Senators News & Notes

As I put the finishing touches on my review of the draft there’s plenty to catch up on in Sens Land.  For those desperate for draft thoughts, Nichols has finally stolen my idea of typing up scouting reports so you can see those here, here, and here–he also spends time drooling over Corey Pronman’s draft review, so for those who share his fetish, enjoy!

What can I say about the Robin Lehner trade?  The only way the Sens win the trade is if Lehner fails to live up to his potential–otherwise, the value they got back is never going to measure up.  Fans have to hope Matt O’Connor is the real deal because Andrew Hammond and an aging Craig Anderson are not going to get it done.  As for Eric Gryba being moved, I’m fine with it, although any of Chris Phillips, Mark Borowiecki, or Jared Cowen might have been better.  I expect nothing from Travis Ewanyk, but at least he only has one season left on his ELC.

The Sens have started to finish their bookkeeping when it comes to pending free agents, inking Chris Wideman to a generous two-way deal (his 400k AHL salary is both a reward for his achievements and also a bit of a poison pill for any team sniffing around him should he be sent through waivers).

I’m a bit lost on the B-Sens retaining Patrick Mullen; the deal makes me wonder if the Sens intend on keeping Wideman (or Wikstrand) with the parent club come fall–but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

There was finally full clarification on the Mikael Wikstrand situation (I heard it via Randy Lee on TSN 1200)–apparently he never signed a new deal, instead his club team traded his contract (which had a year remaining).  Wikstrand has no issue at all in playing in the AHL.

I’d forgotten that Clarkson grad Kevin Tansey, a player the Sens are apparently interested in, attended their development camp before (last year).  Ryan Kennedy, incidentally, believes the defenseman is one of the top-ten undrafted players at an NHL development camp.  It’s clear the Sens aren’t afraid to take defenseman with poor puck-handling skills (comments made by Randy Lee show that they feel it’s an area that can be improved upon enough to make the investment worthwhile).  Personally, I don’t think turning a poor puck-mover into a middling one is enough at the NHL level.

Speaking of development, I want to quote Nichols (link above) with a sentiment I echo:

If anything, Ottawa’s successful development makes me question why the organization has willingly boxed out a number of its prospects from bottom six or bottom pairing roles by re-signing or acquiring redundant vets.

Amen, although the answer is pretty simple–loyalty to veterans and an old school belief by Murray that bringing in older players helps the “mix” on the roster.  After all, think of how well David Legwand, Martin Lapointe, Mike Commodore, and so on have done here….

Other unsigned players attending the development camp: Neal Goff (unremarkable defenseman coming off his first year in the NCAA–put up a career high 11 points in the US high school four years ago), Scott Moldenhauer (another Western Michigan defenseman with just slightly better hands), Jordan Murray (CIS defenseman who once put up good stats in the QMJHL), and Ryan Penny (QMJHL forward who has finished his junior eligibility and needs a contract).

[An additional observation: Tim Boyle, the Sens 2012 draft pick, wasn’t even invited to camp, suggesting the org believes him to have already failed as a prospect.]

Every once and awhile the NHL reminds me of why I find the league frustrating.  Allowing the Chris Pronger trade to occur is utterly ridiculous–he’s not “sitting out with an injury” like Nathan Horton, he’s working at NHL head office!  The whole idea is absurd.

[Just one another addition that’s particularly pertinent on the cusp of free agency: no one cares about the total value of a player’s contract–fans want to know the yearly average and I wish sports sites would give up on the former and embrace the latter.]

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

alex chaisson

Ary M has a great article looking at Alex Chaisson and what he brings to the Sens.  I also thought Chaisson was a bottom-dwelling failure, but the analytics presents a decent top-nine player.  It’s well worth reading in detail.

wikstrand

In a lengthy discussion with Ian Mendes, Pierre Dorion added some clarity on the Mikael Wikstrand situation:

He’s under contract with us next year. I heard that he signed somewhere else [Farjestad], but we want him to play for us. We think he’s very close to the NHL. If Erik Karlsson played a month in Binghamton, I don’t think it’s a bad thing for Mikael Wikstrand. If Cody Ceci played a few months in Binghamton, we don’t think it’s the worst thing for him to adjust to North American hockey and we think he’s really close to (playing in) the NHL

It sounds like Wikstrand is reluctant to join Binghamton, but as he’s under contract with the Sens and apparently signed with Farjestad without their impute, I don’t see that he has any choice.  I don’t think B-Sens fans should take offense at Wikstrand‘s possible attitude–a lot of people are reluctant to leave home and he likely knows next to nothing about the city.

A48U8530.jpg

Dorion also talked about the newly signed Tobias Lindberg:

Yeah, obviously a lot of credit has to go to Randy (Lee) to get that deal done under a certain deadline that we had. As far as Tobias at the Memorial Cup, I think Tobias took great strides this year. I think coming over to play the North American game in Oshawa with a team that plays hard was so beneficial for him. Obviously, Tobias has NHL speed and NHL skill. We obviously see him more as a winger than a centerman with his up-and-down play. Obviously he’s still got to get more involved and keep on improving and always playing at a high pace. We definitely see someone that can play for us down the road. Now obviously when I say ‘down the road’, it’s not… I’m not saying that Tobias couldn’t play games for us this year, but when he’s ready to contribute, I think we’re going to see someone that can play in the NHL.

I think Pierre should be fined for how often he said “obviously”, but that aside, they understandably like his upset.  I’d remind fans that they should take his production in Oshawa with a grain of salt given the very talented linemates he had there.  He’ll definitely be a welcome addition to Binghamton’s lineup in the fall.

Ryan Wagman offers a look at drafting tendencies and there’s something he said that I think is worth emphasizing:

the wholesale turnover in the Buffalo and Boston organizations, looking at their historical draft records is not just useless, but counterproductive

The point here isn’t the specific teams mentioned, but the turnover.  So often people will talk about historical trends for a team with no reference to the brain trust in charge–it’s irrelevant what a team did five years ago if the same people are no longer in charge.  This might seem like an obvious point, but I see it ignored over and over again so it’s worth drilling home.  Going back to Wagman’s article, it’s an excellent breakdown of the Pacific division and their drafting trends based on those in charge (he also looks at the Atlantic division–Nichols and others will enjoy how hesitant he is to call Jared Cowen a draft “success”).

Craig Smith presents a wide range of players that the Sens might draft.  I’ve normally posted a completely separate post with something similar, but given time constraints I’ll simply list who would go as per my NHL mock draft:
1-18 Jeremy Roy, although if the Sens may want to dip their toe into Sweden with Joel Eriksson Ek who is listed next
2-42 Zachary Senyshyn
2-48 Guillaume Brisebois
4-109 Jonne Tammela, although the Sens under Murray don’t draft Finns so perhaps Will Borgen (listed next)
5-139 Christian Jaros
7-199 Mikhail Vorobyov lands here, but the Sens don’t draft Russians so the next listed non-Russian would be Kevin Davis
I don’t take these predictions too seriously, but the above includes four defenseman and just two forwards (3 and 3 if they take Ek), so it’s more than a little impractical (with six picks I’d be surprised by more than two blueliners); it does contain Ottawa staples such as a QMJHL player and a Swede (two in fact).  Regardless, it’s fun to speculate.

There was another European FA signing as Pittsburgh inked Sergei Plotnikov (the 25-year old has put up consistent, solid numbers with Lokomotiv).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

I’ve been quite busy with various draft efforts (which has been met with some drama for the first time–more about that below), but enough news has accumulated for a post at last.

Nichols, while re-hashing the teams self-inflicted goaltending drama makes a point that’s worth re-iterating:

I guess I could understand the reasoning behind management putting its short-term interests ahead of an uncertain future that may be more fruitful. I mean, management has been operating this way since 2011, so it shouldn’t come as a shock if they decide to continue down this path.

Just let that sink in for a moment.  Has there been any sign since the 2011-12 season that this team is going to push for a Stanley Cup?  All those deals made to solve short-term goals (Ben Bishop comes to mind) resolved absolutely nothing and in the midst of that the organisation has been public in illustrating how poorly it understands its own talent (Patrick Wiercioch, Mike Hoffman, etc).  I’d like to think that constantly failing with short-term fixes would eventually sink in, but there’s no evidence that’s the case.  At this stage fans can only hope Murray does minimal damage with whatever deals he makes in the off-season.

Speaking of Nichols, he presents three different strategies he thinks the organisation might take in the off-season, all of which are taking a look at:
1) move Hoffman and Wiercioch or Cowen to Colorado in exchange for Ryan O’Reilly; move Lehner and one of Colin Greening/Zack Smith/David Legwand somewhere for a pick and a short-term bad contract; finally, move one of whichever dud forward is left for a pick
I can’t say I like this scenario and I’m not convinced brass has given up on Smith, but it is within the realm of possibilities that the Sens make deals like this.  I don’t mind the acquisition of O’Reilly, incidentally, but I wouldn’t see the moves as a net win.
2) Lehner and Cowen go to Edmonton for the 16th overall pick; Hoffman and the Sens first-rounder for San Jose’s pick (9th); Legwand moved for a pick
While the first element is possible (albeit not one I’d be thrilled with), I don’t see the Sharks giving up a top-ten pick
3) Anderson plus Smith to St. Louis for Oshie/Goc or Anderson plus Cowen to Buffalo for Ennis/Moulson and some confetti; then a trade to remove some of the dead weight for a pick
Nichols considers this his least likely scenario, but it would make the most sense going forward.
It’s hard for me to judge all this as I see Murray as a conservative GM with a lot of loyalty to players who don’t contribute; that fact combined with most of the assets being offered aren’t particularly exciting (apparently Lehner is only considered the third best goaltender on the market–perhaps adding a bit of fuel to the Anderson alternative) makes the potential return pretty muted.  Regardless, it’s interesting food for thought.

There was finally confirmation that Marcus Hogberg is going to spend another year in Sweden (something of an inevitability at this point, but I like clarity).  Speaking of prospects, Fredrik Claesson has been extended with a one-year, two-way deal, while Tobias Lindberg (the only tangible asset remaining from the Bishop trade) has been signed and will be in Bingo next season.  [A few hours after I posted the Sens re-signed Jean-Gabriel Pageau to a two-year, one-way deal.]

For those of us hoping the organisation had lost its addiction to big defenseman without puck skills, we can put those hopes to bed as the Sens are apparently pursing Kevin Tansey; the Clarkson grad has even less puck-skills than Mark Borowiecki and seemingly no discernable NHL upside.

It was a little surreal seeing former 2012 Development Camp invitee Trevor Van Riemsdyk win a Stanley Cup ring after being pressed into service with the Blackhawks.  The undrafted New Hampshire player signed with Chicago last year and he’s the first invitee I can think of who has wound up with a ring in his career.

There was a fairly odd signing out of the European free agent market, as Pittsburgh signed Swedish veteran (and former LA draft pick) Niclas Andersen.  I have to think this is some sort of tryout agreement, as the Swede is in the midst of a three-year contract with Brynas; the defender is coming off a career-year after six unremarkable ones previously.  New Jersey made a slightly more comprehensible signing with Vojtech Mozik.  

I’d initially written at some length about the Phoenix saga, but as that’s been beaten to death everywhere I’ll spare going into it in detail.  All I’ll say is that it’s hard to imagine how the NHL can stay in Phoenix if the city (and by that I mean the people and the council) don’t want them there.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Why Trading Robin Lehner Is a Bad Idea

We know for a fact that the organisation is going to trade one of Robin Lehner or Craig Anderson, with virtually all the speculation focussing on the young Swedish goaltender.  The reasons for Lehner to be the target is he’s much more marketable–he’s cheap, young (23), and accomplished (see below).  While Anderson has better numbers (and NHL track record), he’s older (34), injury-prone, and expensive.  From an organisational standpoint, if you have to move a goaltender, you’ll get more for Lehner, so why do I think this is a bad idea?

A starting goaltender, especially a good or elite one, has more impact on team performance than any other player.  Sens fans don’t have to be convinced of this as Ottawa’s best seasons since the 2007 Cup run have been founded off remarkable (sometimes record-setting) performances by goaltenders.  While it’s possible for a team to win a Cup without an elite goaltender (Chris Osgood always comes to mind), it’s rare and requires an elite team in front of him to do so, so in general it’s a requirement for any team to have an elite goaltender to win it all.

Is Lehner an elite (or good) starting goaltender?  The truth is we don’t know yet.  He’s played in 81 NHL games and never more than 36 in a single season–it’s simply not enough evidence for what he can or can’t do.  He’s also extremely young for a goaltender–it’s a cliché that ‘tenders develop later, but it’s absolutely true (see the link).  Lehner‘s pedigree is very good–he was considered the second best goalie in his draft year (2009), and won a Calder Cup as a teenager (2011), so why have the Sens thrown all their eggs into the Matt O’Connor basket?  (Anyone who thinks they are depending on Hammond needs to read Pierre Dorion‘s comments on him and look at his record outside the NHL.)

My guess is that Lehner‘s declining save percentage and his perceived ‘failure’ to grab the reins the few times he’s been given them have soured Murray on him.  While the GM has infinite patience for floundering veterans long past their prime, he expects young players to be excellent immediately (thus they waived Mike Hoffman before the season started and tried to trade away Patrick Wiercioch before truly giving him an opportunity–oh, and how has trading Jakob Silverberg worked out for them?).  It seems like Murray is tired of waiting and his staff likes O’Connor well enough to move on (the undrafted NCAA player participated in their development camp back in 2011).  Why, beyond what I’ve mentioned here, do I think trading him will fail?

If, as I expect, Lehner is a good or elite goaltender, it’s not possible for the Sens to get value for him.  The asking price is a top-six forward or top-four defenseman, so let’s make it clear the kind of player this organisation thinks that would be: Chris Phillips was a top-four blueliner for half this season (only injury and a coaching change altered that); they thought Bobby Butler was a top-six forward (as they did with Cory Conacher when they traded Ben Bishop for him).  Let’s say the pro scouts do a better job this time and we get a legitimate player in that category–perhaps a Benoit Pouliot, Teddy Purcell, or a Jeff Petry–are any of them really worth a starting goaltender?  Pick any half-decent starter, Jimmy Howard for example, or pick an elite ‘tender like Tuukka Rask (let’s never forget Toronto gave up on him early for a flash-in-the-pan)–what’s a couple of seasons out of Pouliot for one of those players long-term?  It’s a joke when you think about it.

When the trade happens Sens fans are going to have to pray long and hard that O’Connor really is the real deal, because we’ve seen highly touted NCAA stars crash and burn (the aforementioned Butler and Stephane Da Costa to name just two).  Other than Marcus Hogberg (assuming he’s signed) there’s nothing in the pipeline behind O’Connor if he fails, which means Anderson‘s wonky health and Hammond‘s tiny sample size is all that stands between an awful 2015-16.  Food for thought going into next season, although ultimately the trade will have to be judged in the long-term.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News (June 3rd)

BryanMurray_1986_medium

It has been a couple of weeks since my last post, enough time for the slow trickle of Sens news to accumulate.  Among the various organisational bits and pieces has come Bryan Murray’s announcement that this upcoming season will be his last.  It will be interesting to see how he wants it to go.  Does he push hard and go crazy aiming for an unexpected playoff run, or does he attempt to grow and build the organisation for it to be good in the long-term?  Time will tell.  He’s certainly in a position to make unpopular moves, although the fear has to be what kind of unpopular moves he could make.

lehner

Amongst a lot of bitterness Nichols notes that Murray has indicated he’ll try to package a bad contract with whatever goaltender he moves.  The notion makes it even more likely that Robin Lehner is the goalie to be moved, as it’s unlikely that the aging and more expensive Craig Anderson could have a Colin Greening attached to him.  I’m not sure it’s worth beating a dead horse over how badly trading Lehner could turn out, so I’ll just say I’m not a fan of the move if that’s what happens.

Ottawa Senators Official NHL Headshots

I was happy to hear Pierre Dorion acknowledge that Andrew Hammond could implode (comparing him to Steve Penny).  You’d think the organisation would be a bit more cautious with the term of his contract if that’s a possibility they acknowledge; if Hammond implodes next season he’s going to be impossible to trade with two more years on his contract.

2015_NHL_Draft

Speaking of Dorion, he seems confident that the team will get a top-six forward or top-four defenseman with the 18th overall pick.  It’s entirely possible, although that’s the stage of the first-round where prospects get dicey (in terms of recent draft numbers, the top-ten are 89.7% reliable, whereas the rest of the first round is at 35%).

Binghamton_Senators_svg

Binghamton signed a bunch of spare parts recently: failed Atlanta draft pick Daultan Leveille (who was dithering around in France), Guilaume Lepine (pressed into service from Evansville this past season–much like Daniel New the past three seasons), Matthew Zay (who played a few games this past season after leaving Mercyhurst in the NCAA), and Alex Wideman (Chris‘ brother).  All of these players signed AHL contracts, so barring injuries or a major turnover in Binghamton’s roster, they’re likely headed to Evansville.  Regardless, here’s a snapshot of each:

Daultan Leveille (1-29/08 Atlanta; C, 6’0, DOB 90)
2013-14 Evansville (ECHL) 66-22-25-47
2014-15 Rouen (France) 26-9-8-17
Drafting a player like this is one of the many reasons Atlanta GM Don Waddell was fired (his draft status is enough to get Jeff Ulmer excited about him); while it’s not unusual for first-round picks to fail to become NHL players, it’s almost unheard of for them to fail to become AHL players.  The fact that Leveille is coming off a bad season in France makes me think there’s some personal connection with the Sens organisation to give him a break to return to Evansville (the place he’s had the most success in his professional career).

Guillaume Lepine (undrafted; D, 6’4, DOB 87)
2013-14 Evansvile (ECHL) 48-2-11-13
2014-15 Evansville (ECHL) 35-0-12-12, Binghamton (AHL) 38-1-3-4
An unremarkable blueliner who came out of the QMJHL, he’s bounced between the ECHL, the EIHL (England), and now had his longest look in the AHL this past season.  He has no offensive tools at any level, so all he can provide is minimal minutes of safe, physical play–something useful for the ECHL, but I hope he’s not a regular in Binghamton again.

Matthew Zay (undrafted; F, 6’1, DOB 91)
2013-14 Mercyhurst (NCAA) 35-17-26-43
2014-15 Mercyhurst (NCAA) 39-12-20-32
Played for the Pembroke Lumber Kings (10-11) before going to the NCAA; he put up consistent numbers in college, although looking at how some of his teammates have performed in the minors he looks to be an ECHL talent.

Alex Wideman (undrafted; LW, 5’8, DOB 91)
2013-14 Miami (NCAA) 36-7-9-16
2014-15 Miami (NCAA) 39-7-11-18
Signed perhaps as a favour to his more talented older brother, Alex‘s college numbers are not impressive and I expect he’ll need to make his mark in Evansville if he’s going to see ice time in Binghamton.

These players are literally the flotsam and jetsam of the minor leagues, but perhaps they can raise some excitement in Evansville if (as hoped) that’s where they will be plying their trade.

memorial cup

Tobias Lindberg, the last Sens prospect who was still in action, won the Memorial Cup.  The unsigned Swede finished tied for third in team scoring during Oshawa’s OHL run (behind Cole Cassels and Michael Dal Colle), but was tied for first with the latter during the Memorial Cup itself.  His performance this year was enough to wake up the moribund (and star to the blogosphere) Corey Pronman to the fact that he’s a decent prospect.  I’d give Corey a Taeja-clap, but none of you would get the reference, so moving on.

antti neimi cup

A final note: as regular readers know, I like to keep my eye on undrafted players who sign NHL contracts, so here’s those thus far who were not from my list from April.  From Europe: Dean Kukan (Columbus), Sergei Kalinin (NJ), Matthias Plachta (Arizona), Joonas Kemppainen (Boston), Yvgeni Medvedev (Philadelphia), Jakub Nakladal (Calgary), Christian Marti (Philadelphia); from the NCAA: Noel Acciari (Boston), Evan Rodrigues (Buffalo).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News (May 20th)

It’s desperate times for news in hockey land so things like a potential new assistant coach and predictions are all the blogosphere has to talk about.  It’s been awhile since I posted however, so there are a few things to cover from earlier in the month.

matt o'connor

The Sens signed Matt O’Connor to an ELC, having already promised him they will move a goaltender to make room for him.  It’s an odd way to set up a trade, as now other GMs know Murray is under the gun to move someone.  While I’ve advocated moving Andrew Hammond (something echoed by Nichols at the 6th Sens), it seems like the organisation is more likely to move Robin Lehner (I mean, why sign a guy his age O’Connor as the goaltender of the future unless you are going to move the other guy who was anointed as that already?).  By himself, I don’t think there’s a lot of value to be had for Lehner as he’s not already established as a #1 goaltender (think of the Ben Bishop trade, albeit Lehner is under contract and the former was not).  How many assets do they want to move for O’Connor?  There are red flags all over this move (which seems unnecessary in the first place as goaltending has not been Ottawa’s problem), but Murray has an itchy trigger finger with younger players (he was going to move Patrick Wiercioch because he wasn’t tough in the corners), so my only hope is that it’s not a complete disaster.  Elliotte Friedman, insider that he is, has no clue what the Sens are planning (other than not speculating about Hammond–perhaps the desire to keep him is due to cost–he was just re-signed).  Trevor Shackles worries about Murray’s NCAA free agent track record (making a few errors as he goes), but it’s worth keeping in mind how hit and miss such players are.  I still don’t understand why the organisation doesn’t sign prospect Marcus Hogberg, incidentally.

wikstrand

Speaking of Sens prospects, Mikael Wikstrand signed a deal with Frolunda not long ago, but his agent recently implied he may be coming to North America anyway.  If that’s the case he must have an opt-out with the team, but I have to wonder if it’s the same as last year where he either makes the NHL roster or he goes back to Sweden.

corey pronman

Speaking of draft picks, one of these days I’m going to have to find out why Sens bloggers have all drank the Corey Pronman Koolaid–based on what, exactly?  No one ever says, so perhaps its mere accessibility (if ESPN pays him to do it, he must do it well, and certainly almost no one checks his results–although I have, and let’s not forget he liked Ben Blood).  Granted, nkb from The Silver Seven (linked above) doesn’t seem that familiar with prospects, so that’s worth keeping in mind.

lindberg

Tobias Lindberg (still unsigned) and the Oshawa Generals won the OHL title; Vincent Dunn‘s Rimouski team won in the QMJHL, but the prospect was let go by the team prior to the playoffs after repeated suspensions, so I have to wonder what the Sens have saddled themselves with.

Close-up of a fortune teller looking into a crystal ball --- Image by © SuperStock/Corbis

More players from my list have been signed, as the Oilers picked up Finnish goaltender Eetu Laurikainen and San Jose signed Joonas Donskoi (the former Panther draft pick).  Another player, Andreas Martinsen, was on my list back in 2012 and has been signed by Colorado (out of the DEL, which is quite unusual).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News (May 5th)

chris-lee-and-brad-watson

It has been a month or so since I last posted a news update.  In the interim the Sens finished their remarkable run to make the playoffs (leaving a little egg on the face of a snarky Bob McKenzie from a few days before the end of the season), before falling 4-2 to the Habs in the first round.  The accolades came pouring down before the season’s end (and after), and it’s a season that has to be viewed as a success (I didn’t see the Sens as a playoff team even before the season started).  Clearly Dave Cameron benefitted from injuries to useless veterans, along with the improbable run of Andrew Hammond.  Has the organisation finally figured out that they are saddled with useless players?  There are small signs the message is finally getting through.  As Nichols says:

Pundits will be quick to point out how Ottawa’s success cannot be sustained and that eventually they’ll regress. The pundits are right, but no one in Ottawa really cares.

As Luke Peristy says:

By far the weirdest thing about this whole “improbable run to make the playoffs” thing is the knowledge that we’ve already seen the most absurd thing the Senators are going to do this year.

Going back to does the organisation get it question, caution has to be exercised–Dave Cameron dumping Mike Hoffman onto the fourth line is a worrying sign.  This is also the same brain trust that tried to sign David Clarkson, give Jared Cowen an enormous seven-year deal, signed David Legwand, and so on and so forth.  Bryan Murray has an addiction to aging veterans and “tough guys” that’s clogging his internal budget.

Prior to the playoffs, Scott Cullen offered his thoughts on potential edges in the series via shooting percentage and found that Ottawa has a slight one over Montreal, which as determinants go did not amount to much in the series itself.

matt o'connor

Nichols notes that the Sens promised NCAA free agent Matt O’Connor that if he signed with them they would move a goaltender.  Nichols wonders if the space promised would be in the NHL or AHL, but I think it’s safe to say it would be the latter (and despite comments from his agent I take that posturing to get more teams to bid for his services).  I still don’t think any team can offer O’Connor as clear an opportunity as Edmonton and that’s where I imagine he’ll sign (especially with Peter Chiarelli as the new GM).  It’s still concerning that the Sens are apparently prepared to move Robin Lehner (or Craig Anderson) to make room for an unproven NCAA goaltender and (presumably) Andrew Hammond (although I’m less certain of that).  As I’ve said before, I’d rather they move Hammond and stick with the current tandem.

Speaking of roster decisions, the Sens have apparently pre-emptively loaned Mikael Wikstrand back to Sweden for next season.  This is truly bizarre, as it would burn the second year of his ELC (the first already went up in smoke this season).  I’d like to think he has an opt-out in his contract, but without further details I can’t say.  Given how weak Binghamton’s blueline was this past season, I have no idea why they wouldn’t bring him over.

Prospects

miles gendron

Nearly all the Sens prospects have wrapped up their seasons, but Tobias Lindberg and Vincent Dunn are still playing (Miles Gendron won the BCHL championship).

Three players from my free agent list have already been signed: Columbus inked Markus Hannikainen, Nashville signed Kristian Nakyva, and Artemi Panarin signed with Chicago.

One major chestnuts in the fires of traditional hockey commentators is the importance of faceoffs.  You need a good faceoff guy, right?  So the analytics guys at TSN took a look at numbers and it turns out faceoffs don’t actually mean much in terms of generating goals (the best number they could find over the last eight years was Patrice Bergeron whose totals equal four goals throughout the entire season–no one else was even close to that).  Presumably on the defensive side this also means that losing faceoffs has an almost meaningless impact as well when it comes to goals against.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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