Since my earlier article (http://eyeonthesens.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/the-binghamton-senators-roster-changes-and-potential-lineup/) the Senators have re-signed Kaspars Daugavins (Aug 3), lost Lee Sweatt to retirement (Aug 12), and signed three players to AHL contracts (Bobby Raymond, Josh Godfrey, and Jack Downing). While we can expect a goalie to be signed for Elmira (ECHL), these moves appear to round out the AHL roster.
In my earlier look at Binghamton I mentioned the team had lost 6 of their top-10 scoring forwards, but with Daugavins back in the fold the total is knocked down to 5. Similarly, the number of goals out of the line up has been reduced to 153 of their 255 goals (60%). It’s a question mark whether the ECHL blueliners (Raymond and Godfrey) collectively replace Sweatt, but they provide extra depth and mean Craig Schira will be taking a regular shift. Before I get into the lineup, here’s a reminder of who has departed:
Ryan Keller (71-32-19-51) – the UFA signed with the Edmonton Oilers (www.tsn.ca/nhl/ story/?id=370939)
Ryan Potulny (71-21-28-49) – the Sens did not qualify him and he signed with Washington (http://capitals.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=568219)
Erik Condra (55-17-30-47) – he signed a two-year, one-way deal with Ottawa
Roman Wick (70-20-22-42) – although qualified as an RFA, he signed a deal with his former team Kloten of the NLA (http://www.hockeysverige.se/article/12039252/wick-ger-upp-nhl-drommen)
Colin Greening (59-15-25-40) – he signed a three-year, one-way deal with Ottawa
Bobby Butler (47-22-11-33) – he signed a two-year, one-way deal with Ottawa
Cody Bass (58-6-9-15) – the Sens did not qualify him and he signed with Columbus (www.falconsahl.com/index.php?id=1801)
Zack Smith (22-7-5-12) – he signed a two-year, one-way deal with Ottawa
Jason Bailey, RW (43-2-0-2) – the former Ottawa 67 was an RFA who was not qualified; he is currently without a team
Andre Benoit (73-11-44-55) – the UFA signed with Spartak Moscow of the KHL (http://www.spartak.ru/press/news/item6968/)
Derek Smith (71-10-44-54) – the UFA signed with Calgary (flames.nhl.com/club/ news.htm?id=569161)
Geoff Kinrade (78-6-19-25) – although qualified as an RFA, he signed with Plzen of the Czech Elite League (http://www.hcplzen.cz/clanek.asp?id=6075)
David Hale (36-2-4-6) – currently unsigned, the UFA was rumoured to be headed to Europe (http://twitter.com/#!/SunGarrioch for July 6th)
Lee Sweatt (41-5-9-14) – he unexpectedly retired without ever suiting up for Binghamton (twitter.com/#!/NortonSports/ status/102063195795111936)
Barry Brust (52-29-19-2, 2.53, 0.925) – the UFA signed with the Straubing Tigers of the DEL (www.tigershockey.de/page/news/ article.php?article_file=1310911270.txt)
Mike Brodeur (9-3-5-0, 2.93, 0.903) – the injury-plagued UFA is currently without a team
The additions to the roster:
Mark Parrish (56-17-34-51) – the free agent played for the Portland Pirates in Buffalo’s system last year
Stephane Da Costa (NCAA 33-14-31-45) – the college free agent was signed towards the end of last year
Pat Cannone (NCAA 39-14-23-37) – the college free agent was signed towards the end of last year
Derek Grant (NCAA 38-8-25-33) – the 2008 fourth round draft pick left Michigan State after two years to turn pro
Louie Caporusso (NCAA 41-11-20-31) – the 2007 third round draft pick completed his senior year at the University of Michigan
Andre Petersson (SEL 31-8-4-12) – the 2008 fourth round pick was signed after finishing his second full year in the SEL
Wacey Hamilton (WHL 67-20-53-73) – the captain of the Medicine Hat Tigers was signed as a free agent
Jack Downing (NCAA 36-13-5-18) – the big free agent right-winger was signed to an AHL-deal after four years at the University of Vermont
Tim Conboy (70-0-12-12) – the free agent played for the Portland Pirates in Buffalo’s system last year
Jared Cowen (WHL 58-18-30-48) – the 2009 first round pick will play his first pro season
Mark Borowiecki (NCAA 31-3-8-11) – the 2008 fifth round pick left Clarkson a year early to turn pro
Bobby Raymond (ECHL 72-8-26-34) – he was part of Binghamton’s Calder Cup run and was signed to an AHL deal
Josh Godfrey (ECHL 49-15-12-27) – a former second-round pick of the Washington Capitals, he spent the bulk of his three-year ELC in the ECHL; he’s signed to an AHL deal
Mike McKenna (39-14-20-2, 3.61, 0.886) – the free agent goaltender was signed out of the Devil’s system in Albany
Players returning to the roster:
Corey Locke (69-21-65-86) – the reigning AHL MVP returns for the final year of his deal
Jim O’Brien (74-24-32-56) – the 2007 first round pick had a great sophomore campaign and will look to improve on it in the final year of his ELC
Kaspars Daugavins (73-19-35-54) – he enjoyed a fantastic playoff and, after rejecting his ELC, accepted a one-year deal that included a high AHL-salary
Mike Hoffman (74-7-18-25) – the 2009 fifth round pick will look to take a step forward
David Dziurzynski (75-6-14-20) – the 2010 free agent out of the BCHL looks to take another step forward in his sophomore year
Corey Cowick (30-1-3-4) – it was a rookie year to forget for the 2009 sixth rounder
Francis Lessard (36-2-1-3) – the veteran heavyweight will return for another season
Patrick Wiercioch (67-4-14-18) – a rough rookie year for the 2008 second rounder
Craig Schira (67-3-10-13) – the 2009 WHL free agent’s numbers tumbled in his sophomore year
Eric Gryba (66-3-4-7) – Ottawa’s 2006 third round pick was Binghamton’s rookie of the year and is in the final year of his ELC
Robin Lehner (22-10-8-2, 2.70, 0.912) – the 2009 second rounder will look to build off his incredible playoff run
How players perform in training camp will have a huge impact on all the prospects (I am assuming here that David Rundblad remains in Ottawa while Jared Cowen is sent down), but here are a few reasonable predictions regarding Binghamton’s lineup:
1. Top-six forwards: Locke, Daugavins, O’Brien, and Parrish
2. Top-four blueliners: Wiercioch, Cowen, and Gryba
3. The goaltending situation is obvious: Lehner starts, McKenna backs-up
Of the remaining forwards, Mike Hoffman and Stephane Da Costa are the most likely players to fit into the top-six. On the blueline, I believe Borowiecki and Conboy will battle it out for the other top-four position. Given these assumptions, here’s my guess at the starting lineup:
Kaspars Daugavins-Corey Locke-Mark Parrish
Parrish seems like the most logical player to line up on the right side, although I don’t think he’s guaranteed to remain on the top line just because of his experience.
Mike Hoffman-Stephane Da Costa-Jim O’Brien
While I think Hoffman is better at center, given the makeup of the roster I believe he’ll play on the wing. The team is also short on the right side and there’s no way Da Costa will play there, so I believe O’Brien will slide over.
Derek Grant-David Dziurzynski-Andre Petersson
This line could also have Grant in the middle. I don’t think Petersson is effective as a fourth-liner and would be helped playing with the big bodies of Dziurzynski and Grant (both of whom are excellent playmakers).
Pat Cannone-Louie Caporusso-Francis Lessard
An interesting mix, as both Cannone and Caporusso bring skill to the table while Lessard adds physicality. I think it will be tough for Corey Cowick to get into the lineup with all the depth at leftwing (although he’s a more physical option than Cannone), while Wacey Hamilton has more flexibility because he can play center. I don’t believe Lessard will always be in the lineup, which will allow the scratches to rotate in. The newly signed Downing remains a potential call-up from Elmira.
Not a fun combination to play against. Not the most fleet of foot duo, but particularly in the AHL they should create some havoc. Both are excellent defensively.
While one of them would be playing on his offside here, I’ll give them credit to be able to switch and beat out the veteran Conboy (otherwise I think Borowiecki slides down to the bottom pair).
I’m not sure which is better at playing his weak side, but I believe they make a logical combination (size and toughness paired with skill). This leaves the AHL-contract blueliners out of the lineup (Raymond and Godfrey).
How the team will perform overall is hard to say given the amount of turnover in the AHL. The forwards are younger and smaller while the blueline is younger and bigger. I expect the team will compete for a playoff spot with their fate locked into how their goaltenders perform. If the organisation can land yet another good ECHL option in goal (like Barry Brust last year or Chris Holt the year before) then I like their chances.
A few related links:
Bobby Butler comments on Robin Lehner‘s growing maturity (July 15th): www.facebook.com/TEAM1200
Tim Murray calls Mark Borowiecki an NHL player (June 28th): www.facebook.com/TEAM1200
Bryan Murray says Mike Hoffman looks like an NHL player: senators.nhl.com/club/ news.htm?id=569478