Assessing Bryan Murray (updated through the 2012-13 season)

On April 8th, 2011, with one game remaining in a failed season, the Ottawa Senators re-signed GM Bryan Murray to a three-year deal.  The most obvious question at the time was why?  Clearly ownership saw Murray as the best man to rebuild the team that crumbled beneath him in 2010-11 and thus far it appears as though that belief was well-founded.  There’s no guarantee the Sens rebuild will continue in a positive direction, but it’s worth looking back at the work Murray has done as Ottawa’s general manager.

Bryan Murray took over from John Muckler on June 18th, 2007, just six days before the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.  I’ve read criticism of Murray regarding that draft, but there’s no question that the selections were made with Muckler’s scouting staff and guided by their philosophy.

2007 Draft

Considered a weak draft at the time (see McKeen’s, for a more optimistic view here’s Sports Illustrated; for a look at the overall success of the draft go here), Ottawa made four selections, trading away their final three picks to Tampa for a fourth round pick in the 2008 draft (Derek Grant).

1-29 Jim O’Brien (NCAA) Looked like a failed pick after his rookie season in Binghamton, but by the end of his ELC proved he could be a useful fourth-liner (although perhaps not with Ottawa)
2-60 Ruslan Bashkirov (QMJHL) A bust who was never signed and now plays tier-2 hockey in Russia
3-90 Louie Caporusso (OPJHL) The undersized forward spent his rookie year largely in the ECHL and as a four-year NCAA grad it doesn’t look like he has NHL-potential (perhaps not even AHL-potential); he was let go after his ELC expired
4-120 Ben Blood (USHS) Big blueliner also spent four years in the NCAA, but his rookie season as a pro was a disappointment as he was unable to be an AHL-regular

2007-08 Contracts

June 22 – Dean McAmmond – 2 years/1.4; a solid player, but his numbers dropped considerably before he was shipped out to the New York Islanders
July 3 – Matt Carkner – 2 years/0.5; made his way from the AHL to the NHL level
July 24 – Ray Emery – 3 years/3.166; re-signing the starting goalie in the Cup run seemed like a no-brainer, but was bought out the next year
July 31 – Chris Kelly – 1 year/1.263; based on his strong play when Spezza and Fisher were injured
August 7 – Luke Richardson – 1 year/0.5; a depth signing who never quite delivered
September 17 – Mike Fisher – 5 years/4.2; I thought at the time it was too much money and too much term; traded to Nashville in 2011
October 3 – Dany Heatley – 6 years/7.5; thought to be solid signing at the time (link), forced a trade to San Jose (2009) and is now in Minnesota (2011)
October 16 – Randy Robitaille – 1 year/0.625; a depth signing out of Russia, the Sens hoped he would provide some scoring depth (link), but he did not.  The following season saw him playing in Switzerland
November 2 – Jason Spezza – 7 years/7.0; I liked the contract at the time and I still do

2007-08 Coaches

Murray hired John Paddock, who had been his assistant the past two years and was a long time AHL coach (with a distant and lousy NHL coaching record from his days with Winnipeg, 281-106-138-37).  Paddock got the team off to a fantastic start (15-2), but wore out his best players and the team quickly slid down the standings. Paddock was fired February 27th, after two embarrassing back-to-back shutout losses, finishing with a 36-22-6 record (he’s since struggled to get head coaching positions in the AHL).  Murray took over and the team barely made the playoffs where they were promptly swept by the Penguins.

While the Paddock hiring may have seemed like a logical step to Murray—a solid minor league resume  and his assistant—he was hardly the best coach available, so Murray deserves criticism for the hire (as he has suggested himself since).

Buyouts

June 20 – Ottawa waived and then bought out Ray Emery; his play was only partially the issue.  Because of his age the cost of the buyout was reasonable.  Emery had to go to the KHL to salvage his NHL career, which now seems solidified as a quality backup.

2007-08 Trades

June 23 – Ottawa’s 5th (Matt Marshall; was not signed by Tampa after four years in the NCAA), 7th (Torrie Jung; was not signed by Tampa and he’s spent his pro career in the CHL), and 7th (Justin Courtnall; turned pro and spent his rookie season in the ECHL) to Tampa for a 4th in 2008 (Derek Grant; completed his sophomore season with Binghamton where he saw limited NHL action). The thought here was that the following year’s draft was much stronger and deeper and it appears as though Murray was right.  This is a win for Murray.
July 17, 2007 – Traded Peter Schaefer to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Shean Donovan. Muckler overpaid Schaefer, whose cumbersome contract wound up being buried in the minors and then bought out by the Bruins.  Donovan was a solid soldier for Ottawa, although there wasn’t much gas left in the tank.  This is a win for Murray.
February 11, 2008 – Traded Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves to the Carolina Hurricanes for Mike Commodore and Cory Stillman.  Corvo demanded a trade, so Murray didn’t have many options; Eaves struggled with injuries.  Commodore turned out to be a complete bust for the Sens (and subsequently for Columbus, who bought him out), but Stillman was an adequate rental.  None of the four players are still with the teams they were traded too.  Given that the trade failed to help the Sens in the playoffs this is a loss for Murray.
February 26, 2008 – Traded a sixth-round draft pick in 2008 (6-169, Ben Smith, who has 20 NHL games under his belt and is a solid prospect) to the Chicago Blackhawks for Martin LapointeLapointe was supposed to provide grit for the Sens, but his best days were long behind him and he was a disappointment.  Lapointe subsequently retired.  This is a failure on Murray’s part.

2008 Draft

Considered a good draft year (link) and the selections can be said to truly reflect Murray’s philosophy.  All the players selected have been signed except for Emil Sandin (who is now a UFA).

1-15 Erik Karlsson (SuperElit) - coming off a Norris trophy season he spent much of this year injured
2-42 Patrick Wiercioch (USHL) – lanky blueliner got his chance in the NHL and performed well
3-79 Zack Smith (WHL) - gritty center is an NHL-regular
4-109 Andre Petersson (SuperElit) - skilled winger missed most of his sophomore season due to injury
4-119 Derek Grant (BCHL) - lanky center had a solid sophomore season with Binghamton
5-139 Mark Borowiecki (CJHL) - punishing blueliner had a solid sophomore season in the AHL
7-199 Emil Sandin (SuperElit) – smallish winger failed to be a regular player in the SEL and was allowed to become a FA

2008-09 Contracts

March 25 – Jesse Winchester – 2 years/0.55; signed as a free agent out of college, Winchester didn’t produce offensively as planned, but turned into a solid grinder; he spent this past season playing in Europe
June 21 – Chris Kelly – 4 years/2.125 million; signed prior to becoming a UFA, Kelly continued to put up his usual numbers before being traded to Boston (2011)
July 2 – Jarkko Ruutu – 3 years/1.3 million; signed after reaching the Cup final with Pittsburgh, he didn’t deliver what was expected while he was with the Sens and was eventually traded to Anaheim (2011) for a 6th round pick (Max McCormick); he’s played in Finland since
July 2 – Shean Donovan – 2 years/0.65; a cap friendly contract, but Donovan had nothing left in the tank and only played 90 games over those two seasons; he’s now retired
July 8 – Jason Smith – 2 years/2.6; a bad contract for a player who didn’t have gas left in the tank, he retired before the second year of his deal and now works for the organisation
July 31 – Antoine Vermette – 2 years/2.75 million; unable to produce enough as a top six player in Ottawa, he was traded to Columbus in the first year of his deal for Pascal Leclaire and a 2nd round pick (Robin Lehner); he’s now with Phoenix
September 27 – Luke Richardson – 1 year/0.5; unable to stay in the lineup, he retired November 27th and stayed with the organisation.  He’s now Binghamton’s head coach
October 30 – Daniel Alfredsson – 4 years/4.875 million; an excellent contract

2008-09 Coaches

Murray hired Craig Hartsburg, who was coming off back-to-back World Junior wins.  Hartsburg had a good track record in junior, but his NHL record was mediocre (albeit more extensive than Paddock’s, 443-184-184-69).  Hartsburg was not a strong systems coach and the team struggled under his regime.  Finally, on February 1st, Hartsburg was fired after accumulating a 17-24-7 record (he went back to junior for two season and is now an NHL assistant coach).  Cory Clouston, enjoying a strong season in Binghamton, was brought up as the interim coach.  The team responded well under Clouston’s more structured approach and he was signed to a two-year deal.

Murray deserves criticism for the Hartsburg signing, who again was not the strongest candidate available.  The team struggled all season long and the coach was allowed to linger longer than was needed.  The Clouston hiring was much like the Paddock hiring–done without competition.

2008-09 Trades

June 20, 2008 – Traded their 1st round pick (Chet Pickard; struggled as an ECHL goalie and spent this past season in Europe) and their 3rd round in 2009 (Taylor Beck; is coming off a solid sophomore campaign in the AHL) for the 15th pick (Erik Karlsson). The Sens desperately needed an upgrade on their blueline, particularly on the right side; making a splash when the draft was in Ottawa likely helped the decision.  This is a huge win for Murray.
June 25, 2008 – Traded Brian McGrattan to the Phoenix Coyotes for the Boston Bruins’ fifth-round draft pick in 2009 (Jeff Costello). McGrattan’s substance abuse problems and declining effectiveness made him an asset that needed moving.  This is a win for Murray.
August 29, 2008 – Traded Andrej Meszaros to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Filip Kuba, Alexandre Picard and San Jose’s 1st round draft pick (previously acquired) in 2009 (which was subsequently traded to the Islanders). Meszaros and the team could not come to terms on a contract, so Ottawa did well in bringing in a solid veteran and prospect.  Meszaros never did find success in Tampa, but when moved to Philadelphia responded in a supporting role.  The Sens got more out of the trade (Kuba), so I’ll give this one to Murray.
September 2, 2008 – Traded Lawrence Nycholat to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Ryan Shannon.  Nycholat demanded a trade, so Ottawa exchanged their problem for one the Canucks had (Shannon had a one-way contract the following season).  The Sens definitely won the trade, as Shannon was a solid soldier while he was with the organisation.
November 10, 2008 – Traded Alexander Nikulin to the Phoenix Coyotes for Drew FataNikulin demanded a trade and rather than simply losing the asset to the KHL Ottawa brought in an AHL veteran.  Nikulin struggled with San Antonio and returned to play in the KHL afterward.  Fata signed with Providence after his year in Binghamton, but Ottawa received more tangible value than Phoenix, so it’s a win for Murray.
February 20, 2009 – Traded Dean McAmmond and San Jose’s 1st round draft pick in 2009 (1-26, Kyle Palmieri; a regular NHLer) to the New York Islanders in exchange for Mike Comrie and Chris Campoli. The Sens had no room for McAmmond, so took on Comrie’s onerous and expiring contract to get Campoli on a very cap friendly deal.  Comrie subsequently signed with the Oilers, while Campoli had an up and down career with the Sens before being traded himself (the acquired pick was used as part of the trade to draft Matt Puempel).  The final assessment of the trade is yet to be made, as it has boiled down to Palmieri vs Puempel.
March 4, 2009 – Traded Antoine Vermette to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Pascal Leclaire and a 2nd round draft pick in 2009 (Robin Lehner). Vermette had flat-lined as a player in the organisation; the Sens had to choose between he and Mike Fisher, and while Vermette had more offensive prowess, Fisher was the tougher player to play against.  The trade (including the pick) was intended to solidify the Sens between the pipes.  Vermette had two good seasons with Columbus before being traded, while Leclaire completely failed as a Senator.  Lehner may make Murray a genius, but in the short term this is a loss.

2009 Draft

Considered a deep and talented draft, Ottawa had its first top-ten pick since the 2005; other than Peltz every player has signed an ELC.

1-9 Jared Cowen (WHL) – big blueliner was injured most of his sophomore campaign
2-39 Jakob Silfverberg (SuperElit) - was excellent with Binghamton and solid with Ottawa in his rookie season; traded to Anaheim as part of the Bobby Ryan deal
2-46 Robin Lehner (SuperElit) – the big goaltender played his way into an NHL roster spot
4-100 Chris Wideman (NCAA) – undersized blueliner finished his collegiate career and showed promise in his rookie AHL-season
5-130 Mike Hoffman (QMJHL) - didn’t make the offensive leap in his third pro season
5-146 Jeff Costello (USHL) – gritty winger had a strong junior season in the NCAA
6-160 Corey Cowick (OHL) – gritty winger finally found consistency in his third year in the AHL
7-190 Brad Peltz (EJHL) – sniper left college early to sign an AHL-deal with Binghamton where he only played a few ECHL games; a bust
7-191 Michael Sdao (USHL) - tough blueliner finished his NCAA career and was solid in his brief AHL-stint

2009-10 Contracts

March 4 – Filip Kuba – 3 years/3.7 million; signed after a career year with Ottawa, he’s suffered repeated injury setbacks and became a lightning rod for criticism in 2010-11; enjoyed a strong final year before signing with Florida as a UFA
July 1 – Chris Neil – 4 years/2.0 million; signed after an awful year, was up and down, but has returned to form
July 6 – Alexei Kovalev – 2 years/5.0 million; a surprise signing at the time that failed utterly (if my memory is correct, the reaction at TSN to this was hilarious, but I can’t find the video of it); he was traded to Pittsburgh (2011) for a 7th round pick (Ryan Dzingel)
August 3 – Brian Elliott – 2 years/0.85; a cap friendly deal for a likeable player; unfortunately he lost his confidence in 2010-11 and was traded to Colorado for Craig Anderson; he’s been very good in St. Louis
October 20 – Matt Carkner – 2 years/0.7; a solid rookie season in the NHL was followed by diminishing returns; he signed with the Islanders as a FA
March 29 – Bobby Butler – 2 years/0.9; the highly sought-after NCAA free agent signed a deal similar to Winchester‘s in 2008; he won a Calder Cup in his first full pro season which was not a sign of things to come

Waivers

October 2 – having no room for Christoph Schubert on the roster, Murray was unable to trade the big defensemen; he was picked up by Atlanta on waivers and had a decent season with the Thrashers, but his NHL career is now apparently over (he’s playing in Europe).

2009-10 Coaches

The first season for Murray where who was coaching was not a question; Clouston got the team into the playoffs and was generally given good grades for his performance (Puck Daddy).

2009-10 Trades

June 27 – Traded their 2010 6th round pick (6-166 Drew Czerwonka; was not signed by the Oilers and is playing in the CIS) to Edmonton for their 2009 7th round pick (7-191, Michael Sdao). The Sens considered the 2010 draft to be weak and were high on Sdao, so they made the move.  This is a win even though Sdao‘s pro prospects aren’t yet clear.
July 8, 2009 – Traded Alex Auld to Dallas for San Jose’s 6th round pick (6-178 Mark Stone).  With Elliott established as an NHL player, there was no need for Auld on the roster.  Stone has proven a very valuable prospect so this is a big win.
September 4, 2009 – Traded Shawn Weller to Anaheim for Jason Bailey. A minor-league exchange of disappointing prospects; Weller was in the final year of his rookie contract, while Bailey’s continued through 2010-11.  Neither asset remains with their new organisation.
September 12, 2009 – Traded Dany Heatley and a 5th round draft pick (5-136 Isaac Macleod; he finished his junior year at Boston College) in 2010 to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo and San Jose’s 2nd round pick (subsequently moved to the Islanders and then Chicago, 2-58 Kent Simpson; he spent his rookie pro season in the ECHL) in 2010. Heatley had demanded a trade at the end of the season and this was the best deal Murray could get for him.  Cheechoo proved to be a complete bust and was bought out.  Murray was never going to “win” the trade, particularly with a public trade demand from Heatley, but Michalek is at least a tangible asset who is signed long term.  Heatley spent two seasons in San Jose before being moved to Minnesota.
February 12, 2010 – Traded Alexandre Picard and their 2nd round pick in 2011 (subsequently moved to Edmonton, 2-46, Martin Marincin; had an excellent rookie season in the AHL) to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Matt Cullen. Murray paid a steep price for Cullen, who played well in the playoffs, but the team didn’t win and he wasn’t retained.  While Picard wasn’t important, giving up a 2nd round pick makes this a loss for Murray.
March 2, 2010 – Traded San Jose’s 2nd round pick (Kent Simpson) to the New York Islanders in exchange for Andy SuttonSutton never fit in with the Sens (rather like Mike Commodore two years before) and he wasn’t retained, so this is a loss for Murray.
June 25, 2010 – Ottawa traded their 1st overall pick (1-16 Vladimir Tarasenko; he enjoyed an excellent rookie season in the NHL) to St. Louis for prospect David Rundblad (1-17/09; subsequently traded to Phoenix for Kyle Turris). Sens scout Anders Forsberg was very high on Rundblad, who wound up dominating the Swedish Elite League the following season.  Assessing this trade is still three or four years away, but is likely a net loss for Murray.

2010 Draft

Considered a weak draft (link), the Senators had already traded away many of their picks so only made four selections.  Sorensen and Aneloski are no longer in the system while Culek and Stone are signed.

3-76 Jakub Culek (QMJHL) – defensive forward barely played in his overage season in the Q due to injury
4-106 Marcus Sorensen (SuperElit) – undersized energy forward was unable to secure time in the SEL and was not signed
6-178 Mark Stone (WHL) – big skilled winger had a solid (albeit injury-plagued) rookie season in the AHL
7-196 Bryce Aneloski (USHL) – offensive blueliner finished his NCAA career but was not signed by the Sens; now in the ECHL

2010-11 Contracts

July 1 – Sergei Gonchar – 3 years/5.5; considered the best available UFA blueliner, Murray won him over with term; considered a great signing at the time (link), it was occasionally a rocky road
July 1 – Jesse Winchester – 2 years/0.75; there was still belief that he had untapped upside, but I thought a one-year deal would have made more sense; he’s now playing in Europe
July 14 – Bobby Butler – 2 years/1.05; had an awful first full season in the NHL and was subsequently bought-out, signed with New Jersey and then waived and picked up by Nashville
July 21 – Nick Foligno – 2 years/1.2; never did establish himself as a top-six forward, he was traded to Columbus for Marc Methot as an RFA
July 29 – Peter Regin – 2 years/1.0; after a solid rookie year and a great playoff, big things were expected; instead he struggled in his sophomore season and then was injured most of last year; was re-signed to a cap-friendly, one-year deal
February 28 – Chris Phillips – 3 years/3.083; coming in the midst of an awful season, I didn’t like the price or the term for the declining veteran
March 31 – Stephane Da Costa – 2 years/1.325; the highly sought-after NCAA free agent signed a deal similar to Butler‘s in 2010; he wasn’t ready for the NHL and was inconsistent in the AHL; he was re-signed as an RFA

Buyouts

June 29 - Jonathan Cheechoo was bought out.  I don’t think Murray deserves much criticism here, as no one anticipated Cheechoo as being as completely finished as he has proven to be.

2010-11 Coaches

Cory Clouston was seen as an up-and-coming coach who had worked some magic to get the team into the playoffs.  Not everyone was a believer (The Hockey News), but the team entered the season with a lot of optimism (link).  Everything went wrong for Clouston.  When his goalies played well the team couldn’t score.  When the goalies didn’t play well the team still couldn’t score.  Players were disagreeing with him publically (look at November 30th link).  For a time it looked like Ottawa would be the worst team in the NHL.  With the season clearly over and a rebuild beginning, the team’s play picked up, but Clouston’s fate was sealed.  There was a lot of criticism over Clouston’s inability to communicate with players as well as his varying standards for how play effected ice time.  I believe the former trait made the latter worse.  For Clouston to get another chance in the NHL he’s going to have to find a new approach to handling NHL players (he spent last year in the WHL).

After Clouston was dismissed the Senators looked for a new coach.  Calder Cup winning Kurt Kleinendorst was among the top contenders, but Murray ultimately went with a man he knew from his days in Anaheim–Detroit assistant coach Paul MacLean.  MacLean had spent eight years as Mike Babcock’s assistant, with previous head coaching experience in the IHL and UHL (winning the Colonial Cup in the latter in 2000-01).  Kleindorst had better winning pedigree (ECHL, BISL, and AHL championships to go along with his U-18 gold medal), but MacLean proved himself in his rookie campaign by leading the Sens into the playoffs and making them a tough opponent for the Rangers in the first round.

2010-11 Trades

February 10, 2011 – traded Mike Fisher to Nashville for a 1st round pick (1-21 Stefan Noesen) and a conditional 2nd round pick in 2012 (voided). The trade kicked off the rebuild.  At the time the Senators were 17-30-8 and going nowhere.  Fisher had a big contract with term left (two more years).  Noesen was subsequently packed for Bobby Ryan which makes this a clear win.
February 16, 2011 – traded Chris Kelly to Boston for a 2nd round pick (2-61 Shane Prince). The likeable Kelly was better served on a team that was in contention and went on to help Boston win the Stanley Cup.  His contract (too much for a third-line center) and age brought about the move.  He’s re-signed with the Bruins.  As with the previous trade, this one can’t be assessed yet.
February 17, 2011 – traded Jarkko Ruutu to Anaheim for a 6th round pick (6-171 Max McCormick). Ruutu never found a comfort zone in Ottawa and getting something for the impending UFA was better than nothing (Ruutu remains out of the NHL). This is a win for Murray.
February 18, 2011 – traded Brian Elliott to Colorado for Craig Anderson. The trade that gave the team hope also dashed their chances for a top-three pick.  Anderson was in the midst of a horrible funk in Colorado and needed a change in scenery, while Elliott had completely lost his confidence.  This is a win for Murray.
February 24, 2011 – traded Alexei Kovalev to Pittsburgh for a conditional 7th round pick (7-204 Ryan Dzingel). Getting something for Kovalev was an achievement for Murray and makes this a win.  Kovalev subsequently played in the KHL.
February 28, 2011 – traded Chris Campoli and a conditional pick (voided) to Chicago for Ryan Potulny and a 2nd round pick (2-48, later traded to Detroit to select Matt Puempel; Detroit selected Xavier Ouellet; was solid in his final year in the Q). Campoli was no longer in Ottawa’s plans and they picked up an AHL-asset in Potulny who would help Binghamton win the Calder Cup.  Chicago walked away from Campoli‘s arbitration award and he then signed with Montreal (he’s now a UFA).  This is a win for Murray in the short-term, but ultimately boils down to Puempel vs Ouellet.
June 24, 2011 – traded two 2nd round picks (their own, 2-35 Tomas Jurco (had a middling rookie season in the AHL), and the one acquired from Chicago, 2-48, Xavier Ouelette) for Detroit’s 1st round selection (1-24 Matt Puempel). The Sens were high on Puempel, who they considered for the 21st overall pick, so jumped at the opportunity to get him.  Time will tell on the trade.
June 25, 2011 – traded their 3rd round pick (3-67 T. J. Tynan) to Columbus for Nikita Filatov. Filatov wanted out of Columbus, but there wasn’t much interest in the NHL.  I liked the gamble, but Filatov was unable to stick in the NHL line-up and returned to Russia.  The Sens have retained his rights, but loss this deal in the short-term (truly assessing the deal will depend on Tynan‘s development (he had a rough junior year in the NCAA)).

Waivers

February 24, 2011 – picked up Marek Svatos from Nashville on the waiver wire.  Desperately in need of NHL bodies, Svatos didn’t achieve much before being concussed by Jay Rosehill.  There was never any intention of keeping him and he did not play last season.
February 28, 2011 – picked up Curtis McElhinney from Tampa on the waiver wire.  McElhinney allowed Robin Lehner to stay in the minors and he was decent as the season wound down.  There was never any serious consideration of keeping him and played for Portland in the AHL last year (he subsequently signed a two-way deal with Columbus).

2011 Draft

The draft lacked the high-end talent of previous years, but was considered to have good depth.  Because of Ottawa’s trades they had a plethora of picks to re-stock the organisation (for full scouting reports go here).

1-6 Mika Zibanejad (SEL) – looked better in Ottawa than Binghamton this past season, but still rough around the edges
1-21 Stefan Noesen (OHL) – power forward enjoyed a solid final year of junior hockey before being traded in the Bobby Ryan deal
1-24 Matt Puempel (OHL) - had a solid finish to his OHL career
2-61 Shane Prince (OHL) – undersized forward showed promise as an AHL rookie
4-96 Jean-Gabriel Pageau (QMJHL) - after a slow start as a pro enjoyed a great late run in the NHL
5-126 Fredrik Claesson (SEL) - solid AHL season from the Swedish rookie
6-156 Darren Kramer (WHL) - spent a lot of time in the ECHL during his rookie season
6-171 Max McCormick (USHL) - gritty forward had a solid sophomore season in the NCAA
7-186 Jordan Fransoo (WHL) - big blueliner didn’t develop as much as needed and was not signed
7-204 Ryan Dzingel (USHL) – skilled forward enjoyed an excellent sophomore season in the NCAA

2011-12 Contracts

March 21 – Craig Anderson – 4 years/3.1875; too much term for my liking, but Anderson was excellent this past season
May 19 – Zack Smith – 2 years/0.7; well-deserved contract, he’s coming off an up and down year this season
May 19 – Colin Greening – 3 years/0.816,667; provides solid if unspectacular play
July 1 – Alex Auld – 1 year/1.0; was even more terrible than expected; his NHL career is over (played in Austria this past season)
July 5 – Zenon Konopka – 1 year/0.7; the popular forward didn’t play much and signed with Minnesota the following season
July 6 – Erik Condra – 2 years/0.625; not much pop in his offensive game, but provided a ton of intangibles

2011-12 Coaches

Paul MacLean was excellent in his rookie season as the Sens head coach (41-31-10), unexpectedly leading the team to a playoff birth and making them a tough seven-game out for the New York Rangers.

2011-12 Trades

December 11 – Traded their 2013 7th round pick (John Gilmour) to Chicago (which then was moved to Calgary) for Rob Klinkhammer; the move was meant to help Binghamton, which he did before being called to duty in Ottawa to round out the season; he subsequently signed in Phoenix; unless Gilmour turns into an NHLer this was a good trade for Ottawa
December 17 – Traded David Rundblad and their 2nd round pick to Phoenix (subsequently moved to Philadelphia, who picked Anthony Stolarz; he struggled in the NCAA, but was solid in the OHL this season) for Kyle Turris.  The Sens were desperate for a second-line center and Turris was demanding out of Phoenix.  This trade has to be measured against both Rundblad and Tarasenko, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out, but it really does address an organisational need (assuming Turris develops as expected).
February 26 – Traded their 2013 2nd round pick (Tommy Vannelli) to St. Louis for Ben Bishop.  At the time Craig Anderson was hurt and the team was desperate to add goaltending depth as Robin Lehner was having an off-season.  Bishop was subsequently traded to Tampa for Cory Conacher and a 4th-round pick (Tobias Lindberg), so the latter plus the pick will be assessed against Bishop and Vannelli.
February 27 – Traded Brian Lee to Tampa Bay for Matt Gilroy.  Two players who were failing in their respective organisations, given that the Lightning have re-signed Lee (who did not play well this season) and Gilroy was allowed to walk, this is a loss for Murray.
July 1 – Traded Nick Foligno to Columbus for Marc MethotFoligno was an RFA and clearly the Sens were not sure that he would ever become a full time top-six forward, so they exchanged him for a defensive defenseman.  Methot was excellent in his first year in Ottawa, while Foligno (signed by the Blue Jackets to a big deal, 3 years/3.083) did not show signs of evolving into a better player, so this is a win for Murray.

2012 Draft

Thought to be a weak draft, the Sens made seven selections with no second round pick for the third year in a row; none of the prospects are expected to crack the lineup this upcoming season (for full scouting reports for each player go here).

1-15 Cody Ceci (OHL) – offensive defenseman helps fill an organisational need after the departure of Rundblad; enjoyed a strong end to his junior career
3-76 Chris Driedger (WHL) - his strong performance earned him consideration from team Canada’s WJC braintrust
3-82 Jarrod Maidens (OHL) – skilled forward still isn’t fully recovered from a serious concussion
4-106 Tim Boyle (USHS) – an off the radar selection who didn’t play much in his NCAA rookie season
5-136 Robbie Baillargeon (USHL) - the talented forward struggled until traded in his final USHL season
6-166 Francois Brassard (QMJHL) - a strong season as Quebec’s starting goaltender
7-196 Mikael Wikstrand (Allsvenskan) – defensive defenseman put up big numbers while playing with locked out NHLers, but lost his zip post-lockout; will spend another season in Sweden

2012-13 Contracts

May 4 – Peter Regin – 1 year/0.8; coming off an injury-plagued year the Sens rolled the dice on him staying healthy, but his play simply didn’t measure up
June 19 – Erik Karlsson – 7 years/6.5; the Norris Trophy winner signed a cap-friendly, long-term deal with the club which serves both well so long as he can stay healthy
July 1 – Mike Lundin – 1 year/1.15; the injury-prone, offensively limited blueliner was awful in limited duty; signed in the KHL
July 1 – Guillaume Latendresse – 1 year/2.0; the injury-prone winger suffered from injury and inconsistent play and was let go
July 11 – Chris Neil – 3 years/1.9; a good deal for both sides
July 18 - Jim O’Brien – 2 years/0.637; a solid deal to fill out the bottom of the lineup, he fell out of favour with the coaching staff this season leaving his future cloudy
July 23 – Kaspars Daugavins – 1 year/0.635; a similar deal to O’Brien‘s, but with less commitment, he was waived and picked up by Boston late in the season; currently a UFA

Buyouts

This summer saw the end of the road for highly touted college free agent Bobby Butler.  Despite ample opportunities he struggled badly enough that no other team would take a chance on him at his current salary.  It’s hard to criticise Murray for giving him the deal, but with all the prospects in the wings there was no room for Butler.  He joins a now lengthy list of free agents signed out of college post-lockout who have failed in the NHL (Gilroy, Hanson, Wellman, etc), making me wonder just how much talent is really hidden there.

2012-13 Coaches

MacLean’s magic continued as he willed the injury-bedevilled Sens into the playoffs (25-17-6) and through the first round before getting steamrolled by Pittsburgh.

2012-13 Trades

March 12 – Traded their 2014 6th-round pick to Minnesota for one-dimensional enforcer Matt Kassian; a kneejerk move that did nothing to help the team’s performance (they were 8-8 with him in the lineup during the regular season); if the Wild pick is a dud than the move isn’t quite as bad
April 3 – Traded Ben Bishop to Tampa for Cory Conacher and a 4th-round pick (Tobias Lindberg); Bishop had lost the duel against Robin Lehner to back-up Anderson and as a pending free agent was moved; it will be some time before the trade can be assessed, but the Sens did well to get what they did for an asset they had to move anyway
June 7 – Traded Sergei Gonchar to Dallas for a conditional 6th-round pick (the condition was met when Gonchar signed with the Stars, the Sens picked Chris Leblanc); Ottawa wasn’t going to meet the 39-year old’s contract demands, so getting something for him is a win for Murray
July 5 – Traded Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen, and their 2014 1st-round pick to acquire Bobby Ryan from Anaheim; the Sens clearly got the best player in the deal, but acquiring the power forward required a hefty price–judgement, as always, will take some time
July 9 – Traded Pat Cannone to St. Louis for future considerations; Cannone had a lousy sophomore season in Binghamton and was scheduled to make a fat AHL salary the following year; moving him is a win

Waivers

March 27 – Kaspars Daugavins was picked up by Boston; it was a rough season for the popular Latvian who spent much of his time in the pressbox; there was no room for him in Ottawa so getting him off the roster is a win for Murray

2013 Draft

Considered an average draft, the Sens made seven selections with no second round pick for the fourth year in a row; none of the prospects are expected to crack the lineup this upcoming season (for full scouting reports for each player go here).

1-17 Curtis Lazar (OHL) – character pick is expected to play for Canada at the WJC
3-78 Marcus Hogberg (Swe Jr) – big, raw talented goaltender is expected to start regularly in the Allsvenskan
4-102 Tobias Lindberg (Swe Jr) – off-the-wall rightwinger is a long term project who likely will play another season of junior in Sweden
4-108 Ben Harpur (OHL) – big defenseman is a project who will spend more time in junior this coming season
5-138 Vincent Dunn (QMJHL) – agitator is a couple of years away
6-161 Chris Leblanc (EJHL) – off-the-waller will play with Merrimack in the NCAA
6-168 Quentin Shore (NCAA) – blueliner will continue his collegiate career at Denver

Contracts 2013-14

July 5 – Clarke MacArthur – 2 years/3.25; did not fit into Toronto’s system, the top-six forward soaks up the spot presumably taken by Silfverberg prior to him being traded
July 8 – Joe Corvo - 1 year/0.9k; vet who forced his way out of Ottawa not long ago returns on a cheap, one year deal where he’s expected to round out the bottom of the blueline
July 12 – Erik Condra – 2 years/1.25; re-signed possession wiz got a well-deserved raise
July 22 – Patrick Wiercioch – 3 years/2.0; offensive-blueliner signed a good deal off a limited sample size

There are a couple of more RFA situations to sort out and as they are I’ll add them here.

Overall

As it stands, that is the complete record for Bryan Murray.  He has been the GM for five years during which he’s made the playoffs three times (losing in the first round each time), hired four coaches, and seen the core of the 2007 Stanley Cup final wither away.  So, by category, here’s how I assess him:

The Draft: A, excellent.  The cupboard was bare when Murray took over and now it is starting to overflow.  The 2008, 2009, and 2011 drafts were considered excellent, while 2010 is disappointing (it’s too early to judge 2012 and 2013).  The pump is primed and the Senators should have successive waves of quality players filtering into the organisation for years to come.
Contracts: C, mediocre.  I have his score at 22-19-4 (with the third column representing either results that are yet to be determined or that were neither good nor bad).  Murray’s free agent signings remain a weak point.
Trades: B+, good.  I have his score at 18-9-10 (very few are draws, most in the third column are yet to be determined).  Murray’s deadline deals to help playoff pushes have been his biggest failures.
Coaches: C, average.  Three failed coaches are only gradually being made up for by one excellent hire.
Overall: B+, good.  Murray has been a better builder than contender, but time may seem him overcome the latter challenge as well.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing the 2013 NHL Entry Draft

In what was described as an average draft with a consensus on who the top-four players got jumbled as Seth Jones fell to the fourth-overall pick.  As per usual, precise picks (player X at position X) got hammered among the various draft publications (as well as myself), but there was also a dip in the overall percentage of players predicted to be selected in the draft.  Without further ado, here are the numbers.  Acronyms: EOTS (Eye on the Sens), TSN (Bob McKenzie), FC (Future Considerations), HP (Hockey Prospects), RLR (Red Line Report), THN (The Hockey News), ISS (International Scouting Service), McK (McKeen’s), CP (Corey Pronman), and THW (The Hockey Writers).

First Round
Player X at position X
TSN/HP: 4
EOTS/FC/THW: 3
McK/ISS/RLR/CP: 2
THN: 1
Players picked for the round
EOTS/TSN: 25
McK/HP/FC/THW: 24
CP/THN/ISS/RLR: 22

This is pretty similar to last year, just slightly lower (although I improved).  The biggest surprise pick was Marko Dano (with Emile Poirer the next most).  Adam Erne was the most surprising player to fall out of the round.

Second Round
Exact
TSN: 3
EOTS: 1
All others: 0
Round
TSN: 20
EOTS: 19
McK: 18
THN: 17
RLR/FC/THW: 15
HP: 14
ISS: 12
CP: 9

A solid round (except for CP, who did not have a good draft day), but it was not a sign of things to come.  Given how few exact picks there are, I didn’t continue tracking them beyond this point.   The biggest surprise pick was Tyler Bertuzzi (Remi Elie the next most).

Third Round (minus TSN)
Round
McK: 13
THN/HP: 10
FC: 9
EOTS: 8
ISS/CP: 7
THW: 5
RLR: 3

Overager Mattias Janmark-Nylen was the first unranked player taken in the draft (RLR did suggest he might go), with Kurtis Gabriel quickly following.  Highest rising ranked pick was Keegan Kanzig (Taylor Cammarata takes second in that category).  Oliver Bjorkstrand tumbled down to near the bottom of this round.

Fourth Round (minus THN)
RLR/HP: 7
McK/ISS: 5
CP/THW: 4
FC/EOTS: 3

Felix Gerard, Tobias Lindberg, and Stephon Williams were the unranked players taken.  Highest riser was Ryan Segalla (David Pope was the next highest).  Ryan Fitzgerald was finally taken at the back end of the round.

Fifth Round (minus McK and THW)
RLR: 7
HP: 6
ISS/FC/CP/EOTS: 4

Kristers Gudlevskis, Evan Campbell, Terrance Amorosa, Fabrice Herzog, and Matej Paulovic were unranked players taken.  Highest riser was Tucker Poolman (Blake Heinrich is the next highest).  Eric Roy tumbled down to the middle of this round.

Sixth Round
ISS/HP: 3
FC/CP/EOTS: 2
RLR: 1

A bucket-load of unranked players were taken here (10): Joshua Brown, Ben Storm, Emil Pettersson, Tim Harrison, Chris Leblanc, Merrick Madsen, Alan Quine, Santeri Saari, Mike Williamson, and Anton Blidh.  Highest riser was Zach Leslie (Tommy Veilleux was the next highest).  Blaine Byron fell to the back end of this round.

Seventh Round
FC: 5
RLR: 3
HP/CP: 2
ISS/EOTS: 1

Another pile of unranked players were taken (12): Aleksi Makela, Wade Murphy, Joel Vermin, Brenden Kichton, David Drake, Jedd Soleway, John Gilmour, Hampus Melen, Janne Juvonen, Emil Galimov, Anthony Brodeur, and Mitchell Dempsey.  No real high risers in the seventh round, but Greg Chase came close to falling out of the draft.

All Rounds (I’ve excluded TSN, THN, McK, and THW because they didn’t predict the entire draft)
HP: 66 (31%)
EOTS: 64 (30%)
FC: 62 (29%)
RLR: 58 (27%)
ISS: 54 (25%)
CP: 50 (23%)

Congratulations to HP which (in the four years I’ve done this) has never been ahead in this category (usually middle of the pack).  These are actually good numbers, although the bulk of them (as one would expect) are generated from the first two rounds.  Here’s the listed players taken in the draft irrespective of which round they were taken in (again, only using those who predicted the entire draft):
EOTS/HP: 146/211 (69%)
FC: 145/211 (68%)
RLR: 143/211 (67%)
ISS: 138/211 (65%)
CP: 135/211 (63%)

I managed to keep my streak of being first, albeit tied with HP.  The total represents a 6% drop from last year (but on par with 2011).  Excluding CP (who was not included in creating my raw numbers), ISS lagged behind everyone else for the second year in a row.  So who fell out of the draft?  Here’s a look at the top players who didn’t get picked:

EOTS
89 Lucas Wallmark
97 Stephen Harper
102 Kurt Etchegary

CS NA Forwards
68 Alex Coulombe
72 Kurt Etchegary
76 Spenser Jensen

CS Europe Forwards
16 Lucas Wallmark
27 Victor Ohman
29 Fabio Hogger

CS NA Goaltenders
10 Austin Lotz
11 Michael Giugovaz
15 Shane Starrett

CS Europe Goaltenders
2 Ebbe Sionas
3 Luka Gracnar
5 Ivan Bocharov

RLR
58 Rinat Valiev
67 Sergey Stetsenko
68 Evan Allen

ISS
50 Lucas Wallmark
60 Kayle Doetzel
78 Stephen Harper

FC
65 Viktor Arvidsson
81 Brendan Harms
90 Jamien Yakubowski

HP
53 Pavel Koledov
72 Greg Betzold
79 Juuso Ikonen

CP
46 Juuso Ikonen
55 Viktor Arvidsson
56 Sergei Tolchinsky

McK (152 picks)
80 Amil Krupic
87 Lucas Wallmark
88 Austin Lotz

THW (120 picks)
67 Lucas Wallmark
83 Kurt Etchegary
85 Roberts Lipsbergs

THN (100 picks)
71 Lucas Wallmark
85 Filip Sandberg
89 Kurt Etchegary

All of TSN’s picks were taken, which is no surprise given that only 80 were selected.  The most prominent name not taken is Lucas Wallmark and perhaps the reason he was left behind is his skating (RLR considered him the slowest player in the draft).  Kurt Etchegary also appears regularly above, but injury seems the main reason behind him not being selected.  CS’ European goaltending rankings continue to be largely ignored.  A lot of overage players were picked this year (the most since I’ve been doing this), which is either a comment on the quality of the first-timers or (more likely) that NHL teams prefer a safer bet with later picks.  There was also a significant uptick in the number of unranked/not ranked players taken (32 this year, as opposed to 23 in 2012).  Here’s the range of players picked by nationality (not league):
Canada 96
United States 57
Sweden 23
Finland 11
Russia 8
Czech Republic/Switzerland 4
Austria/Denmark/Slovakia 2
Latvia/Norway 1

In terms of highly ranked players from last year (link above) who went undrafted, Anton Slepyshev (3-88 Edmonton), Patrik Bartosak (5-146 LA), and Henri Ikonen (6-154 TB) were selected this time around (Andrei Makarov was signed by Buffalo as a free agent), while the other 13 players were not.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing the Ottawa Senators 2013 NHL Entry Draft

With the draft in the books it’s time to take a look at how the Ottawa Senators did.  Just like the previous three drafts the Sens were unable to land a 2nd round pick.  The normal Murray draft trends continued, as they selected a local kid, a player from the QMJHL (the same as the local in this instance), picked from the WHL, Sweden, US leagues (NCAA and EJHL this year), and picked a player completely off the map (two this time).  I’ve compiled all the scouting reports I can find below.  Here’s who was picked:

1-17 Curtis Lazar (CR/RW, 6’0, DOB 1995, Edmonton (WHL))

3-78 Marcus Hogberg (GL, 6’5, DOB 1994, Linkoping (SuperElit))

4-102 Tobias Lindberg (RW, 6’2, DOB 1995, Djurgarden (SuperElit))

4-108 Ben Harpur (DR, 6’6, DOB 1995, Guelph (OHL))

5-138 Vincent Dunn (CL, 5’11, DOB 1995, Val-d’Or (QMJHL))

6-161 Chris Leblanc (RW, 6’3, DOB 1993, South Shore (EJHL))

6-168 Quentin Shore (CR, 6’2, DOB 1994, Denver (NCAA))

A sum total of five forwards, one defensemen, and one goalie.  Here are the majority of the scouting reports for each player (acronyms: ISS (International Scouting Service), RLR (Red Line Report), FC (Future Considerations), HP (Hockey Prospects), McK (Mckeen’s), THN (The Hockey News), CS (Central Scouting), CP (Corey Pronman), and TSN)–I didn’t including THN or TSN’s short blurbs, just their rankings.

Curtis Lazar (WHL 72-38-23-61)
Draft rankings: THN 9, ISS/McK 12, FC 17, TSN 18, CS 20, HP 21, RLR 22, CP 29
Tim Murray: thought getting him at 17 was a steel and see’s him as a future leader (for those who remember his comments prior to the draft it sounds like they had him ranked 13-14).
ISS: lists his shot as excellent, his skating, puck skills, offensive/defensive play, competitiveness, and hockey sense as very good, his physical play as good and his size/strength as average. His strengths are his laser release on his shot, his work ethic, and his ability to rise to the occasion; his weaknesses are his strength and offensive consistency. He’s a very good two-way player with good fire in his game and good offensive capabilities. His potential is as a 2nd/3rd line player with PP potential, could evolve into top line sniper. They compare his style to Dustin Brown. Finally they write: It’s been an up and down season for Lazar in terms of his prospect status. He can be simply dominant and the best player on the ice at times, but he can also fall into long lapses where the offensive potential is nowhere to be found. Even so, he is consistently an effective player, who plays with good determination and high skill. He can grind with players much larger than himself, has very good smooth hands and can shoot the lights out from almost anywhere on the ice. He’s not the biggest kid, but he plays without fear or trepidation. The big knock so far has been in high exposure events (such as CHL TP game and Canada U18 evaluation camp) he has looked very average.
RLR: Playing on deep championship club has allowed him to focus on play away from the puck, working toward a more complete game. Great first step explosion and has the speed to turn the corner on defenders using great puck protection. Has a clean, powerful stride and his strength on skates is a major asset – never gets knocked off the puck. Highly agile with great edging. Constantly involved in the physical aspect of the game and can dominate play down low. Determined and relentless in puck pursuit, creating space and opportunities for linemates. Crashes the net with intensity and hunger. Gets great torque on powerful shot. Tends to get tunnel vision with the puck in tight. Already plays a no-nonsense pro style — keeps things simple and avoids mental lapses. Big game player can elevate his level. Projection: Two-way 2nd line pivot on a good club. Style compares to: Ryan O’Reilly. They list him as the 15th best skater in the draft.
FC: Strengths: Lazar is a defensively strong forward with good speed and goal scoring ability. He possesses good quickness out the gate, has good mobility and turning ability, even at top speed. He’s a dynamic skater who has powerful legs and pretty solid acceleration. Lazar uses a wide balanced stance when protecting the puck and is hard to knock off stride and while he won’t blow the doors off of anyone, is tough to knock off the puck. He gets himself in good position to shoot, finding holes offensively, where he can unleash both a hard wrist or slap shot. He also has a very quick backhand in his shooting arsenal as well as a deadly one-timer. Is a killer from the slot-in with his great release and knows when, where and how to put pucks on net. Lazar isn’t afraid to deke to finish off plays from in close, either. He’s not just a shooter as his puck distribution and vision are superb and makes some excellent passes including quick cross-crease dishes on the backhand in tight to the net, multi-zone stretch passes from his own zone and soft saucer passes to streaking linemates. His passes have good velocity and are usually right on the tape. While he does have pretty good hands, he is not a real flashy puck dangling forward who will try to go end-to-end much if at all. He’s gritty, plays very physical when the situation calls for it and is versatile in that he can play on a skilled line as well as on a line with two very big and physical players. He bangs and crashes regularly along the walls, takes hits to make plays and shows the leadership and smarts that is rare for a player this age. He’s a true hockey player and a leader. He’ll be a glue guy in the NHL and a good guy in the room as a heart and soul player. He shows great inner drive, is a hard worker and displays great character, serving as an assistant captain as a 17-year-old on a veteran team. He will one day do that at the NHL level. Lazar plays with high energy and good intensity each and every shift. He has his head on a swivel each and every shift and his positioning in his own zone and in the neutral zone is fantastic. He is very good at reading the play and taking away lanes with his body and stick. Lazar will be one of the safest bets to make the Show out of this draft class as he is almost a guarantee to make an impression in one way or another. Weaknesses: Lazar is a total defensive first player who does not take risks in the name of offense or to generating a scoring chance. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, it does reflect in his offensive numbers in junior and his perceived NHL offensive upside. He has not really shown much in the way of offensive creativity but instead just taking what he is given to produce opportunities. Is he a very good third line shutdown centre who can play your PK as well as add a little offense to your team or is he a great twoway second line center who can do it all and boost his offensive contributions? Scout’s quote: “Some label Lazar as a great second or third liner, which tends to come with a negative stigma when people think first round talent. But, if by second or third liner, you mean a guy that can score 20-plus goals consistently, be a devastating weapon on the forecheck, and play well in all areas of the ice? Sure, I’ll take him in the first round any day of the week.” NHL Potential: Top Nine Two-Way Forward.
HP: Lazar entered this season with a lot of hype surrounding his game. His play without the puck was very impressive for such a young player, while his offensive game was starting to improve. He has not been able to put up the offensive numbers that usually garner the amount of attention that he is getting now, but there is certainly potential in his game to be an effective 2 way forward in the NHL one day. The best attribute of Lazar’s game is his play without the puck. He is always in such good position in his own end, and is very strong along the boards. He is always out on the ice in crucial defensive situations, and will positively impact the game in some way. He fearlessly blocks shots to help his team win games, and seems to be able to consistently be in the shooting lane. His coverage down low is very good, and displays good anticipation to be able to knock away passes and tie up opponents. Offensively, Lazar has a very impressive wrist shot. He has a nice quick release off the rush in speed. He is not much of a playmaker, and most of his offensive contribution will come in the form of goals and scoring chances. He is able to get into good position in dangerous scoring areas, and make himself available for passes. Lazar has a bit of work to do with his hands around the net, as he could further develop his scoring touch. He has also shown that he is a streaky scorer. He may go a long stretch of not picking up any point, then go on a long streak where he seems to score whenever he is around the net. Lazar will have to be able to consistently put up points to be a more dangerous player as a pro. Lazar is by no means a slow player, but he does have some work to do in terms of his acceleration. It takes him a bit longer to reach his good top end speed, and it inhibits him from being a more dangerous player than he could be. Any team that is looking for a heart and soul, future captain will not have to look further than Curtis Lazar. He may not put up more than 50 points a year in his prime, but he is able to impact the game in more ways than just offensively. He plays the game with such a passion, that it will be contagious within the dressing room. If he can continue to play a 200 ft game while improving his strength and speed and chip in offensively, he will put up a long NHL career.
McK: a responsible and diligent two-way forward .. makes valuable contributions with or without the puck – exploiting sharp hockey sense and good awareness .. powerful, balanced skater when in flight, however, could benefit from additional explosiveness .. hands are more quick and strong rather than finely skilled .. packs a hard shot whose release is both fast and fluid .. dangerous when trailing the rush with speed and firing a one-timer full bore from the slot .. steadily maturing and progressing as a playmaker .. now assesses options before joining the fray and will re-direct pucks to teammates instead of taking low-percentage shots .. should improve his finesse skills and puckhandling in traffic .. can move the puck however as he possesses adept one-touch skills and an ability to execute at a feverish tempo .. can get through defenses with his tenacity – getting key touches on the puck and overwhelming defenders with his speed and persistence .. displays a defensive conscience and positional maturity that belies his age .. neither big nor overtly mean, yet fiercely competitive with deceiving toughness .. continuously engaged both mentally and physically .. comes back deep in strong support positions – and will deliver stiff hits throughout his own zone .. functions most effectively in more of a secondary role – and not front-and-center in the attack.
CP: Lazar is a well-rounded forward, with the benefit of having one of the smallest risk factors in this draft (in terms of probability of becoming an NHL player). He is an above-average skater who can flash plus ability in that area. He covers a lot of ice due to his tremendous work ethic, as he is always moving his feet. He can change gears quickly, and he picks up speed well. Despite being a tad undersized, he is a solid, physical player who is good on the forecheck. He is not afraid to drive the net, either. He is one of the best defensive forwards in this draft, and is very good in that area for a player his age. He takes checks very well, knows how to position himself in his own end, and does not tend to hurt his own team. Similar to the prospects preceding him on this list, there is debate over his offensive ability. I see him as a player with above-average offensive skill, but one scout I talked to said that he is shy in displaying offensive creativity, and that he tends to rely on safe plays. He has solid hands, good instincts, and a very good shot, but his offensive progression will determine what kind of NHL player will be.

Marcus Hogberg (SuperElit 2.41 .917)
Draft rankings: CS 4, McK 71, TSN honourable mention, FC 153, RLR 159, CP 196
Tim Murray: needs coaching, to get stronger, and to mature; believed he was the best goalie in Sweden.
Pierre Dorion: raw but athletic and should be the starting goaltender in the Allsvenskan next season.
RLR: humongous, but a stiff mover and lacks confidence.
FC: Hogberg is a big goaltender who has the size and coverage that NHL teams covet. He will need to improve his lateral quickness as well as his consistency. He does show good upside, but is a project prospect that will need considerable time to round into his game. McK: big, poised goalie with sound technical abilities, plus sharp reflexes .. determined and competitive – yet plays calm and controlled – does not force plays and overcommit .. reads and anticipates the play well .. adopts a progressive Swedish butterfly style .. a massive frame allows him to stay deeper and display a wider stance in order to bait shooters to aim low .. will challenge shooters though, and make saves at the top of his crease depending on the situation – his depth being referred to as ‘non static’.. uses his size to his advantage – stays tall in the butterfly with a straight back in order to optimize net coverage .. proficient at keeping himself square to the puckcarrier .. agile and balanced on his feet – both in stance and moving sideways .. smooth and proficient sliding laterally – or when recovering to skates – maintains a strong seal to the ice .. must guard against over-sliding or excess movements in the down position, which can expose unnecessary space over the shoulders .. shades of Nashville’s Pekka Rinne – in the ‘European’ mold.

Tobias Lindberg (SuperElit 43-9-13-22)
Draft rankings: CS 99
Tim Murray: doesn’t know much about it (hit or miss pick), but the European scouts like his potential.
Pierre Dorion: big winger who has speed and skill; a good project.
Vaclav Burda: He’s a kid who was not selected or ranked very high — he was pretty low — but we feel pretty good about his potential, like Colin Greening in our organization. He’s a big guy who can skate, he drives the net, he’s not high end intelligent with the puck but he drives the net with speed and strength and we see these tools that down the road he could play on the big team. He has already played a few games for the big Djurgarden team which is the second highest Swedish league — the Allsvenskan, but mostly he played in the junior league. Next year he’ll be playing either with the men’s team or a junior team. He’s not (physically) mature, he’s got lots of room to build up and we believe that big body might be hard to play against some day.

Ben Harpur (OHL 67-3-12-15)
Draft rankings: ISS 84, CS 101, FC 111, HP 119, CP 129, RLR 136
Tim Murray: leery on picking defensemen after the second round, but scouts believe he’s a late bloomer.
Pierre Dorion: improved a lot through the second half.
ISS: his size/strength is excellent, puck skills and shot good, while his skating and hockey sense are average.  They add: He is clearly a stay-at-home defenseman Harpur’s size is what first jumps out in his game; he shows incredible raw potential with his continually growing frame. Defensively he possesses an active stick and does well containing the opposition low in his zone. He makes a good first pass to exit the defensive zone and is a decent skater given his size. Definitely needs to get more physical given his size, gives up the offensive zone blueline too quickly and his gap was too much which means he isn’t a confident defenseman right now.
RLR: Like Kate Upton: great body, limited between the ears.
FC [consistently misspelled his name as "Harper"]: Harpur is a gangly shutdown defenseman who skates well for a big man. His stride is long and smooth and his lateral mobility is impressive. His transitions are fluid and he does not lose momentum. He needs to improve on his first step as he develops. His hands are soft and he is confident when he has the puck. He is not overly creative with the puck, but he makes strong consistent plays when he has the puck. He consistently makes crisp tape-to-tape passes breakout passes, which lead to quick transition hockey for his team. He has great vision, and makes high percentage passes rarely giving the puck away. He poses a heavy shot from the point. He is good at finding shooting lanes to get pucks to the net, leading to rebound chances for his teammates. He plays a very physical in your face style of hockey. He finished his checks with enthusiasm, without taking himself out of position, and plays the body hard in his own zone. Harpur plays hard in the corners, and makes life miserable for opposing forwards. He shows a high hockey IQ and makes smart decisions. His defensive game is where he really excels on the ice. He is hard to beat one-on-one, and he drives opposing forwards wide never giving them an easy path to the net. His gap control in off the charts, as he surprises opposing forwards who thing they have time. His anticipation in his own end is good. NHL Potential: Bottom-pairing defensive defenseman.
HP: Ben was selected in the 3rd round of the 2011 OHL Priority Selection Draft by the Guelph Storm out of the Niagara Falls Canucks Minor Midget program. Ben made the Storm as a 16 year old but received limited action due to the depth on the Storm blueline. Harpur had a steady sophomore season for the Storm. He is a big bodied presence on the blue line and is good at using his size to lean on smaller forwards and clear out the front of the net. He needs to work at bringing a consistent physical presence to his game and finish more checks when given the opportunity. He is a good skater despite being such a big guy and has adequate speed to jump into the offensive rush when available. However, he has struggled in one on one situations at times due to a late pivot. He is good at using his long stick to keep opponents to the outside and is effective at getting into passing lanes and intercepting passes. Harpur is sometimes caught standing around in the defensive zone and needs to consistently pressure opposing forwards rather than let the play come to him. He takes good angles when he does pressure forwards and is good at keeping his body to the net so that driving lanes are kept to a minimum. He occasionally steps up and effectively holds the offensive blue line strong but is sometimes slow transitioning from forwards to backwards and would benefit from improved foot speed. Harpur is good at getting his shots on net through traffic but needs to work at walking the line to create better shooting lanes. Ben shows flashes of potential but also needs to further improve and become more comfortable in his size. He will need to become a better skater and play a more tenacious game at his size. He does a variety of things well but nothing that stands out as exceptional. Harpur is a player we see going outside the first few rounds and selected to become a reliable defensive defenseman at the next level. One that doesn’t play huge minutes but can be relied upon in his own end, and to hopefully play a penalty killing role as well.

Vincent Dunn (QMJHL 53-25-27-52)
Draft rankings: THN 87, HP/CP 94, FC 96, McK honourable mention, ISS 122, RLR 130
Tim Murray: likes that he’ll be playing for Gatineau where it’s easy to keep an eye on him and where he has a good coach.
Pierre Dorion: agitator, good skill, needs to work on his skating.
ISS: his skating and hockey sense are very good, his puck skills and shot are good, while his size/strength is average.  They write: Dunn has exploded out of the gates offensively for the Val d’Or Foreurs and has eclipsed his 13 points last year with 25 goals and 27 assists in just 53 games played. Dunn is a blue collar type, defensive forward and agitator. He works hard, has a good forecheck, finishes checks, and is relentless in all three zones. He is never going to be a big offensive contributor at the next level, but he does projects as very good bottom six utility/role player.
RLR: Ken Linesman calls him “The Rat”. They rate him as the fourth best pest in the draft.
FC: Dunn is a shift disturber who has some underrated offensive skill. He moves well with good quickness but just average straight-line speed. He shows decent balance and agility but could use overall improvement to his skating ability. He is reliable in all zones and thinks the game well. He needs to be more consistent shift-to-shift and use his shot more often. His shot has some pop to it but he needs to get it off his stick quicker as it has a painfully slow release. He makes his biggest impact offensively around the crease looking for rebounds and garbage goals. He has limited vision and puck distribution skills. Dunn works the boards well as he has a stocky strength to him, gets position on his opponent, uses leverage and strength to come out with the puck on his stick. He’s often in the right position on the ice to breakup opponents attack by getting himself into passing lanes, and is strong defensively despite his small stature. He’s willing to drop down in front of a point shot. He’s a hard hitter and relentless forechecker who is not afraid to get gritty or even dirty in an attempt to draw penalties. He’s also ready to drop the gloves to back up his game but is not a very strong fighter. Has a Steve Ott kind of two-way in-your-face type of presence. NHL Potential: top-nine center.
HP: Vincent Dunn came into the QMJHL at 16 years old in 2011-2012 and made a name for himself by playing a rarely seen aggressive and intense game, never backing down from anybody. In fact, in his first two season, Dunn has accumulated close to 200 penalty minutes while being a pretty good hockey player. Dunn displays a great level of energy when he is on the ice which makes him very noticeable, rarely taking a shift off. He will try to get under the skin of his opponents, bantering after whistles, starting scrums, giving a little more on the body check and just knocking them off their game. Although he is not the biggest player at 5’11”, Dunn will rarely refuse a fight and he is a proven fighter in that realm. He is a player you don’t like to come up against because of his level of competitiveness and associated intensity will expose a soft player. He doesn’t necessary lay out the big hit often, but will be physical on the forecheck with high energy. He has an above-average top speed and great power in his first few strides to quickly reach max speed. He is not an East-West player by any means, but has quick feet and will use them to gain time and space laterally. He has quick hands and more than a decent skill set that he uses well in tight spaces to get pucks around the net to generate a scoring chance or simply keep the puck in battles. A strong player, Dunn has good puck protection and his tenacity makes him tough to knock off the puck. He will score goals around the net, jumping on rebounds but he also scores some solid goals off the rush. His offensive vision is impressive, finding teammates quickly and executing skilled setups on the rush. He is also effective when delaying the play because of those good passing skills. Defensively, Dunn has never stopped progressing, working hard and supporting his defensemen well. He needs to play a better positional game as he tends to be a little too aggressive at times. Dunn can overreact and be undisciplined also, he needs to have control of his temper. His hits can be dangerous at times. Dunn doesn’t possess a big frame or high end offensive potential for the next level, but his intensity and character mixed with his above-average abilities make him a very interesting pick come draft day.
McK: Surprised with a 25-goal breakout sophomore outburst, although his play regressed over the back half .. hurt the team with costly, undisciplined penalties in the playoffs – and also damaged his stock with a two-game suspension in November for inappropriate comments – deemed by the ref as ‘racial taunts, gestures and slurs’ .. skilled undersized agitator .. plays a pugilistic style aimed at taking opponents off their game .. willing combatant – took six major penalties last season .. aggressive forechecker – finishes checks assertively despite a smaller stature .. packs a good accurate wristshot which he can unload at full flight .. choppy skater – propelled by a short compact stride and busy feet .. sluggish in startup and acceleration – misses a separation gear .. does get the most out of his speed once in motion – pumping his feet frantically to generate power .. agility and balance need improvement .. loses momentum in turns – not that stable on crossovers – which have a running quality .. skilled stickhandler and passer – strong on the puck .. does the little things – like going hard to the net and following up rebounds .. takes hits to make plays and competes defensively – albeit can be guilty of soft checking postures .. also struggles to keep his emotions in check which translates into bad penalties.
CP: Dunn had a productive season from a statistical standpoint, although it must be noted that he played on a loaded offensive squad in Val-d’Or. He is a multi-dimensional player, and he can play center or wing effectively. He also has defensive value, and although he is a little small, he will show a good physical game, with offensive abilities. Dunn has above-average hands, as well as a good offensive hockey sense. He tends to set up his teammates well. He is a solid skater as well. He may not have a powerful stride, but he does have a good first few steps, and he moves his feet quickly. Dunn has a lot of energy to his game. He will drive the net, make quick decisions, and engage when he needs to. Despite these positive qualities, it is questionable what his role projects to be in the NHL. His offensive skill is not overwhelming enough to project as a scorer, and due to his size, he will carry questions about his defensive projection. Despite this, he possesses good qualities, and if his development goes well, he will provide value for an NHL team.

Chris Leblanc (EJHL 44-13-20-33)
Draft rankings: unranked
Tim Murray: late bloomer they think they can develop. Committed to Merrimack (NCAA)
Pierre Dorion: big two-way player.

Quentin Shore (NCAA 39-10-9-19)
Draft rankings: CP 179
Pierre Dorion: smart hockey player, competes, two-way; a gamble.
Here’s the ISS scouting report from last year (2012 draft): A very impressive two-way performance during the U18s was just icing on the cake, Shore has consistently impressed ISS scouts during the season and often in a different manner each game. He has a very well rounded skill set that allows him to fit any mould required of him. His faceoff skills and defensive presence were integral in USA’s run for the Gold during the U18 tournament. More goal scorer than playmaker, decent hands and quick release. A very effective shot-blocker on the PK unit that is adept at getting in the shooting lanes and limiting rebounds. Still working on game to game consistency and is an unpolished long-term project.
Here’s McK’s from last year: Quentin plays a very similar game to his brothers, as he is a smart player who makes valuable plays that help out in all three zones. His hockey sense and shot are arguably his best assets, as his one-timer explodes off his stick and his keen hockey sense allows him to stay in close proximity of the puck. He has the innate ability to turn his body off the puck to make a defenseman go the other way and then executes subtle one-touch passes that help in the transition. Shore needs to work on his skating since he offers little to no explosive power in his stride. He’s a versatile player who meshes well with any set of linemates due to his work ethic and ability to process the game. He is a highly coachable player who is loaded with character and has healthy bloodlines.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa 2013 Draft Predictions

Here are my predictions for Ottawa’s selections–I made rough guesses in my overall look at the draft, but with that leg work completed I’ve had time to take a closer look at who the Sens will take.  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.  This year the mantra of best-player-available has overwhelmed any notion of a positional preference (although they rarely pick goaltenders).  Last year when I went through this exercise I picked 2 of the 7 players selected–hopefully that can be improved upon, but it’s worth keeping in mind that if you predict 25% of the draft accurately (player X at position X) you’ve done very, very well.

The only firm trend the Sens have had under Bryan Murray is not picking 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 only serious attempt I’ve seen at picking the entire draft comes from The Hockey Writers who, like I did last year, propose a likely candidate and then alternatives.  I’ll note their predictions as I go through my own.

1-17 – Mock drafts are all over the place for this selection, but we know Adam Erne (RW 6’1  QMJHL) and Kerby Rychel (LW 6’1 OHL) were part of a foursome brought to Ottawa and with the many rumours surrounding Samuel Morin (DL 6’6 QMJHL) I suspect he was part of that group.  At least one of the three should be available when the Sens make their pick (I actually think all three will be), but if all are available who do they like more?  I keep hearing Morin so I have to go with him.  THW offers five possibilities echoing only Erne above; the others are Hunter Shinkaruk, Alexander Wennberg, Frederik Gauthier, and Curtis Lazar.  They prefer Shinkaruk of the bunch, but I don’t think he, Wennberg, or Lazar will drop that far.
3-78 - Niklas Hansson (DR 6’0 Swe Jr), Carl Dahlstrom (DL 6’4 Swe Jr), and Gustav Olofsson (DL 6’2 USHL) are the possibilities for the Sens here by my estimation.  I think puck-mover Hansson is the most likely pick.  THW suggests Myles Bell, Matt Buckle, or Marc-Olivier Roy (preferring Bell).  I don’t think Roy will be available at this point.
4-102 – Kurt Etchegary (CL 5’11 QMJHL), Jared Hauf (DL 6’5 WHL), and J. C. Lipon (RW 6’0 WHL) are my options for this pick.  I think the Sens will go for the speedy Etchegary.  THW suggests Tyler Hill, Will Butcher, or Mason GeertsenHill is the only one I believe will be available this late.
4-108 – Cole Cassels (CR 6’0 OHL), Tyler Lewington (DR 6’1 WHL), and Ben Harpur (DL 6’5 OHL) are my options, with the nod going to the right-handed Lewington.  THW suggests Remi Elie, Gage Ausmus, Viktor Arvidsson, or Greg Chase, but of these I think only Arvidsson will be available.
5-138 – Blaine Byron (CL 6’0 OJHL), Kayle Doetzel (DR 6’2 WHL), and Jaimen Yakubowski (LW 5’9 WHL) are my potentials, with Smiths Falls’ own Bryon being my pick.  THW suggests Brendan Burke, Marcus Hogberg, Evan Cowley, Antoine Bibeau, or Evan Allen.  That’s four goalies and I don’t see the Sens picking one even if they are available, but Allen is an option for that pick.
6-161 – Brody Silk (LW 6’0 OHL), Luke Johnson (LW 5’11 USHL), and Nolan De Jong (DL 6’2 BCHL) are the potential picks, with De Jong getting my pick (the Sens like to pick long-term, college-bound players with later picks).  THW largely throws up their hands for this and the next pick, including some of the names above and adding in Peter Trainor, Jesse Lees, Miro Aaltonen, Steven Harper, Joose Antonen, Scott Oke, Albert Yarullin, Mitchell Theorot, and Brenden Kichton.  This list is so broad and non-specific it doesn’t warrant analysis.
6-168 – Jerret Smith (DR 6’2 WHL), Robin Norell (DL 5’11 SHL), and Jeff Corbett (DR 6’1 OHL) are my options, with Smith getting the nod.

To summate: Samuel Morin, Niklas Hansson, Kurt Etchegary, Tyler Lewington, Blaine Byron, Nolan De Jong, and Jerret Smith are my picks (so three changes from my big draft article, with Morin replacing Morrissey, Lewington replacing Cassels, and De Jong replacing Silk).  If my predictions are correct the Sens would leave the draft with five defensemen and two forwards–a seemingly unlikely combination, but it would shore up a soft spot in their depth.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Looking at Ottawa’s Draft Success (2005-08)

There are many articles reviewing draft accuracy (like TSN’s Scott Cullen‘s last year) and as engaging as they are I’ve always had problems with the way they are defined and presented. Examinations of the draft that cover a long period of time fail to account for the changes in the league and the draft itself, so the comparisons often aren’t apt. When articles cover more recent drafts (Hockey Futures does them at five-year intervals) they are forced to make judgements on players whose futures are yet to be defined (for example, Colin Greening had not started his pro career by that time). All this preamble is to make two key points: 1) the attitude and approach to the NHL draft changed seismically after the 2004-05 lockout, 2) the typical make-or-break moment for a draft pick varies considerably, with the most basic level depending on what league they were drafted from. To expand on the second point: CHL draftees generally take five-years to develop (allowing for two more years of junior and then the full length of their ELC); college-bound players can take six to eight years, depending on how much time they spend in the NCAA; European players used to be even more varied when teams kept their rights forever, but with transfer deals signed with the DEL, SEL, and the SM-Liiga (where rights are only retained for two years) their usual range is now like the CHL (five years), but there are exceptions (like the KHL or players like Carl Soderberg who didn’t sign with Boston until he was 27).

Given the above, how have the Sens done with their selections? I think I can make judgements on John Muckler’s last two drafts and Bryan Murray’s first (along with a look at his second). How am I defining a successful pick?  Any skater who has played 200+ NHL games (along with some judgement calls; goaltenders are particularly difficult).  With that many games the player has managed at least two and a half seasons of NHL work and that’s a decent return on the investment.  So, without further adieu:

2005
Muckler clearly had a hard-on for international tournaments, as every player except the one still with the Sens (Greening) played in those tournaments. Pre-KHL Muckler gambled on taking Russians who slid down the draft, but only one (Zubov) ever suited up for the organisation. It was not a great draft for the Sens by any standard. A few stats: there are 49/230 (21.3%) number of regular NHLers from the draft (you can judge for yourself here). By round: 1st 19/30, 2nd 8/31, 3rd 5/30, 4th 6/34, 5th 5/36, 6th 1/31, 7th 5/36. Players who have played over 200 games: 36 (15 1st, 7 2nd, 4 3rd, 6 4th, 2 5th, 1 6th, 3 7th); played 100-199 games: 19 (5 1st, 2 2nd, 2 3rd, 1 4th, 5 5th, 1 6th, 3 7th).

1-9 Brian Lee (DR, US high school/USHL; WJC) – NHL (Tampa Bay); 209 NHL games played; marginal NHLer (6-7 d-man)
An enigmatic player who still hasn’t defined what kind of pro player he is (if he is one). He’s big, but not physical. He makes a solid first pass, but is unable to produce offensively. He can play a limited role in the NHL, but does not dominate in the AHL. His career, for however long it goes, will likely remain on the margins. Many Sens fans groused about Lee because of the fantastic players taken after him (Anze Kopitar and Marc Staal in particular), but he’s not the worst player taken in the first round (3 never played a game, 6 more played less than 50), and one can argue whether he’s better or worse than Jack Skille who was taken by Chicago at #7. To me, the pick isn’t a complete failure, but it’s several steps removed from what it could or should have been.
3-70 Vitali Anikeyenko (DR, Russia tier-3; U-18) – deceased (Lokomotiv plane crash); bust
Other than attending one development camp (in 2005), the Sens didn’t get a sniff of Anikeyenko, who spent the bulk of his career playing for Lokomotiv (which tragically cost him his life). Whether he had NHL potential or not remains an open question, but judging by his KHL numbers I’d suggest he projected at best a bottom-pairing defender. Naturally there were better picks available, including Conn Smyth winner Jonathan Quick (#72), but between his selection and the Sens next pick, only 3 (of 24) NHL regulars were selected. The pick has to be viewed as a failure, both for the Sens inability to anticipate the problems of signing Russian players and also for not ascertaining just how interested Anikeyenko was in coming to North America.
4-95 Cody Bass (CR, OHL; U-18) – two-way contract (Columbus); 48 NHL games; AHLer
He spent four years in the Senators organisation where he helped Binghamton win a Calder Cup, but Bass remains a fringe player. Not productive or durable enough for full-time fourth line duty in the NHL, he’s destined to bounce back and forth between leagues as a “character guy”. Players like Bass are good for their organisations, but not the kind that’s worth a draft pick. In terms of who was available between his pick and the Sens next there was depth blueliner Chris Butler (#96). In terms of style of play, the Sens would have been better off picking Jared Boll (#101).
4-98 Ilya Zubov (C/LW, Russia tier-2; U-18); – KHL (Moscow); 11 NHL games; AHLer
The most successful of Muckler’s Russian picks, he spent two years in the organisation where he established himself as a productive AHLer. Like Bass he probably could have stayed in North America and been an occasional call-up, but he clearly did not have the talent to become a regular NHLer. There were 5 regular NHL players over the next 17 picks (the best is Keith Yandle at #105), so plenty of better talent was available.
4-115 Janne Kolehmainen (LW, SM-Liiga; WJC) – SM-Liiga (KalPa) – bust
The last Finn selected by the Senators organisation, there’s never been any interest expressed by the Sens to sign the big winger, whose performance flatlined the year after he was drafted. If there’s any solace in the wasted pick it’s that only 1 NHL regular was selected over the following 21 picks (Darren Helm at #132).
5-136 Tomas Kudelka (DL, Czech junior; U-18) – Czech Elite League (HC Vitkovice) – marginal AHLer
The second-last Czech picked by the Sens (Jakub Culek was the last), he was a solid junior player in the WHL who did not excel in his three years in the AHL. In a lot of ways he is a less-talented Brian Lee, as he has good size, but isn’t overly physical and his offensive game did not translate at a higher level. There are 5 NHL regulars over the next 50 picks, but none of those players match the talent of those missed earlier.
6-186 Dmitri Megalinsky (DL, Russia tier-3; WJC) – KHL (Novokuznetsk) – bust
Here again the Sens can be criticised for not doing their homework, because unlike Anikeyenko (one development camp) or Zubov (two years in the AHL) they never got a sniff of Megalinsky, who became a KHL regular. There were 2 NHL regulars selected through the next 18 picks and Sergei Kostitsyn (#200) certainly would have been a better role of the dice. Whether Megalinsky had the chops to play in the NHL remains an unresolved, but doubtful proposition.
7-204 Colin Greening (C/LW, CISAA) – NHL (Ottawa); 150 NHL games – NHL regular (top-9 forward)
The final role of the dice was the only true payoff in the draft. I suspect Greening is the only player drafted right out of Upper Canada College. He spent five years developing before joining the organisation and the result is more than could have been expected, as Greening will have a long career as a solid top-nine forward. Two other NHL regulars came after his selection, with the best being the last (Patric Hornqvist at #230).

2006
Muckler’s last draft. He broke his obsession with international tournament players and Russians, with all North American selections save Daugavins. In Ottawa terms this is a much better draft with potentially 3 regular NHLers coming out of it. A few stats: there are 39/213 (18.3%) number of regular NHLers from the draft (you can judge for yourself here). By round: 1st 19/30, 2nd 10/33, 3rd 3/30, 4th 2/30, 5th 0/30, 6th 3/30, 7th 2/30. Players who played 200 or more games: 31 (18 1st, 6 2nd, 3 3rd, 1 4th, 2 6th, 1 7th); played 100-199 games: 10 (1 1st, 5 2nd, 1 3rd, 1 4th, 1 6th, 1 7th).

1-28 Nick Foligno (LW, OHL) – NHL (Columbus); 394 NHL games – NHL regular (top-9 forward)
Arguably the second best pick of the draft from that point onward (behind Milan Lucic at #50), he also trumps a number of players taken before him (3 never played in the NHL, 5 have played fewer than 30 NHL games and he’s clearly better than James Sheppard (#9)). Given that, he is a very successful selection despite his inability to firmly nail down a top-six role.
3-68 Eric Gryba (DR, USHL) – NHL/AHL (Ottawa/Binghamton); 31 NHL games - NHL prospect (5-6 D)
The big blueliner spent four full years in the NCAA before graduating and helping Binghamton to their first Calder Cup. He is on the horizon for full NHL duty coming into next season, with Mark Borowiecki as his biggest competition on the depth chart.  Three regular NHLers were picked over the next 23 selections, with Brad Marchand (#71) the best.
3-91 Kaspars Daugavins (LW, Belarus; WJC) – NHL (Boston); 91 NHL games – marginal NHL prospect (fourth-liner)
It has been a long road for the undersized forward to get to the NHL. He spent three season in the CHL and then two more in Binghamton before becoming a marginal roster player. His upside is limited. Only two NHL regulars occur over the next 30 picks (James Reimer at #99 and Matt Beleskey at #112).
4-121 Pierre-Luc Lessard (DL, QMJHL) – CIS (Trois-Rivieres) bust
A high-scoring blueliner from the Q, he was never offered a contract and only had a cup of coffee as a pro (ECHL). He’s a complete miss as a pick, but none of the next 30 selections have become regular NHLers.
5-151 Ryan Daniels (G, OHL) – CIS (Laurier) – bust
A rare goalie selection for the Sens, he is another player who was not offered a contract, but unlike Lessard didn’t even get that professional cup of coffee. There are three regular NHLers over the next 30 picks, with Viktor Stalberg (#161) being the most prominent.
6-181 Kevin Koopman (DR, KIJHL) – ACHA II (Brown) – bust
The scouts did not do their homework here, as Koopman retired to become a doctor before the Sens could think about offering him a contract. One NHL player was selected over the next 30 picks (Derek Dorsett at #189).
7-211 Erik Condra (RW, NCAA) – NHL (Ottawa); 152 NHL games – NHL regular (bottom-6 forward)
The third last pick of the draft, he finished up his college career and then earned rookie of the year honours in Binghamton before becoming a solid addition to the NHL lineup. Even though Condra has limited upside, to get a roster player this late in the draft is clearly a home run.

2007
Muckler was fired two weeks before the draft, so while this is nominally a Bryan Murray draft it’s basically following Muckler’s scouting philosophy. Not surprisingly, Murray traded away the team’s late round picks so that the next draft could fully follow his direction. Less time has passed to truly assess how many hits and misses this draft had, but it’s clearly a weak draft.  Only Jim O’Brien might be a regular NHL player from Ottawa’s selections and even that is no guarantee.  A few stats: there are 31/211 (14.6%) number of regular NHLers from the draft (you can judge for yourself here). By round: 1st 16/30, 2nd 4/31, 3rd 1/30, 4th 5/30, 5th 1/30, 6th 2/30, 7th 2/30. Players who played 200 or more games: 17 (11 1st, 4 2nd, 1 5th, 1 7th); played 100-199 games: 15 (5 1st, 1 2nd, 2 3rd, 4 4th, 2 6th, 1 7th).

1-29 Jim O’Brien (CR, NCAA; U-18) – NHL (Ottawa); 63 NHL games – marginal NHLer (fourth-liner)
After two mediocre years in the WHL and a terrible rookie season in the AHL, many thought O’Brien‘s days were numbered. However, he turned his game around in the minors, won a Calder Cup, and managed to earn himself a one-way contract. The sample size is small, but it appears as though he can take a regular shift with the big boys, albeit in a supporting role. Compared to the players taken before him, 5 have never played in the NHL (keeping in mind that Cherepanov tragically died), and 6 have played fewer games thus far. Three regular NHLers were taken over the next 31 picks, with P. K. Subban (#43) the best of them.
2-60 Ruslan Bashkirov (LW, QMJHL) – VHL (Ryazan) – bust
The only Russian taken by Murray at the draft, Bashkirov is such a bust that he can’t even play in the KHL. This is the definition of a bad pick with Wayne Simmonds taken immediately after him (#61).
3-90 Louie Caporusso (C/LW, OPJHL) – ECHL/AHL (Elmira/Binghamton) – bust
Despite a strong NCAA resume Caporusso struggled at the AHL level. He may have it in him to become a regular AHLer, but his NHL potential seems non-existent. There may be as many as five NHLers taken over the next 30 picks, making the pick look much worse.
4-120 Ben Blood (DL, USUS) – ECHL/AHL (Elmira/Binghamton) - AHL prospect
There was a long wait for Blood, as he spent a year in the USHL and then four more at college before turning pro. He was thought to have the potential to be a bruising bottom-pairing NHLer, but was unable to be a regular AHLer in his rookie year. As Ottawa’s last pick in the draft he has to be compared to the rest of the selections (91 picks), where Jamie Benn (#129) stands out as the biggest miss.

2008
Bryan Murray’s first true draft and it was a good.  Emil Sandin is the only pick unsigned and all the rest of the players have played at least one NHL game.  It’s too early to fully vet the success of the draft overall, so I’ll simply list players who have played the most thus far (for the list go here). Players who played 200 or more games: 17 (13 1st, 1 2nd, 1 3rd, 1 5th, 1 7th); played 100-199 games: 11 (4 1st, 3 2nd, 1 3rd, 2 4th, 1 6th).

1-15 Erik Karlsson (DR, SuperElit) – NHL (Ottawa); 233 games – NHL star
The Sens sent a pair of picks to Nashville in order to move up to take Karlsson; the slender Swede has a Norris trophy under his belt and as long as he can stay healthy should drive the offence for years to come.  The first definitive home run by Murray
2-42 Patrick Wiercioch (DL, USHL) – NHL (Ottawa); 50 games – NHL regular (top-four)
It might be a little early to call him a regular, but after two mediocre AHL seasons the gifted blueliner seems to have finally made the transition to the pro game; other prominent selections prior to the Sens next pick include Justin Schultz (#43) and Derek Stepan (#51)
3-79 Zack Smith (C, WHL) – NHL (Ottawa); 200 games – NHL regular (bottom-six)
Gritty center had been passed over in the previous draft but has proven a solid investment by the Sens (only two other players taken after him have played more games); the best player over the next 30 picks is Adam Henrique (#82)
4-109 Andre Petersson (RW, SuperElit) – AHL (Binghamton); 1 game – NHL prospect (top-nine)
Small Swedish forward was a solid WJC performer who enjoyed a good rookie season in the AHL last year, but injury cost him his sophomore campaign; between he and the next Sens pick Dale Weiss (#111) and T. J. Brodie (#114) stand out
4-119 Derek Grant (C/LW, BCHL) – AHL (Binghamton); 5 games – NHL prospect (bottom-six)
Lanky tier-2 pick left college early to turn pro and has been solid (if unspectacular) in his first two AHL seasons; the twenty picks between he and the next selection include Gustav Nyquist (#121), Andrei Loktionov (#123), and Matt Calvert (#127)
5-139 Mark Borowiecki (DL, CJHL) – AHL (Binghamton); 8 games – NHL prospect (5-6 D)
Gritty blueliner has all the intangibles, but hasn’t been ready for prime time just yet; among the next 60 picks are Matt Martin (#148), Philip Larsen (#149), Jared Spurgeon (#156), Cam Atkinson (#157), and Jason Demers (#186)
7-199 Emil Sandin (LW/RW, SuperElit) – Allsvenskan – bust
The diminutive forward was a late round flyer coming off an excellent season in the SuperElit, success he translated into an SEL contract with Brynas.  Unfortunately, he could never fully adjust to the Swedish premier league which meant he had no chance whatsoever at the NHL level and he went unsigned.  He currently plays in the Allsvenskan.  His story is almost exactly the same as 2010 draft pick Marcus Sorensen.  The only pick worth mentioning after this is Anders Lindback (#207)

Although the verdict on 2008 can’t be fully made yet, the contrast between the value of Muckler’s drafts versus Murray’s is stark.  It will be interesting to see (going forward) how the Murray era prospects success unfolds.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: October 1st

-Corey Cowick talked about training camp and said that he thought he’d get a better opportunity under Luke Richardson than he had under Kurt Kleinendorst.

-Luke Richardson also talked about training camp and made an interesting comment in the course of the interview:

I try not to preach what I did.  I want them [the players] to become their own player their own person and if they do have questions I love telling old stories that can help kind of calm them down and realise that other people went through the highs and lows that they did and that it’s the same game it was twenty years ago.

-Nichols writes that Robin Lehner is the Sens prospect he most wants to see fulfill his potential.  He summarizes Lehner‘s career as part of the organisation and the article is worth reading through.  I like Lehner as well and on a selfish note he’s one of the few guys who regularly says interesting things for reporters and bloggers to write about.

-Here’s the weekly prospect update:

CHL
Cody Ceci (OHL Ottawa) 4-1-5-6
Matt Puempel (OHL Kitchener) 4-4-1-5
Stefan Noesen (OHL Plymouth) 3-2-0-2
Jordan Fransoo (WHL Victoria) 4-0-2-2
Jarrod Maidens (OHL Owen Sound) injured
Francois Brassard (QMJHL Quebec) 4-0-0 1.50 .938
Chris Driedger (WHL Calgary) 3-0-1 1.73 .940

Allsvenskan (Swe)
Mikael Vikstrand (Mora) 7-3-2-5

KHL
Nikita Filatov (Salavat) 9-2-4-6

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) – 2-0-2-2

-Glen Erickson provides an overview of the WHL’s Western Conference.

-Mark Spector believes the NHL and the NHLPA have a naive attitude towards the use of performance enhancing drugs in the league.  His article is an exploration of the possibilities rather than an examination of proofs, but I agree with his overall point.  Testing is expensive, however, and I get no sense that the league is particularly concerned about it, so I don’t imagine anything will change in the near future.

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)

Senators News: August 8th

-Ross MacLean offers his “best value” picks for the 2012 draft and two Senators make the list: third-rounders Chris Driedger and Jarrod Maidens.  “Driedger has great potential and brings a tremendous attitude and never-quit passion to the crease, while Maidens would have been a first-rounder if he hadn’t missed most of the OHL season due to injury. While Maidens’ long-term health status remains in the air, his upside is tremendous.”  Maidens mention is no surprise, but Driedger received little scouting approbation outside of MacLean’s own ISS.

-Ed Benkin writes about Sens prospect Michael Sdao (7-191/09), who talked about his development experience:

It is a development camp. It’s all about player development and trying to improve your skills. The physical play is part of the game, so sometimes that does come up. It was great. It was good to go back there and see some of my friends and roommates from past years. It was my third time in camp, so I have a really good relationship with a lot of the guys. It’s such a great city and great place to be. You definitely get a taste of what it’s like to be a pro. It’s intended to make you hungry and get to the next level, and that’s definitely what it’s done for me. They’ve talked to me about my career after Princeton. They expect me to be a big part of the organization down the line. They’re very engaged in their prospects. Every year, they’ve been able to make it to some of my games and I’m thankful for that. I got to play more minutes and develop my skills [at Princeton; Sdao was named as a first-team All-Ivy League and second-team All-ECACH]. I also got some power play time and a lot of penalty-kill time.  Just to play as much as I was able to play made it a great year. You get through July and everyone is itching to get back to school. The way last season ended definitely left a bad taste in our mouths. That’s [fighting] definitely part of the game. It’s something that happens and there’s a time and a place for it. You just have to know when it is. But I don’t want to be known as a one-dimensional player. There’s so much more to the game. That’s [becoming a professional] in the back of your mind all the time. You just want to watch and learn from what those guys are doing. Watching Hockey Night in Canada makes you wish that someday, that will be you.

Ottawa’s last pick in the 2009 draft, Sdao‘s talents as a pugilist guarantee him a pro career of some extent, but his improvement in all other areas make him one of the Sens more intriguing prospects.

-Nichols makes a number of interesting points in his latest article:

As a head coach who often employs the paired forward tactic (he doesn’t look at lines as a set trio comprised of a centre and two wings. Instead, a pair of forwards are the constant with the third member of the line being selected from a rotating a group of wingers), Paul MacLean joins the ranks of coaches like Alain Vigneault, Ken Hitchcock and Mike Babcock who have been recognized for using this strategy.

The link is from The Province‘s Gordon McIntyre, who notes the CBC’s Elliiotte Friedman also referenced it:

The Hitchcockian stuff came when we discussed Edmonton’s forward lines. In Dallas, Hitchcock once explained how he believed more in forward “pairs” than trios. For example, Mike Modano always played with Jere Lehtinen. The third could be rotated. [Ralph] Krueger wants to see if he can create a flexible, dangerous lineup that way.

Nichols brings up this strategy because he wonders if Milan Michalek would be better suited playing with Kyle Turris rather than Jason Spezza:

Last season, MacLean relied heavily upon the strong puck possession skills of the Kyle Turris/Alfie second line duo to shut down the opposition’s best offensive forwards; whereas the Spezza unit benefitted from: a) being frequently paired with Erik Karlsson; and b) a high offensive zone start rate (note: Michalek was at 61.5% and Spezza at 59.3%). Despite playing the bulk of his 5v5 shifts playing with Karlsson and Spezza, Michalek’s puck possession numbers are middling. It’s no coincidence that whenever the first line languished, MacLean would tap Alfie on the shoulder and send him over the boards. Unlike Michalek or Colin Greening, Alfie could help Spezza ease Spezza’s burden. Too often when the first line is struggling, it’s because the offence has to run through Spezza to create its chances. When he’s off his game, he’s like a collegiate student running around his campus bar in an effort to pick up women minutes before it closes – forcing passes in effort to score. Per DobberHockey, 34 of Michalek’s 60 points came at even strength while playing on a line with Spezza. Michalek may have benefitted from a career high shooting percentage of 16.5% — that conveniently coincided with his second highest regular season shot total (and highest while playing for the Senators) – but when taken into context with how unlikely it is that Erik Karlsson replicates last season’s even strength production, the odds of Michalek’s offensive numbers regressing towards his career norms are presumably quite high.

I agree wholeheartedly that Michalek‘s numbers will fall in the upcoming season and it’s just as likely he won’t be as healthy.  However, Nichols’ number crunching is all leading up to one purpose and that is to suggest who he would like to see play with Spezza:

Over the past two seasons, Latendresse has only played in 27 NHL games and prior to signing in Ottawa, the Montreal native had to pass a physical. In other words, relative to Latendresse‘s health, Michalek’s an ironman. An optimist may suggest that these injuries have prevented a physical presence like Latendresse from putting too much mileage on his body but staying healthy is obviously going to be a major factor in how much Latendresse can contribute this season with the Sens. Fortunately, in the event that he can’t, it’s not like his contract term or cost is a burden on the organization. As Jonathan Willis wrote for Oilersnation.com [speculating if the Oilers should pursue him], He’s young, big, often physical, and more importantly he’s a pretty good possession player who has consistently been a high-percentage goal-scorer over his NHL career (on 568 career shots, Latendresse is a 14.3% shooter; he’s never been below 12.0% in a single NHL season). He fits team need perfectly. When he has been healthy, Latendresse has shown some goal scoring ability. With a playmaker like Spezza, he hopefully improve upon his  offensive totals. (Albeit, he needs to significantly increase the number of shots that he takes.) Under the right circumstances, he should be able to approach 20 goals and 40 points and at the very least, he would certainly add the puck possession dynamics that the first line sorely lacks when Alfie is not on it. By using Latendresse on the top line for his puck possession skills, it affords MacLean the flexibility to continue using Alfie with Turris so that the second line isn’t marginalized.

It’s an interesting argument and quite frankly I have no idea where MacLean envisions Latendresse in his lineup.  When healthy he should play in the top-six, but given his injury history I don’t think anyone knows what to expect when he laces up his skates in the fall.  He will get his opportunities with Spezza, but I’ll agree with Nichols that in the best of all worlds he could make a better linemate for Spezza (I’ve always seen Michalek as a second-line player).

-Mark Parisi thinks the injury to Philadelphia’s Andrej Meszaros opens the door to Ottawa trading Sergei Gonchar.  He suggests Ottawa could get a second round pick from the Flyers in return, but I don’t think he delves enough into the kind of hole moving Gonchar would create on Ottawa’s blueline.  Despite all the carping and whining about Gonchar‘s performance for the Sens, there’s no prospect even close to being the kind of player he is.  Moving him would put 100% of the offensive onus on Erik Karlsson and his numbers (and the team’s numbers) would suffer accordingly.  I think the blueline as is won’t be as proficient offensively as last year and moving Gonchar would make it worse.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Assessing Bryan Murray (updated)

On April 8th, 2011, with one game remaining in a failed season, the Ottawa Senators re-signed GM Bryan Murray to a three-year deal.  The most obvious question at the time was why?  Clearly ownership saw Murray as the best man to rebuild the team that crumbled beneath him in 2010-11 and this past season indicated that belief was well-founded.  There’s no guarantee the Sens rebuild will continue in a positive direction, but it’s worth looking back at the work Murray has done as Ottawa’s general manager.

Bryan Murray took over from John Muckler on June 18th, 2007, just six days before the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.  I’ve read criticism of Murray regarding that draft, but there’s no question that the selections were made with Muckler’s scouting staff and guided by their philosophy.

2007 Draft

Considered a weak draft at the time (see McKeen’s, for a more optimistic view here’s Sports Illustrated; for a look at the overall success of the draft go here), Ottawa made four selections, trading away their final three picks to Tampa for a fourth round pick in the 2008 draft (Derek Grant).

1-29 Jim O’Brien (NCAA)
Looked like a failed pick after his rookie season in Binghamton, but by the end of his ELC proved he could be a useful fourth-liner
2-60 Ruslan Bashkirov (QMJHL)
A bust who was never signed and now plays tier-2 hockey in Russia
3-90 Louie Caporusso (OPJHL)
The undersized forward spent his rookie year largely in the ECHL and as a four-year NCAA grad it doesn’t look like he has NHL-potential
4-120 Ben Blood (USHS)
Big blueliner completed his final year in the NCAA and joins Binghamton as a rookie in this upcoming season; looks like a depth player

2007-08 Contracts

June 22 – Dean McAmmond – 2 years/1.4; a solid player, but his numbers dropped considerably before he was shipped out to the New York Islanders
July 3 – Matt Carkner – 2 years/0.5; made his way from the AHL to the NHL level
July 24 – Ray Emery – 3 years/3.166; re-signing the starting goalie in the Cup run seemed like a no-brainer, but was bought out the next year
July 31 – Chris Kelly – 1 year/1.263; based on his strong play when Spezza and Fisher were injured
August 7 – Luke Richardson – 1 year/0.5; a depth signing who never quite delivered
September 17 – Mike Fisher – 5 years/4.2; I thought at the time it was too much money and too much term; traded to Nashville in 2011
October 3 – Dany Heatley – 6 years/7.5; thought to be solid signing at the time (link), forced a trade to San Jose (2009) and is now in Minnesota (2011)
October 16 – Randy Robitaille – 1 year/0.625; a depth signing out of Russia, the Sens hoped he would provide some scoring depth (link), but he did not.  The following season saw him playing in Switzerland
November 2 – Jason Spezza – 7 years/7.0; I liked the contract at the time and still do

2007-08 Coaches

Murray hired John Paddock, who had been his assistant the past two years and was a long time AHL coach (with a distant and lousy NHL coaching record from his days with Winnipeg, 281-106-138-37).  Paddock got the team off to a fantastic start (15-2), but wore out his best players and the team quickly slid down the standings. Paddock was fired February 27th, after two embarrassing back-to-back shutout losses, finishing with a 36-22-6 record (he’s since struggled to get head coaching positions in the AHL).  Murray took over and the team barely made the playoffs where they were promptly swept by the Penguins.

While the Paddock hiring may have seemed like a logical step to Murray—a solid minor league resume  and his assistant—he was hardly the best coach available, so Murray deserves criticism for the hire (as he has suggested himself since).

Buyouts

June 20 – Ottawa waived and then bought out Ray Emery; his play was only partially the issue.  Because of his age the cost of the buyout was reasonable.  Emery had to go to the KHL to salvage his NHL career, which now seems solidified as a quality backup.

2007-08 Trades

June 23 – Ottawa’s 5th (Matt Marshall; was not signed by Tampa after four years in the NCAA), 7th (Torrie Jung; was not signed by Tampa and has spent the past two seasons in the CHL), and 7th (Justin Courtnall; finished his third unremarkable season in the NCAA) to Tampa for a 4th in 2008 (Derek Grant; completed his rookie season with Binghamton last year). The thought here was that the following year’s draft was much stronger and deeper and it appears as though Murray was right.  This is a win for Murray.
July 17, 2007 – Traded Peter Schaefer to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Shean Donovan. Muckler overpaid Schaefer, whose cumbersome contract wound up being buried in the minors and then bought out by the Bruins.  Donovan was a solid soldier for Ottawa, although there wasn’t much gas left in the tank.  This is a win for Murray.
February 11, 2008 – Traded Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves to the Carolina Hurricanes for Mike Commodore and Cory Stillman.  Corvo demanded a trade, so Murray didn’t have many options; Eaves struggled with injuries.  Commodore turned out to be a complete bust for the Sens (and subsequently for Columbus, who bought him out), but Stillman was an adequate rental.  None of the four players are still with the teams they were traded too.  Given that the trade failed to help the Sens in the playoffs this is a loss for Murray.
February 26, 2008 – Traded a sixth-round draft pick in 2008 (6-169, Ben Smith, who has 19 NHL games under his belt and is a solid prospect) to the Chicago Blackhawks for Martin LapointeLapointe was supposed to provide grit for the Sens, but his best days were long behind him and he was a disappointment.  Lapointe subsequently retired.  This is a failure on Murray’s part.

2008 Draft

Considered a good draft year (link) and the selections can be said to truly reflect Murray’s philosophy.  All the players selected have been signed except for Emil Sandin (who is now a UFA).

1-15 Erik Karlsson (SuperElit) - won the Norris Trophy this past season
2-42 Patrick Wiercioch (USHL) – lanky blueliner experienced his second straight inconsistent season in Binghamton
3-79 Zack Smith (WHL) - gritty center enjoyed his first full season as an NHL-regular
4-109 Andre Petersson (SuperElit) - skilled winger had a strong rookie year in Binghamton
4-119 Derek Grant (BCHL) - lanky center had an up and down rookie season with Binghamton
5-139 Mark Borowiecki (CJHL) - punishing blueliner enjoyed a fantastic rookie season with Binghamton
7-199 Emil Sandin (SuperElit) – smallish winger failed to be a regular player in the SEL and hasn’t been retained

2008-09 Contracts

March 25 – Jesse Winchester – 2 years/0.55; signed as a free agent out of college, Winchester didn’t produce offensively as planned, but turned into a solid grinder; he’s currently a UFA
June 21 – Chris Kelly – 4 years/2.125 million; signed prior to becoming a UFA, Kelly continued to put up his usual numbers before being traded to Boston (2011)
July 2 – Jarkko Ruutu – 3 years/1.3 million; signed after reaching the Cup final with Pittsburgh, he didn’t deliver what was expected while he was with the Sens and was eventually traded to Anaheim (2011) for a 6th round pick (Max McCormick); he’s played in Finland since
July 2 – Shean Donovan – 2 years/0.65; a cap friendly contract, but Donovan had nothing left in the tank and only played 90 games over those two seasons; he’s now retired
July 8 – Jason Smith – 2 years/2.6; a bad contract for a player who didn’t have gas left in the tank, he retired before the second year of his deal and now works for the organisation
July 31 – Antoine Vermette – 2 years/2.75 million; unable to produce enough as a top six player in Ottawa, he was traded to Columbus in the first year of his deal for Pascal Leclaire and a 2nd round pick (Robin Lehner); he’s now with Phoenix
September 27 – Luke Richardson – 1 year/0.5; unable to stay in the lineup, he retired November 27th and stayed with the organisation.  He’s now Binghamton’s head coach
October 30 – Daniel Alfredsson – 4 years/4.875 million; an excellent contract that should see Alfie through to retirement

2008-09 Coaches

Murray hired Craig Hartsburg, who was coming off back-to-back World Junior wins.  Hartsburg had a good track record in junior, but his NHL record was mediocre (albeit more extensive than Paddock’s, 443-184-184-69).  Hartsburg was not a strong systems coach and the team struggled under his regime.  Finally, on February 1st, Hartsburg was fired after accumulating a 17-24-7 record (he went back to junior for two season and is now an NHL assistant coach).  Cory Clouston, enjoying a strong season in Binghamton, was brought up as the interim coach.  The team responded well under Clouston’s more structured approach and he was signed to a two-year deal.

Murray deserves criticism for the Hartsburg signing, who again was not the strongest candidate available.  The team struggled all season long and the coach was allowed to linger longer than was needed.  The Clouston hiring was much like the Paddock hiring–done without competition.

2008-09 Trades

June 20, 2008 – Traded their 1st round pick (Chet Pickard; has struggled as an ECHL goalie) and their 3rd round in 2009 (Taylor Beck; is coming off a solid rookie campaign in the AHL) for the 15th pick (Erik Karlsson). The Sens desperately needed an upgrade on their blueline, particularly on the right side; making a splash when the draft was in Ottawa likely helped the decision.  This is a huge win for Murray.
June 25, 2008 – Traded Brian McGrattan to the Phoenix Coyotes for the Boston Bruins’ fifth-round draft pick in 2009 (Jeff Costello). McGrattan’s substance abuse problems and declining effectiveness made him an asset that needed moving.  This is a win for Murray.
August 29, 2008 – Traded Andrej Meszaros to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Filip Kuba, Alexandre Picard and San Jose’s 1st round draft pick (previously acquired) in 2009 (which was subsequently traded to the Islanders). Meszaros and the team could not come to terms on a contract, so Ottawa did well in bringing in a solid veteran and prospect.  Meszaros never did find success in Tampa, but when moved to Philadelphia responded in a supporting role.  The Sens got more out of the trade (Kuba), so I’ll give this one to Murray.
September 2, 2008 – Traded Lawrence Nycholat to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Ryan Shannon.  Nycholat demanded a trade, so Ottawa exchanged their problem for one the Canucks had (Shannon had a one-way contract the following season).  The Sens definitely won the trade, as Shannon was a solid soldier while he was with the organisation.
November 10, 2008 – Traded Alexander Nikulin to the Phoenix Coyotes for Drew FataNikulin demanded a trade and rather than simply losing the asset to the KHL Ottawa brought in an AHL veteran.  Nikulin struggled with San Antonio and returned to play in the KHL afterward.  Fata signed with Providence after his year in Binghamton, but Ottawa received more tangible value than Phoenix, so it’s a win for Murray.
February 20, 2009 – Traded Dean McAmmond and San Jose’s 1st round draft pick in 2009 (1-26, Kyle Palmieri; after two pro seasons he looks to solidify himself as a regular NHLer) to the New York Islanders in exchange for Mike Comrie and Chris Campoli. The Sens had no room for McAmmond, so took on Comrie’s onerous and expiring contract to get Campoli on a very cap friendly deal.  Comrie subsequently signed with the Oilers, while Campoli had an up and down career with the Sens before being traded himself (the acquired pick was used as part of the trade to draft Matt Puempel).  The final assessment of the trade is yet to be made, as it has boiled down to Palmieri vs Puempel.
March 4, 2009 – Traded Antoine Vermette to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Pascal Leclaire and a 2nd round draft pick in 2009 (Robin Lehner). Vermette had flat-lined as a player in the organisation; the Sens had to choose between he and Mike Fisher, and while Vermette had more offensive prowess, Fisher was the tougher player to play against.  The trade (including the pick) was intended to solidify the Sens between the pipes.  Vermette had two good seasons with Columbus before being traded, while Leclaire completely failed as a Senator.  Lehner may make Murray a genius, but in the short term this is a loss.

2009 Draft

Considered a deep and talented draft, Ottawa had its first top-ten pick since the 2005; every non-college player has been signed.

1-9 Jared Cowen (WHL) – big blueliner enjoyed a solid rookie season in the NHL
2-39 Jakob Silfverberg (SuperElit) – two-way forward won awards and a championship in the SEL and should start in the NHL next season
2-46 Robin Lehner (SuperElit) – big goaltender suffered through a tough sophomore year in Binghamton
4-100 Chris Wideman (NCAA) – undersized blueliner finished his collegiate career and will be in Binghamton
5-130 Mike Hoffman (QMJHL) – skilled forward lead Binghamton in scoring in his sophomore year
5-146 Jeff Costello (USHL) – gritty winger had an up and down year in the NCAA
6-160 Corey Cowick (OHL) – gritty winger struggled with consistency in his sophomore year in the AHL
7-190 Brad Peltz (EJHL) – sniper played his first NCAA games; beginning to look like a bust
7-191 Michael Sdao (USHL) - tough blueliner had a great year in the NCAA and this coming season will be his senior year

2009-10 Contracts

March 4 – Filip Kuba – 3 years/3.7 million; signed after a career year with Ottawa, he’s suffered repeated injury setbacks and became a lightning rod for criticism in 2010-11; enjoyed a strong year this past season and has signed with Florida as a UFA
July 1 – Chris Neil – 4 years/2.0 million; signed after an awful year, was up and down, but was back to form this past season
July 6 – Alexei Kovalev – 2 years/5.0 million; a surprise signing at the time that failed utterly (if my memory is correct, the reaction at TSN to this was hilarious, but I can’t find the video of it); he was traded to Pittsburgh (2011) for a 7th round pick (Ryan Dzingel)
August 3 – Brian Elliott – 2 years/0.85; a cap friendly deal for a likeable player; unfortunately he lost his confidence in 2010-11 and was traded to Colorado for Craig Anderson; he rebounded with a great year in St. Louis this past season
October 20 – Matt Carkner – 2 years/0.7; a solid rookie season in the NHL was followed by diminishing returns; he signed with the Islanders as a FA
March 29 – Bobby Butler – 2 years/0.9; the highly sought-after NCAA free agent signed a deal similar to Winchester‘s in 2008; he won a Calder Cup in his first full pro season

Re-Entry Waivers

October 2 – having no room for Christoph Schubert on the roster, Murray was unable to trade the big defensemen; he was picked up by Atlanta on waivers and had a decent season with the Thrashers, but his NHL career is now apparently over (he’s now playing in Europe).

2009-10 Coaches

The first season for Murray where who was coaching was not a question; Clouston got the team into the playoffs and was generally given good grades for his performance (Puck Daddy).

2009-10 Trades

June 27 – Traded their 2010 6th round pick (6-166 Drew Czerwonka; was not signed by the Oilers) to Edmonton for their 2009 7th round pick (7-191, Michael Sdao). The Sens considered the 2010 draft to be weak and were high on Sdao, so they made the move.  This is a win even though Sdao‘s pro prospects aren’t yet clear.
July 8, 2009 – Traded Alex Auld to Dallas for San Jose’s 6th round pick (6-178 Mark Stone).  With Elliott established as an NHL player, there was no need for Auld on the roster.  Stone has proven a very valuable prospect so this is a big win.
September 4, 2009 – Traded Shawn Weller to Anaheim for Jason Bailey. A minor-league exchange of disappointing prospects; Weller was in the final year of his rookie contract, while Bailey’s continued through 2010-11.  Neither asset remains with their new organisation.
September 12, 2009 – Traded Dany Heatley and a 5th round draft pick (5-136 Isaac Macleod; he finished his sophomore year at Boston College) in 2010 to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo and San Jose’s 2nd round pick (subsequently moved to the Islanders and then Chicago, 2-58 Kent Simpson; he’ll begin his pro career this upcoming season) in 2010. Heatley had demanded a trade at the end of the season and this was the best deal Murray could get for him.  Cheechoo proved to be a complete bust and was bought out.  Murray was never going to “win” the trade, particularly with a public trade demand from Heatley, but Michalek is at least a tangible asset who is signed long term.  Heatley spent two seasons in San Jose before being moved to Minnesota.
February 12, 2010 – Traded Alexandre Picard and their 2nd round pick in 2011 (subsequently moved to Edmonton, 2-46, Martin Marincin; an excellent WHLer; he’ll begin his AHL career this coming season) to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Matt Cullen. Murray paid a steep price for Cullen, who played well in the playoffs, but the team didn’t win and he wasn’t retained.  While Picard wasn’t important, giving up a 2nd round pick makes this a loss for Murray.
March 2, 2010 – Traded San Jose’s 2nd round pick (Kent Simpson) to the New York Islanders in exchange for Andy SuttonSutton never fit in with the Sens (rather like Mike Commodore two years before) and he wasn’t retained, so this is a loss for Murray.
June 25, 2010 – Ottawa traded their 1st overall pick (1-16 Vladimir Tarasenko; he’ll begin his NHL career this coming season) to St. Louis for prospect David Rundblad (1-17/09; subsequently traded to Phoenix for Kyle Turris). Sens scout Anders Forsberg was very high on Rundblad, who wound up dominating the Swedish Elite League the following season.  Assessing this trade is still three or four years away, but is likely a net loss for Murray.

2010 Draft

Considered a weak draft (link), the Senators had already traded away many of their picks so only made four selections.  Sorensen is no longer in the system while Culek and Stone are signed.

3-76 Jakub Culek (QMJHL) – defensive forward signed with the Sens after a mediocre career in the Q
4-106 Marcus Sorensen (SuperElit) – undersized energy forward was unable to secure time in the SEL; he was not signed and is now a FA
6-178 Mark Stone (WHL) – big skilled winger finished a spectacular WHL career; he’ll begin his pro career this upcoming season
7-196 Bryce Aneloski (USHL) – offensive blueliner enjoyed a solid sophomore season in the NCAA

2010-11 Contracts

July 1 – Sergei Gonchar – 3 years/5.5; considered the best available UFA blueliner, Murray won him over with term; considered a great signing at the time (link), it’s been much more controversial since
July 1 – Jesse Winchester – 2 years/0.75; there was still belief that he had untapped upside, but I thought a one-year deal would have made more sense; he’s now an unsigned UFA
July 14 – Bobby Butler – 2 years/1.05; had an awful first full season in the NHL and was subsequently bought-out
July 21 – Nick Foligno – 2 years/1.2; never did establish himself as a top-six forward, he was traded to Columbus for Marc Methot as an RFA
July 29 – Peter Regin – 2 years/1.0; after a solid rookie year and a great playoff, big things were expected; instead he struggled in his sophomore season and then was injured most of last year; was re-signed to a cap-friendly, one-year deal
March 31 – Stephane Da Costa – 2 years/1.325; the highly sought-after NCAA free agent signed a deal similar to Butler‘s in 2010; he wasn’t ready for the NHL and was inconsistent in the AHL; he was re-signed as an RFA

Buyouts

June 29 - Jonathan Cheechoo was bought out.  I don’t think Murray deserves much criticism here, as no one anticipated Cheechoo as being as completely finished as he has proven to be.

2010-11 Coaches

Cory Clouston was seen as an up-and-coming coach who had worked some magic to get the team into the playoffs.  Not everyone was a believer (The Hockey News), but the team entered the season with a lot of optimism (link).  Everything went wrong for Clouston.  When his goalies played well the team couldn’t score.  When the goalies didn’t play well the team still couldn’t score.  Players were disagreeing with him publically (look at November 30th link).  For a time it looked like Ottawa would be the worst team in the NHL.  With the season clearly over and a rebuild beginning, the team’s play picked up, but Clouston’s fate was sealed.  There was a lot of criticism over Clouston’s inability to communicate with players as well as his varying standards for how play effected ice time.  I believe the former trait made the latter worse.  For Clouston to get another chance in the NHL he’s going to have to find a new approach to handling NHL players (he spent last year in the WHL).

After Clouston was dismissed the Senators looked for a new coach.  Calder Cup winning Kurt Kleinendorst was among the top contenders, but Murray ultimately went with a man he knew from his days in Anaheim–Detroit assistant coach Paul MacLean.  MacLean had spent eight years as Mike Babcock’s assistant, with previous head coaching experience in the IHL and UHL (winning the Colonial Cup in the latter in 2000-01).  Kleindorst had better winning pedigree (ECHL, BISL, and AHL championships to go along with his U-18 gold medal), but MacLean proved himself in his rookie campaign by leading the Sens into the playoffs and making them a tough opponent for the Rangers in the first round.

2010-11 Trades

February 10, 2011 – traded Mike Fisher to Nashville for a 1st round pick (1-21 Stefan Noesen) and a conditional 2nd round pick in 2012 (voided). The trade kicked off the rebuild.  At the time the Senators were 17-30-8 and going nowhere.  Fisher had a big contract with term left (two more years).  It will be years before the trade can be assessed.
February 16, 2011 – traded Chris Kelly to Boston for a 2nd round pick (2-61 Shane Prince). The likeable Kelly was better served on a team that was in contention and went on to help Boston win the Stanley Cup.  His contract (too much for a third-line center) and age brought about the move.  He’s re-signed with the Bruins.  As with the previous trade, this one can’t be assessed yet.
February 17, 2011 – traded Jarkko Ruutu to Anaheim for a 6th round pick (6-171 Max McCormick). Ruutu never found a comfort zone in Ottawa and getting something for the impending UFA was better than nothing (Ruutu remains out of the NHL). This is a win for Murray.
February 18, 2011 – traded Brian Elliott to Colorado for Craig Anderson. The trade that gave the team hope also dashed their chances for a top-three pick.  Anderson was in the midst of a horrible funk in Colorado and needed a change in scenery, while Elliott had completely lost his confidence.  This is a win for Murray.
February 24, 2011 – traded Alexei Kovalev to Pittsburgh for a conditional 7th round pick (7-204 Ryan Dzingel). Getting something for Kovalev was an achievement for Murray and makes this a win.  Kovalev subsequently played in the KHL.
February 28, 2011 – traded Chris Campoli and a conditional pick (voided) to Chicago for Ryan Potulny and a 2nd round pick (2-48, later traded to Detroit to select Matt Puempel; Detroit selected Xavier Ouellet). Campoli was no longer in Ottawa’s plans and they picked up an AHL-asset in Potulny who would help Binghamton win the Calder Cup.  Chicago walked away from Campoli‘s arbitration award and he then signed with Montreal (he’s now a UFA).  This is a win for Murray.
June 24, 2011 – traded two 2nd round picks (their own, 2-35 Tomas Jurco, and the one acquired from Chicago, 2-48, Xavier Ouelette) for Detroit’s 1st round selection (1-24 Matt Puempel). The Sens were high on Puempel, who they considered for the 21st overall pick, so jumped at the opportunity to get him.  Time will tell on the trade.
June 25, 2011 – traded their 3rd round pick (3-67 T. J. Tynan) to Columbus for Nikita Filatov. Filatov wanted out of Columbus, but there wasn’t much interest in the NHL.  I liked the gamble, but Filatov was unable to stick in the NHL line-up and returned to Russia.  The Sens have retained his rights, but assessing the deal will depend on Tynan‘s development.

Waivers

February 24, 2011 – picked up Marek Svatos from Nashville on the waiver wire.  Desperately in need of NHL bodies, Svatos didn’t achieve much before being concussed by Jay Rosehill.  There was never any intention of keeping him and he did not play last season.
February 28, 2011 – picked up Curtis McElhinney from Tampa on the waiver wire.  McElhinney allowed Robin Lehner to stay in the minors and he was decent as the season wound down.  There was never any serious consideration of keeping him and played for Portland in the AHL last year (he’s since signed a two-way deal with Columbus).

2011 Draft

The draft lacked the high-end talent of previous years, but was considered to have good depth.  Because of Ottawa’s trades they had a plethora of picks to re-stock the organisation.

1-6 Mika Zibanejad (SEL) – big forward played 9 games for the Sens before being loaned back to Djurgarden; this season he’ll play in Ottawa or Binghamton
1-21 Stefan Noesen (OHL) – power forward enjoyed a strong year in the OHL; expected to return for his final year of junior
1-24 Matt Puempel (OHL) – sniper suffered from suspension and concussion problems; expected to return for his final year of junior
2-61 Shane Prince (OHL) – undersized skilled forward has been signed by the Sens and is expected to play for Binghamton or Elmira
4-96 Jean-Gabriel Pageau (QMJHL) – undersized skilled forward is signed by the Sens and will likely be returned to junior
5-126 Fredrik Claesson (SEL) – defensive defenseman spent the year in Sweden, but is now signed and will play in Binghamton
6-156 Darren Kramer (WHL) – brawler finished his junior career and will play in Binghamton
6-171 Max McCormick (USHL) - gritty forward had a solid rookie season in the NCAA
7-186 Jordan Fransoo (WHL) - big blueliner showed improvement, but is still a long way away; he’ll play another year in junior
7-204 Ryan Dzingel (USHL) – skilled forward enjoyed a solid rookie season in the NCAA

2011-12 Contracts

March 21 – Craig Anderson – 4 years/3.1875; far too much term for my liking, but Anderson was good enough this past season
May 19 – Zack Smith – 2 years/0.7; enjoyed a strong first full season in the NHL
May 19 – Colin Greening – 3 years/0.816,667; excellent rookie season for the NCAA grad
July 1 – Alex Auld – 1 year/1.0; was even more terrible than expected; his NHL career is likely over (signed in Austria)
July 5 – Zenon Konopka – 1 year/0.7; the popular forward didn’t play much and signed with Minnesota this summer
July 6 – Erik Condra – 2 years/0.625; had a solid rookie campaign, although he suffered through a terrible dry spell in the second half
July 14 – Bobby Butler – 2 years/1.05; was awful in his first full NHL campaign and was subsequently bought out

2011-12 Trades

December 17 – Traded David Rundblad and their 2nd round pick to Phoenix (subsequently moved to Philadelphia, who picked Anthony Stolarz) for Kyle Turris.  The Sens were desperate for a second-line center and Turris was demanding out of Phoenix.  This trade has to be measured against both Rundblad and Tarasenko, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out, but it really does address an organisational need (assuming Turris develops as expected).
February 26 – Traded their 2013 2nd round pick to St. Louis for Ben Bishop.  At the time Craig Anderson was hurt and the team was desperate to add goaltending depth as Robin Lehner was having an off-season.  Time will tell on the trade, but it’s clear that Bishop will be given the opportunity to back-up Anderson this upcoming season.
February 27 – Traded Brian Lee to Tampa Bay for Matt Gilroy.  Two players who were failing in their respective organisations, given that the Lightning have re-signed Lee and Gilroy was allowed to walk, this is a loss for Murray.
July 1 – Traded Nick Foligno to Columbus for Marc MethotFoligno was an RFA and clearly the Sens were not sure that he would ever become a full time top-six forward, so they exchanged him for a defensive defenseman.  I haven’t seen Methot play enough to judge the trade, so I’m taking a wait and see attitude, but I would not have signed Foligno to the deal the Blue Jackets gave him (3 years/3.083)

2012 Draft

Thought to be a weak draft, the Sens made seven selections with no second round pick for the third year in a row; none of the prospects are expected to crack the lineup this upcoming season (for full scouting reports for each player go here).

1-15 Cody Ceci (OHL) – offensive defenseman helps fill an organisational need after the departure of Rundblad
3-76 Chris Driedger (WHL) – one of two goaltenders added to the organisation
3-82 Jarrod Maidens (OHL) – skilled forward coming off a serious concussion, as a pick he’s a swing for the fences
4-106 Timothy Boyle (USHS) – an off the radar selection who is expected to spend four years in college
5-136 Robbie Baillargeon (USHL) – a talented forward expected to spend four years in the NCAA
6-166 Francois Brassard (QMJHL) – the second goaltender taken in the draft by the Sens
7-196 Mikael Wikstrand (Allsvenskan) – defensive defenseman is expected to spend a couple of years in Sweden

2012-13 Contracts

May 4 – Peter Regin – 1 year/0.8; coming off an injury-plagued year the Sens rolled the dice on him staying healthy
June 19 – Erik Karlsson – 7 years/6.5; the Norris Trophy winner signed a cap-friendly, long-term deal with the club which serves both well so long as he can stay healthy
July 1 – Mike Lundin – 1 year/1.15; the injury-prone, offensively limited blueliner is a questionmark going into next season
July 1 – Guillaume Latendresse – 1 year/2.0; injury-prone and with conditioning issues, he’s a gamble
July 11 – Chris Neil – 3 years/1.9; a good deal for both sides
July 18 - Jim O’Brien – 2 years/0.637; a solid deal that fills out the bottom of the lineup
July 23 – Kaspars Daugavins – 1 year/0.635; similar to O’Brien‘s, but with less commitment

Buyouts

This summer saw the end of the road for highly touted college free agent Bobby Butler.  Despite ample opportunities he struggled badly enough that no other team would take a chance on him at his current salary.  It’s hard to criticise Murray for giving him the deal, but with all the prospects in the wings there was no room for Butler.  He joins a now lengthy list of free agents signed out of college post-lockout who have failed in the NHL (Gilroy, Hanson, Wellman, etc), making me wonder just how much talent is really hidden there.

Overall

As it stands, that is the complete record for Bryan Murray.  He has been the GM for five years during which he’s made the playoffs three times (losing in the first round each time), hired four coaches, and seen the core of the 2007 Stanley Cup final wither away.  So, by category, here’s how I assess him:

The Draft: A, excellent.  The cupboard was bare when Murray took over and now it is starting to overflow.  The 2008, 2009, and 2011 drafts were considered excellent, while 2010 is largely disappointing.  The pump is primed and the Senators should have successive waves of quality players filtering into the organisation for years to come.
Contracts: C, mediocre.  I have his score at 12-15-14 (with the third column representing either results that are yet to be determined or that were neither good nor bad).  Murray has made poor decsions with contracts for older, veteran players, although as the team rebuilds he’s stepped away from that.
Trades: B, average.  I have his score at 13-7-9 (very few are draws, most in the third column are unknowns).  Murray’s deadline deals for players in his lineup are the most frequent failures.
Coaches: D, below average.  Three failed coaches haven’t yet been made up for with one good hire.
Overall: B, average.  Murray has been improving in all categories, although I think it will be hard to repeat the achievements from this past season.

Senators News: July 22nd

-Nichols shells out some cash to glance behind ESPN’s paywall to see how Grant Sonier assesses the Sens prospects:

The Sens had a breakthrough season in 2011-12, and now expectations are high for more of the same success. To that end, their prospect pool is going to be a key down the road. Cody Ceci (Ottawa-OHL), the Sens’ first-rounder from 2012, could play sooner rather than later on the blue line. However, after Jared Cowen got the call to the big club and David Rundblad was dealt away — leading to the Sens’ drop down these rankings — most of Ottawa’s prospect strength derives from the forward position. Mika Zibanejad (SWE) had a bit of a rough season after failing to crack the Sens’ roster last fall, but he’ll join top hopes Stefan Noesen (Plymouth-OHL), Matt Puempel (Kitchener-OHL) and Mark Stone (Brandon-WHL) as prospects with a legitimate chance to eventually make the Sens’ lineup. Stone actually made his debut in the first-round playoff series against the Rangers, recording an assist in his one game.

Sleeper Prospect: Max McCormick, LW, (Ohio-NCAA) (sixth round/2011) McCormick has so much character that he will look to prove everyone wrong. Underrated skills make a nice pair to go along with his coachable approach to the game.

If this is the kind of insight people pay for, save your money!  It would hard to be more generic, but Sonier echoes what was said about McCormick when he was drafted.  Sonier gives the organisation a B- ranking for the draft related to them not having a second round pick (which is an odd form of assessment).  Nichols correctly points out the Sonier doesn’t mention many of the Sens other prospects which is either an oversight on his part or he doesn’t view them as legitimate (which, in the case of Silfverberg and Lehner at least requires an explanation).

-John Henkelman posts a belated review of Ottawa’s draft.  “As typical under the Bryan Murray regime there was considerable weight placed on character when making their choices with an underlying emphasis on skill.”  He offers the following analysis of the picks:
Cody CeciThe best attributes Ceci has are his ability to carry and pass the puck out of his own end, his control of the blue line from the point, and the naturally high tempo of his transition game. The size and skating ability are there as is his willingness to commit to improving.  He surmises that Ceci will be returned to junior (for actual scouting reports go here)
Chris DriedgerHe’s quiet in his movements and has a calm demeanor which gained him attention at the CHL/NHL top prospects game (actual scouting reports are via the above link)
Jarrod Maidens - When healthy he contributes with a solid two-way game along with a nice blend of skill and toughness. An excellent worker along the boards, he has good skating ability, can score effectively with his shot and can hold the puck to make a play (for actual scouting reports click the link above)
Timothy Boyle –  exceptional puck-moving ability, particularly along the blue line (for actual scouting reports click the link above)
Robbie Baillargeon -   slick playmaker and good skater with great hockey sense, his ability to create offense either through finesse or power is his top attribute (for actual scouting reports click the link above)
Francois Brassardarmed with a competitive nature and good butterfly technique (for actual scouting reports click the link above)
Mikael Wikstrandplays a smart, steady game with good skating ability and decent puck skills, although his upside may be limited (for an actual scouting report here is the link again)

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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