he was handling him in the AHL (as I brought up at the time).  Richardson can also be questioned in how he’s utilized young players, but on the whole I think his influence pales in comparison to the hand he was dealt.  Tim Murray is gone, so the architect of the problem has already been removed.  With talented prospects on the horizon things should be better next season.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News (March 17th)

Ottawa Senators Official NHL Headshots

As Andrew Hammond‘s improbable run continues, it reminds me of Jim Carey‘s with Washington eons ago: a middling NCAA goaltender takes the NHL by storm for a brief time before fading away.  Carey won a Vezina and was a first-team all-star in his first full season (95-96), but proceeded to bomb out afterwards, retiring from the AHL just three years later.  Hammond may be better than that, or he may not be, but when I hear speculation of moving Robin Lehner (who is younger than Hammond–he’s 23, the Hamburglar is 27), I have to shake my head.  Bryan Murray is very much a “what have you done for me lately” manager when it comes to players who aren’t over-the-hill veterans, so there’s a chance we might see a very foolish trade when the season ends.

mika-zibanejad-hockey-headshot-photo

The all-powerful and all-knowing Nichols reports the Sens and Leafs talked about swapping Zibanejad for Kadri in the summer, but the Sens balked at Toronto’s request for additional assets to be included.  I’m not sure how fans would have reacted at the time, but I’m happy Murray didn’t pull the trigger.

Richard McCrae looks at the odds of Ottawa catching Washington (now that Boston seems out of reach) and concludes even that will be difficult.  A more interesting question is whether it would be good for the organisation to make the playoffs–what message would that send to management?  Does Murray realise a large part of the recent success is because useless players like Chris Neil and Chris Phillips aren’t on the ice?  I have my doubts, although it could be argued nothing will cure Murray of his obsession with aging vets, in which case results are actually meaningless–I prefer not to be so pessimistic.

I only occasionally dip my toe into SenShot for anything other than AHL information, which is why I rarely cite them here.  As for why, I’ll use editor Jack Leiper recent post to illustrate it: he writes about Mika Zibanejad‘s season and how it seems to have turned after a rough start…and his analysis doesn’t go much beyond that he’s been more consistent.  Here’s what Nichols (link above) offers as an aside on the same subject:

Fortunately for the Senators, Zibanejad has come into his own after a sluggish start that has mostly been attributed to a reduced role and shitty linemates to start the season

However flippant the remark is, there’s specific, quantifiable analysis (quality of linemates and use on ice).  I get enough vagueness from official Sens outlets, so when I come to the blogosphere I want analysis.

Ottawa Senators Official NHL Headshots

Before I get to my prospect update below, a quick look at those from the ECHL contingent.  Troy Rutkowski has been playing in Binghamton since March, but prior to his recall stood at 54-6-18-24, leading the awful Evansville defensecorps in scoring.  His points-per-game (0.44) are a marked increase over his rookie season in Elmira (0.21), and however middling those numbers are, it still shows some improvement.  His production had started to rebound after a long stretch of inconsistency (December into February, 31-2-7-9), perhaps worn down from the massive number of games played over such a short period.  Chris Driedger was (until his recall today due to Craig Anderson‘s health) the last man standing in Evansville.  His numbers have been awful (8-27-2 3.78 .885), albeit the roster in front of him is even worse (Evansville is 14-39-8, last in the ECHL).  Driedger hasn’t won a game since January and has been woefully inconsistent, but getting his head beat in game after game can’t help his confidence any and as a younger goaltender (20) it’s far too soon to say he’s done.  That being said, I’d rather have Marcus Hogberg in the Sens system.

wikstrand

Prospect update (players signed are in green, those for whom decisions must be made this year are in red):

SHL (Sweden)
Mikael Wikstrand (DOB 1993, DL, 7-196/12, Frolunda) 46-5-15-20
Regular season is over; he finished 14th in scoring by a defenseman; no points in two playoff games
Andreas Englund (DOB 1996, DL, 2-40/14, Djurgarden) 49-2-3-5
Regular season is over; has not dressed in the playoffs
Marcus Hogberg (DOB 1994, GL, 3-78/13, Linkoping) 12-11-4 2.30 .917
Regular season is over; finishes 10th in GAA and 8th in save percentage; has not played in the playoffs

A48U8530.jpg

CHL
Tobias Lindberg (DOB 1995, C/RW, 4-102/13, OHL, Oshawa) 64-31-44-75
Five points in his last three games, moving him up to 18th in overall scoring
Francis Perron
(DOB 1996, C/LW, 7-190/14, QMJHL, Rouyn-Noranda) 62-27-47-74
Two points in his last three games, dropping him to 25th in overall scoring
Nick Paul (DOB 1995, LW, 4-101/13 Dallas, OHL, North Bay) 56-35-29-64
Two points in his last three games; dropping him to 36th in overall scoring
Vincent Dunn (DOB 1995, CL, 5-138/13, QMJHL, Rimouski) 46-19-13-32
Has not played since last time
Ben Harpur
(DOB 1995, DL, 4-108/13, OHL, Guelph/Barrie) 56-5-26-31
Two points in his last three games
Miles Gendron (DOB 1996, DL, 3-70/14, BCHL, Penticton) 54-5-12-17
Has six points in seven games in the playoffs

Quentin+Shore+OaGRoS-3oopm

NCAA
Quentin Shore (DOB 1994, C/RW, 6-168/13, U Denver) 35-9-14-23
Two points in his last two games
Robbie Baillargeon (DOB 1993, CR, 5-136/12, Boston U) 24-3-12-15
Two points in his last two games
Shane Eiserman
(DOB 1995, LW, 4-100/14, U New Hampshire) 34-4-11-15
Two points in his last three games
Kelly Summers (DOB 1996, DR, 7-189/14, Clarkson) 33-6-4-10
Has not played since last time
Chris Leblanc (DOB 1993, RW, 6-161/13, Merrimack) 28-5-4-9
No points in his last game

NCAA-III
Tim Boyle (DOB 1993, DR, 4-106/12, Endicott) 18-3-8-11
His season is over

I have a full Binghamton update in the works as the team approaches the end of their season.  With the Sens still winning we’re unlikely to see other call-ups any time soon (barring injury).  It’s been a tough season in Bingo and I think most of the problem is on the blueline and in goal, but I’ll get into that with that post.

Ludwig Karlsson, moved in the Jason Spezza trade, has bombed out of the Dallas organisation.  He was traded from the ECHL affiliate in Idaho to Missouri (which is St. Louis’ affiliate).  I expect the Swede to sign in Europe at season’s end.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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