One-Thousand Posts

What oh what to do for post #1,000?  A short retrospective seems most appropriate, although the usual updates will follow below.

A lot has changed in the blogging world since my first effort nearly ten years ago.  Back then there were relatively few blogs dedicated to the Sens and for a while it was essentially Jeremy Milks at Black Aces and The Silver Seven.  Most of the coverage of the Sens for fans was from the traditional media which then (as now) does a middling to poor job (between The Ottawa Sun, The Ottawa Citizen, and TSN 1200 I think the Citizen does the best job at the moment).  I started this blog back in 2011 and at the time there was still space for daily news coverage of the team.  My driving motivation at the time was to have a single source that included all the vital news about the team and organisation.  These days (and this is why I don’t do the daily posts anymore) I think Nichols at The Sixth Sens and Travis Yost over at HockeyBuzz cover that material better than anyone.  I still think B-Sens coverage is lacking in general (hats off to Jeff Ulmer’s efforts), with prospect coverage an embarrassment (over the past ten years Hockey’s Future still hasn’t found a good writer for the Sens), and the draft coverage is bad to awful.  It’s these latter categories that primarily keep me posting here–offering content where I can contribute to Sens coverage in a meaningful way.

So what have you, the readers, come here for?  Going by the numbers I can take an educated guess (although given how WordPress originally computed views, there’s some ambiguity about the 2011 numbers):
1. My 2011 wrap-up of the Sens Development Camp – this was in the early days of the blog when I was still able to post links on HFboards
2. My look at Redline Report’s 2013 NHL Draft Guide – this guide is expensive and not widely available, so the opinions are something draft junkies are keen to read
3. My review of Ottawa’s 2011 Draft – the best Bryan Murray draft and also when I was able to link on HFBoards
4. My initial (2012) look at free agent college signings in the NHL – I still haven’t seen anyone else look at this and I think it (along with my update) are a valuable resource for those wanting to see how such players pan out
5. My initial (2012) look at undrafted success stories in the NHL – as above

I’m happiest with my work on the draft (both predictive as well as tracking how accurate scouts are), and the impact of undrafted free agents.  I have the most fun with my draft work and I feel like in the next couple of years I’ll have enough data to make some conclusions draft itself.  On the whole I’m someone interested in facts, data, and statistics, albeit I’m not great on Corsi/Fenwick–either due to age, stupidity, or having traditional stats drilled so deeply into my brain I go into a Don Brennanesque-stupor when I try to work with them.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is what referral-sites bring people to a small blog like this: links on a well-established hockey forum are a big boost, Twitter is terrible (but necessary), and Reddit is good.  The quality of your material isn’t particularly important, nor really is the substance, although long-term both of those do matter.  There are a lot of voices in the hockey blogging world, which makes it harder to be heard (as a comparable, I also blog about Dragon Age (the video game), and get over ten-times the views).

As for my favourite people covering the Sens, the two referenced above go without saying; I am also a big fan of Amelia’s pieces on The Silver Seven.  I have no direct connection to any of these fine people and simply appreciate the quality of their work.

Enough reminiscing, back to news & notes.

The NHL has implemented rule changes which, as per usual, are a mixed bag of pointless, middling, and interesting.  The push against diving is only going to piss people off and there’s little chance officials will call it consistently; the spin-o-rama change is pointless; otherwise the changes seem solid, albeit we’re stuck with the NHL’s awful officiating.

Ottawa’s training camp roster is out and there are some interesting forward PTOs on the docket (not that I expected any FA signings for the Sens): 31-year old Brad Mills (34 NHL games) and 25-year old Nick Palmieri (former Devil has 87 NHL games under his belt).

The Sens rookies went 2-1 during the rookie tournament with no particularly surprising performances.

The Sens announced a two-year agreement with Evansville, which replaces Elmira as their ECHL-affiliate and will alleviate the roster crunch in Binghamton.  The former IHL franchise was formerly affiliated with Columbus and did not make the playoffs in either of those two seasons.  The most interesting player currently on the Evansville roster is former Pittsburgh draft pick (4-120/08) Nathan Moon.

Bryan Murray admitted the obvious that the Sens defense corps wasn’t any good…and yet he’s brought back the exact same group.  I’m not sure that the hope those players will improve this year is genius or stupidity, but time will tell.  Whether or not the difficult trade talks with Marc Methot means he could be moved remains to be seen.

ESPN‘s assessment of the Sens as a franchise was predictably punishing, but doesn’t mean much other than Melnyk can’t use it as a prop to the franchise.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News (September 7th)

It has been a long time since my last look at the Sens, but the summer has been largely uneventful (thanks to all of you who continue to check in).  The main developments were the three extensions signed in August (for Mark Borowiecki, Craig Anderson, and Clarke MacArthur).  Of the three I’m happiest with the latter, surprised and disappointed by the former (Nichols offers excellent thoughts on all three and the most persuasive thing for me in regards to Boro is that he could sit for an entire season and still be a “good teammate”), and think the Anderson retention makes some sense given the paucity within the organisation to find someone else to play with Robin Lehner (given their budget they certainly aren’t going to sign anyone of significance; Travis Yost is less kind about the move).  Fortunately, two of the contracts are reasonable and Anderson‘s isn’t that far off.  In terms of implications, I have no idea what the Sens are going to do with Patrick Wiercioch, who has no discernible place to be on the roster as it stands.

The Sens have announced their rookie camp roster (I’ve highlighted the invitees):

Goaltenders: Chris Driedger (Calgary – WHL, Elmira – ECHL, Binghamton – AHL), Andrew Hammond (Binghamton – AHL, Ottawa – NHL).

Defencemen: Travis Brown (Moose Jaw – WHL, Victoria – WHL), Fredrik Claesson (Binghamton – AHL), Mitch Jones (Plymouth – OHL), Ben Harpur (Guelph – OHL), Stefan Leblanc (Sudbury – OHL, Mississauga – OHL), Alex Lepkowski (Oshawa – OHL, Greenville – ECHL, Rochester – AHL), Matt Murphy (Halifax – QMJHL), Troy Rutkowski (Elmira – ECHL, Binghamton – AHL).

Forwards: Jakub Culek (Elmira – ECHL, Binghamton – AHL), Vincent Dunn (Gatineau – QMJHL, Binghamton – AHL), Ryan Dzingel (Ohio State – Big Ten, Binghamton – AHL), Alex Guptill (Michigan – Big Ten, Texas – AHL), Darren Kramer (Binghamton – AHL), Curtis Lazar (Edmonton – WHL), Tobias Lindberg (Djurgardens – Swe-Jr., Djurgardens – Allsvenskan), Max McCormick (Ohio State – Big Ten), Nick Paul (North Bay – OHL), Francis Perron (Rouyn-Noranda – QMJHL), Shane Prince (Binghamton – AHL), Matt Puempel (Binghamton – AHL), Buddy Robinson (Elmira – ECHL, Binghamton – AHL), Garrett Thompson (Ferris State – WCHA, Binghamton – AHL).

The depth at forward within the organisation is on display here, as is their thinness on the blueline (I’m most interested in the players I haven’t seen yet, as always).  As for the invites, Travis Brown was drafted by Chicago back in 2012, but went unsigned–the left-shooting defenseman had good numbers (74-14-39-53) with Moose Jaw and Victoria last season; Mitch Jones is a rugged, undrafted and undersized player who had unimpressive numbers with Plymouth last year (62-3-11-14); Stefan Leblanc went undrafted this year, but appeared on a number of lists–he enjoyed a solid season (54-5-23-28) split between Mississauga and Sudbury; Alex Lepkowski is a former Buffalo draft pick (2011) whose unremarkable numbers (25-0-4-4 OHL) left him unsigned and nothing he did last season (spent all over the place) makes him interesting; finally Matt Murphy passed through the draft but was considered, he had decent numbers with Halifax last season (64-10-26-36).  Both Murphy and Leblanc will return to the draft, but I don’t think there’s any chance these players will be signed (especially now that Ottawa has no ECHL affiliate).

Of the prospects this is a make-or-break season for Rutkowski, Culek, and Kramer.  All have marginal upside and need to excel at something or be let go or cut loose.  As always performances at the camp aren’t great indicators, but it’s a fun event regardless.

I’m not the biggest Corey Pronman fan in terms of his ability at assessing prospects, but he does publish a lot and has offered a list of the Sens top-ten (take it with a grain of salt folks, with Nichols pointing out a few potential issues, but it is fun):
Curtis Lazar
Mark Stone
Mikael Wikstrand
Matt Puempel
Miles Gendron
Andreas Englund
Nick Paul
Fredrik Claesson
Quentin Shore
Shane Prince

The Sens have endured a partial scouting overhaul with the departure of Tim Murray and others.  Within a piece is data from Travis Yost and Amelia that illustrates just how tiny the Sens staff is (a puzzle for a budget team).

Jeff Ulmer offers a brief look at the Binghamton Senators under Bryan Murray (as opposed to the John Muckler regime).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: July 10th

It’s been awhile since I did a general news update on the Sens, but there’s enough accumulated news and thoughts to warrant it.

The overhaul of the Binghamton Senators is well under way and let’s take a quick overview of where things stand.  Additions: Aaron Johnson (FA), Carter Camper (FA), and Alex Guptill (trade); Deletions: Nathan Lawson, Ben Blood, Tyler Eckford, Corey Cowick, Stephane Da Costa, Wacey Hamilton, Ludwig Karlsson (trade), and Jim O’Brien; I’ve excluded players on AHL contracts who spent most of the season in the ECHL (like Scott Greenham).  Among the RFA’s, Mike Hoffman, David Dziurzynski, Cole Schneider, Chris Wideman, Patrick Mullen, and Michael Sdao have re-signed; Derek Grant filed for arbitration, but settled today.

So the roster would look like this (I have Stone and Borowiecki in the NHL):
Forwards (15) – Hoffman, Robinson, Thompson, Prince, Pumpel, Guptill, Grant, Dziurzynski, Schneider, Dzingel, McCormick, Pageau, Camper, Kramer, Culek
Defense (9) – Borowiecki, A. Grant, Wikstrand, Johnson, Mullen, Wideman, Claesson, Sdao, Rutkowski
Goalies (2) – Hammond, Driedger
[Quick edit: everyone was telling me Wikstrand was returning to Sweden and at last, via Scooter Lazar I got the link to the Ottawa Sun article that confirmed it]

As for the NHL roster, here are the Additions: David Legwand (FA), Alex Chiasson (trade); Deletions: Jason Spezza (trade), Ales Hemsky, Matt Kassian; the only unresolved contract is Robin Lehner’s, but there’s no reason to expect that not to get done.  Given that, here’s the current roster (I’m excluding Lazar):
Forwards (12) – Ryan, Turris, Michalek, MacArthur, Zibanejad, Condra, Chiasson, Smith, Neil, Legwand, Greening, Stone
Defense (7) – Karlsson, Methot, Cowen, Gryba, Wiercioch, Phillips, Ceci, Borowiecki
Goalies (2) – Anderson, Lehner

The roster above is just a guess on my part and all sorts of parts could be moved around.  I think the Binghamton forward roster remains bloated, but the odds are good that Culek, Rutkowski, and maybe Kramer will get loaned to the ECHL to alleviate the pressure.  If the Sens weren’t on a tight budget you could throw in an extra forward, but it seems unlikely unless they need the body to hit the cap floor.

As for the additions themselves, Nichols offers a tepid endorsement of Legwand:

Looking at his underlying numbers, Legwand’s past seven seasons have been a bit of a mixed bag – good seasons interspersed with some bad and his last good season from a puck possession standpoint was two seasons ago. It’s worth keeping in mind however that Legwand’s usage has been that of a defensive center – playing tough minutes against the opposition’s best forwards and with a low percentage of his shifts starting in the offensive zone. At 33 years of age, the risk of a decline in play will be there, but there’s been enough consistency in his game and numbers to suggest that he can be an effective player for the Senators.

I felt no excitement at all for the addition, but Bryan Murray has long been fond of adding fading veterans to his roster (Jason Smith, Luke Richardson, Martin Lapointe, Shean Donovan, etc, etc) and since there’s no expectation that Ottawa will challenge for the Cup it probably doesn’t matter very much (Travis Yost is much more optimistic about the signing, incidentally).  As Nichols point out, the addition might mean less of the horrific Greening-Smith-Neil combination that Paul MacLean loves so much.  As for Chiasson, his underlying numbers are unimpressive, although as a younger player there may be room to improve (Yost called the entire Spezza deal a disaster, so his thoughts on Chiasson aren’t any more positive).  I have no idea why Michalek and his bad knees were brought back; I don’t dislike Milan, but when he’s not healthy he’s not effective and those times are more common than the former.

As for the AHL additions, Guptill had just signed his ELC with Dallas after three years  in the NCAA (you can hear what scouts thought when he was drafted back in 2010); a big winger who put up decent numbers in college, he should be a useful player for Binghamton, even if his NHL-potential is doubtful.  Carter Camper is a different acquisition altogether, as the diminutive forward spent the better part of three years playing in Boston’s organisation before a deadline deal with Columbus (in exchange for another minor leaguer).  His AHL stats are good and I’d guess he’s intended to replace Da Costa‘s production–I see virtually no chance of him playing in Ottawa.  Aaron Johnson has been around a long time, but his days as a NHL player are gone (he played a few games with Boston two years ago, but spent all of the past season in the AHL while signed with the Rangers); he should be a dominant AHL defenseman and helps solidify Binghamton’s blueline which, unlike last year, has a strong veteran core (Johnson, Grant, and Mullen).

With the rosters essentially complete, how do they stack up to last year’s squad?  Ottawa has lost its #1 center (I’m not considering Hemsky a loss given that he was a rental) and replaced him with a project prospect and an aging veteran.  It’s not better on paper, so the team has to rely on internal improvement which is a difficult thing to judge.  Whether management wants to admit it or not, the upcoming season is a rebuilding one.  Binghamton, conversely retains a strong core of forwards and has improved its blueline, so the questionmark is in net.  I’m not sure if the Hammond-Driedger combination can carry the mail, but semi-competent goaltending is available later in the year if the team needs to go that way so I fully expect Binghamton to make the playoffs again.

Finally, Development Camp has come and gone.  Unfortunately I couldn’t attend this year, although the Sens posted the entire five-on-five scrimmage online which was a great decision.  I’ve learned over the years not to take performances at the camp that seriously (generally those who are very good and those who are very bad might mean something, but not much), but Curtis Lazar was awarded the Hardest Worker trophy (also considered were Garrett Thompson and Max McCormick).  A number of free agents attended the camp, but this rarely means anything (the only surprising attendee for me was goaltender Tomas Kral–it’s not often someone playing Czech tier-2 travels across the Atlantic to attend a camp).  Overall, the impressions I’ve had (and read) confirm that it was a good camp.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Scouting Reports on the Players Acquired in the Spezza Deal

Alex Chiasson was drafted in 2009 (2-38), which is before I started doing my draft analysis so I don’t have scouting reports on him.  Alex Guptill was not highly touted so information is sparse, but included below.  There’s more on Paul although he’s not a high-ender either.  All three players are big wingers, so there’s a clear desire on the part of the organisation to have size on the boards (insert your favourite Colin Greening joke).  Chaisson is already in the NHL (79-13-22-35) and better analysis on him will soon be available.  Here are the two prospects:

Alex Guptill 3-77/10 LW 6’3 (NCAA Michigan 31-12-13-25) Ranking: CSNA 99 RLR 159 ISS 164
Turned pro after his third year in the NCAA; this past season he was tied for third in scoring on a team lead by J. T. Compher; lead Michigan in points when playing with Jacob Trouba on the roster the previous year.
RLR: Jr. A goal scoring machine is rather one dimensional
ISS: Good offensive upside Nice mix of speed and skill Very good skater Good shot, can score Good size/solid frame Verbal – University of Michigan Protects the puck well  Needs to improve defensive game

Nicholas Paul 4-101/13 LW 6’3 (OHL North Bay 67-26-20-46) Ranking: ISS 82 HP 106 CSNA 124 FC 137 RLR 142
Finished third in team scoring, making significant strides over his rookie season in the OHL (66-12-16-28).
ISS: Paul made a name for himself this year as a quality shutdown forward who shows tremendous smarts in the defensive zone. He possesses an incredibly active stick and with his tall, lanky frame he utilizes his big wingspan to get his stick on pucks. Nicholas has shown positive strides in his offensive development although his upside is primarily his defensive game, his offensive tools including shot and hands have come a long way. Will need to focus on his foot speed and stride.  Size/Strength Very Good Skating Average Puck Skills  Good Shot Good Hockey Sense Very Good
HP: Nicholas was selected in the 5th round of the 2011 OHL Priority Selection Draft by the Brampton Battalion out of the Mississauga Senators Minor Midget program. Nicholas continued to develop his game playing for the Mississauga Reps AAA Major Midget and got a brief and successful stint with the Mississauga Chargers of the OJHL. Nicholas went into the Battalion training camp and earned a spot on the roster. In early and especially mid-season viewings, you could always find Paul playing physical, and showing a nice pair of hands in front of the net. He was not a good skater but was always able to remain involved in the play. However, towards the end of the season, he seemed to hit a wall likely due to playing his first full season at this level of play. He became a little more perimeter oriented and he essentially got away from his strengths. He is a strong player, who has a good chance to hear his name called at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. When he sticks to his strengths he’s an extremely effective player who plays a power game. However he needs to use the next season as an opportunity to elevate his play and show his true potential.
FC: Paul is a good-sized winger who gets around the ice efficiently. He has some solid puck skills and can be strong on the cycle. He uses his size well and has shown an ability to finish, albeit inconsistently.
RLR: Strong, skates well, & has untapped offensive potential

So there you have it–a quick peek into the assets added through trading Jason Spezza (and the disappointing Ludwig Karlsson).  Paul will play in the OHL this upcoming season, while Chiasson will be on the main roster and Guptill joins the B-Sens.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing Ottawa’s 2014 NHL Draft

With the draft in the books it’s time to take a look at how the Ottawa Senators did.  While they were unable to get a first round pick, the Sens picked in the second round for the first time since 2011.  The normal Murray draft trends continued, as they selected a local kid (Summers), a player from the QMJHL (Perron), picked from Sweden (Englund) and US leagues (Eiserman), but did not take anyone from the WHL (a staple) or go completely off the board.  While the team failed to trade Jason Spezza, they did make a minor deal with Winnipeg in order to acquire the pick they took Summers with (giving up their 6th in 2015).   I’ve compiled all the scouting reports I have.  Here’s who was picked (acronyms: Red Line Report (RLR), International Scouting Service (ISS), Hockey Prospect‘s (HP), and Future Considerations (FC)):

2-40 Andreas Englund (DL 6’3 SuperElit Djurgarden 33-5-5-10) Ranked: HP 42 RLR 44 FC 63 ISS 67
Physical defenseman with good feet was picked ahead of projections; scouts question his puck-skills, but they did the same for Mikael Wikstrand so I’ll take a wait-and-see attitude on that.  He’ll play for Djurgarden in the fall (either their junior or men’s team, or more likely, both).
RLR: Huge rearguard is very powerful and still a bit raw.  Workhorse with a massive frame and wingspan.  Consistently mean and aggres- sive.  Plays with an edge and really drives right through his man on big hits.  Nasty with his stick around the crease.  Controls gaps well and steps up at the blue line to deliver big hits.  Loves the physical aspect of game and looks to initiate contact.  Wins all battles down low.  Eats up ice with long strides and is fast straight-ahead even if he isn’t overly quick or agile.  Has a keen sense for when to join the rush.  Not a natural puck rusher or PP quarterback – even if he does pick his spots well – but is adept at sneaking in the back door on PP.  Showed improved composure on outlets and clearings.  As his best when he plays the body, wins the puck, finds the tape, and joins the rush. Projection:  Pounding, physical presence on the blue line. Style compares to:  Alexei Emelin
ISS: Englund is a big, physical defenseman who shows strong toughness below the goal and when battling for pucks. Strong awareness and anticipation to step up and lay the body. Above average mobility for his size and good feet to quickly react and takeaway offensive room. Doesn’t possess many offensive weapons as he thrives in the defensive leadership role utilizing every inch of his 6.03 frame. Thrives playing in a similar role with Djurgardens Junior and Allsvenskan this year where he could focus on his shutdown game and defending his own zone. Elevated his game to a higher level with Sweden at the U18 World Championships, took on a leadership role on the backend and showed tremendous character in doing the little things needed to win.   Size/Strength  Very Good Skating   Good Puck Skills  Average Shot   Average Offensive Play  Average Defensive Play  Excellent Physical Play  Very Good Competitiveness Very Good Hockey Sense  Very Good
HP: Englund is really big kid who competes hard. He didn’t show us a huge amount of hockey sense but he can really skate. He was in a group of the ‘big three’ we needed to see more of coming into the season. He’s the best skater by far over Lagesson and Olas-Mattsson. The size, skating ability and compete level make it easy to rank him as a draftable player. He plays with heart and wants to make a difference every game. He could have a wide range of rankings amongst the NHL teams.
FC: A two-way defenseman who is more physical than technical, Englund is solid in his own zone and pretty dangerous on the opposing blueline. Englund demonstrates impressive mobility and speed. He is a powerful skater and gets going quickly. He is balanced and controlled on his skates, and can move well for his size. He demonstrates strength on the puck and the ability to escape pressure in his own zone. Englund makes a good first pass and sends his team quickly up ice with quick outlets. He is a little too aggressive at times in his own zone, but he was mostly smart with his decision making. He takes space away quickly and isn’t afraid to use his body to take a man off the puck. He contains his man well and is strong against some bigger forwards. He shuts players down well with his size and is impressive down low in his own end, with the ability to win pucks and earn his team possession. Englund edges out opposing forwards well into the corners. Very strong and harsh on opponents in front of the net. Can be very tenacious, especially in those little one-on-one battles. NHL POTENTIAL: Top-Six Two-Way Defenseman

3-70 Miles Gendron (DL 6’2 USHS Rivers 22-6-13-19) Ranked: HP 73 RLR 77 ISS 121 FC 179
Mixed opinions from scouts on the former forward; there are questions about how well he’s adapted to being a defenseman, but these are early days in his development.  He’s slated to play in the BCHL in September and then go to the NCAA with University of Connecticut subsequently.
RLR: Wild young colt plays like a rover, which is understandable since he was a forward until a year ago.  Likes to wander and move up into the play – pushes the attack.  Is one of the best pure skaters in this draft with a long, fluid stride and terrific mobility.  Great first step burst and accelerates to full speed in two strides.  Crisp edging and balance with sharp stop/starts, directional change and recovery speed.  But backs in on his goalie constantly — as you would expect, he’s not yet confident in his gap control.  Also plays with only one hand on the stick too much and has very little understanding of defensive zone positioning and coverage down low.  Can either make crisp, pro style outlets or carry the puck up out of danger himself.  Has terrific puck skills and natural instincts.  A longterm project with an extremely high offensive ceiling. Projection:  Wildcard rover from the back end. Style compares to:  Nick Leddy
ISS: A gifted offensive player with natural play- making ability. An excellent skater with good speed who can change gears without hesitation and loves carrying the puck. Possesses a hard, accurate point shot that he can get off in no time and is adept at skating in from the blue-line and making cross-crease passes to his team-mates. Had played as a forward in the past and is a work in progress defensively who can sometimes create too many turnovers due to his high-risk approach. Tries to do too much on his own. Still needs to get stronger physically as he has a lanky frame. Was Green Bay’s 11th Round Pick, 177th Overall in 2014 USHL draft and has verbal with University of Connecticut, 2015-16.  Size/Strength  Good Skating   Excellent Puck Skills  Very Good Shot   Good Offensive Play  Very Good Defensive Play  Average Physical Play  Average Competitiveness Good Hockey Sense  Good
HP: Miles is an outstanding skater, especially for his size and he utilizes his size and speed to take the puck end to end. He has strong puck handling ability but likes to utilize his skating to his advantage. Miles is a bit of a project as he needs to get stronger and needs to improve defensively but he has the skating to recover when he goes out of position. He has signed on to join the Penticton Vees of the BCHL for one year before heading to the University of Connecticut in September 2015. He will be a long term project but could really pay off in the end to a team that remains patient.
FC: A very raw, but talented puck-moving defender. Made the switch to defense for his senior year and there have been many struggles. With his size, his exceptional skating ability and his ability to skate with the puck, he can be a dangerous puck rusher. Looks lost during some of his shifts as he struggles to find proper position. However, when he gets the puck on his stick, he has the ability to create offense quite quickly by making a strong, long-range breakout pass or carrying it out of his zone himself. Very creative, has impressive vision and is able to control the puck well with his skilled hands and reach. Might have the best skating ability on the East Coast. Has a decent wrist shot, but needs to improve his velocity and release of his slap shot. Playing as a defenseman might have been the wrong choice. After watching him closely since last summer, he has yet to develop any type of feel for the game from the backend. Has no idea how to keep a solid gap, and often has incredibly poor stick position. Could a move back to forward be in the cards? NHL POTENTIAL: Top-Six Offensive Blueliner

4-100 Shane Eiserman (LW 6’2 USHL Dubuque 53-16-24-40) Ranked: ISS 48 FC 57 RLR 95 HP 97
Mixed feelings about Eiserman who dropped beyond anyone’s expectations (if not by much); some question his work-ethic, his skating, and whether he’s plateau’d, but projects as a rugged power forward and pest.  He’s committed to the University of New Hampshire (NCAA) in the fall.
RLR: One of the year’s biggest disappointments.  Could have challenged for the first round, but word is he developed quite an attitude.  His game has hit a plateau.  At his best, he’s an honest, hard-working, two-way winger who plays a pro style, north-south game.  Rugged and likes to initiate contact.  Does his best work down low in the offensive zone and is at his best when powering down the slot causing trouble and looking for rebounds.  But just like the movie “Groundhog Day,” his season became the same scenario game in and game out:  drive down the wing, lose the puck, lazily backcheck.  Rinse, repeat.  There was no variety or development, and we hear he doesn’t retain coaching well – a major red flag.  He’s a powerful skater with strength and balance, but needs to improve his first step quickness and lacks a top-end gear.  Uses his size/strength effectively along the walls and will sell out his body to clear the defensive zone consistently. Projection:  Rugged, physical 4th line grinder. Style compares to:  Travis Moen
ISS: Eiserman has come a long way in the past few years. His development with the US NTPD was strong and developed him into an extremely competitive player. He is a relentless and intimidating forechecker who can be like a bull in a china shop at times. He likes to battle and play the body as much as he possibly and that includes driving lanes right down the middle of the ice or the most direct route to the net, regardless of how many opponents occupy those lanes. It is not uncommon to see him mixing it up around the net and making life hard for opposing goaltenders. He has a strong powerful stride and shows great balance on his skates and can also show off a strong shot from time to time.  He can lose sight of other options other than the net at times and that can cost him here and there.  Size/Strength  Very Good Skating   Very Good Puck Skills  Good Shot   Very Good Offensive Play  Good Defensive Play  Good Physical Play  Very Good Competitiveness Very Good Hockey Sense  Very Good
HP: The QMJHL draftee opted for the USNTDP for a season before leaving the national program for Dubuque after the 2012-2013 season. While with the national program he also represented Team USA at the 2013 U18’s, where he recorded one assist in six games during the tournament. Eiserman is a big, strong, physical power forward with the skill and skating ability to match. He is a heavy hitter, and is always looking to put a body on someone whenever given the chance. Some of the biggest hits viewed all season long came courtesy of Shane. High compete level at both ends of the ice, responsible defensively. He backchecks hard, always covers his assignment in the defensive zone, has good support, and is responsible with the puck in his own end. He always plays it safe and smart outleting the puck, and is very largely mistake-free in his own end. He’s a big body, and that combined with his high effort level leads to him winning most board battles. There are times where the effort level was in question, however, and was less consistent than you would like. Offensively, Shane has the skating ability, strength, and hands to bull his way through traffic. When he’s not bulldozing, he’s drawing defenders to him and dishing the puck off to teammates. He uses his line mates well and creates a lot of space for them and himself to operate. He often just simply overpowers defenders, plain and simple.  He has decent foot speed and mobility, but it could be improved. Once at full speed, though, he’s tough to stop. His offensive play did tail off a bit toward the end of the season, and he had a disappointing Clark Cup Playoff, registering only two assists in seven games. The dip was a bit concerning, as were the periods where it seemed like he could work harder, so it will be interesting to see how he responds at the University of New Hampshire next season. If he works hard and the effort is there, he could be a real good power forward at the NHL level, but the effort has to become much more consistent.
FC: A prototypical power forward, Eiserman has effective size and impressive skill with the puck. Eiserman is a very good skater with a powerful stride and highly effective acceleration coming down the wing. He is effective playing a north-south game, and likes to use his power and speed to take the puck down the wing and then find a lane to crash the net. Eiserman has a quick, powerful shot that he’ll use off the rush, and he is also very successful when driving the net from an outside lane. He does a good job finding his teammates off the rush, but there are times where his decision making with the puck fluctuates. He has a tendency to attempt to force the issue with the puck and will give it away or make a poor feed. Eiserman does a good job using his size both with and without the puck. He protects it well, and also does an exceptional job at getting in hard on the forecheck and banging players off the puck. Eiserman will return defensively, but at times, seems lost in his own zone and can improve his defensive game as well as his overall consistency. NHL POTENTIAL: Top-Nine Power Forward

7-189 Kelly Summers (DR 6’2 CCHL Carleton Place 56-17-43-60) Ranked: ISS 61 FC 66 HP 134 RLR 235
Taken well ahead of his rankings (excluding RLR), the blueliner, who may have skating issues to work on (ISS and FC have opposite opinions about it), but otherwise is thought well of.  He’ll play for Clarkson (NCAA) this upcoming season.
RLR: offers no scouting report on him
ISS: Possesses an excellent head for the game and makes smart decisions with the puck. A good skater with plus mobility and above-average play-making skills. Is an effective general with the man advantage and likes the puck on his stick. A reliable defensive zone player that can either carry the puck out thanks to his mobility and skating ability, or who can get the puck up quickly to his forwards. Plays with poise and confidence in all situations and can log a ton of minutes when required. Has a very high panic threshold when being pressured by opposing fore-checkers. Can be physical and has game in this regard, picked his spots to be physical especially on the offensive blue line when pinching. Front net presence was very good with a very active stick.  Size/Strength  Very Good Skating   Very Good Puck Skills  Very Good Shot   Very Good Offensive Play  Very Good Defensive Play  Good Physical Play  Average Competitiveness Good Hockey Sense  Very Good
HP: offers no scouting report on him (despite the ranking)
FC: Summers is a good skater with excellent pivots and lateral movement. Uses his skating ability to get out of trouble and has no problem handling the puck. Always seemed to have his head up. Summers moves the puck extremely well. Good tape-to-tape passes and doesn’t take unnecessary chances coming out of his zone. His point shots always seem to find their way to the net. Strong sense of when to pinch and when to back off. He uses his big frame effectively in the corners, tying up his competition and winning puck battles. Summers is not a player who will get into many fights, but he will not shy away from contact either. Makes smart plays in his own end and has good vision quarterbacking the power play. Challenges rushing players one on one and wins the battles. He also uses his frame to battle at the front of the net and does not get out of position looking for big hits. It’s impressive how much he has worked on his skating since the beginning of the year. He has clearly been working on his foot work and improving his overall speed. NHL POTENTIAL: Top-Six Two-Way Defenseman

7-190 Francis Perron (C/LW 6’0 QMJHL Rouyn-Noranda 68-16-39-55) Ranked: RLR 78 ISS 110 FC 145 HP n/r
Taken well after his usual rankings, the playmaker is knocked below mostly for his size (a dubious quality the further we get into advanced statistical analysis).  He’ll spend a couple of seasons in the Q before the team has to make a decision on him.
RLR: Smooth skater with soft hands and a quick release, especially from the off wing.  Slightly built, but willing to battle for loose pucks and heads into traffic.  More a playmaker than a scorer, and looks to pass first before finding his own shot.  Soft passing touch off both sides of the blade, and can feather saucers through traffic even in short areas.  Makes good reads in transition and sets up numerous odd-man rushes.  Just starting to come into his own and rapidly gained confidence over the season’s second half.  Impressed us with his agility and instinctive offensive mind – thinks outside the box.  Slender frame and will need to add loads of upper body strength to be able to battle more effectively in tight quarters and push through checks at the next level. Projection:  Versatile 3rd line winger. Style compares to:  Reilly Smith
ISS: The first thing that stands out about Perron is his smooth fluid stride, good quickness and edge use.  He is a player with good offensive upside; good 1 on 1 skill set and shot, good read/anticipation on the offensive side of the puck, plus sees the ice well and has above average playmaking ability. The biggest weakness in his game is the lack of a physical game and a willingness to play in traffic.  He plays mainly in open areas, seemed unwilling to compete and battle for pucks, and unwilling to compete and battle for space.  He did play in all situations for Rouyn-Noranda and does utilize his speed, quick feet and stick well on the penalty kill.   Size/Strength  Average Skating   Very Good Puck Skills  Good Shot   Good Offensive Play  Good Defensive Play  Average Physical Play  Average Competitiveness Average Hockey Sense  Good
HP: does not include him
FC: Perron is a small-framed, but skilled player. He is a really good skater, agile and shifty, not really powerful though and doesn’t have very good balance. Because of his frame, he is not a physical player. He will finish a check, but it doesn’t impact the game at all. He’s not the kind of guy to engage and he tries to avoid being hit as well. He plays at the point on the power play, where he displays really good, quick hands and nice vision. He can make good, accurate saucer passes and touch passes. Puts the puck into open space for teammates ahead of them being open, and can do so with pressure in his face. He has yet to find that shift-to-shift consistency, but has some flashes each and every game. He can finish plays as well as set them up. He is not a goal scorer per se as his shot is accurate, but not very hard. Perron is the kind of skilled guy who can become a late bloomer if he adds more weight and strength to his frame. He has a good skill set, but the transition to the next level is a question mark due to his size. NHL POTENTIAL: Top-Nine Playmaking Winger

Was it a good draft?  With three college-bound players it will be a long time before we know for certain–none of these players will be suiting up for the Sens or B-Sens in the near future.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing the 2014 NHL Draft

In what was described as a weak draft, it’s time to look back over the events of the past two days and assess the collective prognostication.  Without further ado, here are the numbers from myself and the sources I used to make my predictions (I’m not concerned with Player X at position X, so what’s below is simply the correct player by round).  Acronyms: EOTS (Eye on the Sens), FC (Future Considerations), HP (Hockey Prospects), RLR (Red Line Report), and ISS (International Scouting Service).

First Round
EOTS/HP (and Bob McKenzie): 27/30
FC: 26/30
RLR/ISS: 24/30
Highly accurate numbers all around; everyone got Ivan Barbashev wrong, with the Russian falling out of the round (Roland McKeown was the next most surprising drop); every pick this round had at least one first round selection, so there were no genuine surprises.

Second Round
EOTS: 18/30
HP: 17/30
RLR/ISS/FC: 12/30
Solid numbers for the round; all but one player with a first round vote was taken here (Jack Glover being the exception); the biggest surprise pick was Alex Lintuniemi, whose highest selection was in the 5th round (FC) and was not included in the draft by ISS and HP; Vitek Vanecek also surprised (no one had him higher than fourth)

Third Round
EOTS/ISS: 8/30
HP/RLR: 7/30
FC: 3/30
Aussie Nathan Walker was an odd pick here, as Washington already had him on an AHL-deal this past season; Elvis Merzlikins only had one source put him in the draft (RLR in the sixth), as did Jonas Johansson (FC); Kyle Wood and Mark Friedman were also surprise picks

Fourth Round
HP/FC: 7/30
RLR: 5/30
EOTS: 4/30
ISS: 2/30
Quite a few unranked players were taken here (Christoffer Ehn, Devon Toews, Sam Lafferty, and Danton Heinin) and they were coupled with innumerable off-the-wall selections

Fifth Round
HP: 5/30
RLR/ISS: 3/30
FC: 2/30
EOTS: 1/30
Five more unranked players were taken (three Europeans and a pair of junior-B players), joining the mishmash of swings for the fences one expects in a weak draft; Gustav Forsling, a projected second-rounder for some, was finally picked

Sixth Round
HP: 4/30
ISS/FC: 2/30
EOTS/RLR: 0/30
Thirteen players (over a third of the round) taken were not ranked coming into the draft; Adam Ollas Mattsson, expected to go in the second round, was finally picked

Seventh Round
EOTS/ISS/RLR: 2/30
HP/FC: 1
Another nine unranked players were taken; the highly regarded Emil Johansson was finally selected, as was Spencer Watson

Total
HP: 71/210
EOTS: 60/210
FC/ISS/RLR: 53/210

Congratulations to HP whose 33% is quite high for by-round predictions.  The more important number is how many players selected were actually taken in the draft, and here’s how we all did (with variance from last year noted):
EOTS/HP: 149/210 (71%) +2%
FC: 145/210 (69%) +1%
RLR: 136/210 (64%) -3%
ISS: 132/210 (62%) -3%

Once again I finished tied with HP, so all credit to them (two years running).  It’s a slight improvement on last year for both, although my specific accuracy slipped slightly while HP’s improved.  I have to admit, if HP is at the top next year I may retire my own version of predictions (there’s not much point if my method can’t out pick a single source).

The highest ranked players to fall out of the draft were Vladimir Tkachev and Sebastian Aho, both of whom I had pegged for early in the third round, but their size seems to have scared teams away.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa 2014 Draft Thoughts

Just a brief thought on who the Sens may draft today and tomorrow.  Ottawa is a difficult team to predict, regularly taking players who are off the radar (Emil Sandin in 2008, Brad Peltz in 2009, Marcus Sorensen in 2010, Jordan Fransoo in 2011, Tim Boyle in 2012, and so on).  The best fans can do is look at player rankings and pay attention to what the organisation is saying and doing beforehand.  The mantra of best-player-available has been consistent.  The only firm trend the Sens have had under Bryan Murray has not picked from Europe unless it’s from Sweden.  I don’t think this is an actual “rule”, but clearly their scouting is strong in Sweden and circumstances have worked against Finnish or Czech or any other European league.  We can be assured there will be players from the CHL, US leagues, and Sweden taken, but not preclude other possibilities.

The Sens currently have the following picks: 2nd (40), 3rd (70), 4th (100), and 7th (190).  Here’s who they would pick according to each guide I’ve seen (Future Considerations, Hockey Prospect’s, ISS, and Red Line Report) and my own list list:
2nd: Markus Pettersson (FC), Julius Honka (ISS), Aaron Irving (RLR), Sebastian Aho (HP), Alex Nedelijkovic (me) – I don’t believe Pettersson or Honka will be available at this point and it’s unlikely the Sens will take a goalie (Nedelijkovic), so from this list I’d go with Aho
3rd: Nick Magyar (FC, ISS), Edwin Minney (RLR), Miro Keskitalo (HP), Oskar Lindblom (me) – my list (Lindblom) works here
4th: Michael Bunting (FC), Ryan Donato (ISS), Jonathan MacLeod (RLR), Matt Iacopelli (HP), Logan Halladay (me) – I don’t believe Bunting, Donato, or MacLeod will be available, so I’ll stick with my pick here (Halladay)
7th:  Nicholas Jones (FC), Ryan Hitchcock (ISS), Waltteri Hopponen (RLR), Arkhip Nekolenko (HP), Nikita Lyamkin (me) – the Sens won’t touch Russians and I don’t think Hitchcock or Hopponen will be available, so this defaults to Jones

Take it all with a grain of salt, and remember it’s likely the Sens will get a pick from trading Jason Spezza, but it’s food for thought.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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