Binghamton Senators: Regular Season Review

Binghamton’s regular season has wrapped up and it’s time to take a quick look at the East Division champs and how the players on the roster performed.  The team finished 44-24-8 (virtually their exact record from last season), setting up a re-match with the Wilkes-Barre Penguins who upset them last year.  The B-Sens were the highest scoring team in the AHL, their 276 goals (+49 from last season) far above most team’s in the league and 18 more than their closest competitor (St. John’s); on the flip side they allowed the most goals in the Eastern Conference (232; up 44 from last season).  Below I’ve graded each player specifically for their play in the AHL (for last year’s examination go here); acronyms ppp=powerplay points, ppg=points-per-game; I put RFA’s in green and UFA’s in red.

Mike Hoffman RFA (5-130/09) 51-30-37-67 ppp 35 ppg 1.31 [NHL 25-3-3-6] Grade: A
Finally experienced the explosion in production that I expected last year and made a legitimate push to be considered an NHL player; he lead the team in points, goals, and powerplay points
Stephane Da Costa RFA (NCAA FA/11) 56-18-40-58 ppp 27 ppg 1.04 [NHL 12-3-1-4] Grade: A
Also produced as I’d expected in the previous season and showed firmer glimmers of NHL potential (with solid underlying numbers–ala Hoffman, although Travis Yost seems to have backed off in relation to Da Costa in his year-end grades)
Cole Schneider RFA (NCAA FA/12) 69-20-34-54 ppp 15 ppg 0.78 Grade A
The organisation doesn’t always hit homeruns with their FA college signings and while Cole’s translation at the next level remains unknown, he’s improved leaps and bounds over his rookie season
Chris Wideman RFA (4-100/09) 73-9-42-51 ppp 30 ppg 0.70 Grade A
A fantastic sophomore season by the blueliner (leading the team in assists) whose size might be his chief impediment to getting a taste at the next level
Matt Puempel (1-24/11) 74-30-18-48 ppp 18 ppg 0.65 Grade B
An excellent rookie season for the first-rounder, who on a team with less depth likely would have posted even better numbers
Shane Prince (2-61/11) 69-21-27-48 ppp 10 ppg 0.70 Grade B-
A modest improvement over last year including struggles to start the season, but he did lead the team in even strength scoring despite rumours he demanded a trade
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (4-96/11) 46-20-24-44 ppp 12 ppg 0.96 [NHL 28-2-0-2] Grade A
Many expected him to spend the entire season in Ottawa (I was not among them) and while he wasn’t particularly good in the NHL he was excellent in Bingo
Mark Stone (6-178/10) 37-15-26-41 ppp 18 ppg 1.11 [NHL 19-4-4-8] Grade A
Last season’s leading scoring, the injury-prone Stone put up good numbers again (with the same underlying NHL numbers of Hoffman and Da Costa above); he’s second on the roster in points-per-game
Alex Grant UFA (4-118/07 Pit) 71-9-28-37 ppg 0.52 Grade B
Acquired in a trade from Norfolk to solidify the blueline and he has proven a solid addition
Patrick Mullen UFA (NCAA FA/09 LA) 66-8-24-32 ppg 0.48 Grade C
Another deadline acquisition for defensive depth, this time from Utica; decent
Buddy Robinson (NCAA FA/13) 69-15-16-31 ppp 0 ppg 0.45 Grade B
Like Schneider he’s another early NCAA departure with a lot of raw tools; an up and down rookie season, but solid overall as he trends upward
Jim O’Brien UFA (1-29/07) 51-11-18-29 ppp 4 ppg 0.57 Grade C
Pissed off the organisation enough to bury him in Bingo with a one-way contract; middling numbers given his past performance (he’s apparently been sent home)
Fredrik Claesson (5-126/11) 75-3-26-29 ppp 0 ppg 0.39 Grade A
Excellent sophomore campaign from the defensive defenseman
David Dziurzynski RFA (BCHL FA/10) 68-13-12-25 ppp 0 ppg 0.37 Grade C
Solid season from Dizzy, although at this stage I expect more
Corey Cowick RFA (6-160/09) 72-12-13-25 ppp 0 ppg 0.35 Grade C
Without riding shotgun with JJP his numbers plummeted and whatever hints of NHL-potential fell with them
Derek Grant RFA (4-119/08) 46-12-10-22 ppp 3 ppg 0.48 [NHL 20-0-2-2] Grade C
His unexpected NHL call-up did not yield better AHL-returns as these are disappointing numbers (albeit improvements over last year); he apparently developed an attitude after his time in Ottawa
Wacey Hamilton RFA (WHL FA/11) 63-4-16-20 ppp 0 ppg 0.32 Grade D
The org has missed badly in their free agent CHL-signings and I’m still scratching my head over what they thought they were getting in Hamilton
Cody Ceci (1-15/12) 27-2-17-19 ppp 6 ppg 0.70 [NHL 49-3-6-9] Grade B
A good albeit short rookie season for the first-rounder, whose time in the NHL was rocky
Daniel New (NCAA FA/12 AHL) 31-1-12-13 ppp 4 ppg 0.42 [ECHL 22-2-9-11] Grade C
Any time an ECHL defenseman plays over 30 games and gets powerplay time you know you have a weak blueline; he’s done for the year due to injury
Michael Sdao RFA (7-191/09) 61-6-5-11 ppp 1 ppg 0.18 Grade C+
The best fighter in the 2009 draft, Sdao will look to continue to grow into a depth defenseman (showing that growth as opposed to Blood below)
Mark Borowiecki (5-139/08) 50-2-6-8 ppp 0 ppg 0.16 [NHL 13-1-0-1] Grade C
A season marred by injury, poor production, and taking too many penalties
Ryan Dzingel (7-204/11) 9-2-5-7 ppp 1 ppg 0.78 Grade incomplete
Did not look out of place as he left the NCAA
Darren Kramer (6-156/11) 45-2-2-4 ppp 0 ppg 0.09 Grade D
The toughest fighter in the 2011 draft, it looks doubtful he can do much more than that at the AHL-level
Tyler Eckford UFA (7-217/04 NJ) 32-0-4-4 ppp 0 ppg 0.12 Grade F
Awful last year, he was somehow even worse this season–a terrible signing (like O’Brien he’s apparently been sent home)
Garrett Thompson (NCAA FA/14) 7-1-2-3 ppp 0 ppg 0.43 Grade incomplete
NCAA free agent was solid in his brief debut
Danny Hobbs (NCAA FA/12 AHL) 13-1-2-3 ppp 0 ppg 0.23 [ECHL 52-17-18-35] Grade incomplete
ECHL call-up had 2 points in his first game and 1 in his next 12–enough said
Ben Blood RFA (4-120/07) 54-0-3-3 ppp 0 ppg 0.06 Grade F
I’m amazed he dressed for more than half the season
Troy Rutkowski (WHL FA/13) 12-1-0-1 ppp 1 ppg 0.08 [ECHL 41-0-9-9] Grade F
Was awful in the ECHL as well and could well join the long line of bad CHL free agent signings for the organisation
Vincent Dunn (5-138/13) 1-0-0-0 Grade incomplete
One game is just not a big enough sample size
Jakub Culek (3-76/10) 7-0-0-0 [ECHL 49-8-22-30] Grade F
Was solid in the ECHL, but I’m not sure there’s more to him
Ludwig Karlsson (NCAA FA/13) 8-0-0-0 [ECHL 39-11-13-24] Grade F
A lot more has to be expected from an NCAA free agent–he needs to be better

Andrew Hammond (NCAA FA/13) 25-19-3 2.81 .910 [NHL 1 game, no result] Grade B
A solid year for the rookie, who sported better numbers than Lawson
Nathan Lawson UFA (NCAA FA/07 ECHL) 15-8-1 3.05 .908 [NHL 1 game no result] Grade B-
Mr. Glass was often on the shelf, but solid when he appeared (he’s finished for the season due to injury)
Scott Greenham (NCAA FA/11 AHL) 4-0-1 2.57 .912 [ECHL 8-15-3 3.21 .904] Grade B
ECHL ‘tender looked good in limited duty; better than he did on an awful Elmira team
Chris Driedger (3-76/12) 4.58 .909 [ECHL 1-2-0 3.92 .893] Grade incomplete
You can’t judge from him playing part of one game

It was another successful season in the AHL as Binghamton has a good chance to go deep in the playoffs.  There are no future NHL stars playing here, but there are a number of NHL-caliber players and worthwhile call-ups which is a compliment to the now-departed Tim Murray, Luke Richardson, and the scouting staff.  The main issue for the organisation is their hit-and-miss veteran signings and their swings for the fences with CHL free agents.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

NHL Draft Success (2005-08)

There have been a few articles reviewing draft accuracy over the years (like TSN’s Scott Cullen‘s awhile back) and as engaging as they are I’ve always had problems with the way they are constructed. 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 just don’t work. When articles cover more recent drafts (Hockey Futures does them at five-year intervals) they are forced to make judgement calls on players whose futures are yet to be defined (for example, Colin Greening hadn’t started his pro career by that time; Carl Soderberg didn’t until he was 27). 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 (due to the cap), 2) the typical make-or-break moment for a draft pick varies considerably.  On top of that, the raw overview I’m about to give is simply a window into the study, since I can’t account for management changes or know how much money/emphasis is being allocated on scouting by each team, nor am I comparing the quality of those players beyond being useful at the NHL level.  What follows is a very broad examination of levels of success within the draft.  I’ve cut off at 2008 because even the ’09 draft class still hasn’t completed their cycle of development (even ’08 has a certain level of ambiguity).  All of this presupposes the importance of the draft, something that could not be assumed at certain points in NHL history.

My framework: what is a successful pick?  Any skater who has played 200+ NHL games (along with some judgement calls, particularly when it comes to goaltenders).  With that many games the player has managed at least two and a half seasons of NHL work and that’s a solid return on the investment.

2005 (here)

First Round
17 players have played 200+ games (I’m including Tuukka Rask), including 8 of the top-10 (Luc Bourdon tragically died and is the only exception).  Only 3 players never suited up in the NHL (Marek Zagrapan #13, Sasha Pokulok #14, and Alex Bourret #16); 6 other players (excluding Bourdon) played less than a full season, leaving 4 other players as middling returns with only Jack Skille (#7) likely to crest the 200 game barrier.
Second Round
8 players hit 200+ games (the best are James Neal #33 and Paul Statsny ##44), with 12 never suiting up and another 8 having yet to play a full season’s worth of games.  There are no players who seem likely to break that 200 barrier.
Third Round
4 players hit the mark (the best are Kris Letang #62 and Jonathan Quick #72); 12 never played, with another 10 not getting a full season’s worth.  Two players (Mark Fraser #84 and Ben Bishop #85) could break the 200 mark.
Fourth Round
6 players have reached the plateau (the best is Keith Yandle #105); 17 never played, with another 10 short a season; no one else will reach the barrier.
Fifth Round
4 players hit the mark (the best are Darren Helm #132 and Nathan Gerbe #142); 24 never played, with another 6 not reaching a full season; Ryan Reaves (#156) will make it 5 players next season.
Sixth Round
Only Matt D’Agostini qualifies, with Tim Kennedy having a slight chance to join him; 24 players never played with another 6 failing to get a full season.
Seventh Round
4 players reached the plateau (all serviceable players); 26 players never played, with another 4 not reaching a full season; Joe Vitale (#195) could hit 200 games.

Here’s the success by team (I’ve included those players destined to break the plateau):
4 – Columbus, Montreal
3 – Detroit, Dallas
2 – Pittsburgh, San Jose, Ottawa, Los Angeles, New York Rangers, Phoenix, Toronto, St. Louis, Nashville, Buffalo, Chicago
1 – Anaheim, Carolina, Minnesota, Edmonton, Philadelphia, Atlanta/Winnipeg, Colorado, Vancouver, Boston, New Jersey
0 – Washington, New York Islanders, Florida, Calgary, Tampa Bay

2006 (here)

First Round
19 players hit the plateau, including all of the top-ten picks; again 3 players did not suit up for an NHL game (Mark Mitera #19, David Fischer #20, and Dennis Persson #24), and 7 players did not play a full season; only Jonathan Bernier (#11) will achieve “success” status by my metric.
Second Round
9 players (I’m including Michal Neuvirth) hit the mark; 14 players never played, with another 6 never have played a full season’s worth of games.
Third Round
Only 3 players reached the plateau (Steve Mason #69, Brad Marchand #71, and Cal Clutterbuck #72); 16 never played, with another 5 not having hit a full season; it’s possible another player might hit the mark, but none are assured of it.
Fourth Round
Just 1 player (Matt Beleskey #112) meets the criteria, although I’ll include James Reimer (#99); 22 players never played, 6 others falling short of a season.
Fifth Round
No player has hit or will hit the 200 game-mark (or even 100); 23 never played.
Sixth Round
3 players hit the mark (Andrew MacDonald #160, Viktor Stalberg #161, and Mathieu Perreault #177); 23 prospects never played, with another 4 not getting a season’s worth of games.
Seventh Round
2 players qualify (Derek Dorsett #189 and Erik Condra #211); 24 players never played with another 4 not getting a season’s worth.

Here’s the success by team (I’ve included those players destined to break the plateau):
4 – Washington, Toronto
3 – Boston, Columbus
2 – St. Louis, New York Islanders, Minnesota, Ottawa, Los Angeles
1 – Pittsburgh, Chicago, Phoenix, Florida, Atlanta/Winnipeg, Vancouver, Colorado, Philadelphia, San Jose, Edmonton, Detroit, New York Rangers, Buffalo, Carolina, Anaheim
0 – Tampa Bay, Montreal, Calgary, New Jersey, Dallas, Nashville

2007 (here)
First Round
15 players hit the mark, including 8 of the top-ten; 5 picks never played a game (Alexei Cherepanov #17 died; Logan MacMillan #19, Angelo Esposito #20, Patrick White #25, and Nick Ross #30), with another 4 playing less than a full season; 4 players seem likely to reach the plateau (Tomas Hickey, Ian Cole, Riley Nash, and Brendan Smith).
Second Round
4 players have reached the plateau; 15 never played a game, with 9 more short a full-season.
Third Round
No player has reached 200 games yet, although 3 players have a good shot at it (Drayson Bowman #72, Yannick Weber #73, and Alex Killorn #77); 16 players never suited up, while 8 have yet to achieve a full-season.
Fourth Round
2 players qualify (Alec Martinez #95 and Matt Halischuk #117); 16 never played, with another 8 not achieving a full-season’s worth of games; Dwight King (#109) and Keith Aulie (#116) should join the other two after next season.
Fifth Round
1 player (Jamie Benn #159) reaches the mark; 23 have never played, while 5 have fewer than a season’s worth of games; Jake Muzzin (#141) seems likely to also hit 200 games.
Sixth Round
No one qualifies, although both Carl Hagelin (#168) and Nick Bonino (#173) will get there; 18 prospects never played, while 8 haven’t reached a season’s worth of games.
Seventh Round
2 players (Carl Gunnarsson #194 and Justin Braun #201) reached the mark; 25 have never played with another 2 not reaching a season’s worth of games.

Here’s the success by team (I’ve included those players destined to break the plateau):
4 – Los Angeles, Montreal
3 – San Jose, St. Louis
2 – Edmonton, Carolina, Colorado
1 – Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Washington, Columbus, Florida, Detroit, Nashville, Tampa Bay, Calgary, New Jersey, Dallas, Pittsburgh, New York Rangers, Toronto
0 – Ottawa, Boston, Anaheim, Vancouver, Buffalo, Atlanta/Winnipeg, New York Islanders, Minnesota

2008 (here)
First Round
16 players have reached 200 games, including 9 of the top-ten; four prospects never played (Kyle Beach #11, Chet Pickard ##18, Anton Gustafsson #21, and Daultan Leveille #29), with another 6 having less than a season’s worth of games; Jake Gardiner (#17) will join the 200 club next season.
Second Round
2 players (Derek Stepan #51 and Travis Hamonic #53) have reached the plateau, with Vyacheslav Voinov (#32), Roman Josi (#38), Justin Schultz (#43), and Marco Scandella (#55) locks to join them (Patrick Wiercioch #42 should as well); 8 players have never suited up, with another 13 short of a full-season.
Third Round
Again 2 players (Zack Smith #79 and I’m including Adam Henrique #82); 19 prospects never made it, with another 6 short of a full season.
Fourth Round
No one has reached 200 games, although Dale Weise (#111), T. J. Brodie (#114), and Gustav Nyquist (#121) should get there and I’d count Braden Holtby (#93); 16 players never suited up, with another 9 falling short of a full season’s worth of games.
Fifth Round
Only Matt Martin (#148) has hit the mark, although Andrei Loktionov (#123) and Matt Calvert (#127) should join him; 18 prospects never played, with another 8 short of a full-season.
Sixth Round
1 player qualifies (Jared Spurgeon #156), but Cam Atkinson (#157) and Tommy Wingels (#177) will join him next season; 20 players never suited up, while another 5 are short a full-season’s worth of games.
Seventh Round
Only Jason Demers (#186) hits the mark; 23 have never played with another 4 without a full-season; I’ll include Anders Lindback (#207) as well.

Here’s the success by team (I’ve included those players destined to break the plateau):
4 – New York Islanders
3 – Los Angeles, Nashville, Ottawa, New York Rangers
2 – Buffalo, Anaheim, Washington, Columbus, San Jose
1 – Tampa Bay, Atlanta/Winnipeg, St. Louis, Toronto, Phoenix, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Edmonton, Minnesota, New Jersey, Calgary, Detroit
0 – Chicago, Carolina, Boston, Florida, Colorado, Montreal, Dallas, Pittsburgh

Overview

Here’s the round-by-round success rate:
First: 63/120 (52.5%)
Second: 28/123 (22.7%)
Third: 14/120 (11.6%)
Fourth: 16/124 (12.9%)
Fifth: 10/127 (7.8%)
Sixth: 9/123 (7.3%)
Seventh: 11/128 (8.5%)

The scaling between rounds is not surprising.  Of the 39 top-ten picks (excluding Bourdon for obvious reasons), only 4 were misses, making them 89.7% reliable.  Excluding the top-ten picks, the first round is still significantly stronger than the second round (28/79, 35%, excluding Cherepanov for the same obvious reason).  The third and fourth, and then fifth-seventh rounds are roughly all on equal footing in terms of results.  Given the lack of decline after the second round there are clearly missing factors in the way NHL teams scout (otherwise the trend should go downward each round consistently), albeit the above data is a small sample (just four years).

Team Performance
Los Angeles 11
Columbus 10
Montreal, San Jose, Toronto, St. Louis 8
Ottawa, New York Rangers, Washington 7
Detroit, Nashville, New York Islanders 6
Phoenix, Buffalo, Edmonton 5
Dallas, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Anaheim, Carolina, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Colorado, Boston 4
Atlanta/Winnipeg, Vancouver, New Jersey 3
Florida, Calgary, Tampa Bay 2

It’s difficult to imagine any scouting staff could completely whiff on an entire year, but awful organisations of the time are on display among the bottom-feeders here.  It’s interesting that LA is in the midst of benefitting from excellent scouting right now, whereas Columbus is experiencing much more modest gains from their success (here’s where the difference between quality of players manifests itself most clearly).  It seems like a good year for scouts is 2 NHL players (more than that is excellent), while there should always be at least one found.

My hope is that others will dig a little deeper into the draft and glean a bit more the how and why behind the numbers–a few basic factors (poor coverage of Europe and the dismissal of smaller players) are clearly a factor (as explored here in a look at undrafted success stories).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Wrapping up Ottawa’s 2013-14 Season

It’s time to clean up the blood and entrails of the Sens 2013-14 season, the one Rob Vollman was convinced would result in a President’s Trophy for the Sens.  Looking back Daniel Alfredsson‘s decision to jump ship for Detroit has paid off, while the Sens inability to release dead weight like Chris Neil and Chris Phillips remains as inexplicable as management trading for Matt Kassian last year (hard to believe he played 33 games this year).

Ottawa finished 37-31-14, putting them fifth in their division, eleventh in the conference, and twenty-first in the league.  The Sens won’t benefit from a top-ten pick as they peddled it for Bobby Ryan over the summer and as the 2014 draft class is considered weak, I’m not sure how much they’ll profit from their other selections.  Assistant GM Tim Murray was allowed to jump ship to Buffalo mid-season, which was good for Tim, but a rather odd move for the organisation given how integral he was for their prospects and system.  This was a season that saw Mika Zibanejad demoted to Binghamton for no particular reason while penny-pinching ownership buried Jim O’Brien‘s one-way contract in the minors (if the guy is such a disturbance loan him to Europe or another AHL team–Binghamton was an odd choice).

Reports that Jason Spezza will be moved seem to have a solid basis and whatever the merits of that decision (assuming they find a dance partner), I can’t help but look at his price tag and wonder how much the motivation to move him is attached to it.  For me, a player with chronic back problems is always an incident away from being out of the lineup anyway, so why not make the transition to Kyle Turris fronting the team (there’s no possibility of the Sens getting a #1 center in return for their captain).  Can the Sens keep Ales Hemsky without Spezza?  Time will tell, albeit Hemsky may not want to stick around for the gong show that is Eugene Melnyk.

The logjam on the blueline going into next season should see some player movement (it still boggles my mind that the Sens bothered signing Joe Corvo over the summer).  A lot of fans have latched onto Mark Borowiecki‘s one-way contract as making him being a lock on the team, which I don’t buy (besides the aforementioned O’Brien they also buried Corvo‘s salary in the AHL).  Murray has to make a decision on Eric Gryba (RFA) and there’s no guarantee Cody Ceci is in the lineup, but whatever the roster is I don’t think they’ll move Patrick Wiercioch who was so poorly used this season.

Speaking of reports/rumours, Paul MacLean may be on the hot seat.  It’s an easy out for management to lay the blame for a disappointing season on the coaching staff, but there actually were a lot of perplexing decisions this year (using the Chris‘ on the powerplay; MacLean’s addiction to the Greening-Smith-Neil line; etc).  Did the Sens miss the playoffs because of MacLean?  I don’t think so–ultimately that responsibility is on the roster and (therefore) management, but perhaps it’s time for a fresh voice.

I’ve included stats below (keep in mind plus/minus is meaningless); it’s bemusing that Erik Karlsson can think of his year as subpar–sure he can be better, but a middling year from EK is better than virtually every other defenseman.  Milan Michalek coming off the books is good–Mr. Glass is a good player, but the years have not been kind to him.  Of the young forwards who spent time in the NHL (Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Stephane Da Costa, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Derek Grant) it looks like Stone is most likely to make the jump next season.  I think Ottawa keeps Hoffman (he’s an RFA), but I can’t figure out if he’s Ryan Shannon or something more.  There’s a lot of talk about Curtis Lazar making the jump directly to the NHL (he can’t play in the AHL), but with a young player I take a wait and see attitude.

A little more generally, this year we saw analytics triumphantly predict Toronto’s failure, allowing older hack journalists (Steve Simmons, Damien Cox, etc) to embarrass themselves the entire season by mocking them.  Corsi, Fenwick, and all the other tools are in place are allowing fans (if not management) to understand what a player like Erik Condra accomplishes, along with exploding various long-held myths (like hits having any importance at all).

 

1. Erik Karlsson (D) 82 20 54 74 36 -15 |
2. Jason Spezza (F) 75 23 43 66 46 -26 |
3. Kyle Turris (F) 82 26 31 57 39 22 |
4. Clarke MacArthur (F) 79 24 32 56 78 12 |
5. Bobby Ryan (F) 70 23 25 48 45 7 |
6. Milan Michálek (F) 82 17 22 39 41 -25 |
7. Mika Zibanejad (F) 69 16 17 33 18 -15 |
8. Marc Methot (D) 75 6 17 23 28 0 |
9. Patrick Wiercioch (D) 53 4 19 23 20 -1 |
10. Zack Smith (F) 82 13 9 22 111 -9 |
.    
11. Cory Conacher (F) 60 4 16 20 34 8 |
12. Colin Greening (F) 76 6 11 17 41 -15 |
13. Ales Hemsky (F) 20 4 13 17 4 -2 |
14. Erik Condra (F) 76 6 10 16 30 0 |
15. Jared Cowen (D) 68 6 9 15 45 0 |
16. Chris Phillips (D) 70 1 14 15 30 -12 |
17. Chris Neil (F) 76 8 6 14 211 -10 |
18. Eric Gryba (D) 57 2 9 11 64 9 |
19. Joe Corvo (D) 25 3 7 10 10 -7 |
20. Cody Ceci (D) 49 3 6 9 14 -5 |
21. Mark Stone (F) 19 4 4 8 4 5 |
.    
22. Mike Hoffman (F) 25 3 3 6 2 -2 |
23. Stéphane Da Costa (F) 12 3 1 4 2 2 |
24. Jean-Gabriel Pageau (F) 28 2 0 2 12 -5 |
25. Matt Kassian (F) 33 1 1 2 63 -1 |
26. Derek Grant (F) 20 0 2 2 4 -3 |
27. Mark Borowiecki (D) 13 1 0 1 48 -2 |
1. Andrew Hammond 1 0.00 1.000 |
2. Nathan Lawson 1 10.00 .800 |
3. Craig Anderson 53 3.00 .911 |
4. Robin Lehner 36 3.06 .913 |

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: April 9th

Both Ottawa and the Leafs were officially eliminated last night, a fact Sens fans have accepted for a while, but Leafs fans are having difficult times coming to terms with.  It’s difficult to encapsulate how badly Ottawa’s management misjudged their roster this year and I’m sure even in a bad draft Bryan Murray wishes he had his pick back.  This doesn’t mean the Sens will be as bad next year, but it should temper expectations.

Manny looks at the reasons why the Sens failed to make the playoffs this year and points to the following: goaltending, possession, penalties, and player usage.  Three of those four are heavily influenced by coaching (Travis Yost also looks at shot blocking, which also falls under this umbrella), so Paul MacLean should be under the microscope.  Will he be fired?  Some are making the financial argument that they won’t want to pay MacLean not to coach (of course, if he’s hired elsewhere that obligation disappears), but a successful team is far more valuable to ownership and if they believe that can happen with another coach, a change will be made.

Elliotte Friedman explores the futures of Jason Spezza and Bobby Ryan with the Sens and Nichols (via the link) would rather both be moved than simply maintain the status quo.  Given the organisations odd obsession with veterans (Neil and Phillips), perhaps the status quo is exactly what we’ll get.  I really don’t know what to want from the situation, althoughSpezza is disposable given his chronic back problems.

The Sens are trying to trade the rights of Francois Brassard (6-166/12), although it’s hard to imagine what they would get back if they can find a dance partner (not much presumably).  Brassard is a victim of numbers, behind the just-signed Chris Driedger and 2013 draft pick Marcus Hogberg.

Peter Morrow looks at the Sens Swedish and NCAA prospects where he includes a little scouting information, but not where he got it from (it isn’t noted, so I’d take it with a grain of salt).

Speaking of prospects, here’s an update (signed players are in italics):

SHL
Mikael Wikstrand (Frolunda, D) 20-4-7-11

NCAA
Ryan Dzingel (Ohio, C) 37-22-24-46
Max McCormick (Ohio, LW) 37-11-24-35
Robert Baillargeon (BU, C) 35-10-17-27
Quentin Shore (Denver, C) 33-7-18-25
Chris Leblanc (Merrimack, RW) 23-6-6-12

CHL
Curtis Lazar (Edmonton, C) 58-41-35-76
Vincent Dunn (Gatineau, LW) 50-31-20-51
Ben Harpur (Guelph, D) 67-3-13-16
Jarrod Maidens (injured)
Chris Driedger (Calgary, G) 28-14-7 2.64 .918
Francois Brassard (Quebec, G) 28-12-9 2.95 .909

Allsvenskan
Marcus Hogberg (Mora, G) 5-8-0 2.93 .892

SuperElit
Tobias Lindberg (Djurgardens, RW) 21-6-5-11

USPHL
Tim Boyle (South Shore Kings, D) 35-4-15-19

I’ve never understood all the hate that Alexander Ovechkin gets from traditional media, so I was quite happy when he hit the 50-goal plateau last night (well ahead of Corey Perry which makes him a lock to receive the Rocket Richard trophy). Speaking of production, the NHL’s limp attempts to increase scoring continue to fail as only Sidney Crosby will finish the season with over 100-points.  Fans like points–if defensive hockey sold then the dead puck era would have resulted in remarkable growth.  I don’t expect this to change, but it’s worth noting.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: April 4th

As the Sens season winds down to its disappointing conclusion the organisation has signed a few players to ELC–one expected, one hoped for, and 0ne off the radar:

Goaltender Chris Driedger (3-76/12) has wrapped up his CHL career in Calgary and has signed an ATO to play for Elmira in the ECHL.  Driedger established a career high in save percentage (.918, slightly above the .915 from last year) and has a good chance to back up Andrew Hammond in Binghamton next season if (as I suspect) the oft-injured Nathan Lawson goes elsewhere.  For an extensive scouting report on the goaltender go here.

The hoped-for signee is Ryan Dzingel (7-204/11); the seventh round pick had another year of NCAA eligibility, but choose to turn pro with an ATO with Binghamton where he’s expected to play.  There was nothing left for Dzingel to prove at Ohio State as his numbers have improved in every respect each year (37-22-24-46 this year, leading his team in scoring).  Here‘s a scouting report on him.

The surprising player is collegiate free agent Garrett Thompson; the 24-year old Ferris State grad finished his senior year tied for the lead in scoring (43-16-16-32) and has signed an ATO in Binghamton and is expected to play.  Thompson was not ranked when he was draft eligible nor was he heavily recruited.  Described as a hard-working, meat and potatoes player he doesn’t look like an NHL-caliber player on the surface, but the team wouldn’t sign him to an ELC if they didn’t believe he had that potential, so we’ll have to see what happens.

The addition of two more forwards adds to the glut in Binghamton and we have to assume more roster moves are planned (beyond trading away Andre Petersson and the rights to Jeff Costello), even if purely through attrition (ie, letting contracts expire at season’s end).  The Sens also need to make decisions on Francois Brassard and Jarrod Maidens or lose their rights to them (both were 2012 draft picks)–I suspect neither will be signed (I consider signing Mikael Wikstrand a foregone conclusion).

As for the NHL team itself, rumours have surfaced that Paul MacLean’s head might be on the block.  MacLean’s player usage, assuming it’s completely his decision, is so perplexing even Travis Yost has no idea what he’s doing:

Chris Phillips, Chris Neil, Zack Smith — are regularly being sent over the boards, rewarded with ice-time when things maybe aren’t going in the team’s favor. Why? I have no discernible idea. I hear often how these guys give an “honest shift”, playing hard through and after the whistles. That’s fantastic. They’re killed in the areas where hockey matters, energy or not, and they’ve certainly contributed adversely to this team’s position in the standings more than a lot of the other guys. I have no idea why so much time this season has been spent sending messages and banishing productive players and rewarding guys who just get obliterated against the competition, but that’s more or less what’s occurred here.

He’s not the only one confused.  If MacLean stays presumably this puzzling player usage will continue, but if Bryan Murray shares his coaches philosophy I’m not sure a new voice will be any different.  Time will tell.

A little more Binghamton news: the always disappointing Ben Blood has been sent down to Elmira.  There’s no reason to expect Ottawa to retain his rights once the season (and his ELC) is over.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

A Brief Thought on the Sens Player Usage

I’ve long been puzzled by the love affair the Sens organisation has had with Chris Phillips and Chris Neil (neither of whom I would have resigned–either recently or previously).  The latter fits the old school belief that a team needs tough guys, but I have no idea what Phillips has done in the post-05 lockout that warrants anything other than migraine-levels of frustration.  The same love for Neil seems to blanket poor Colin Greening, who (despite the evidence in analytics) I want to think can be a better player.  Why do these players receive so much ice time (19:42 for Phillips boggles the mind)?  The veterans never get scratched no matter how poorly they perform on the ice–what about accountability?  I really can’t explain it.  The love affair has lasted through different GM’s and a large rotation of coaches.  There are still NHL coaches who buy into “toughness” being relevant, which helps explain Neil, but I keep hoping someone out there will find some concrete reason why the Big Rig hits the ice with regularity.  Sure, Jared Cowen‘s usage also raises eyebrows, but he’s a young player and has had to endure the wrath of the fans all season (something that seems to have affected him), so I don’t see it as quite the same thing.  All I ever hear about #4 is leadership, but surely that’s not enough (and frankly, what leadership?).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: March 17th

St. Patrick’s Day seems like an opportune time to add some thoughts as the Sens season goes into the drink (Varada see’s no reason for hysteria, as the Sens are exactly the bubble team he predicted–I wince a bit when he says “most” people felt that way–Rob Vollman and others were very high on the team).  The off-season is less than a month away (April 14th kids, mark your calendars), and I think obituaries should be held until then.  Regardless, since I last chimed in on the season the Sens have gone 1-3-2 and seen their tiny playoff odds slip to almost non-existent.  It turns out those November musings that the season was over (referenced here) were spot on.  As Nichols points out (props on being paid for your opinion amigo–it’s well deserved), the Sens aren’t that different a team from this year to last, but they aren’t receiving the miracle goaltending of the lockout shortened campaign.  However, I’m not a fan of this thought:

if Bryan Murray can add better two-way forwards

I think Sens have an over abundance of forwards to whom that appellation is given (albeit not by Nichols), eg the lamentable Greening-Smith-Neil (Manny does his best to understand Paul MacLean’s obsession with the trio, concluding its their zone entries that he loves so much).  I actually like the Sens defence, minus the re-signed Chris Phillips (if he’s good in the room, leave him in the room) and Jared Cowen–at least the latter has hope to improve (Manny does a good job describing Eric Gryba, “he’s a serviceable bottom-pairing defenseman”).

-Any move that Don Brennan doesn’t like is going to be a good one, but no one needs his idiotic opinion to realise the acquisition of Ales Hemsky at the deadline was a good move and I hope he isn’t just a rental.   I wasn’t a fan of trading Andre Petersson, but this is the final year of his ELC and clearly the organisation thinks it has more than enough forward prospects to let him go (the much less interesting NCAA prospect Jeff Costello was also jettisoned).  Speaking of undersized forwards, Corey Conacher was gifted to Bryan’s nephew Tim via the waiver wire–while he didn’t score much in Ottawa, his underlying metrics were very good and it wouldn’t surprise me if he blossomed as a Sabre.  Dumping Joe Corvo into the AHL made sense–his addition over the summer seemed pointless to me at the time and it was a mercy for him and the team to move on.

-Manny gives us some analytics on scoring chances and after a lengthy exploration concludes:

Possession is the component that drives even-strength scoring. The results herein further enforce the notion that goal-based statistics do not provide adequate assessments of players’ overall performances, but rather the summation of innumerable factors in constant flux. Though possession drives scoring opportunities and in turn, those opportunities goals, too much becomes lost in translation at the individual level. Given what we know, it’s best to rely on bulk shot-based metrics to provide statistical insight into how a player contributes towards out-scoring opponents.

I recommend reading the entire article.

-Amelia L does a great job looking at the disappointing effort Sportsnet is putting into its planned national broadcast coverage of the NHL (Fox News style–aim for old white men as your audience).  My favourite bit:

Analysts like Friedman have tried to drag HNIC into the 21st century on issues as diverse as player safety and statistical analysis but the show as a whole remains firmly lodged in the past. Too often Friedman, who embraces social media and hockey’s growing online voices, is shouted down by PJ Stock and Glenn Healy, the current embodiments of hockey’s archaic “code” culture. Too often the loudest panelist wins on HNIC, regardless of how well his argument has been articulated.

This is one of the many reasons I don’t watch HNIC unless I have no choice.

-Jared Crozier offers us this:

I have laid the blame on the official before, and will probably do so again, so this might be a little hyppocritcal. But at some point the Senators fan base has to look at the team they support and see that it is more their doing than the guys in stripes.

Put aside Jared’s anger at people blaming officials when he plans on blaming them in the future and go more to the point: simply accept NHL officiating is bad and your lives will be more peaceful.

-Jeremy Milks gets self-reflective:

For some reason I’ve gotten that reputation [of liking tough guys over skilled guys] in the Sens small but fiercely opinionated online community and maybe that’s my own fault. … Even if I’m wrong sometimes, I take satisfaction in defending a player that gets almost unanimous scorn. … I don’t want to turn this into another stats argument and point to a bunch of numbers. We all know they’re good.

I like that Jeremy wants to defend underdogs and not simply bow to the opinion of the majority (albeit his opinions are the majority in print/radio/TV media), but I do find his disinclination to deal with stats amusing.  He has to know that stats are a way of describing and analysing the events he’s seeing, so they (should) provide insight rather than get in the way of discussion.

-Jeff Ulmer continues to provide great coverage of Binghamton’s season (the B-Sens finally getting out of their funk as they reclaimed first place in the East); former beat reporter PuckJoy is also doing a great job on Twitter doing the same.

-Peter Morrow offers us his top-20 prospect list; there’s no real analysis (or rationale for how players are compared–is it fulfilling their potential, against each other’s potential, how ready they are, or what?), but for list-lovers everywhere it creates room for debate and discussion.

-I didn’t cite Travis Yost here, but do yourself a favour and follow him (TravisHeHateMe)

-A very different flavour, but PuckPossessed is also someone to watch on your Twitter dial

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa at the 62-Game Mark

Ottawa has reached the 62-game mark (I’m two games off my usual twenty-game snapshot, but for the sake of simplicity I’ve gone with how things are now), so it’s time to take stock and see how the team has performed (for the previous segment go here).  The Sens went 12-6-4, which puts them tied for 11th in the conference (one up from 22 games ago) and they remain 6th in the division.  Their 174 goals for has fallen to tied for 7th in the conference, while their 199 goals against has improved to 15th (second worst).  Ottawa has the 15th best powerplay (18.9%), which is one place lower, albeit their percentage is slightly higher, while their penalty killing (80.6%) is 23rd (improving one place and by almost a full percentage point).  Their record is much better than in their previous segment of games, but they’ve barely moved at all in the standings (as predicted months ago).

Player’s stats (AHL=games in the AHL):

Erik Karlsson 22-6-13-19 -6
Jason Spezza 18-4-12-16 -12
Clarke MacArthur 22-8-8-16 -5
Kyle Turris 22-10-5-15 +1
Cory Conacher 22-1-10-11 +3
Bobby Ryan 22-5-5-10 Even
Mika Zibanejad 22-3-7-10 -4
Milan Michalek 22-4-5-9 -4
Marc Methot 20-2-5-7 +8
Colin Greening 22-4-3-7 -6
Zack Smith 22-3-3-6 -3
Chris Neil 16-3-3-6 -5
Erik Condra 22-2-4-6 +2
Jared Cowen 21-0-6-6 -8
Cody Ceci 22-1-4-5 +1
Eric Gryba 17-0-5-5 -4
Stephane Da Costa 8-3-1-4 +1 [AHL 19-4-13-17]
Patrick Wiercioch 13-2-1-3 Even
Mark Stone 7-1-1-2 -1 [AHL 9-5-7-12]
Chris Phillips 13-0-1-1 -6
Matt Kassian 9-0-1-1 Even
Joe Corvo 4-0-1-1 -3
Jean-Gabriel Pageau 6-0-0-0 Even [AHL 18-4-11-15]
Mike Hoffman 2-0-0-0 +1 [AHL 24-16-19-35]

Craig Anderson 10-3-4 3.06 .908
Robin Lehner 2-3-0 3.05 .912
(Andrew Hammond played part of a game, but other than allowing no goals there’s not much to say)

It’s an interesting phenomena to look at a team that remained a collective minus that won the majority of its games (granted, without the loser point things wouldn’t be so impressive, just 12-10).  Karlsson continues to lead the way (including the most assists), with MacArthur continuing his production (most goals) and Turris recovering from a minor slump during the previous twenty games; speaking of slumps, Ryan has struggled offensively, while Conacher has been much more productive than the first half of the season; Michalek bumped his meagre production from awful to middling, but is still a piece that needs moving (assuming anyone will take him); Corvo and Kassian remain on the roster for inexplicable reasons; Gryba got out of the MacLean dog house while Wiercioch went back into it–either Cowen or Phillips belongs there, but the coaching staff has a soft spot for both; Stone and Da Costa played well in limited action.  Spezza was the worst minus (12) on the team, while Methot the best plus (8).  Lehner‘s infrequent appearances have hurt his performances, while Anderson has been okay in net, but his underlying numbers remain below league averages.

The trade rumours still swirl and I’m less excited by who might be coming in (Chris Stewart is name floating around right now) than who might go out.  The Sens have a significant amount of dead weight on their roster that I’d like them see shed for assets (if nothing else).  Bryan Murray’s deadline track record is awful, but we can hope the days of acquiring Martin Lapointe or Mike Commodore are over.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Binghamton at the 50-Game Mark

The Binghamton Senators have passed the 50-game mark and it’s time to take stock and see how the team and the players are performing.  The B-Sens went 5-5-0, keeping them 1st in their division and 3rd in the conference (for their previous ten games go here).  The team’s 191 goals remain 1st in the conference, while their 153 goals has improved to 12th.

Player’s stats (NHL=games in the NHL, ECHL=games in the ECHL):

Mike Hoffman 10-9-9-18 +3
Shane Prince 10-8-5-13 +7
Andre Petersson
9-1-11-12 +12
Jim O’Brien
10-5-5-10 +8
Mark Stone
6-6-3-9 +4
Cole Schneider 10-3-5-8 +2
Jean-Gabriel Pageau
10-2-6-8 +4
Chris Wideman 10-1-7-8 +10
Matt Puempel 8-4-2-6 Even
Corey Cowick 10-3-3-6 +5
David Dziurzynski 9-2-3-5 -1
Daniel New
10-0-5-5 +1
Stephane Da Costa
3-1-3-4 +3 [NHL 8-3-1-4 +1]
Buddy Robinson
9-1-2-3 Even
Mark Borowiecki
10-0-2-2 +5
Wacey Hamilton
9-0-2-2 -3
Michael Sdao
6-2-0-2 +3
Derek Grant
3-2-0-2 +1
Danny Hobbs
2-1-1-2 +3 [ECHL 7-4-2-6 Even]
Fredrik Claesson 10-0-1-1 +3
Darren Kramer 6-0-1-1 Even
Tyler Eckford 5-0-1-1 +3
Ben Blood 9-0-0-0 +6
Ludwig Karlsson [ECHL 12-4-3-7 +1]
Jakub Culek
[ECHL 12-2-4-6 +7]
Troy Rutkowski [ECHL 13-0-3-3 -2]

Andrew Hammond 4-3-0 2.73 .901
Nathan Lawson 1-1 2.68 .917
Scott Greenham 1-0-0 3.00 .917

It was a fantastic stretch for Hoffman, who earned an AHL all-star selection.  This is the kind of dominance expected of him at this level when he arrived, but only in his fourth year has he final reached it.  Prince and the rest of the offence also exploded, so it’s easier to focus on players not producing, amounting to two forwards: Robinson (who has truly fallen off since the start of the season) and Hamilton (who just doesn’t put up numbers at this level).  New continues to play regularly, ahead of actual Sens prospects, and it’s interesting that Blood (who offers nothing offensively) played more than Sdao who has a little more punch (in more than one way) than he does.  Petersson lead the team as a plus, while Hamilton was the worst of only two minuses.  Hammond‘s numbers continue to improve (including earning his first shutout) and Greenham won his first start with the B-Sens; Lawson‘s problems in staying healthy remain.  In the ECHL, Culek and Karlsson‘s production remains erratic, while Rutkowski seems a bit behind where they are in his development (certainly his offensive talent has yet to show itself).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: February 2nd

-The Sens have gone 3-3-2 since I last checked in, giving up a pile of goals and playing erratically.  This leaves them in the morass of teams on the outside looking in, with a tantalizing chance to make it.  Incomprehensibly, the team recalled Stephane Da Costa back on January 20th–Paul MacLean must have a hard-on for seeing the Frenchman struggle with limited minutes on the fourth line (his two goals against Columbus earned him only 2 more minutes of playing time the following game).

-The team continues to kick the tires for a playoff rental, but Murray’s track record in doing so is largely abysmal so I’d prefer they stayed the course (unless they can remove some dead weight at the same time).

-Binghamton is 6-2 over the last couple of weeks and while both losses were ugly (5-1 to Manchester and 5-2 to Rochester) they’ve played quite well.  Jeff Ulmer’s excellent recaps of those games can be found over at SenShot.  Interestingly enough, the team choose to recall Danny Hobbs rather than one of Ottawa’s prospects (he did well in his first game, picking up a goal and an assist).  Scott Greenham, now back in the ECHL, finally did get an AHL-start with Bingo and won it (against Albany).

-Here’s my look at Binghamton at the forty-game mark.

-In Elmira, Jakub Culek has returned to the lineup and put up good numbers (6-1-6-7); Ludwig Karlsson has gone cold (8-2-4-6) with only one point in his last five; Troy Rutkowski (9-0-1-1) continues to struggle.

-Peter Morrow looks at the Sens pro prospects, but unfortunately it’s a mere summary rather than offering specific insight, scouting reports, or projections for those players.

-Fans may not want to hear about the economics of the team, but money impacts the organisation whether fans like it or not, so its worth tracking.  TSN, having given up on national coverage, locked up regional coverage of the Sens a few days ago.  Travis (via the link) raises the most interesting question: will the extra money Ottawa receives be pumped into the hockey team or into Melnyk’s other business ventures?  The owner isn’t required to do the former, so it will be interesting to watch.

-Here’s a look at how the various players in the Sens system are doing (the ranking in brackets is their position in team scoring for the team or among defenseman, depending on the position of the player):

CHL
Curtis Lazar (WHL) 38-29-25-54 (2nd)
Vincent Dunn
(QMJHL) 36-20-17-37 (3rd)
Ben Harpur (OHL) 20-3-13-16 (4th)
Jarrod Maidens (OHL) injured
Chris Driedger (WHL) 20-12-6 2.55 .918
Francois Brassard
(QMJHL) 23-9-6 3.00 .908

US Junior
Tim Boyle (USPHL) 29-5-13-18 (2nd)

Swedish Junior
Tobias Lindberg (SuperElit/Allsvenskan) 21-6-5-11/3-0-0-0 (7th)

NCAA
Ryan Dzingel (NCAA) 24-17-19-36 (1st)
Max McCormick (NCAA) 24-10-14-24 (2nd)
Robert Baillargeon
(NCAA) 25-6-12-18 (2nd)
Quentin Shore (NCAA) 23-6-13-19 (2nd)
Jeff Costello (NCAA) 27-8-6-14 (7th)
Chris Leblanc (NCAA) 21-5-5-10 (3rd)

Swedish Pro
Mikael Wikstrand (SHL/Allsvenskan) 10-2-3-5 (5th)/27-4-16-20 (1st)
Marcus Hogberg (Allsvenskan) 5-7-0 2.86 .897

Not much has changed among the junior prospects, although Driedger and Brassard‘s numbers have declined and Hogberg‘s have improved.  On the college side a number of players have moved up a little in terms of where they sit in team scoring, but no one has had a meteoric change in their numbers.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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