Senators News & Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

internet-statistics_1

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

journalism

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

Binghamton_Senators_svg

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

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

Wrong

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

your comments in regards to my own analysis are ridiculously reductive

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

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

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

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

The Sens Development Camp has wrapped up.  It’s always a fun event for those who get the chance to attend, although admittedly you have to love hockey, the Sens, and prospects (RIP Nichols) to get full value from it.

Randy Lee offered comments about performances in the black and white game and besides blowing the usual smoke up the asses of top-picks (and using unfortunate terms like “compete level”), he did offer some insight:

On Ryan Dzingel

Dzingel was really able to show off his speed with a couple of breakaways too. He had a good year in Binghamton last season but it was a transition year where we put him at a different position so that was a bit of a challenge for him. I thought he got better as the season went on and it was great to see how well he did last night.

Changing position in your rookie season at the pro level is not easy and worth keeping in mind in regards to Dzingel‘s occasional struggles in Bingo this past season.

On Mikael Wikstrand

is a guy that you don’t appreciate until you see him in a game. He really thinks the game at a high-level, he moves the puck really well, good offensive instincts and he’s a guy that’s going to be a pretty good player for us.

In a way this is more of the same in terms of comments made about the Swedish defenseman; there’s no question he has an NHL threshold, the only unknown is whether his offensive game will translate at that level.

On Chris Driedger

he had a different season last year but as the season went on, he got better and he played with a lot of confidence last night.

“Different” is the most polite way I can think of to describe Driedger‘s season in Evansville, but he certainly did better in Binghamton and fans can hope he continues to improve.

On Marcus Hogberg

you can see he’s got great feet, really good down low

I’m quite high on the Swedish goaltender, although with Matt O’Connor now as the anointed one it’s a good thing he’s going to spend another year in the SHL.

As usual, Sens TV has little vignettes about the camp, but also footage of the entire scrimmage (about which Lee’s comments above were in response too).  The 3-on-3 tournament today was won by Team Blue (Dzingel, Wikstrand, and free agents Penny and Goff).  Not surprisingly, Max McCormick was named the hardest worker for the entire camp.

I haven’t given my specific thoughts on the Sens picks at the draft, so here are my pick-by-pick thoughts:

Thomas Chabot (1-18) – selected right in the wheelhouse of the scouting consensus so I’m happy with the pick–there’s no guarantee how good he’ll be, but he has the upside to be an excellent addition
Colin White (1-21) – the pick acquired in the Robin Lehner trade (notably not Buffalo’s own pick, but one they acquired from the Islanders); he’s not related to the former NHL-defenseman; there were only two players slotted higher than him when he was selected (Merkley and Jeremy Roy), so there’s no real objection to the selection
Gabriel Gagne (2-36) – acquired from New Jersey in return for a second-rounder (the Dallas pick from the Jason Spezza trade; the Devils picked goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood); this pick has the most questionmarks around it and it’s puzzling that the Sens felt the need to trade up to grab him–no source had him listed this high which suggests they could have waited and that he’s a hit or miss selection
Filip Chlapik (2-48) – the first Czech picked by the Sens since Jakub Culek in 2010 (let’s hope that’s not foreshadowing); like him he comes from the QMJHL; he was selected slightly after projections; the two notable players ranked more highly than him were Kylington and Bracco
Christian Wolanin (4-107) – acquired from Edmonton in the Eric Gryba trade (who got the pick from Toronto via Pittsburgh); another odd player to trade for, as the overage son of the unremarkable NHL defenseman wasn’t ranked by anyone to be taken in the draft; the Sens have done pretty well with overage selections out of the USHL, but I’d take him as another hit-or-miss selection
Filip Ahl (4-109) – the only Swede taken in the draft by Ottawa, he was picked after projections (slightly after for the most part) so he’s a solid pick-up
Christian Jaros (5-139) – the first Slovak ever picked by Murray since becoming Ottawa’s GM, he comes via the Swedish league; projections for him are all over the place so he’s clearly a hit-or-miss pick
Joey Daccord (7-199) – only listed by Central Scouting; as a seventh-rounder he’s by-definition a let’s-hope selection; there were a number of higher ranked players (picked and not picked) available, granting that since the goaltender is slatted for the NCAA they can wait longer on him than (say) a player from the CHL or Europe

The Sens third-round pick wound up with the Rangers (via Edmonton in the Gryba trade), who picked Russian defenseman Sergey Zaborovskiy; Ottawa’s sixth-round pick wound up with Carolina (via Winnipeg to get the pick they used to select Kelly Summers), and they took David Cotton.

Ross A looks at the Sens history with players who file for arbitration and the main takeaway from it is that (under Bryan Murray) Ottawa has always settled prior to the hearing date.

Nichols laments the departure of Erik Condra–I bring it up simply because he’s exactly the kind of late round pick Nichols derides consistently.  Nichols’ general, dismissive attitude towards prospects is mostly sensible, but I think the shorthand of always being dismissively of later picks is a little ridiculous.

There were a number of veteran AHL signings for the BSens and here’s a look:

Matt Kostka (29, AHL 63-5-25-30) – the undrafted NCAA grad’s name may ring a bell as the Toronto media fell in love with him back in the 2012-13 season (when he played half the year with the Leafs); he was subsequently signed and waived by Chicago, picked up by Tampa, and spent last season in the Ranger organisation; a right-handed shot, I think he’s a good addition to the BSens

Eric O’Dell (25, AHL 37-14-15-29) – a former second-round pick by Anaheim (2-39/08; Brian Burke’s drafting record with the Ducks is awful); Anaheim never signed him and the Atlanta (now Winnipeg) franchise picked him up; he’s been a very productive forward for St. John’s (180-72-76-148).  Assuming he doesn’t tank like Carter Camper this past season, he’s a solid addition to the top-six in Bingo.

Zack Stortini (29, AHL 76-13-12-25) – picked by the Oilers in the Dead Puck Era (3-94/03), when the one-dimensional goon was finally let go by Edmonton he’s bounced around the AHL (this will be his fifth team in five seasons); I’m not a fan of this kind of player, but the one good thing he does (or should do) is take some of the fighting pressure off of players like Max McCormick and Michael Sdao and give space for them to develop their game.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing the 2015 NHL Draft

It’s time to look back over the draft and assess my prognostication as well as that of the draft guides I used (I’m not interested in the declared intentions of the guides, but rather how they function as predictors).  Without further ado, here are the numbers (this isn’t about Player X at position X, so what’s below is simply the correct player by round).  Acronyms: EOTS (Eye on the Sens), FC (Future Considerations), HP (Hockey Prospects), RLR (Red Line Report), and ISS (International Scouting Service).

First Round
HP: 26/30
EOTS/FC/Bob McKenzie: 25/30
ISS/RLR: 24/30

As I’ve mentioned before, picking first round players is quite easy–there’s a general consensus on most of them and these numbers are typical.

Second Round
EOTS: 18/31
HP: 17/31
ISS: 16/31
FC/RLR: 14/31

These are very similar numbers to last year.

Third Round
EOTS/RLR/ISS: 8/30
HP: 7/30
FC: 6/30
Also typical numbers (as they are for the remaining rounds).  This first player not on my list (goaltender Mike Robinson).

Fourth Round
EOTS: 7/30
ISS/HP: 6/30
RLR: 3/30
FC: 2/30
Three players were taken who were not on my list (Andrei Mironov, Christian Wolanin, and Daniel Bernhardt).

Fifth Round
EOTS: 4/30
RLR/HP/FC: 3/30
ISS: 2/30
Team eccentricity began to hit here and 11 players were taken who did not appear on my list.

Sixth Round
HP: 5/30
RLR: 3/30
EOTS: 2/30
FC: 1/30
ISS: 0/30
Another 16 players were selected who don’t appear on my list.

Seventh Round
HP: 5/30
EOTS/RLR/FC: 2/30
ISS: 0/30
A final 15 players were selected that did not appear on my list.

Total (change from last year noted)
HP: 69/211 (-2)
EOTS: 66/211 (+6)
RLR/ISS: 57/211 (+4/+4)
FC: 53/211 (no change)

Despite a slight decrease, HP again had the most accurate by-round predictions (32%).  I improved in this regard (to 31%), but the more important number is how many players selected were actually taken in the draft, and here’s how we all did (with variance from last year noted; ISS’ weird number has to do with the way their guide is structured):
EOTS: 165/211 (78%) +7%
HP: 160/211 (75%) +4%
RLR: 154/211 (72%) +8%
ISS: 151/220 (68%) +6%
FC: 146/211 (69%) +0%
I achieved my goal of picking the most players this year, which is gratifying (it’s also the highest percentage since I started doing this).  My sources and I had 29 players in common that none of us picked to be in the draft (close to 14% of the draft).

The highest ranked player not to be selected was mighty-midget (5’8) Dante Salituro; he was followed by center Nathan Noel, Swiss center Pius Suter (his second time through the draftm perhaps influenced by him signing with ZSC in the NLA in May), and center Tyler Soy.  In all eleven players selected by all sources for the draft were not selected (Lalonde, McBride, Huska, Kielly, Askew, McNiven, Hunt, Leveille, along with Soy, Suter, and Noel).  In terms of source ratings, Salituro and Chebykin were second-round talents for one guide each.  Virtually none of the CS catalogue of European players were taken after the top-30 or so.

For those who like completeness, here’s all the players selected who weren’t on my list: Mike Robinson (R3), Andrei Mironov (R4), Christian Wolanin (R4), Daniel Bernhardt (R4), Luke Stevens (R5), Niko Mikkola (R5), Sam Ruopp (R5), Karlis Cukste (R5), Matt Schmalz (R5), Dominik Simon (R5), Spencer Smallman (R5), Rudolfs Balcers (R5), Carl Neill (R5), Karel Vejmelka (R5), Luke Opilka (R5), Kris Oldman (R6), Brett Seney (R6), Adam Parsells (R6), Sergei Boikov (R6), Markus Ruusu (R6), Cameron Hughes (R6), Frederik Tiffels (R6), Mason Appleton (R6), Patrick Holloway (R6), Andong Song (R6), Colby Williams (R6), Tyler Moy (R6), Liam Dunda (R6), Steven Ruggiero (R6), Garrett Metcalf (R6), Bokondji Imama (R6), Ivan Chukarov (R7), Erik Kallgren (R7), Steven Lorentz (R7), Ivan Fedotov (R7), Markus Nutivaara (R7), Gustav Olhaver (R7), Jake Kupsky (R7), Matthew Roy (R7), Jack Becker (R7), Riley Bruce (R7), Joey Daccord (R7), Evan Smith (R7), Miroslav Svoboda (R7), Ziyat Paygin (R7), and John Dahlstrom (R7).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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.  Robbie Baillargeon isn’t there either, but I’m inclined to think there are health or other reasons behind that.]

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.

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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)

Analysis and Predictions for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft

The 2015 NHL draft is not far away so it’s time to put on my prediction hat and take a look at who will be selected.  What follows is a long preamble, so for those simply interested in the list just scroll down.  It’s worth noting that I am not a scout, simply someone who enjoys the draft–an area that lacks good comparative data and in pursing that it’s interesting and fun to make predictions.  Before we get into my list I’ll explain my reasoning and methodology.

With the advent of the salary cap in the NHL it became paramount for all organisations to invest in their scouting operations and draft well. Teams could no longer simply buy their way out of trouble or plug holes with expensive free agents. That change has helped drive the cottage industry that is draft prediction, but the wide variety of sources are not created equal and few of those who provide their opinions will reflect on their subsequent accuracy. It is my purpose here to collate the best sources and provide insight into who will be selected.

This is my sixth year predicting the draft (beginning with the now defunct Hockey Herald back in 2010). That year I picked 72% of the entire class (well ahead of my sources).  When I talk about predicting the draft class, I don’t mean player X went in X round at X position–that kind of precision simply isn’t practical (in the years I tracked it, the number was little higher than a quarter and when you subtract the first round it bottoms out completely).  These numbers and percentages are pointed at which players will be selected, period.  So back to the totals: in 2011 I picked 70% (again well ahead); 75% in 2012 (two points up on Red Line Report); 69% in 2013 (tied with Hockey Prospect‘s); and in 2014 I hit 71% (again tied with HP).  Overall I’m just over 71%.  For the sake of clarity, here’s the batting average of sources used over those years (excluding 2010 when I didn’t keep full data):
Me: 70%, 75%, 69%, 71% (avg 71%)
HP: 47%, 72%, 69%, 71% (avg 65%)
ISS: 60%, 70%, 65%, 62% (avg 64%)
FC: 44%, 71%, 68%, 69% (avg 63%)
RLR: 44%, 74%, 67%, 64% (avg 62%)

My method is to take the sum of reliable sources and produce a number (player X is ranked 15, 24, and 32, those numbers are then added and averaged). This gives me a number I can use to compare that player to others. I then engage in further comparative analysis—for instance, if player X has a higher aggregate score, but player Y has the higher median score, the latter is given the higher position (so 11, 30, 31, 38 vs 12, 13, 16, 69). It’s worth noting that there is a difference between trying to assess who the best player is versus who a team will draft.  My interest is in figuring out who will be taken and given the available data draft guides are the only real way for me to do so–the percentages above aren’t critiques of the guides (that’s a separate proposition), since they are assessing talent not the decision-making of GMs, but simply showing how closely their assessments match those of NHL teams.

Determining my Sources of Data

While a wide variety of media and bloggers produce draft predictions (especially for the first round), not all are created equal. My preference is for guides covering the entire draft (since that’s my purpose here), but otherwise simply based on results. For that purpose I use the International Scouting Service (ISS), Red Line Report (RLR), Future Considerations (FC), Hockey Prospect‘s (HP), and Central Scouting (CS). I have used other sources in the past (Corey Pronman, McKeen’sThe Hockey Writers, The Hockey News, etc).

An important note: both ISS and CS have inherent comparative problems. Central Scouting does not create a master list—players are divided into North American and European regions, and further subdivided into skaters and goaltenders.  As such I don’t integrate their rankings in creating an aggregate number, instead I use it largely to help mediate between players with close scores (it’s also worth noting NHL teams have shown little interest in CS’ European assessments). ISS, on the other hand, separates only their goaltenders into a separate ranking. This separate ranking used to have draft positions associated with them (by round), but for whatever reason this year ISS hasn’t done that, making it impossible to include them in the aggregate score.

Notes

-Acronyms: ISS (International Scouting Service), CS (Central Scouting), RLR (Red Line Report), HP (Hockey Prospect), and FC (Future Considerations)
-For convenience I’ve identified goaltenders and defenseman in the player comments; any player listed as “undersized” means they are officially listed as 5’9 or shorter
-Ranking depth: CS 371, RLR 316, ISS 220 (200 skaters and 20 goaltenders), HP 211 (plus 187 unranked), FC 211.
-This draft is considered strong and deep (although not as strong as the 2003 draft).

First Round

My sources have 23 players in common for this round, with a total of 38 players selected for it; all have the same player slotted for both the #1 and #2 picks.

1. Connor McDavid (1.00) – picked by all sources so there’s no analysis necessary
2. Jack Eichel (2.00) – Boston University player is also universally picked
3. Noah Hanifin (3.75) – the Boston College defenseman is slotted here by everyone (including CS) except ISS
4. Mitchell Marner (4.5) – in a dead heat with Strome (below); the crux seems to be whether a GM (Toronto) prefers a bigger man with slower feet, or a smaller one who is quick–I’m thinking the latter with the addition of Babcock in Leafs land, but I am picking against a slight preferences in sources (CS would normally be the tie-breaker)
5. Dylan Strome (4.5) – in a dead heat with Marner (above); CS prefers him; I have to wonder how much playing with McDavid has boosted his numbers
6. Ivan Provorov (7.0) – the Russian blueliner (currently plying his trade in the WHL) slots here comfortably, but the Russian factor remains a potential obstacle (although New Jersey, who currently has this pick, isn’t that shy with them); HP has him ranked lowest (9th)
7. Mikko Rantanen (8.5) – the top-ranked player in Europe according to everyone, the big Finnish winger’s rankings top out at this position, but he suffers far less variation than anyone who follows him
8. Lawson Crouse (8.75) – ISS has the OHL-winger at #4; there’s nothing bad said about the big man other than an implication that his ceiling is lower than those listed above him (scouts call him a safe pick)
9. Mathew Barzal (9.5) – the OHL-center is a bit like Rantanen in that he’s not ranked particularly high (8th from ISS is his best), but everyone except HP has him in the top-10 (they put him twelfth; CS also has him outside the top-10 in NA)
10. Pavel Zacha (10.5) – the Czech center (playing in the OHL) suffers from FC’s assessment (15th), but otherwise he places better than Werenski below (HP has him highest at 7th)
11. Zach Werenski (10.25) – FC puts the Michigan defenseman in the top-ten (7th), but otherwise he’s just outside that margin
12. Kyle Connor (14.25) – USHL-center gets a wide disparity of placements that puts him in a dead heat with Meier below; HP has him fifth
13. Timo Meier (14.25) – the Swiss-QMJHL winger has very steady numbers across the board
14. Travis Konecny (14.75) – the undersized OHL-center ranges from an FC high (11th) to an HP low (19th); there’s a universal concern about him being injury-prone (partially related to his size)
15. Nick Merkley (16.0) – the WHL-center has steady numbers ala Meier above
16. Evgeny Svechnikov (16.5) – the Russian-QMJHL winger also has a tight band of ratings
17. Denis Guryanov (18.0) – I’ve seen his name spelled with an “i” as well, but this spelling appears more often; the Russian winger spent most of this past season in the MHL and his ratings range from in the top-ten to the latter part of the first round (24th from both FC and ISS)
18. Jeremy Roy (18.25) – the QMJHL-defenseman is either near top-ten or towards the end of the round
19. Joel Eriksson Ek (19.25) – the Swedish center spent a lot of time with Farjestad in the SHL this season; HP has him highest (15th) while FC has the low (23rd)
20. Thomas Chabot (19.5) – ISS is highest on the QMJHL blueliner (#16)
21. Colin White (23.5) – USDP winger is the first player listed not selected by all sources to be a first-round pick; ISS has him highest at #15
22. Jakub Zboril (23.5) – despite the Czech QMJHL-defenseman having the same score as White above, his numbers are a bit more pedestrian (a high of #20 from FC); his higher CS ranking keeps him above Bittner below
23. Paul Bittner (24.0) – WHL-winger’s scores are split between the top-20 and the end of the first-round; ISS has the high (#17) and HP the low (#30)
24. Jansen Harkins (25.5) – there’s some variance in the rankings of the WHL-center; HP slots him in the second-round
25. Jake DeBrusk (26.75) – the WHL-winger is the last player picked by all sources to go in the first-round (all of them slot him towards the end of the round)
26. Brock Boeser (27.25) – USHL-center is a second-rounder for ISS (#35), but otherwise comfortably fits in the first, with HP putting him in the top-20 (#18)
27. Noah Juulsen (27.75) – WHL-defenseman has a high of #22 (HP) with FC putting him at #32
28. Ilya Samsonov (28.0) – Russian goaltender spent the year in the MHL; HP is the high (#21) with FC putting him in the second-round (#40)
29. Daniel Sprong (29.75) – QMJHL-winger is the first with only two first-round votes (FC and ISS)
30. Oliver Kylington (30.0) – Swedish defenseman has a very tight prediction band

Eight other players were slotted in the first-round; Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Bracco by two sources; Nicolas Meloche, Jack Roslovic, Alexander Dergachev, Gabriel Carlsson, Jacob Larsson, and Matej Tomek appeared in just one.  Bob McKenzie’s popular list differs from mine in terms of placement, although we have the exact same players in the top-ten; Carlo and Carlsson are in his first-round list, while Juulsen and Sprong are not.  For the remaining rounds I’ll keep details to a minimum unless there’s something specific to explain; it’s worth noting a number of players who follow have their overall number derailed by RLR (19 players, the majority European), which has me leaning towards removing them from my data collection.

Second Round

31. Brandon Carlo (31.75) – WHL defenseman
32. Jacob Larsson (45.75) – Swedish defenseman playing in their junior system
33. Nicolas Meloche (34.0) – QMJHL defenseman
34. Jack Roslovic (35.5) – USDP center
35. Jeremy Bracco (36.5) – an undersized USDP winger; he’s given a higher ceiling by those who like him (FC and ISS)
36. Anthony Beauvillier (36.75) – QMJHL winger
37. Filip Chlapik (39.5) – Czech center in the QMJHL
38. Gabriel Carlsson (40.5) – Swedish defenseman playing in their junior system
39. Vince Dunn (41.25) – OHL defenseman
40. MacKenzie Blackwood (43.66) – OHL goaltender
41. Yakov Trenin (44.75) – Russian QMJHL forward
42. Zachary Senyshyn (46.0) – OHL winger
43. Jordan Greenway (47.25) – USDP winger; HP’s low rating doesn’t impact where he lines up in the numbers
44. Thomas Novak (48.5) – USHL center
45. Travis Dermott (49.5) – OHL defenseman
46. Jonas Siegenthaler (54.25) – Swiss defenseman in the NLA
47. Christian Fischer (50.0) – USDP winger
48. Guillaume Brisebois (51.5) – QMJHL defenseman
49. Robin Kovacs (54.25) – Swedish winger in the Allsvenskan
50. Austin Wagner (51.75) – WHL winger
51. Nicolas Roy (54.5) – QMJHL center; HP has him in the third round
52. Julius Nattinen (57.0) – Finnish center in the Mestis; split opinions, with half putting him early in the second-round and the others slotting him in the third
53. Nikita Korostelev (59.25) – OHL winger
54. Matthew Spencer (59.75) – OHL defenseman
55. Alexander Dergachyov (60.75) – Russian center in the MHL; wide variance on his talent-level
56. Mitchell Stephens (66.75) – OHL center
57. Jeremy Lauzon (62.0) – QMJHL defenseman
58. Roope Hintz (62.25) – Finnish winger in the Liiga
59. Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson (63.75) – Swedish center in the USHL
60. Dennis Yan (64.25) – QMJHL winger; wide variance (early second to fourth)
61. Rasmus Andersson (67.0) – Swedish defenseman in the OHL; an ISS casualty, he’s the last player with three second-round selections

The second-round includes an extra-pick due to compensation for Chicago (they weren’t able to sign 2010 first-round pick Kevin Hayes).  Four other players received two second-round placements (Ryan GroppParker Wotherspoon, Alexandre Carrier, and sort-of Daniel Vladar–it’s hard to know what ISS goalie rankings really mean).  My list varies from Bob McKenzie’s with the two first-round players mentioned above along with Gropp, Vladar, Erik CernakGraham Knott, Callum BoothRyan Pilon, and Gabriel Gagne.  So our variance through the two rounds is 7 players.  Excluding McKenzie, another 22 players have at least one second-round placement.

Third Round

62. Ryan Gropp (67.25)
63. Gabriel Gagne (90.5)
64. Daniel Vladar (67.66)
65. Parker Wotherspoon (69.5) – defenseman; hurt by HP’s rating
66. Mitchell Vande Sompel (69.25) – defenseman
67. Erik Foley (70.0)
68. Matej Tomek (70.33) – goaltender; rankings are all over the place (from first to fourth round)
69. Alexandre Carrier (72.5) – defenseman
70. Keegan Kolesar (74.5) – beats Pilon on aggregate
71. Ryan Pilon (74.25) – defenseman
72. Graham Knott (75.75)
73. Callum Booth (74.66) – goaltender; other than Bob McKenzie no one has him in the second-round (he is CS’ #2)
74. Glenn Gawdin (79.75)
75. Erik Cernak (80.75) – defenseman; rankings all over the place
76. Michael Spacek (84.0) – hurt by HP’s rating
77. Brendan Guhle (80.75) – defenseman
78. Adam Musil (84.25)
79. Blake Speers (84.75) – beats Ahl on aggregate
80. Filip Ahl (84.75) – beats Looke on aggregate
81. Jens Looke (84.75)
82. Denis Malgin (86.75) – undersized
83. Ethan Bear (85.25)
84. A. J. Greer (88.0) – rankings all over the place
85. Thomas Schemitsch (89.5) – defenseman
86. Vladislav Gavrikov (93.25) – defenseman
87. Dante Salituro (93.0) – undersized; huge variance of opinion; the first player not in the draft for all sources
88. Dmytro Timashov (97.0) – undersized; beats Noel on aggregate
89. Kirill Kaprizov (98.75) – undersized; also beats Noel on aggregate
90. Nathan Noel (96.75)
91. Sami Niku (100.25) – defenseman

Fourth Round

92. Connor Hobbs (95.66) – defenseman; despite decent ranks from elsewhere, HP doesn’t have him in the draft
93. Brent Gates (101.5)
94. Kyle Capobianco (102.5) – defenseman
95. Andrew Mangiapane (103.0)
96. Pavel Karnaukhov (104.0)
97. Simon Bourque (105.25) – defenseman beats Aho on aggregate
98. Sebastian Aho (104.75) – worth noting this is the Finnish forward, not the Swedish defenseman also eligible for the draft with the exact same name
99. Kevin Stenlund (108.0)
100. Pius Suter (108.0)
101. Dennis Gilbert (110.75) – defenseman
102. Jesper Lindgren (110.75) – defenseman
103. Joseph Cecconi (110.75)
104. Mathieu Joseph (106.66) – only listed by three sources
105. Tyler Soy (111.75)
106. Samuel Montembeault (114.66) – goaltender; he’s difficult to slot given ISS’ meaningless ranking
107. Andrew Nielsen (115.25) – defenseman
108. Conor Garlard (116.75) – undersized
109. Jonne Tammela (119.0) – gets the edge of Borgen by his consistent rankings
110. Will Borgen (117.33) – rankings are all over the place, including not being listed by one source
111. Cooper Marody (122.0) – beats Gabrielle on aggregate
112. Jesse Gabrielle (121.0) – beats Bednard on aggregate
113. Ryan Bednard (119.0) – goaltender
114. Adam Marsh (123.5)
115. Brendan Warren (124.0) – rankings are all over the place
116. Anthony Richard (124.0) – undersized
117. Brad Morrison (125.0) – divided opinions on him
118. John Marino (125.75) – defenseman; beats Sideroff on aggregate
119. David Kase (148.25) – undersized
120. Deven Sideroff (125.25) – similar split as Morrison above
121. Anthony Cirelli (125.33) – wildly variant rankings and not listed by one source

Fifth Round

122. Ales Stezka (126.5) – goaltender; beats Herbst on aggregate
123. Liam Herbst (126.0) – goaltender
124. Jack Sadek (126.75) – defenseman; widely divergent opinions on him
125. Loik Leveille (128.75) – defenseman; as above
126. Radovan Bondra (131.75) – beats Rykov on aggregate
127. Egor Rykov (129.0) – defenseman; not listed by one source
128. Jake Massie (129.66) – defenseman; not listed by one source
129. Jean-Christophe Beaudin (130.33) – not listed by one source; HP has him in the second-round
130. Dryden Hunt (131.75) – very tight ratings for this late in the draft
131. Samuel Dove-McFalls (132) – not listed by one source
132. Nikita Pavlychev (134.66) – not listed by one source
133. Chaz Reddekopp (135.75)
134. Nicholas Boka (137.75) – defenseman; beats Saarijarvi on aggregate
135. Vili Saarijarvi (136.66) – undersized; defenseman; not listed by one source
136. Adin Hill (139.33) – goaltender; split opinions on him
137. Aleksi Saarela (139.5)
138. Veeti Vainio (140.5) – defenseman; split opinions where he’s either a third-rounder or a late pick
139. Christian Jaros (141.25) – defenseman; widely divergent opinions
140. Veini Vehvilainen (143.33) – goaltender
141. Matt Bradley (145.0) – not listed by one source, but everyone who does puts him in this round
142. Grant Gabriele (145.66) – defenseman
143. Troy Terry (145.75) – widely divergent opinions
144. Marcus Vela (148.25) – very similar rankings for him
145. Michael McNiven (152.66) – goaltender; gets a boost from HP
146. Gustav Bouramman (153.33) – defenseman; not listed by one source
147. Felix Sandstrom (155.0) – goaltender; rankings all over the place
148. Lukas Jasek (156.25) – three sources slot him in the fifth
149. Jeremiah Addison (156.5) – beats Askew on aggregate
150. Cameron Askew (156.5) – varied opinions
151. David Cotton (157.75) – as above (HP is high on him)

This is the first round where we start to run out of players unanimously selected to be taken in the draft; that situation only gets more exaggerated the deeper we go.  At this point only 5 players remain whom all sources agree should be taken in the draft (Kielly, Huska, Gennaro, McBride, and Lalonde; as such I won’t note every occasion where a player isn’t universally selected going forward).

Sixth Round

I’ve privileged players who appear in three or four sources over those in just two (the latter begin at #174).

152. Cavan Fitzgerald (180.75) – defenseman
153. Stephen Desrocher (159.0) – defenseman
154. Justin Lemcke (196.25) – defenseman
155. Ryan Larkin (161.66) – goaltender; CS gives him the edge over Pearson
156. Chase Pearson (161.66)
157. Lucas Carlsson (164.66) – defenseman; beats Hansson on aggregate
158. Petter Hansson (164.33) – defenseman
159. Jake Jaremko (166.33) – undersized; almost slotted in the exact same spot by the three who rank him
160. Adam Gaudette (169.25)
161. Samuel Laberge (167.0)
162. Hayden McCool (170.5) – divergent opinions on him
163. Sebastian Aho (173.66) – undersized; the Swedish defenseman is the #13 player in Europe according to CS
164. Kameron Kielly (175.25)
165. Adam Huska (175.66) – goaltender
166. Caleb Jones (179.5) – defenseman; beats Freytag on aggregate
167. Matthew Freytag (176.66)
168. Matteo Gennaro (182.0) – beats Fortin on aggregate
169. Alexandre Fortin (181.33)
170. Karch Bachman (186.0) – beats McBride on aggregate
171. Nick McBride (185.33) – goaltender
172. Bradley Lalonde (189.25) – defenseman; the last player considered draft-worthy by all sources
173. Alexandre Alain (201.5) – the last player picked by three non-CS sources
174. Chris Martenet (89.0) – defenseman; marks the beginning of players with just two non-CS sources behind them
175. Ryan Zuhlsdorf (111.0)
176. Austin Strand (121.5) – defenseman
177. Nikolai Chebykin (123.0) – unranked by CS
178. Jason Bell (126.5) – defenseman
179. Joni Tuulola (128.75) – defenseman; edges Reilly via his CS ranking
180. Will Reilly (128.0) – defenseman
181. Colton White (136.0)

The scouting consensus falls apart here as the various guides look for homeruns, surprises, and what not.  Because of the shortage of numbers it’s easy for a player to benefit from one good ranking, which makes the assessments hard to gauge.

Seventh Round

182. Fredrik Forsberg (182.66)
183. Tate Olson (137.0) – not ranked by CS
184. Roy Radke (142.0)
185. Alexander Younan (149.0) – higher CS score than Wilkie
186. Christopher Wilkie (149.0)
187. Tyson Baille (142.5) – unranked by CS
188. Martins Dzierkals (143.0) – unranked by CS
189. Artyom Volkov (176.33) – defenseman; #22 player from Europe according to CS
190. Giorgio Estephan (170.66)
191. Sebastien Olsson (152.5) – unranked by CS
192. David Henley (156.5) – gets the nod via his CS rank
193. Tim McGauley (153.5)
194. Sergei Zborovsky (161.0) – defenseman; edges Murray/Laczynski via CS
195. Troy Murray (159.5) – defenseman; not ranked by CS
196. Tanner Laczynski (161.0) – not ranked by CS
197. Luke Philp (166.0)
198. Kirill Pilipenko (166.5) – undersized; not ranked by CS
199. Mikhail Vorobyov (169.0) – beats Davis via his CS rank
200. Vladimir Tkachev (186.66) – undersized
201. Kevin Davis (169.0) – defenseman
202. Connor Ingram (170.5) – goaltender
203. Ryan Shea (176.0) – defenseman
204. Adam Helewka (176.5) – not ranked by CS
205. Lukas Vejdemo (179.0)
206. Ken Appleby (180.0) – goaltender; not ranked by CS
207. Philippe Myers (182.0) – defenseman
208. Taggart Corriveau (186.0) – beats Burke via CS
209. Callahan Burke (184.0) – not ranked by CS
210. Joe Gatenby (189.0) – defenseman
211. Jorgen Van Pottelbeurghe (198.0) – #5 goaltender in Europe via CS

Here are the remaining players (6) picked by two non-CS sources for the draft: Liam Dunda (190.0), Brandon Lindberg (191.5), Cameron Lizotte (198.5), Jack McNeely (202.33), Dmitri Zhukenov (205.0), and Devante Stephens (224.66).  Also of note, here are players picked for the third or fourth round by just one source: Hughes (3rd), Yudin (3rd), Masonius, Sidorov, Bukarts, Sharipzyanov, Schweri, Pfiefer, Tiffels, Fiala, Paigin, Afonasyevsky, Leandersson, Karrer, Olhaver, and Fronk.  Additionally, these are the highest CS European selections that didn’t make it: Dufek (#28) and Dvorak (#35).  Three goaltenders from both the CS NA and EU top-ten weren’t selected (#8 the highest in NA, Robinson, and #7 in EU, Godla).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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