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:
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
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 (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
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)