Senators News & Notes

jared cowen

Nichols talks about the recent report that teams are calling the Sens about Jared Cowen and wonders:

Maybe teams are calling the Senators. Maybe they’re not.

As he points out, the Sens have planted interest in the media before in the hopes of generating actual interest.  The question is, if that’s the case, what’s the motivation?  Do the Sens genuinely want to move Cowen, or do they want to motivate him by threatening him with a move?  As Nichols points out, maybe there’s more to Cowen than what we’ve seen so far, but this truly is a make or break year for him.

lists-image

Kristopher Bras has written HF’s prospect list for Ottawa, but it makes little sense (the most egregious example is he suggests Thomas Chabot could potentially replace Erik Karlsson).

wikstrand

The song remains the same, it seems, for Mikael Wikstrand, who has reiterated his disinterest in playing in the AHL.  Given that the Sens have control over where he plays it’s really up to them, although at this point I’m not sure what more he can learn from the SHL.

6th sens

The latest 6th Sens podcast is up and one thing that stood out to me was their belief that the Sens need a strong number three defenseman to stabilize the blueline.  It’s not a radical or new thought (although it presupposes that either Cody Ceci and Patrick Wiercioch aren’t ready for that role or will never be ready for it), but deserves emphasis.  The second half of the podcast included Corey Pronman who discussed his methodology (a mix of understandably limited personal viewings with added video and then talking to scouts) before talking about Ottawa’s system.  He wants Ottawa to have more bluechip prospects (I’ve gone through the problems with this kind of thinking), but proceeded to pick five players who might become more than simply depth prospects.  I give credit to Nichols for asking Pronman’s about some of his misses in prior assessments of Ottawa (perhaps he’ll be a bit more guarded the next time he lauds the former’s opinions).  Other notes: Pronman doesn’t see Matt O’Connor as top-goaltending material (interestingly, he likes Marcus Hogberg), although it’s worth remembering what Travis Yost noted recently: predicting the development of goaltenders is still poorly understood, albeit the pure percentages mean most prospects between the pipes don’t turn out.  Pronman is also a big fan of Filip Chlapik, given how often he brought him up. The whole cast is worth listening to and if you have a couple of pucks you should definitely support the The 6th Sens Patreon.

james gordon

James Gordon has started up a blog covering Ottawa/Winnipeg and his first post looks at Stanley Cup predictions.  Gordon is one of the few (now former) newspaper reporters who embraces analytics, so I’m happy he’s putting his hockey thoughts somewhere since he’s no longer on the Sens beat.  Gordon likes looking at Fenwick numbers, but also uses Bodog’s betting site to make his calls for this reason:

I think Bodog probably best reflects market wisdom is because it’s heavily advertised in Canada and, I’m assuming, is drawing a fairly sophisticated crowd of hockey bettors (I’ve seen some futures elsewhere that are really out of whack — Calgary and LA both at +1700, for example).

Bodog has Ottawa 17th, which Gordon agrees with.  He likes LA beating Tampa Bay in the finals.  Whether you agree with him or not, I’m glad he’s looking to justify his predictions quantifiably rather than simply looking at last year’s standings or going from his “gut”.travisyost

Travis Yost looks at analytics ability to forecast mean reversion well in advance of the rest of the industry:

Simple understanding of what is and isn’t repeatable talent can go a long way in forecasting future success/failure, and it’s one of the big reasons why so much attention is paid to stats like Corsi%. Controlling possession at even-strength correlates well with winning long-term and, most importantly, is a repeatable skill. Scoring on a high percentage of shots also correlates well with winning, but it’s prone to major fluctuations and exhibits very little repeatability over long samples.

It’s well worth reading the whole piece.

EvansvilleIceMenCHL

A bit more Evansville news as via the Icemen Maniac’s blog: a number of as-yet unannounced and/or unconfirmed signings for the team (the ones with “R” next to them are via Jim Riggs (see below); rookies in italics):

Forwards
Mark Anthoine (R) (DOB 1990 ECHL 34-8-9-17/SPHL 22-4-5-9) – the former University of Maine grad put up semi-reasonable numbers in a half-season of work for the Icemen last year
Sebastian Strandberg (DOB 1992 SHL 24-0-0-0/Allsvenskan 24-2-3-5) – after being released by Vasteras (Allsvenskan) a few weeks ago, Johan Svensson reports that he’s signed with Evansville; a decent scorer in junior in Sweden (a point per game in his last full season), he has yet to show that at the pro level, so it will be interesting to see how he does here
Kyle Just (R) (DOB 1991 NCAA 38-13-21-34) – this will be the Arnprior native’s first professional season in the ECHL and his track record at Mercyhurst was solid
Matt Harlow (DOB 1992 NCAA 30-3-3-6) – with unremarkable stats at Brown University there’s little reason to doubt he’ll be SPHL or FHL-bound
Defensemen
Robin Soudek (DOB 1991 ECHL 62-18-21-39) – after failing to earn a contract with HC Olomouc in the Czech league he’ll be returning to Evansville who acquired him from Rapid City last year (his third team of the season); he’s a lock to play regularly
Dan Sova (R) (DOB 1990 SPHL 31-0-8-8/ECHL 11-0-1-1) – coming off his rookie season, largely spent in the SPHL; with an unremarkable NCAA background I think he’s unlikely to spend much time in the ECHL

Evansville’s Jim Riggs (chief operating officer) and Al Sims (head coach) also made some comments to the blog of note:

Ottawa was scouting [Christoffer] Bengtsberg, and the Sens are really high on him. [Riggs and Sims are] still expecting [Scott] Greenham and [Nick] Tuzzolino to end up in Evansville, Troy Rutkowski is a distinct possibility too, and Daultan Leveille could be in the IceMen mix as well.

The roster speculation seems on-point and I’m not surprised that the Sens had a hand in getting Bengtsberg to Evansville, as he adds a bit more injury depth should the dominos start to fall (negating the need to sign someone mid-season like the moribund Peter Mannino).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing the Senators 2015 NHL Draft

I’ve been asked to go beyond my light comments about the Sens draft and give more detailed thoughts and analysis, so here it is.  All sources cited in my previous post are used along with anything else I can get my hands on.  This is the first year Bryan Murray has drafted without his nephew (Tim Murray) since the disastrous 2007 class (picked with John Muckler’s scouts, admittedly).  Without Tim, we saw Murray favour size and strength over smaller, skilled players.  Pick-by-pick, here we go (ppg=points-per-game; AR=aggregate ranking–for that see the link below):

Thomas Chabot (1-18; DL, 6’2, QMJHL 66-12-29-41, 0.62 ppg; AR #20)
Technically lead the Saint John Sea Dogs in scoring from the blueline, although first rounder (#13) Jakub Zboril was actually well ahead of him in ppg and 2016 draft-eligible Luke Green was only slightly behind.  He was selected roughly where the scouting consensus landed (see my aggregate ratings); he’s seen as a good skater and puck carrier with a high hockey IQ; his defensive play was criticized by Pronman/McKeens (and praised by FC), and there was a call for him to increase his strength (McKeens; the latter seems almost like an ad hominem addition to most scouting reports), although some said he was quite strong (RLR; you can see how scouts can watch the same player and come to very different conclusions).  Craig Smith (of Hockey Prospectus) projects him this way:

Chabot will most likely never win a Norris trophy, score 20 goals, or be a top flight point producing defensemen. Think of Jay Bouwmeester post Florida Panthers type of player. 25 plus minuets of ice time against other teams top units is more than acceptable for any pick in any draft. Closer to home comparison, he will have similar production and value as Cody Ceci.

For Smith he’s a home run pick and with largely universal praise from the scouting community it’s easy to see why; he’s a safe bet to be an NHL-talent and what remains to be seen is his ceiling.

Colin White (1-21; RW/C; 6’0, USHL/USDP 74-27-44-71, 0.95ppg; AR #21)
This is the pick the Sens acquired from Buffalo in the Robin Lehner trade (notably not Buffalo’s own pick, but the Islanders’).  No relation to the former NHL defenseman, his numbers dropped from the previous season (82-47-45-92) and at least some or all of that can be blamed on a wrist injury and a bout of mononucleosis.  He was sixth in scoring on the US National team, although of the three drafted players ahead of him he was selected first (Jack Roslovic #25, Christian Fischer #32, and Jeremy Bracco #61).  Scouts praise his hockey IQ and his two-way play; RLR likes his skating (Smith is less impressed), but fears his size hurts his ability to be a top-six player (which is a very old school, Dead Puck Era way of viewing players).  Craig Smith compares him to Curtis Lazar, so a player with limited offensive capability, but strong defensive play.  There’s no actual criticism here except for his scoring ability at the next level, so he seems like a safe, bottom-six player of the future.

Gabriel Gagne (2-36; C/RW; 6’5, QMJHL 67-35-24-59, 0.88ppg; AR #63)
The Sens traded their second-round pick (Dallas’, acquired via the Jason Spezza trade, #42) and a conditional pick (4th-rounder in 2016) to move up a few spots to pick Gagne–an immensely puzzling decision for a player scouts slatted as a third-round pick, but Murray loves big players (think of how well Jakub Culek and Jordan Fransoo worked out).  Kidding aside, Gagne was third in scoring on Victoriaville (well behind overager Angelo Miceli and St. Louis draft pick Samuel Blais; also trailing overage Mathieu Ayotte in ppg).  Scouts liked his size and stride (FC), but felt he didn’t have great hands, wasn’t particularly physical, and had work ethic problems–Smith was the most complimentary about him, comparing him to Mike Hoffman (his shot and his speed), but there are red flags all over the place and to trade for a prospect like this is worrying.  If he pans out Murray looks like a genius, but if he doesn’t it’s multiple wasted assets for nothing.

Filip Chlapik (2-48; C; 6’1, QMJHL 64-33-42-75, 1.17ppg; AR #37)
The third player drafted from the Q, he’s only the second Czech-player Murray has picked in Ottawa, but like Culek before him he’s taken from the QMJHL.  He was second in scoring for Charlottetown (behind fellow second-round pick Daniel Spong); scouts like his playmaking and hockey IQ, his skating is in question and Pronman is uncertain about his defensive play (all the other scouting publications think he’s good defensively)–Smith comes down the middle on the defensive question.  He strikes me as a fairly safe pick, but one whose skating might prevent him from taking that next step (keep in mind the Sens are strong believers they can improve that element, ala Mark Stone).

Christian Wolanin (4-107; 6’1, DL, USHL 56-14-27-41, 0.73ppg; AR unranked)
The Sens traded Eric Gryba to get this pick (originally Pittsburgh’s), which is the second puzzling trade of the draft as no one had the overage son of the former NHLer slotted to be picked.  He led Muskegon in scoring by a defenseman and the Sens brass will like his high PIM (tops on the team, although that included only one fighting major, so discipline could be a concern).  He’s a forward converted to defense and his offensive prowess (as well as “character”) are about all you can say about him.  Smith believes he has to work on his defensive game and skating (both, admittedly, correctable issues).  Very much a hit or miss player.

Filip Ahl (4-109; LW/RW, 6’3, SuperElit 34-20-22-42, 1.23ppg; AR #80)
Son of former SHL goaltender Boo, as a 17-year old he was dominant at the Swedish junior level (tops in scoring for HV71’s squad), but not quite ready for prime time in the SHL (15-0-2-2).  Smith doesn’t like his speed or his lack of physicality (RLR echoes the latter), which are both categories FC and ISS like–the conflicting opinions suggest a certain amount of inconsistency from him; if he hits projections he’s a grinding power forward with some offensive upside, but the prospect of him getting there seems iffy.

Christian Jaros (5-139; DR, 6’3; SuperElit 23-4-8-12, 0.52ppg; AR #139)
He’s the first Slovak Murray has selected, but typically he’s from Sweden rather than his local scene.  The 18-year old (now 19; he was passed over in last year’s draft) spent half the year with Lulea in the SHL (25-0-1-1), which is impressive for a teenager (he was the youngest blueliner to suit up).  In terms of his junior production he was roughly tied for the ppg lead with Simon Akerstrom, although with only half a season in the books it’s reasonable to assume he likely would have led the team if he’d played it through.  It’s not his offensive prowess that Smith praises however, but instead his physicality (making the unfortunate comparison of Borowiecki) and projects him at the same level (something HP and ISS generally agrees with); FC describes him as mobile, but not quick and they like his offensive instincts; RLR thinks he’s one of the slowest skaters in the draft.  There seems little reason to doubt he has the capability of being a depth defenseman, although I hope the Sens think he can be more than that as there’s little reason to waste a draft pick on that kind of player.

Joey Daccord (7-199; GL, 6’3; USHS 1.80 .933; AR unranked)
Only Central Scouting had him listed; the overage high school goaltender is coming off career bests at Cushing before he moves on to Arizona State in the NCAA (his father Brian was a successful NLA goaltender and is now a goaltender coach).  Smith offers this:

Daccord is a very good if not an elite level athlete. He moves laterally quickly and has good recovery skills. He positions himself correctly and tracks puck very well. Daccord handles the puck very well for a goaltender.

Rick Wamsley said this:

He’s a good skating, good hands, smart goalie. His father’s a real good goalie coach in the Boston area so obviously he’s well-schooled. I like how smart he appears, really like his hands. He’s probably got the best hands of the group that’s here this week. His feet can improve a little bit but his skating’s pretty good. I like what I see.

Not much to go on, but projecting goaltenders remains difficult for everyone, so we can only throw up our hands and see how it goes.

The Sens selected 8 players (4 forwards, 3 defenseman, and a goalie), 3 of whom are overage, and virtually none of whom are considered to have a strong offensive upside at the NHL-level–it’s a collection of two-way, grinding/character players, which is disappointing.  If scouts are looking for home runs I want production and possession (in fairness, the latter does show up here)–the AHL and bottom rung of the NHL is filled with “character” guys you don’t need to waste draft picks on.  There was no change in where the Sens drafted from: 3 from the CHL (QMJHL specifically), 3 from the US junior systems, and 2 from Sweden.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

wikstrand

The Sens temporarily loaned Mikael Wikstrand to Farjestad to participate in Champions Hockey League group games (ongoing), but he’ll be back in Ottawa to take part in the rookie tournament.

Rookie Tournament Logo-600x300-NEW_1

Speaking of the rookie tourney, the roster has been announced (2015 picks in italics, AHL/ECHL contracts noted in brackets):

Forwards (15): Filip Chlapik, Vincent Dunn, Ryan Dzingel, Travis Ewanyk, Gabriel Gagne, Alex Guptill, Tobias Lindberg, Max McCormick, Nick Paul, Ryan Penny (AHL), Francis Perron, Matt Puempel, Buddy Robinson, Alex Wideman (AHL), and Matthew Zay (AHL)
Defensemen (7): Chris Carlisle (AHL), Thomas Chabot, Marcus Crawford, Ben Harpur, Chris Rumble (ECHL), Troy Rutkowski, and Mikael Wikstrand
Goaltenders (2): Matt O’Connor and Chris Driedger

The only FA invitee is Marcus Crawford (Saginaw); the Ajax-native is a draft-eligible player, but I think he’s here because he’s local and to round out the numbers.  Incidentally, while I didn’t mention it when he was signed, Carlisle was nominated for the Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy (overage player of the year in the OHL).  Before you get too excited about that trophy (and the fact that Ryan Callahan won it in 2006), it’s worth noting previous winners include non-entities like Tyler DonatiMichael SwiftJustin DiBenedetto, and Bryan Cameron.  That doesn’t mean he won’t be a useful ECHL (or AHL) player, but keep expectations at a minimum.

The rookie tournament is a lot of fun, albeit the caliber of play is not very high.  I don’t think we’ll see much of Penny, WidemanZay, or Crawford, incidentally.

matt o'connor

Callum Fraser‘s latest post echoes my sentiments:

While Matt O’Connor has never played a professional game of hockey before and Andrew Hammond still only has a couple months in the NHL under his belt, if Craig Anderson has any sort of injury, the Senators will have their hand near the panic button. As for the bottom six, losing arguably their best player [Condra] will likely not go over well. Especially now that Chris Neil, Colin Greening and Zack Smith are getting ready for a possible reunion tour.

Fans with a better memory than mine will know the answer to this, but have reporters ever asked David Cameron if he’s aware of just how bad that trio is?  They don’t pass the eye test or the analytics test.

senshirp-simple6

I don’t typically read SensChirp, but with the dearth of Sens news I was floating around the blogosphere and popped onto the site.  It’s interesting how popular it is–judging by the number of comments it’s more popular than the similar looking SenShot and the similar news digest format of The Silver Seven.  I think the regularity of the blog helps (although it’s not quite as frequent as Silver Seven), but there must be more to it.  I’m always surprised The 6th Sens isn’t more popular, but perhaps the sober tone and less frequent posts makes that impossible.  Putting the speculation aside, there’s a good break down of the Sens draft picks by Craig Smith that I missed from a couple of months ago, so I recommend checking that out.

NHL-Draft

That reminds me that I didn’t do my usual Sens draft review, largely because Nichols followed my format this year by quoting scouting reports on all the players (he splits them into two posts: here and here).  There was no point in replicating what he’d already done (my comments on the picks can be found here).  There’s a lot of chatter about draft picks in the fanbase and for me the touchstone always has to be their statistical performance and the collective reporting of scouts.  Too often fans get excited only by the former or else the hype from just one particular scout/organisation/reporter.

travisyost

Travis Yost has an excellent article that focuses on Individual Point Percentage (IPP) and how it relates to predicting trends for players.

Travis also looks at the difficulty in assessing goaltenders:

To start, there’s either no rhyme or reason to how goaltenders develop, or teams do a very poor job of scouting talent. I’m inclined to believe it’s a mixture of the two – the position, generally, being complex in nature, and the eye test failing us in ways it may not with goal-scoring forwards.

Goaltenders are voodoo. Statistical analysis has proved only mildly helpful as it pertains to identifying goaltending talent and forecasting future performance. Teams also struggle mightily with goaltender evaluation – from the time of the draft, to the time in which they decide to fork over the first (or second) lucrative contract. Down the road, technological improvements may pay significant dividends here, as metrics will be crafted to better identify goaltending talent, and separate skill from the noise.

He followed this article up with one trying to figure out who were the best goaltenders in the league (concluding they are Henrik LundqvistTuukka Rask, and Carey Price).

EvansvilleIceMenCHL

Evansville has signed two more players: Adam Stuart (SPHL 54-21-32-53), a 26-year old forward who will likely spend the year back in the SPHL, and re-signed 31-year old Jarret Lukin (56-12-26-38), one of their few productive forwards from last season.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

matt o'connor

I was reading through Trevor Shackles post and one thing he brought up is worth emphasizing: Matt O’Connor is not a sure thing.  That statement goes for almost every prospect, but it’s worth keeping in mind.  The fact that multiple NHL teams pursued him is a positive, but they also chased Bobby Butler (and many other collegiate free agents who have crashed and burned), so it’s entirely possible O’Connor never turns out.  Something to keep in mind for the upcoming season, although it’s fortunate the Sens have Marcus Hogberg in their back pocket (more on him later).

applause

Ladies and gentlemen, we got him: Nichols has delightfully gone back to qualifying his statements about prospects:

It’s worth noting that I don’t necessarily agree wholeheartedly with Wagman’s assertions. For example, he lost a couple of points of credibility noting that the Senators farm system took a hit because the organization didn’t recoup full value for trading Brian Elliott. I suppose on one hand, the acquisition of Craig Anderson single-handedly cost the organization a shot at drafting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Gabriel Landeskog. But on the other hand, having Anderson and Mika Zibanejad is a pretty fucking good consolation prize.  I also have a problem with Wagman definitively writing off prospects like Matt Puempel, Nick Paul and Colin White because they “look like solid third liners, at best.”

Presumably he would have several paragraphs for Pronman as well if he disagreed with him.  We’ll give Nichols a pass for letting Wagman’s unjustified Harpur comment go through (more on him below), but at least Wagman’s cheerleading for Marcus Hogberg has had an impact on Nichols more than anything I’ve said.

bigrig_logo

Nichols (link above) also talks about the recent Chris Phillips revelation that:

The pain and numbness have gone away, but Phillips told Brennan that he won’t put a timeline on when he’ll resume hockey activities. Considering we’re already towards the end of August and that Senators training camp usually begins in the second week of September, Phillips does not have a lot of time to prepare for the season and get ready for the start of camp.

Is it too much to hope that it’s a very long time before the Big Rig threatens to suit up?  Perhaps by the time he returns there will be no room for him, although with a roster that boasts Jared Cowen and Mark Borowiecki, it’s probably too much to hope for.

titantic

There’s a decent chance the 2015-16 Ottawa Senators will be a complete disaster.  The seeds of that potential remain as the worst players from last year’s roster are still here, but more importantly there’s a great deal of uncertainty in net.  Can Craig Anderson stay healthy through most of the season?  It’s highly unlikely.  I’m also concerned for Anderson because the last time he was safely a #1 goaltender (2010-11 with Colorado) he completely bombed–the worst season of his career.  I have no faith in Andrew Hammond–by that I mean I’m expecting the guy who stumbled horribly in Binghamton last year until he demonstrates differently.  There’s no margin for error between the pipes because behind Anderson it’s all hope and projection.

prospects

I thought I’d take a look at the rookies turning pro this season.  Before I get there, I thought I’d add I’m not completely sold on Matt Puempel.  Maybe this is the year he breaks out, but his two seasons in Binghamton have been unremarkable.  His points-per-game actually dropped in his sophomore campaign (slightly, admittedly), and he certainly didn’t lack for opportunity.  He could be a late bloomer, but as a first-rounder known for offense he should dominant in the AHL; just a note of caution.  It’s worth noting all assessments of prospects (including mine) are simply notes of caution (or triumph).

Another prospect we have to take with a grain of salt (for now) is Tobias Lindberg (you can read a more detailed profile here), and I’m speaking specifically of his offensive upside.  He put up decent, but not remarkable numbers in the Swedish junior system and the better numbers he had with Oshawa in the OHL were influenced by first-round pick Michael Dal Colle and third-rounder Cole Cassels.  This isn’t to say he was wholly dependent on those two, but there’s little doubt they inflated his production above what it would have been with a different roster.

There’s no such comparative concerns for Nick Paul, who showed consistent improvement season by season and, while he technically finished second in scoring for North Bay, was their top player in points-per-game, so no one was elevating his numbers.  That doesn’t guarantee his upside, but it means the scouting impressions of him aren’t being prejudiced by his teammates.

I’ve gone through Ben Harpur‘s issues before, but for those who missed it let’s address my concerns: he started this past season on fire, with 19 points in his first 18 games–this is clearly an outlier as he’s never had production like that at any point in his career.  If you take out that production, this is his performance: 39-1-11-12 (ppg 0.30), which represents a modest improvement over his previous season, but as a 19-20 year old in the OHL he’s going to get a production bump regardless.  If a prospect doesn’t produce in junior, they do not suddenly produce as a pro, so Harpur is not going to generate offense in the AHL (or likely the ECHL); all he can be with his “physical gifts” (he’s 6’6), is be a safe, defensive defenseman.  I’m not a fan of defensive specialists on the blueline–everyone at the back-end needs to be able to move the puck (as the unintentional hilarity of Ottawa’s blueline the first half of this season illustrated)–but the key problem with seeing Harpur as that guy is this: even before the draft scouts were complaining about his poor decision-making and that criticism hasn’t changed–in two-year of development he’s still making poor decisions.  You can’t be good defensively if you don’t make good decisions, so fans should take the limited hype about him with a very large grain of salt.

Why am I (and others) so excited about Mikael Wikstrand?  I wrote a long profile about him back in February and there’s a lot to like about the Swedish defender.  Before he was drafted he was seen as a safe, dependable blueliner who did everything well, but wouldn’t provide much offense.  The scouts were wrong about the latter, at least at the Swedish level, as Wikstrand has produced offense.  The season after he was drafted he benefitted from playing with Anze Kopitar for a couple of months, but he actually scored more the following year.  Whether his production carries over to the next level remains uncertain, but the consistent word from scouts is that he’s a mistake-free player–that will likely create a place for him somewhere.

That leaves Vincent Dunn, a prospect nobody is talking about and there’s good reason for that.  Dunn was let go by his team (Rimouski) during the season and that’s pretty damning for a player who was putting up adequate production for them.  He was drafted as a hard-working pest back in 2013 with warning signs about his behaviour; he signed the subsequent summer after a solid year with Gatineau.  His production dipped this past season, but given his relationship with his team that doesn’t mean what it usually does and he wasn’t drafted to be a scorer anyway.  Is there room for a Sean Avery-type in the NHL anymore?  I’m not sure Dunn has enough talent to be that guy or if the Sens should want that guy, but what happened in Rimouski is a big red flag and my expectations are very low for him.

A bit of trivia I neglected to mention in my last post: Branden Komm (the Evansville goaltender) was a development camp invitee back in 2013.

Back in March I looked at European free agents of interest, knowing full well the Sens do not dip their toe into that pool of talent (likely due to the extreme costs of scouting in Europe).  Of the 16 players identified 5 were signed to ELC’s: Kristian Nakyva (Nashville), Artemi Panarin (Chicago), Joonas Donskoi (San Jose), Markus Hannikainen (Columbus), and Eetu Laurikainen (Edmonton).  Other Euro’s signed include Sergei Plotnikov (Pittsburgh), Niclas Andersen (Pittsburgh), Vojtech Mozik (New Jersey), Dean Kukan (Columbus), Sergei Kalinin (New Jersey), Matthias Plachta (Arizona), Joonas Kemppainen (Boston), Yvgeni Medvedev (Philadelphia), Jakub Nakladal (Calgary), Christian Marti (Philadelphia), and Andreas Martinsen (Colorado; I identified him back in 2012).  That’s 12 different teams, with 4 signing two (Columbus, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia).  Most of these players won’t pan out, but they’re as worthwhile a risk as an NCAA free agent, so I’m always interested in seeing how they do.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

hoffman

The Mike Hoffman arbitration deal was another short-term win for the organisation.  The Sens get Hoffman on the cheap and if he pulls a Peter Regin they can safely eject at season’s end.  The flip side of it is that if Hoffman has another excellent season he’s going to cost them an arm and a leg to lock up long-term.  I’m happy to have him back in the lineup, although it remains to be seen how Dave Cameron uses him.

stayorgo

Apparently the Mikael Wikstrand saga has not yet reached its final chapter as there’s still disagreement between he and the Sens over where he’ll play in the upcoming season.  The back and forth has been perplexing to say the least, but ultimately he’s under contract with Ottawa so as far as I can tell he can’t actually refuse to come over.

Gnomes_plan

I’ve never been a fan of prolonged lists cut up into dozens of pieces; its personal taste and I understand that for daily blogs they have to create content somehow.  My main issue with lists in general is that they too often aren’t grounded in any kind of criteria: what, specifically, separates player X from player Y?  I wish writers would put more effort in methodology so that their rankings meant something tangible to be discussed (and where’s the self-reflection over previous lists and how they could be improved?).  This all comes to mind because The Silver Seven are in the midst of their top-25 prospects and one comment stands out to me (from here):

with Chris Driedger looking like a solid AHL backup

He does?  Ross A is a smart guy so I know he’s seen the goaltender’s Evansville numbers–can you really take Driedger‘s very brief stint with Binghamton as representative?  It’s a smaller sample size than Andrew Hammond in the NHL.  For me it’s a very dangerous assumption and the fact the organisation feels the same is signalled by them retaining Scott GreenhamMaybe Driedger is an AHL backup, but he hasn’t proven himself yet.  That said, my only real quibble with the series thus far is Callum Fraser‘s effort as he offers no substantive reason for Ben Harpur (a marginal prospect) to appear on the list–junior playoff experience does not magically translate to AHL success.  Harpur is a big defenseman without great hands or good hockey sense–for me (as mentioned below) he has a good chance to spend a lot of time in the ECHL or as a healthy scratch.

EvansvilleIceMenCHL

I was about to update signings for Evansville and realised I hadn’t posted any of them as yet, so here’s a brief overview (with rookies in italics):

Forwards
Tyson Fawcett (DOB 1993 ECHL 59-9-15-24) – coming off his rookie season with Brampton, the 5’6 forward was a fairly unremarkable OHL-forward, but looks to be a regular with Evansville
Justin Macdonald (DOB 1990 ECHL 20-7-5-12/FHL 46-44-58-102) – brought up from the FHL towards the end of last season, the former junior-B player was among the first players given an extension; he spent four seasons in southern tier-3 leagues
Joe Zarbo (DOB 1991 NCAA 32-12-8-20) – debuted with Evansville after graduating, he played well and should get a shot in the lineup
Thomas Gobeil (DOB 1994 BCHL 41-25-15-40) – the former QMJHL-forward was not particularly productive in major junior, so there’s a good chance he’ll spend most of his time in a lower league like the FHL

Defensemen
Spencer Humphries (DOB 1992 ECHL 67-3-24-27) – a late-season acquisition from Greenville, he’s signed an extension; this will be his third season as a pro after graduating from the WHL
Donnie Harris (DOB 1990 ECHL 61-1-7-8) – spent all of last year with Evansville and was among the first extended; he has four pro seasons under his belt
Chris Rumble (DOB 1990 NCAA 36-7-13-20) – son for former NHLer Darren, the NCAA grad debuted with Evansville at the end of last season
Mike Kavanagh (DOB 1988 SPHL 54-3-25-28) – tier-2 NCAA grad slots as a career tier-3 player and likely won’t see much action in Evansville

Goaltenders
Christoffer Bengtsberg (DOB 1989 Allsvenskan 3-12-0 2.82 .889) – this is the Swede’s first venture across the pond, arriving after years of bouncing around the Swedish lower leagues; I have no idea how well his game will translate, but he wouldn’t sign if he wasn’t going to get a decent shot

Along with these strictly ECHL contracts we can expect Binghamton players like Danny Hobbs, Daultan Leveille, Matthew Zay, Matthew Wideman, Guillaume Lepine, Chris Carlisle, and possibly Vincent Dunn, Ben Harpur or Troy Rutkowski, and one of Scott Greenham/Chris Driedger.  With what’s likely from the above that makes for eight regular forwards, four defensemen, and two goaltenders, leaving plenty of room for more players to be added.

There isn’t much to miss from last season’s Evansville roster (one of the worst in ECHL history), but some of those who had a modicum of talent have signed elsewhere (Braden Pimm in tier-2 Germany, Robin Soudek went back to the Czech league [he was just released, incidentally], and Miles Bell signed in Norway), although no one from that roster is remotely irreplaceable.

cowick

A lot of fans became invested in former prospect Corey Cowick–the hometown boy done good–could he ever become that depth NHL forward, a grinder?  For myself (and others) there was never a question about his talent ceiling.  Last year he signed with Springfield, but only dressed for about half the games, so he’s had to take a contract with Florida in the ECHL for the upcoming season and unfortunately for Corey that is about where his talent gets him.  He should do well in the ECHL, but I don’t think he’ll ever be a regular AHL player again (if he wants money he’ll probably migrate to the DEL).  The point in bringing this up is that hard work isn’t enough to make up for a lack of talent–something to keep in mind whenever the organisation gets high on a player known primarily for work ethic.

sensnation

It’s a funny old world.  For those who don’t know, I used to write for Sens Nation years ago, but since I gave that up I haven’t heard from them–then I happened to RT something unrelated to hockey and they RT’d it themselves.  It’s such a random thing, but I appreciate that they’re still following my feed (and perhaps reading the blog).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

I wasn’t surprised at the Alex Chiasson arbitration ruling–it’s a good one for the team.  We can hope Mike Hoffman will be given a similarly palatable deal for the organisation if they don’t settle prior to the hearing (for those interested you can read Nichols‘ breakdown of the former).

Amidst a humdrum Pierre Dorion interview was a comment I’m happy to hear from him:

we’ve always fallen into traps that, I think we over-evaluate some guys that are decent NHL players but not great NHL players and I think Bryan (Murray) talked about it on July 1st. We’ve drafted and we’ve developed well here. We’re going to give some of our kids chances. Show us what you can do here. If you’re not good enough, we’ll just bring someone else in. But I think with what we’ve done here in the past, I don’t always see it being fruitful for us to go out and sign free agents

All that’s missing from this for a full mea culpa is an admission that the organisation hangs on to failing veterans for far too long.

Adam Coombs talks about potential red flags for prospects due to how they looked during Ottawa’s latest development camp, seeing concerns for Miles Gendron (decision-making), Ben Harpur (speed and lack of production–something I’ve brought up in the case of many players and for those who want a bit of evidence for why that’s bad go here), Alex Guptill (a plethora of reasons, and somehow I missed him being charged with assault and battery last summer).  On the flipside, Coombs looks at positives from the camp, making the obvious Max McCormick nod, along with Nick Paul (size and speed), Tobias Lindberg (size and speed), Mikael Wikstrand (consistent and does everything well), with honourable mentions for Matt O’Connor and Marcus Hogberg.  It’s important to note what a small sample size such a camp is (even though Coombs references their past seasons), but the opinions mesh with mine and most people’s (except perhaps for Harpur–there are fans of the big player out there, and honestly, almost no one knows who Gendron is).

B-Sens signings continued as they added development camp attendee Ryan Penny (LW, QMJHL 66-32-38-70) and veteran minor league defenseman Nick Tuzzolino (ECHL 55-2-21-23), who played 10-games with Binghamton last season.  I’d expect both to play in Evansville, although the organisation does like big players with no hands.

Speaking of Binghamton, Jeff Ulmer offered up a retrospective on the 2011 Calder Cup championship, which seems like an opportune time to do a “where are they now” snapshot.  I’ve left out two players who briefly suited up (Brennan Turner, now retired, and Patrick Couloumbe, now in France); the players are listed by scoring (those who have played/will play 100+ NHL games are in blue; those currently in Europe are in green; in the one case where both apply I’ve included both colours):

Ryan Potulny – went on to Hershey where after two productive seasons injury saw that drop off and after moving to Hartford last season he’s signed to play in Finland
Ryan Keller
 – went to Oklahoma and then to the NLA where he remains
Kaspars Daugavins – spent the next season in Ottawa, was then traded to Boston the following season before going to Europe (the NLA and KHL)
Zack Smith – became a full time player in Ottawa immediately following
Andre Benoit – split the next season between Ottawa and Binghamton, subsequently signed with Colorado and is coming off a miserable season in Buffalo (which meant he had to accept a two-way deal from St. Louis)
Erik Condra – immediately became an NHL player in Ottawa (now signed with Tampa)
Bobby Butler – spent the next year in Ottawa where he was a disaster; bounced between New Jersey and Nashville before returning to the AHL; signed in Sweden for the upcoming season
Corey Locke – had an injury-plagued return to Binghamton following, then bombed out of the Finnish league (getting loaned to the DEL); retuned to the AHL for one season, but then back to Germany last year
Roman Wick – returned to the NLA where he’s been dominant
Mike Hoffman – spent the bulk of three more seasons in Binghamton before finally making Ottawa full-time
Jim O’Brien – split the next season between the NHL/AHL; full-time the following year before being dumped back to Binghamton the next season; he then bounced out of the KHL and is slatted for full-time AHL action in the upcoming season
Colin Greening – three full seasons with Ottawa were followed by last year’s temporary demotion to Binghamton and the organisation expressing a desire to be rid of him–he remains under contract
Geoff Kinrade – spent most of the following season in the Czech league, then two full seasons in the NLA before splitting between it and the KHL; he’ll be back in Russia this year
Cody Bass – three years in Springfield were followed by one in Rockford last season and Milwaukee in the upcoming season
Jared Cowen – for better or for worse he’s been with Ottawa since
David Dziurzynski – has remained in Binghamton since
Derek Smith – spent two seasons on Calgary’s roster before returning to the AHL; bombed out of the NLA last season and will be with Springfield in the upcoming one
Derek Grant – remained with Binghamton until he signed with Stockton for the upcoming season
Bobby Raymond – split the next season with Binghamton before moving on to Charlotte; since then he’s bounced around the DEL
Mark Borowiecki – spent three more seasons in Binghamton before graduating to Ottawa last year
Patrick Wiercioch – spent the next season in Bingo; split the next between it and Ottawa before becoming a full time NHL-player
Craig Schira – one more year with Binghamton before going to Norway, Finland, and now to Sweden
Eric Gryba – spent another year in Binghamton, split the next between it and Ottawa before becoming a full time NHL-player; traded to Edmonton
David Sloane – retired after the championship
Robin Lehner – spent two more years in Binghamton before graduating; traded to Buffalo
Barry Brust – went to Germany, then back to Abbotsford, and since has played in the KHL

That’s 11 players who went on to at least 100 games of NHL action, a testament to the talent on the roster, although it’s worth noting that as few as three of them are top-end talents (for my money Lehner, Wiercioch, and Hoffman).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

internet-statistics_1

Ross A goes through hockey stats 101 for those confused or intimidated by them.  It’s worth reading, although I don’t think the audience he’s attempting to reach are particularly receptive to olive branches.  Like most new things, younger fans will largely embrace it and as time goes on that will become the norm.

journalism

Speaking of Ross A, he tackled an excellent topic regarding media influence in sports, but unfortunately only pilloried Steve Simmons at the Toronto Star–as much as Simmons deserves it for inventing a story about Phil Kessel, I was hoping Ross would dive into the moribund journalism practiced in this city.

Binghamton_Senators_svg

Binghamton signed undersized Oshawa General defenseman Chris Carlisle (68-7-37-44); he’s almost certainly bound for Evansville.

Somewhat related, I’d speculated a couple of weeks ago that the Sens had cut ties with prospect Tim Boyle; that suspicion was confirmed today as he signed with Wichita in the ECHL.  This make’s Boyle‘s journey in becoming a pro quite bizarre, as he was drafted out of US high school, spent one year in the NCAA, returned to the junior system in the US, went to tier-2 college, and is now going to the ECHL  Ultimately he’s a wasted pick, a player that no scouting source liked prior to the draft who crashed and burned very quickly.  We can only hope the scouting staff learned something from it.

Wrong

I was surprised to discover the legendary Nichols reads this blog.  I can’t recall interacting with him before, but the truism that people gravitate towards perceived negative comments rings true as Nichols hit me up on the Twitter machine:

your comments in regards to my own analysis are ridiculously reductive

He continued his comments in his latest post (I think he liked the alliteration), apparently still blissfully unaware of why I wrote what I wrote (despite a not very subtle hint that he was taking the comments far too seriously–it’s funny how some people respond to these things–good old Bobby Kelly always took things with good humour).  One positive was Nichols spelling out his approach to prospects for anyone who wasn’t aware and the key point is this:

The thing about lower draft selections is that they’re selected lower because they have some perceived deficiency which in turn creates tempered expectations for their future because of the associated risks or lower projected ceilings. That does not mean that low draft picks aren’t valuable either. There will always be value in finding NHL-calibre talent that can play games at the highest level.

It’s admittedly a bit obvious, but clarity is a good thing.  Incidentally, he’s started up a Patreon to support The 6th Sens podcast, so if you have even a few bucks lying around I highly recommend doing so.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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