Senators News: September 30th

-Sean Leahy provides an overview of the Sens last season and projects for this one:

There’s enough promise up and down the Ottawa lineup to believe they can make a return trip to the postseason. If the offensive leaders in Alfredsson, Michalek and Spezza don’t take big steps back and the defense improves slightly, the Senators will find their way into the Eastern Conference’s top-8 again. Anderson will once again need to play at a consistent level, with Bishop (or Lehner) providing reliable spot duty. If the youngsters like Zibanejad, Silfverberg and/or Stone are able to help make an impact offensively, there won’t be any questions about whether or not this team will be playoff-bound.

It’s hard to disagree with any of this given how vague it is, but I think Leahy misses what I see as the key issue for Ottawa which will be the offensive transition from defense to offence–will having only Karlsson and Gonchar as puck-movers be enough?

-Mika Zibanejad talked about playing the wing in Binghamton:

I’ve played pretty much every position: Right wing and centre as well. I’m comfortable (with the change). I played left, right and centre at the world juniors. I played half-and-half back at home as well. I don’t mind the switching around. It’s good to be able to play different positions as well. If it’s going to give me a bigger chance to make the team, it’s good. For me, it doesn’t matter. I just want to go out there and play.

The organisation wants Zibanejad to play in the top-six and believe the wing is the only way for him to do so (which makes sense given the contracts of Spezza and Turris).

-In the same article Garrioch reports that Hugh Jessiman suffered a shoulder injury in the team’s scrimmage (Stephane Da Costa and Shane Prince [strained knee] also had issues); presumably one of these injuries was enough for Dustin Gazley to be called up from Elmira.

-Speaking of Jessiman, he talked about the opportunity with Ottawa:

They said we need size. We don’t have a lot of it. We think you can be a Dwight King kind of guy for us and if willing to take that chance, we’ll sign you. I’m not a heavyweight fighter, but I’m not afraid to stick up for my teammates and drop the gloves. Both here and (in Ottawa), I can do that. It might be a touch different role here than (in Ottawa). [When I turned pro] I was forced to not only use by body, but back when I came in here, five, six, maybe seven, years ago, there was a lot more fighting, it was a lot grittier. It was a different game. Hartford and New York wanted me to be a gritty, two-way power forward, but to do that, you have to be able to stick up for yourself and your teammates. So I had to learn how to fight. You learn the hard way. A lot of these young guys will go through this in the next year or two or three…or four, if it takes them as long as it did for me. It takes awhile for guys to bring the same game every night. It’s really hard to do. Not everybody can do it.

-The ECHL has announced training camp rosters and Elmira’s includes (players from college, junior, or pro leagues below the ECHL are highlighted in green):
Goaltenders
Bryan Kalczynski (NCAA III 2.54)
Nicholas Lareau (has not played since the BCHL in 06-07)
Nick Niedert (ECHL 2.07)
Joe Spagnoli (FHL 4.44)
Defense
Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel (ECHL 62-3-11-14)
Lucas Frey (FHL 38-7-16-23)
Artyom Gumenyuk (NCAA III 26-4-2-6)
Ivan Lyaskevich (GMHL 31-6-17-23)
Jeremy Norducci (NCAA III 23-1-10-11)
Andrew Rowe (AHL 34-8-3-11)
Jarrett Rush (ECHL 57-0-13-13)
Jordon Southorn (ECHL 50-8-13-21)
Forwards
Corey Bellamy (FHL 32-6-8-14)
Yegor Bezugly (ACHA II 6-3-6-9)
Brandon Blandina (NCAA 39-4-5-9)
Jean Bourbeau (ECHL 49-10-16-26)
Artem Demkov (ECHL 67-20-37-57)
Dustin Gazley (ECHL 72-25-60-85) – called up to join Binghamton’s camp
Matthew Harrington (FHL 43-11-30-41)
Kevin Harvey (ECHL 34-3-8-11)
Chaz Johnson (ECHL 64-20-15-35)
Alec Kirschner (ECHL 30-0-2-2)
Kevin McCarey (NCAA 37-4-8-12)
Tim D’Orazio (NCAA III 21-8-6-14)
Jordan Pietrus (ECHL 65-13-27-40)
Charles Vaillancourt (NCAA III 10-0-0-0)
Jon Vaillancourt (NCAA III 22-1-2-3)
Kyle Watson (SPHL 53-6-16-22)

Some of the league acronyms may not be familiar, so: SPHL = Southern Professional Hockey League (a feeder for the ECHL), FHL = Federal Hockey League (feeder league for the ECHL), ACHA II = college three-tiers below the NCAA, GMHL = Greater Metro Hockey League (independent junior league).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: September 29th

-With Binghamton’s training camp in progress we are finally getting the normal flood of hockey news

-Sylvain St-Laurent provides Binghamton’s lines and pairings: Zibanejad-Da Costa-Petersson, Hoffman-Grant-Silfverberg, Cowick-Cannone-Jessiman, Dziurzynski-Hamilton-Stone, Kramer-Pageau-Culek, Schneider-Caporusso-Prince (Peltz and Downing as extra forwards); Wiercioch-Benoit, Cowen-Eckford, Blood-Borowiecki, Claesson-Gryba, New-Martin, Campanale-Wideman.

-Sens prospect Mikael Vikstrand has been named to the Allsvenskan’s Team of the Week.

-Binghamton coach Luke Richardson reminds the prospects that:

Someone’s always watching. Every work stoppage, some players might not come back. Some of the older players might not be ready to go. Somebody might go and get injured in Europe or training too much. There might be more opportunity. You can never write off the season and be disappointed.

-Robin Lehner talked about the upcoming season:

Bishop is the guy I’ve got to beat, anyways, if I want to play up there. He’s a little older than me (Bishopis 25), but I’ve had success down here with a Calder Cup and I’ve had my other good stretches here and I’ve had success in Ottawa, too. I want to get a complete season. I grew up a little bit [last season], I think. I was a certain weight when we won (the Calder Cup in 2011) and during the summer I didn’t change that much. I came in a little heavy (last) year, but I didn’t know any better. It wasn’t celebrating success, it was more not knowing. Me, as a young guy, with a young head. I went into the summer not doing anything about it and I came into camp like that and it’s not acceptable. And I know that now. I’m not going to blame [last season’s struggles] on weight. Last year was a tough year for me, but it was tough for everybody. When it’s a tough season, goalies usually suffer a lot. I’m not happy with last year, I know I’ve got to be better. It’s a learning curve.

One of the great things about Lehner is how open he is. Sens goaltending coach Rick Wamsley added:

It’s fair to say that Robin’s career has been like this. So, with fitness, it should even out. We would still love to get the highs, but also limit the lows. We want him playing, if it’s earned. We want him playing a lot. We’re selling the ‘earned’ part and judging by the condition he has come in at, he looks like he’s buying into it. At some point, if you’re going to play in the National Hockey League, the other goalie is going to be a good goalie, so at some point, you’re going to have to deal with that. Last year, Robin’s best nine games were the nine games after we acquired Ben Bishop. Competition is healthy.

-This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: September 28th

-Binghamton has released its training camp schedule which begins today and will wrap up October 12th.  The players have been divided up into two groups:
Team One
Matt Campanale (ECHL contract)
Pat Cannone
Louie Caporusso
Fredrik Claesson
Jared Cowen
Corey Cowick
Tyler Eckford
Derek Grant
Scott Greenham
(tryout)
Eric Gryba
Mike Hoffman
Hugh Jessiman
Robin Lehner
Brad Peltz
(tryout)
Shane Prince (CHL eligible)
Cole Schneider
Jakob Silfverberg
Chris Wideman

Team Two
Andre Benoit
Ben Blood
Mark Borowiecki
Marc Cheverie (AHL contract)
Jakub Culek
Stephane Da Costa
Jack Downing (tryout)
David Dziurzynski
Wacey Hamilton
Darren Kramer
Nathan Lawson
Jimmy Martin (ECHL contract)
Daniel (Danny) New (tryout)
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (CHL eligible)
Andre Petersson
Mark Stone
Patrick Wiercioch
Mika Zibanejad

-Blogger Nicole Sorce is following Binghamton on Twitter, so check her out for updates.

-Bryan Murray talked to the media today (follow the link for a full transcription) and the most interesting tidbit was that the team was interested in sending Ben Bishop to the AHL, but will wait a little before signing him to an AHL deal in case something happens in the CBA negotiations.

-The Hockey News, who predicted a last place finish for Ottawa this past season, see’s them as the 8th place team this time around who will live and die by their youth.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: September 27th

-Bob Howard is providing coverage of the Binghamton Senators post-Joy Lindsay.  He has a piece about the team where he wonders how motivated Robin Lehner will be this season (I have to wonder how insulted he felt to win a Calder Cup and then be ignored for the backup role in Ottawa in favour of the hapless Alex Auld).  Howard has a positive view of the lockout version of the Binghamton blueline.  A second article looks at the forwards.  He assumes (dubiously in my opinion) that Corey Cowick and Wacey Hamilton are automatically in the mix for Binghamton.  He doesn’t believe the team will be high scoring, but thinks contributions from Andre Petersson and Stephane Da Costa will be vital:

Both are skilled shooters, speedy and smart players but last season both players were inconsistent at best which limited their point totals and made people question their drive to play at this level.

Other than Da Costa‘s conditioning issues I haven’t heard anything internally from the organisation that reflects these sentiments, but as always time will tell.  Binghamton will definitely need younger forwards to step up and produce offensively for the team to have success.

-Justin Goldman writes about Binghamton’s third goalie Marc Cheverie and he had a lot to say:

You can’t be delusional, and you need to know where you are on the depth chart. But you also have to realize there’s always an opportunity to move up or even move down, so you always have to perform. Anything can happen and I’ve seen it; the depth chart changes every day, so you have to perform every day. Even if you’re signed or under contract by an NHL club, if you’re not performing, they’ll get someone else. There are so many veteran guys without contracts right now that would love to step into an American league deal a week or two into training camp, so you’re always in a battle. This year is going to be even tougher for goalies than any other just because there are so many guys without contracts that are just waiting for an injury, or for a team to be struggling.

I mean there’s always been times in my career where it has been more frustrating than others. Sometimes you’re not getting the opportunity you wish you were getting. Last year was really tough when I moved up to Portland and then got sent down when they signed Peter [Mannino] there. So that was a really tough situation because I felt that I was playing well, but it was one of those things where they wanted experienced guys, and that’s the way I’ve sort of dealt with it when it comes to playing in the American league. For me it’s kind of hard to get that [AHL] experience because unless you get a chance to play there, it’s tough to be an experienced [AHL] guy. So that was one of the toughest pills to swallow; going up after Christmas and staying there, and then all of a sudden, on the last day you can possibly go down, you get sent down. But it was probably better for me in the long run because I got the opportunity to play in the ECHL playoffs for the first time, and going down and playing well turned out for the best.

You can’t force things and there’s so many things going on that you just have to take what’s given to you and do the best you can with it. Goaltending is such a different position in the way you manage things that you almost have to let things come to you. You never know when your number is going to be called, and that adversity definitely makes things a little bit easier to deal with, but obviously you hope that with each time it happens less and less, because you’ve already learned what can happen and how well you have to perform day in and day out to get that opportunity, so you don’t want it to slip through your fingers. Things change so much every day that you just never know what is going to happen.

I know that the Senators have seen me play, and some of their staff saw me play in college because I played with Patrick Wiercioch, who is currently in the system there. My agent informed me that they came to me for the deal, they did their research, and I was their guy. It’s always nice to be a known entity when you’re going in, and knowing what the expectations are. But you want to exceed them and hope to continue the relationship with the organization. Besides Robin Lehner and Nathan Lawson, they don’t have anyone else in the pro system right now, so it’s a really good situation to go into, and I’m really looking forward to making the most of it.

There’s one thing I worked on this summer, and it was my eyes. I was in Vail and I had the chance to work with Steve Valiquette for a few days. He talked about something called The Quiet Eye, which is something that helps you be more relaxed and be able to read shooters, and it includes little techniques about tracking the puck better. It’s kind of hard to explain without writing an essay about it, but those things I felt helped me make huge leaps and bounds with my game. I was better able to track the puck, which helped me all of a sudden be more relaxed in the net. I was making better decisions and things were coming more naturally, and it was just one of those things that snowballed for me all summer. That was the biggest thing for me, the puck-tracking aspect.

-Yesterday I examined McKeen’s 2012-13 projections.

-Robert Vollman looks at the worst free agent signings of the year via the collective opinion of 24 hockey stats experts (no idea how they were selected).  No Sens made the list, although Matt Carkner received the honorable sixth worst signing.  Previously Vollman went through the same exercise for the best signings, but again no Sens made the list (amusingly, “pancake” Dustin Penner was considered the best–both the experts and Penner will eat those words at the end of the season).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing McKeen’s 2012-13 Projections

McKeen’s hockey yearbook is one of the better buys in terms of comprehensive content.  Last year McKeen’s predicted the Sens would finish 13th in the conference and that Bobby Butler was a “hidden gem”.  Their top Sens prospects were:
-Mika Zibanejad (15)
-Jared Cowen (19)
-David Rundblad (26)
-Nikita Filatov (35)
-Patrick Wiercioch (56)
-Stefan Noesen (85)
-Matt Puempel (97)
-Jakob Silfverberg (98)
-Robin Lehner was the 3rd highest goaltending prospect

So what about this year?  Here’s the outlook (with the Sens projected to finish 6th in the conference):

Murray was looking to add a few key weapons to coach Paul MacLean’s arsenal – and prevent any slippage after an 18-point improvement in ’11-’12.  But he came up short in his bid to acquire either Rick Nash or coveted free-agent defenseman Justin Schultz.

I do think the Sens were serious about Schultz, but there was never any chance Nash would come here so pursuing him was a waste of time.  I think it’s absurd to suggest losing out on Schultz equates to a negative for Murray’s off-season.  The rest of the outlook is positive, but suggests Murray may not to translate some of his prospect talent into trading for a defenseman if the current depth isn’t up to the challenge and I agree with that.

Kyle Turris is the player to watch, to which I say…really?  They aren’t swinging for the fences with that prediction.  Mark Borowiecki is the team’s sleeper prospect.  Here are their point projections:
Jason Spezza 76-34-48-82
Erik Karlsson 77-15-50-65
Milan Michalek 73-28-31-59
Alfredsson 70-23-35-58
Colin Greening 82-21-29-50
Kyle Turris 74-19-29-48
Sergei Gonchar 69-7-33-40
Jared Cowen 75-3-15-18

If Greening gets 50 points I’ll eat my hat.  Finally, these are the Sens prospects who made their top-120 list:
-Mika Zibanejad (11)
-Cody Ceci (30)
-Mark Stone (53)
-Jakob Silfverberg (55)
-Stefan Noesen (66)
-Matt Puempel (99)
-Robin Lehner comes in 6th among the 30 goaltenders (Ben Bishop is 10th)
Presumably Jared Cowen fell off their list due to games played in the NHL.  Patrick Wiercioch‘s absence this year is not a surprise.

All in all the magazine is a worthwhile purchase.  Their predictions and analysis aren’t gospel, but it’s a good way to start and for poolies offers a comprehensive look at teams and prospects they aren’t familiar with.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: September 26th

-Bob McKenzie Tweets that the Sens put Cody Ceci and Stefan Noesen on their CHL reserve list allowing them to be recalled whenever the season begins.

-Bobby Kelly writes his preview of the Binghamton Senators’ season, but it’s not a breakdown of the team and expectations, rather it is a review of the last two seasons and a reminder that Luke Richardson wants to be a player’s coach and that Kelly thinks Shane Prince will be a key part of the team.

-I confess to being puzzled by the various petitions being sent to the NHL pleading for an end to the lockout.  Other than making those involved feel good about their efforts, the petitions have no effect on the CBA negotiations–the NHL and the NHLPA have no interest in fan opinions, just their money when the lockout is over.

-Joseph Phung reviews EA Sports NHL 2013, giving it a 9.5 out of 10.  His primary complaints are:

Although the goalies in NHL 13 are generally better, they can sometimes easily be beaten with a top corner wrist shot just like in last year’s game. Some other complaints about the gameplay include the lack of penalties called during a match even when the penalty slider is set to maximum. Also, the high passing accuracy of the AI opponent feels cheap as it’s common to see them end a match with an accuracy rate of 85 percent or higher.

He’s right that the AI behaves more like an NHL team as you’ll see all players defensively boxing the front of the net.  Phung is right that the AI does not make many mistakes when it comes to either carrying the puck or passing it.

In terms of my own experiencing GMing I’m at 12 straight years of weak drafts.  The weird math for the draft lottery is slowly correcting itself (the last place team has won it over 50% of the time now, after a 1 for 5 start).  Amusingly, a goaltender has won the Ted Lindsay award every single season.  I haven’t figured out how you draft a diamond in the rough in this version, as good players are inevitably top players (which is realistic to a point).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: September 24th

-Bruce Garrioch writes about the plight of NHL goalies looking for work in Europe.

While NHL players continue to flock overseas with the lockout heading into its second week, there haven’t been any goalies [except Henrik Lundqvist] that have made the jump and they may be the ones who have the toughest time finding work in the next few months.

In the short term this isn’t a big issue, but if the lockout drags on for months goaltenders who don’t land somewhere may have conditioning issues.

-Scott Burnside isn’t going to let the lockout prevent him from posting power rankings for ESPN.  The Senators are 17th on his list and he writes:

It’s possible last season’s surprise vault into the playoffs where they narrowly failed to knock off the top-seeded Rangers was a blip on the radar. But Paul MacLean, a Jack Adams nominee as coach of the year, is the real deal and so is Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson.

-With junior seasons underway it’s time for weekly prospect updates.  The NCAA season has yet to start, but everyone else is in action.

CHL
Cody Ceci (OHL Ottawa) 2-1-4-5
Matt Puempel (OHL Kitchener) 2-3-0-3
Stefan Noesen (OHL Plymouth) 2-2-0-2
Jordan Fransoo (WHL Victoria) 2-0-0-0
Jarrod Maidens (OHL Owen Sound) injured
Chris Driedger (WHL Calgary) 2-0-0 1.50 .938
Francois Brassard (QMJHL Quebec) 2-0-0 2.00 .933

Allsvenskan (Swe)
Mikael Vikstrand (Mora) 4-3-0-3

KHL
Nikita Filatov (Salavat) 6-2-3-5

NCAA
Jeff Costello (Notre Dame) – junior year upcoming
Michael Sdao (Princeton) – senior year upcoming
Bryce Aneloski (Nebraska-Omaha) – junior year upcoming
Max McCormick (Ohio) – sophomore year upcoming
Ryan Dzingel (Ohio) – sophomore year upcoming
Tim Boyle (Union) – freshman year upcoming

USHL
Robbie Baillargeon (Indiana) – committed to Boston University

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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