-For those of you who have spent the summer wondering why I didn’t include my point projections for Sens players in my regular season review, your wait is over as I’ve added them into the article. My two biggest errors from last summer were my point projections for Bobby Butler and my expectation that Jared Cowen would need time in Binghamton. Overall however, my prognostication was solid.
–Peter Raaymakers looks at the Sens blueline and I recommend reading it in full. Here are my thoughts:
Other than Methot and Cowen, no blueliner is capable of playing the kind of ice time Karlsson carries each game.
I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment and I think Raaymakers is right that Paul MacLean will certainly aim for a Methot–Karlsson pairing. If Methot can’t handle the role and Cowen suffers from a sophomore slump, it will hurt Karlsson a great deal as he’ll have to change his game for a weaker partner.
Gonchar will certainly be used on the powerplay, and he may be moved down the lineup at even strength to decrease the amount of ice time he plays–pretty much the opposite of Cowen, who will be used on the penalty kill, and may be bumped up in the depth chart since he can definitely gobble up minutes. Cowen may also see a bit of powerplay time this season, depending on whether or not Paul MacLean wants to use a forward on the blue line with the man advantage.
I have little doubt that Gonchar and Cowen will start the season together. Given the limited offensive talent on the blueline Gonchar and Karlsson will get the majority of the powerplay minutes. It will be interesting to see if MacLean went with a forward option on the second unit, although I think Alfredsson‘s days of walking the blueline are over and I’m not sure who among the forwards could play that role.
Lundin‘s not exactly an offensive powerhouse, but he looks like a capable puck-mover, and Phillips has a tendency to get trapped in his own zone if his partner isn’t able to move the puck out (or forwards aren’t willing to get deep in the zone and carry the puck out on their own). Against fast, offensive teams, Lundin may draw in to the lineup to allow MacLean’s system to work most effectively.
If Lundin has a good first pass it must be the only good pass he makes, as he’s never had more than 11 assists in an NHL season. I agree wholeheartedly that Phillips needs someone to bail him out and Lundin‘s skating ability should help. I think Raaymakers’ distinction between playing a fast versus a physical team is a good one for where Borowiecki (or Gryba) could slide into the lineup.
The article goes on to exclude Ceci, Wiercioch, Benoit, and Eckford from the lineup and I believe that’s likely. What interests me is that he excludes Gryba who, prior to Borowiecki‘s ascendance last year, was the next in line to add a physical element to the blueline. What’s concerning in looking at Ottawa’s blueline is how few players offer anything offensively.
–Corey Pronman provides his list of the Sens top-ten prospect:
1. Mika Zibanejad – could be a top line forward
2. Cody Ceci – either a top two or top four blueliner
3. Jakob Silfverberg – could be an above-average second liner
4. Mark Stone – could be an above-average second liner
5. Shane Prince – could be a good second liner
6. Stephane Da Costa – could be an average second liner
7. Stefan Noesen – could be a decent second liner
8. Patrick Wiercioch – could be a top four blueliner
9. Matt Puempel – could be an average second liner
10. Andre Petersson – could be a below-average second liner
The Next Five
11. Mike Hoffman – may push for an NHL spot
12. Robin Lehner – he’s “way ahead of the curve”
13. Jean-Gabriel Pageau – no specific projection given
14. Mark Borowiecki – on the cusp of NHL time
15. Derek Grant – no specific projection
Robbie Baillargeon – no specific projection
Pronman joins the horde of Ottawa locals who love Shane Prince and while I could quibble with the positioning of the other players that’s the one selection that puzzles me the most. Notably low in his rankings is Robin Lehner, but Pronman isn’t fond of goaltenders as prospects. I have no idea how Pronman distinguishes between “average” and “decent” (Noesen). He writes:
This [Ottawa] is a ridiculously deep system. Players like Jarrod Maidens, Ben Blood, and Fredrik Claesson, who would all be in just about any team’s top 15 prospects, end up off Ottawa’s top 15. They lack the multiple star prospects outside of Mika Zibanejad, but there are still so many quality youngsters in this organization.
Pronman’s sentiment is pretty common–the Sens have stockpiled a great deal of depth, but like most teams they have a limited number of top end players.
–Stu Hackel takes a look at the NHL’s interest in cutting back on diving and obstruction, spending most of his time writing about the former. I don’t think diving is a big problem in the league and the emphasis on it seems like a lot of wasted effort given the larger problems the NHL has with its officiating.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)