The Sens Off-Season (continued)

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We are nearing the end of dead time in the hockey world so I want to continue my previous article looking at the Sens off-season. Here are their moves since then:

July 8 – Sign Hubert Labrie to a  1-year, AHL-deal
July 10 – Sign Jack Dougherty to a 1-year, AHL-deal
July 15 – Re-sign Michael Carcone to a  2-year, 2-way contract (his rights acquired in the Cody Ceci trade); sign first-rounder Lassi Thomson to an ELC
July 16 – Trade Zack Smith for Artyom Anisimov (Chicago)
July 23 – Sign Trent Bourque to a 1-year, AHL-deal
July 24 – Sign Alex Dubeau to a 1-year, AHL-deal
July 25 – Sign Michael Brodzinski to a 1-year, AHL-deal
July 30 – Trade Mike Condon for Ryan Callanhan‘s contract

The Anisimov trade has been covered in detail and we all know the main reason the deal was made was to save money (all hail the Melnykian budget). I was never a big Smith fan, but whether Anisimov is actually an upgrade is debatable–in a way it doesn’t matter, since winning isn’t the point of the upcoming season. The Condon deal is another that clears paid salary, as well as rationalizing the crowded crease throughout the org.

I like the Carcone signing (as I went over last time) and putting him on a two-way makes him a safe investment. Dubeau is yet another CIS, University of New Brunswick alum, this time in the net (how much scouting time does the org dump into this league?)–he had a few games in the ECHL last season. As signings go, this seems like a fairly safe risk since he’ll largely be in Brampton.

Signing Labrie, Dougherty, and Bourque is a bad joke–there’s no justification for any of them. Here are their career numbers: 411-12-51-63 0.15, 197-5-33-38 0.19, and 272-4-45-49 0.18. These are terrible, terrible numbers–Andreas Englund numbers–this is the kind of production available from virtually any ECHL call-up if you play them enough. None of these players can produce or move the puck–by default they fit the headache-inducing “good-in-the-corners/room” guys who fail the organization over and over again. You can go through the BSens history ever since Bryan Murray arrived (as I have done) and these players hurt the team every single time. The only hope fans can have is that at least one of them can kill penalties (ala LaBate, who is a slightly better version of them), but they are a waste of money and roster spots. All they accomplish for the org is filling out a thin blueline.

An unrelated sports note: I’m bamboozled how many hockey people are baseball fans (especially given its long decline). As a sport, baseball is less intense than chess, but there are sitll people who love watching guys pumped full of HGH swinging their bat a few times over five hours.

In light of the revelations about Postmedia I wanted to reference my article from 2018 in terms of Paul Godfrey’s political leanings and their inevitable impact on the corporation. The leak isn’t surprising, but it’s good to know that Godfrey is pushing to have a Fox News of the north (for those who don’t know Postmedia owns all the local Ottawa papers).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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Thoughts on the Sens Off-Season

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One of these days I’ll update my full look at Pierre Dorion’s trade history, but that’s not my focus here. I’m interested in exploring what’s occurred in the off-season. I’ve always preferred a chronological approach in my explorations, so we’ll start there (the regular season ended April 6th):

[Max Veronneau, Joey Daccord, Johnny Gruden, Chris Clappterton (AHL), and Mile Gendron (AHL) all signed ELC’s prior to this period]
May 7 – Nicolas Ruszkowski steps down as COO of the team
May 10 – Sign Swedish free agent Olle Alsing to a 2-year ELC
May 23 – Toronto assistant coach D. J. Smith is hired as the new head coach (responsible for the worst parts of Toronto’s system–defense and PK)–he reminds me a little of Cory Clouston
May 27 – Sign Josh Norris (late first-rounder acquired in the Erik Karlsson deal) to an ELC
May 29 – Re-sign Anders Nilsson to a 2-year deal
June 6 – Former Islander head coach Jack Capuano is brought in as an assistant coach
June 10 – Sign free agent defenseman (and former failed LA pick) Nick Ebert out of the SHL (1 year, 2-way deal)
June 13 – Re-sign Morgan Klimchuk (acquired in the Gabriel Gagne deal) to a 1-year, 2-way deal
June 17 – Re-sign Anthony Duclair (acquired in the Matt Duchene trade) to a 1-year deal
June 18 – Re-sign Andreas Englund to a 1-year, 2-way contract
June 19 – Re-sign Marcus Hogberg to a 2-year deal (the first year is 2-way)
June 21/22 – A subpar draft performance
June 25 – Re-sign Cody Goloubef (acquired in the Paul Carey deal) to a 1-year, 2-way contract
June 27 – Re-sign Jack Rodewald to a 1-year, 2-way deal; re-sign Joseph LaBate to a 1-year, AHL-deal
June 29 – Re-sign Jordan Murray to a 1-year, AHL-deal
June 30 – David Payne is brought in as an assistant coach
July 1 – Sign free agent forward (and former Phoenix pick) Jordan Szwarz to a 1-year, 2-way deal
July 1 – Trade Cody Ceci, Ben Harpur, Aaron Luchuk, and the 3rd-round pick they received from Columbus in the Duchene trade to Toronto for Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Brown, and Michael Carcone; signed free agents Ron Hainsey (!) and Tyler Ennis
July 2 – Re-sign Nick Paul to a 1-year, 2-way contract
July 4 – Re-sign Christian Wolanin to a 2-year deal (the first 2-way)

Despite removing the loathed Ceci/Harpur (along with yet another failed CHL signee in Luchuk–the org continues to bat .000 with FA CHLers, cf), the response to the deal was massively negative. Even Varada, who just a few months ago was happily defending the org, attacked their decision. The reason for the backlash? Pretty simple: Zaitsev is one of the few players as bad as Ceci and he’s on a bad deal, but the response is less about Zaitsev himself and more what he represents: that the org isn’t learning. For the most part I agree with the backlash–finally dumping the player you thought was better than Taylor Hall (!) for someone poorly regarded isn’t a win–it suggests the theory that trading Ceci was mostly about staying within the Melnykian budget is true. The org’s unwillingness to progressively evolve is apparent in its frequent sneers at analytics and incessant talk about the ‘good-in-the-corners’ guys who last mattered in the clutch-and-grab era. With that said, there have been changes in their approach that I’ve noticed.

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Within an org where the leader (Dorion) believes he’s a genius and both rejects and resents being questioned (with excuses for all his various disasters–it’s never his fault), what could possibly change?
1. Moving away from skilled players in later rounds of the draft (the focus being on defense and intangibles); not only did Dorion mention this back in September, but it’s readily apparent in their last two drafts (2019 and 2018)–this change is the one most in line with Pierre’s philosophy, so it’s not surprising (just disappointing)
2. A willingness to roll the dice on smaller, skilled players in free agency and trades (Aaron Luchuk, Andrew Sturtz, Erik Brannstrom, Vitali Abramov, etc); this despite an absolute refusal to pick smaller players in the draft–it’s not easy to parse this approach, but the commonality is by doing this they are committed to fewer years of development, so they can assess and move on more quickly than if they’d drafted the player themselves (the problem with this approach is that you can never get the best small players without a cost in assets)
3. More conservatism in their contracts with unproven low to mid-tier prospects; this is a bit less absolute in its application, but the deal given by the org to favourite Jack Rodewald is reasonable, nor did they immediately assume Nick Paul‘s AHL-numbers meant he was NHL-ready; some of this can be attributed to the almighty Melnykian budget, but it’s certainly a change from even last year when Randy Lee was handing out two-year contracts to dundering pylon Patrick Sieloff (or the previous deal with fumbling mighty mouse Erik Burgdoerfer)
4. Greater willingness to cut bait with players who aren’t working out; while Dorion might not admit mistakes publicly, he has dumped favourites when it became painfully apparent they didn’t make the grade (this doesn’t absolve his belief in them in the first place)–getting rid of spare tire Max McCormick, lumbering Ben Harpur, highly touted Gabriel Gagne (who they gave up two second rounders to pick), the aforementioned Sieloff (who helped end Clarke MacArthur’s career), OHL-star Luchuk, etc

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There’s not much I can add to Nichols’ breakdown of Zaitsev, so let me pick a key quote:

It is incredible how eerily similar the on-ice results [of Ceci and Zaitsev] are

Albeit Zaitsev is 27, won’t get better, and is signed long term. This signing, as many others have pointed out, may be a sop to the new head coach. Dorion has shown a tendency to placate his coaches with roster moves (eg Tom Pyatt) and this certainly fits that pattern.

As for Connor Brown:

a decent forward in his prime years who should be able to play up in Ottawa’s lineup and hopefully benefit and pad his offensive numbers with more ice time and power play opportunities. … There is some decent value there, but as an impending restricted free agent next summer, it’s hard to envision Brown as the kind of long-term fit for the rebuilding effort. He could be an ideal pump-and-dump candidate that sees the organization flip him for future assets down the road.

With the NHL-side out of the way, what about the minor league acquisitions? I’ll echo what scouts said about Olle Alsing when he was draft-eligible:

decent puck skills, a good passer, solid defensively, but concerns about his board/body play

He’s not a blueliner whose numbers stand out (they actually fell considerably this season over last); on paper he looks like a depth-project, although he may be useful at the AHL-level.

What about Michael Carcone? He’s an undrafted QMJHLer (a Dorion specialty) who was signed as a free agent by Vancouver and then acquired by the Leafs for Josh Leivo. An offensive player, here’s his ELC arc (keeping in mind I have no idea how coaching staffs used him): 0.29, 0.39, 0.70. That’s a good trend, although we have no assurance what his ceiling is. Much like Alsing above, the only scouting report I have for him when he was draft-eligible (2016) comes from Hockey Prospect (who didn’t rank him, but said this):

good skater with a good burst of speed and great agility, making him tough to contain for opposing defenders with his ability to make quick turns to avoid opponents. He’s a shooter first and has a good wrist shot that is very accurate, and he knows how to pick his corners. There’s a good, quick release on his shot and he can score from different locations in the offensive zone. On the power play, he can score in front or at the side of the net, even from the half-wall. His vision is underrated, as you always think goal scorer with Carcone but he sees the ice well enough to make quick decisions with the puck. He has good puck skills and is good in one-on-one confrontations; his quick agile hands handle the puck well. He’s not big and his size could be a problem at the next level, as he will need to add some strength. He struggled at the end of the season and lost his goal scoring title following a scoring drought in the last stretch of the year. He’s a bit of one-dimensional player, as he will need to score at the next level to achieve success.

This fits the above idea of another org taking the risk on a smaller player before the Sens grab him; I like picking him up–I like skill–so if (when?) the team re-signs him, it will be interesting to watch his progress in Belleville.

I have no idea why the team signed Hainsey–cap floor? Regardless, it’s a one-year deal in a season where the team isn’t going to win, so the complaint would be ice-time for a younger player (assuming that D. J. Smith would play kids extensively–something Sens coaches are generally reluctant to do). The signing might be another sop to the new coach.

As for Tyler Ennis, he’s cheap, but has been a shadow of himself since the 2015-16 season and I have no idea what to expect from him. Both he and Hainsey above are meant to provide the “veteran savvy” the org thinks is so much of–a bit like a rabbit’s foot ensuring good luck….

As for the two veteran AHL acquisitions, Nick Ebert‘s AHL-numbers aren’t that great, although he was decent in the SHL (something that makes sense given his limitations–scouts had issues with his decision-making and hockey sense and there’s more time to make decisions on the larger ice surface). I’ve long bemoaned the org’s decisions with veteran blueliners, favouring talentless pluggers (cf Sieloff above), but at least the idea is for Ebert to move the puck.

As for Jordan Szwarz, at 28 there’s nothing new to learn about him with over 400 AHL games under his belt. He seems to just be starting to decline (his last three seasons 0.83, 0.92, 0.67), but even so he’ll add some stability to a young Belleville squad; what he’s not is a top-tier add like Paul Carey was last off-season.

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What can we make of those re-signed? I suspect the three-headed rotation in the NHL is related to a lack of confidence that either Condon or Anderson can stay healthy (why they didn’t buyout Condon is a mystery to us all, unless they plan to trade him or want Hogberg to spend most of his time in the AHL); Joey Daccord looks destined for the ECHL, which isn’t inherently a bad thing. Nilsson seems like a good bridge for when Anderson departs and adds some insurance if Hogberg isn’t ready for prime time next season.

Anthony Duclair is the kind of risk you can take in a rebuild. Is he likely to change from his years in Columbus? No, but winning isn’t what’s important this season, so giving him that opportunity is an acceptable risk.

Both the Hogberg and Wolanin deals are conservative–they seem designed to protect against risk (the Sens are risk-averse). These deals mean both players can play in Belleville this season and develop (my preference for both), but it also means the team will pay much more next contract if they develop as expected.

Unlike much of the fanbase, I’m quite conservative in my feelings about the big seasons from Rodewald and Paul, particularly with both fading down the stretch (the latter completely while the former regressed to the mean). That said, if you aren’t going to trade them while their value is high, re-signing them to these kinds of contracts makes sense.

I have concerns about AHL-vet Goloubef, whose production immediately regressed to the mean with Belleville and he’s never been an outstanding AHL-player. He’s still seems better than most veteran d-men the org has signed historically, however.

I’m fine with them rolling the dice on Klimchuk–his AHL numbers aren’t outstanding (0.65, 0.64, 0.39), but he has produced and isn’t taking up a veteran contract.

Then we have a signing that has the org’s stubborn fingerprints all over it: Andreas Englund. I’ve watched him bumble around most of his AHL career and he does nothing well, he’s just big. He’s supposed to be a good defender, but he’s not, and his decision-making and hands are terrible. The only positive you can squeeze out of this is that it’s just a one-year (two-way) deal–but really, there’s no reason to keep him.

Bringing back Jordan Murray on an AHL-deal is fine (I thought he’d crash and burn this past season, but he didn’t, even though he remains a defensive nightmare), but I wasn’t happy with re-signing LaBate–he’s not usefully gritty (as in, he doesn’t protect his teammates, nor does his mucking result in offence), but he is a good PKer (or, at least, he was this season). So, unlike Englund, he does at least something well.

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Generally speaking, debating strangers on social media is a waste of time–it’s a poor platform for discussion and most people aren’t interested in good faith arguments (it’s either about “winning” the debate or its an argument based on emotion and neither gets you anywhere). I got drawn into one of these via my review of Ottawa’s 2019 draft because I wasn’t aware (at first) that’s what I was in for. My article couldn’t be more innocuous (it summarizes the views of scouts, the org’s trends, with some opinion from me), so how did this result in an argument?

The initial argument:
1. Claimed a THN (The Hockey News) article said the Sens are the second best in the league at finding NHL players after the second round (he didn’t link it and I can’t find it, but let’s accept it exists); when asked for context he said the article was based on the Sens draft history from 2000-18. In the absence of the article I had no idea what criteria they were using to define “NHL player”–just playing games (Ben Harpur?), impactful players, or what (I’ve tackled draft success previously)? I pointed out to him that the timeframe used goes through multiple changes of GMs and scouts, as well as ownership, and he admitted this mattered without changing his argument. I pointed out that Pierre Dorion’s comments in September echoed my conclusion about the draft (less skill, more character), but this (to him) was Dorion engaging in some kind of 48-D, underwater backgammon strategy to fool other NHL teams by doing… exactly what he said? The argument then became:
2. The Sens have a successful scouting track record, therefore they should not be questioned. He never justified the former with comparative analysis, or specified why (even if true) they shouldn’t be questioned, but he then said that the opinions of anonymous scouts and media personalities aren’t as good as the team’s (no justification for that idea either). I pointed out to him that the scouts aren’t anonymous, nor had I used media personalities (he’s referring to the Bob McKenzie draft article, but as I explained to him, Bob’s list comes from a group of NHL scouts). He then said scouts not employed by an NHL team don’t have opinions as worthy as those who are–putting aside the terrible logic, he’s actually refuting his own argument since Bob’s information is from current NHL scouts. At this point I stopped talking to him, because it was clear he was simply going to reject anything I said that didn’t fit his narrative.

I’ve gone through all of this thoroughly because this kind of thinking comes up all the time. I can’t figure out if people arrive at this place mentally through absorbing team propaganda or if they think liking a team means uncritical enthusiasm. Maybe it’s like politics where, for many, there’s not a choice, just a tradition to follow. Regardless, I’m not sure what one can do to elucidate ones views to someone like this, but I hate to think it’s impossible to get through to some intransigent fans.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators Development Camp Invitees

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It’s always fun looking at which free agents the Sens invited to their development camp, as occasionally these players are signed (Parker Kelly is the most recent example; more commonly players will get invited to the AHL-camp in the fall):

Defense

Jonathan Aspirot DL DOB 1999 QMJHL 57-12-23-35 0.61
Returns from his invite to the camp last year; the most distinguishing thing about him are his penalty minutes and we know the org loves that stat.

Alexis Binner DL DOB 1998 NCAA 32-2-9-11 0.34
Left the NCAA early (Maine) to sign with Vasterviks in the Allsvenskan. Back in 2018 HP described him as offensively limited with poor hockey sense, but good defensively (as we know, the org believes the latter is what’s important).

Trenton Bourque DL DOB 1998 OHL 57-4-8-12 0.21
Inexplicably drafted by St. Louis (6-175/17)–strikes me as a warm body to fill out the dev camp roster.

Clay Hanus DL DOB 2001 WHL 68-8-19-27 0.39
HP was very high on him for this year’s draft (fourth-round), with FC putting him in the sixth and McKeen’s not listing him. As someone still draft-eligible there’s not much to explore here.

Connor McDonald DR DOB 1999 WHL 68-19-31-50 0.73
Back in 2017 HP profiled him, calling him a good defensive player who was adequate offensively.

Jordan Power DL DOB 2001 USHL 58-3-15-18 0.31
Committed to St. Lawrence; these are very weak USHL numbers, but he did put up career high PIMs (he also played for Rockland the previous season, so fits the local boy niche).

Cade Townend DL DOB 1999 CCHL 56-13-25-38 0.67
Committed to Mercyhurst; another local boy (playing for Carleton Place)–these are unexciting, tier-2 numbers.

Nicholas Walsh DR DOB 1997 Cdn U 29-6-23-29 1.00
5’10 former QMJHLer had a good season in the Canadian University system (for context a top University season is in the 1.4+ PPG range). Over the last few years the org has dug deep into the USports scene looking for prospects for the AHL (Jordan Murray etc), so where he’s playing won’t hurt his prospects.

Forwards

Stephen Anderson RWDOB 1994 Cdn U 30-12-21-33 1.10
Another former QMJHLer in the University system (his numbers aren’t overwhelming, see above).

Jean-Christophe Beaudin C/RW DOB 1997 AHL 62-7-9-16 0.25
Inexplicably played 20 games with Belleville this past season (after doing the same for Colorado); he’s a failed Avalanche draft pick (3-71/15); he could be useful in Brampton, but the org seems to like him quite a bit, so it’s possible he’ll get an AHL-deal. [I was reminded he had a year left on his ELC when the Sens picked him up when they dumped Max McCormick, explaining both the games played and, presumably, the invite.]

Zachary Okabe RW DOB 2001 AJHL 60-31-27-58 0.96
5’9; he’s committed to St. Cloud and was draft-eligible this season (no one had him selected or provided a profile).

Mark Simpson C/LW DOB 1995 Cdn U 30-10-12-22 0.73
Yet another former QMJHLer playing in the USport ecosystem; he’s 6’6, which I think is the primary reason he’s here (no draft guide discussed or listed him when eligible).

What are our patterns? A lot of defensemen (a need in the minors); most of these players are offensively limited, but defensively sound; there’s very strong representation from the QMJHL (4) and local boys (2). The major change from last year is a reduction in the number of college players.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing Ottawa’s 2019 Draft

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Time to take a look at the draft that was (my predictions, based largely on the outside scouting consensus, crashed and burned). The org did, however, stick to its tendencies: they drafted no one under 6’0; they picked a French-Canadian; they picked from the American development leagues; and the only European from Europe was from Sweden. Dorion also stuck to his idiotic comment back in September that the org wouldn’t aim for skill in the later rounds because it was too risky–so for those of you who raised your eyebrows at pluggers like Kastelic, it is at least consistent with what we were told–who wants to take a shot at a Mark Stone or Mike Hoffman when you can get a steady performer like Vincent DunnJeff Costello, or Max McCormick?

1-19 Lassi Thomson (DR) WHL 63-17-24-41 0.65

The Sens gave up the 4th overall pick (Bowen Byram) to Colorado to win big with Matt Duchene–when that blew-up in their face they sent Duchene to Columbus and this pick was part of the return. There’s no question that, at least in terms of the publicly available scouting consensus, he was picked early (Hockey Prospect had him highest at #28 among the sources I use). There’s lot’s of scouting material on him, with HP’s the most thorough:

A versatile two-way defenseman whose best attribute is his ability to excel in transition, where he is a threat both as a skater and using the full width and length of the ice as a passer. His skating is characterized by a fluid stride and impressive edges which allowed him to routinely peel-off pressure in his own-end of the ice, as well as cut aggressively down the wings which led to him generating consistent scoring chances off the rush. His straight-line speed and agility allow him to knife through the neutral zone once he gets going, but he could use extra power so that he can further increase his straight-line speed. His passing ability features sharp-outlet passes that he’s capable of generating under-pressure and when in motion, but there were games where he had some inconsistencies which led to unforced icing’s and turnovers as well. As a result, we wouldn’t label Lassi as a high-end playmaker but a good one. He does have tools that allow him to compensate when his passing isn’t consistent, including a set of hands and skill level that are above-average, which gives him the ability to beat the first forechecker. Another important aspect to Lassi’s game is his confidence when handling the puck under-pressure, he likes becoming the primary option when driving play through the neutral-zone and isn’t afraid to challenge the defense. Lastly, Thomson processes the play at a good level, this extends to when he is carrying the puck while going at top-speeds, where he showed the ability to react to closed and open skating lanes quickly. In the offensive-end and when quarterbacking the powerplay, Lassi showed several impressive tools that allowed him to finish second in rookie scoring for WHL defenseman. His confidence and skating extend to the offensive-line, where he showed poise, patience, and lateral mobility that allows him to re-open and readjust both his passing and shooting lanes while under pressure at a high-rate. When Lassi was given or created openings, he rarely showed high-end vision but still made calculated one-touch passes and was an efficient distributor. However, it’s his slapshot that stood out the most in our viewings. His slapshot features a reduced wind-up, fluid mechanics, and a good amount of velocity given his build. Lastly, his shots were accurate, specifically for the amount of power he can generate behind them. Defensively, Thomson showed a good combination of defensive awareness and physicality. He can be prone to shifts where things don’t go his way, which leads to multiple clumsy and careless plays but he also displayed a good compete level and was willing to attempt to recover on defensive errors for the most part. He had further inconsistencies at tracking players without the puck as he sometimes lost his man on plays out of the corner and was occasionally late getting into shooting lanes. Furthermore, although aspects of his defense need work, he did show determination, grit, and the willingness to play larger than his size along the boards when the play called for it. Lastly, he was capable of making quick-decisions below the goal-line during forechecking sequences, both with and without the puck. Overall, [he] had a solid first year in North-America, projecting to be a potential top-four, puck-rushing defenseman who could slot in as a 2nd-powerplay option if his development goes well. For him to make it at the pro-levels, he will need to continue to develop his defensive-reads and become more consistent with his puck-management.

On their 3-9 scale they gave him a 6 for hockey sense and 7 for compete, skill, and skating. McKeen’s, much more briefly, echoes the above, saying the limiting factor is that he doesn’t have any particular high end skill that stands out; FC is concerned about his defensive play without the puck and believes he lacks urgency.

2-32 Shane Pinto (CR) USHL 56-28-31-59 1.05

The Sens like drafting from the USHL and that’s where they went for this pick (he’s committed to North Dakota). Just like Thomson, he was picked ahead of projections (mine had him split between a second or fourth-round pick; HP again had him highest at #44). Here’s HP’s breakdown of Pinto:

Strong, adaptable offensive forward. Pinto is one of the top players in the USHL not playing for the USNTDP. With his slick hands, wrist shot and heady playmaking ability, he shows good offensive potential. He consistently turned in a strong effort whether on first place Tri-City or last place Lincoln. He posted points in 75% of the games he played this season and despite leaving Lincoln 30 games into the 62-game docket, even at season’s end, he’s still the team leader in points – no one passed him. He acclimated into the robust Tri-City lineup very well midway through the season. His role on the power play was altered though. With Ronnie Attard [3-72 Phi] as the triggerman, Pinto was forced into a net-front and puck retriever role which he seemed to embrace despite it limiting his puck touches in open space. One thing it did show off is Pinto’s phenomenal hand-eye coordination. Between deflections and pass acceptances, he seems to never fail to get a stick on the puck. Shane’s a thick player who can be tough to move from the front of the net or the slot. He wins a lot of puck battles with his timing and body positioning. Despite only being an average skater with a long stride, Pinto does have good closing speed which might be enough to bump him up a half point. He is carried primarily by his ability to anticipate plays. He finds some sneaky passing lanes to unleash crisp passes through. He can finish with authority from in-close or mid-range with his powerful wrist shot and snappy release. Despite his size, he doesn’t seem like a naturally physical player but he will make a hit to help out defensively. His defensive play is inconsistent overall, some nights he seems more attentive to it than others. On the plus side, he is an expert in the dot and does a good job communicating to teammates what he wants to have happen off the draw. He was mostly used at center this year, but has shown the ability to play the wing. Pinto didn’t look out of place no matter what team or situation he was put in or on. Going from being a one-man show on a desolate Lincoln team, to having to fit into the best team in the league thereafter: he really looked the part all season. He was in on half of all of Tri-City’s playoff goals. Between his balanced attacking tools, size and hockey IQ, this player has all the makings of being very useful to a pro organization.

On their 3-9 scale he’s a 6 for hockey sense, compete, and skill, with a 7 for skating. FC says his skating is average, doesn’t like his faceoff ability or his hustle after it (the opposite of HP above), and that defensively he’s a mixed bag (largely based on his positional play); McKeen’s two-sentence profile doesn’t add anything new.

2-37 Mads Sogaard (G) WHL .921 2.64

This is the New York Rangers’ pick acquired from Carolina in exchange for 2-44 (via Florida by way of San Jose in the Erik Karlsson deal; Jamieson Rees) and 3-83 (Pittsburgh via the Derick Brassard trade; Anttoni Honka). The big Dane shared goaltending duties with failed Sens pick Jordan Hollett (6-183/17), meaning he received far more exposure than would be usual. Like the above players, he was picked ahead of most projections (HP said he’s a late first to early second-rounder, but that range is only found in their profile of him as they cut goaltenders from their basic rankings). HP’s profile is huge, but these are the key points:

It’s rare to find a goalie that’s been gifted with the reflexes and subsequent reaction-time he possesses at his size. … When dropping into his butterfly, he’s adept at reversing out of the movement, giving him the necessary ingredients to make back-to-back saves while transitioning into and out of the technique. … Mads does have the tendency on some sequences to shrink into himself, specifically by not keeping his core activated which doesn’t allow him to maintain his posture. … his butterfly doesn’t contain many seams for shots to leak through; it’s tightly-sealed off in most games which allowed him to absorb rebounds at a plus rate when we viewed him. Usually when Sogaard let’s in a goal from his butterfly, it’s a by-product of over-committing on a shot which gives him less opportunity to react when transitioning into it. Another important aspect when discussing Mads butterfly is in relation to his hockey-sense. … Sogaard has demonstrated a good sense for when a shot is getting blocked in a lane. This allows him to stay more upright, which prevents him from overusing the technique. … Sogaard’s hockey-sense [is] not as high-end as [Spencer] Knight’s [1-13 Flo] but it’s still well above-average. He’s good at recognizing the intent of shooters in-tight to the net which allowed him to make several point-blank saves and stop breakaway scoring chances in our viewings. Furthermore, his height gives him a distinct advantage when analyzing the trajectory of point-shots, and he rarely loses track of the puck as a result of being able to look around screens in a half-crouch when he can’t afford to stand-tall. Where he tends to lose-track the most, is … behind the goal-line. … His blocker-side has more refined mechanics than his glove-side… His stance is still not as narrow at it needs to be in order for him to take advantage of his edges to the degree he theoretically should be able to later in his development; but for such a large kid, he shows impressive rapid-adjustments when misinterpreting initial play-types or when broken plays occur. … An area of significant difference between Sogaard and Knight is in regards to their willingness to break their own form in order to make recovery saves. …Sogaard shows a higher comfort level when extending himself as a result of not anticipating certain play-types as well. … Our main takeaway, is that Sogaard … does have fascinating physical and mental tools with a remarkably large and projectable frame. We expect his development to take longer than Knight’s but the finished product could be an exciting one….

On their 3-9 scale he’s a 7 for hockey sense, 8 for compete, 7 for skill, and 7 for skating. McKeen’s thinks he has to work on his rebound control and five-hole coverage; FC thinks he struggles to track pucks through traffic and his ability to move the puck once he has it (they like his glove hand more than HP).

4-94 Viktor Lodin (C/LW) SHL 41-1-4-5 0.12

Swedish overager who played on FA signee Nick Ebert’s team (Orebro); he wasn’t ranked anywhere by anyone (not only this year, but all his other draft-eligible years–not even by Central Scouting). It’s exceedingly rare (if not unprecedented in the modern era) for a region as well scouted as Sweden to miss a quality prospect. Lodin hasn’t played in major international tournaments and while his SuperElit numbers are okay (0.78) they don’t blow you out of the water. Whatever skills he has, he’s not offensively gifted, which means at best you’re looking at yet another grinder in the system.

5-125 Mark Kastelic (CR) WHL 66-47-30-77 1.16

Another overager; the org is clearly looking for a Zack Smith clone (an overage pick best known for his intangibles), he’s also picked well ahead of projections (only McKeen’s listed him in the draft, and for them he was a mid-seventh rounder). While McKeen’s doesn’t include a scouting report, HP does (I’ve highlighted concerns):

A big power winger who plays a physical style. Offensively Kastelic’s game revolves around a heavy wrist [shot] that he was adept at using after muscling his way in to a dangerous area, beating multiple [goalies] with his shot. Kastelic was an excellent goalscorer this season as well in part due to his willingness to get to the dirty areas around the net. Kastelic has enough speed for the WHL level but his lack of agility will make it harder to make an impact as he moves up a level. Kastelic also lacks high end senses and hockey IQ, getting tunnel vision while barreling in to the zone on occasion. Kastelic brings a major physical element to his game, playing a tough in your face style of game and using his big body to deliver punishing checks. Next season Kastelic will be dominant as an overager if he is back in the WHL

On a 3-9 scale they list his hockey sense as a 5, compete a 6, skill a 5, and skating a 5.

7-187 Maxence Guenette (DR) QMJHL 68-8-24-32 0.47

While not ranked by McKeen’s (or making Bob McKenzie’s truncated list), he was picked after other projections (a fourth for HP and a fifth for FC). Here’s the HP profile:

A two-way defender with good skating abilities, good footwork and who has the ability to skate the puck out of his zone. His game still has inconsistencies to it; with his toolset, you would expect him to have more of an impact offensively. Instead, he opts to play a smart, safe, simple game and doesn’t take many risks on the ice. … in the offensive zone, he’s usually not very noticeable. … Another thing would be for him to get more pucks on net, as he only had 106 shots this year. He doesn’t have a powerful shot on net. While his accuracy is good, in order for him to be considered as more of a threat from the point, his shot’s velocity should be improved. Offensively, he was never the number one option on the power play this season. … He remains a good defender with above average footwork and a good active stick in his own zone. He’s good at defending one-on-one, but can struggle down low against bigger players; Guenette is not overly physical and could stand to be stronger. … He does have some decent skating abilities and is a smart two-way defender, but we do question if there are enough skills in him to make it as a regular NHLer.

On their 3-9 scale he’s a 6 across the board (hockey sense, compete, skill, and skating). FC thinks his skating is just average, that he’s not fully engaged defensively, and struggles to get his shot through.

So what do I think of this year’s draft? It’s yet another year where the Sens were risk-averse in terms of who they picked. If all goes well, other than Sogaard, these are support players (Thomson a top-four, Pinto a top-nine, Lodin, Kastelic, and Guenette support players). There’s a very good chance that the bottom three picks will crash out completely (although I’d guess Kastelic will get an ELC to bash around in the AHL for awhile regardless). You can argue that most late picks don’t turn out, and that’s true, but I don’t see the logic in ensuring they are (at best) bottom feeders in the NHL–you can fill those slots with free agents–it’s pointless to waste draft picks on them.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Analysis and Predictions for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft

The 2019 NHL draft is hours away so it’s time to put on my prediction hat and look at who will be selected. What follows is a long preamble, so for those simply interested in the list just scroll down. I am not a scout, simply someone who enjoys the draft.

My approach is to collate the best publicly available sources on the draft to provide insight into who will be picked. This is my tenth year following this strategy (beginning with the now defunct Hockey Herald back in 2010). That year I picked 72% of the draft class which, as it happens, is very good. When I talk about successful predictions, I don’t mean player X was picked in X round at X position (ie, John Smith was #43 as predicted)–that kind of precision simply isn’t practical (it’s never much higher than 25% and when you subtract the first round it bottoms out completely). These numbers and percentages reflect which players were selected in the draft, period. Here are the numbers from 2011 onwards (in brackets are the total number of correct players selected; until 2017 ISS listed 220 players as being selected in the draft, then only listed 200 that year, and went back to 220 in 2018, so they are divided by that number or the total draft number, whichever is higher)):
Hockey Prospects (HP): 72.8 (154) 72.0 (152), 69.2 (146), 70.9 (149), 75.8 (160), 74.8 (154), 70.9 (154), 74.6 (162)
Eye on the Sens (EOTS): 72.1 (153) 75.8 (160), 69.2 (146), 70.9 (149), 78.5 (165), 72.5 (153), 68.2 (148), 71.4 (155)
Future Considerations (FC): 68.6 (145) 71.1 (150), 68.7 (145), 69.0 (145), 69.2 (146), 70.1 (148), 61.3 (133), 65.4 (142)
Red Line Report (RLR): 68.3 (145) 73.9 (156), 67.7 (143), 64.7 (136), 73.0 (154), 66.8 (141), 63.1 (137), 64.0 (139)
International Scouting Service (ISS): 64.4 (139) 66.3 (146), 62.7 (138), 60.0 (132), 68.6 (151), 63.6 (140), 66.5 (131), 59.9 (130)

The differences are telling, with Hockey Prospect‘s consistently more accurate than anyone else (ISS has never been very good, but RLR fell off a cliff post-2015–FC possibly following suit a year later). Let me point out that it isn’t the guide’s prerogative to say which player will be selected, but rather which player they think is best–I’m simply using their data for the former purpose.

This year ISS did not put out a draft guide, indirectly doing me a favour since their lists have been dragging me down. RLR, while still publishing, raised its price by 80% and given that it’s a weaker product I’ve simply cut it out. This leaves me with just HP and FC for what I’ve been tracking all this time, so to round things out I’m incorporating McKeen’s (last used in 2013). HP, however, has changed how they rank players, capping the number at 108 (with 6 goaltenders in their own, separate list–shades of ISS). While HP has a logic for their change, as an aggregator it makes my life much more difficult–we shall, however, persevere. To help out the numbers I’ve folded Bob McKenzie‘s list back into the aggregate (he’d only been excluded previously because he doesn’t cover the entire draft).

My ranking methodology is as follows: I take the sum of the sources and produce an aggregate number (for example, player X is ranked 15, 24, and 32, those numbers are then averaged to create the aggregate number, eg 23.66). This gives me something I can use for comparison and that creates my initial list. Typically I then engage in comparative analysis, but I’ve cut back on that because concerns over the specific pick isn’t my primary purpose here. Given the change in source material, I’ve had to adjust this approach, although I still give preference to those players picked by more sources; both Bob McKenzie and HP are given greater weight due to their track records.

Notes

The area most guides struggle with is European scouting (presumably due to cost), leaving them overly dependent on international tournaments for their assessment (a limitation worth keeping in mind).  I’ll give one specific example to make the point: last year ISS actually listed how many times their scouts filed a report on a player–they saw Czech leaguer Martin Kaut 14 times; the two CHL players he’s sandwiched between were seen 33 and 43 times respectively–that’s a massive difference.

Speaking of scouts, all three publications list their scouts (HP only on their website): 12 for Mckeen’s (4 in Europe), 22 for FC (9 in Europe), and 29 for HP (just 3 in Europe). HP’s coverage is heavily rooted in Eastern Canada; FC’s much broader European coverage means they have more European players scattered throughout their list. It’s also worth noting that HP has more faith in smaller players than most.

-Acronyms: CS (Central Scouting), HP (Hockey Prospect), FC (Future Considerations), McK (McKeen’s)
-For convenience I’ve identified goaltenders (G) and defensemen (D)
-I’ve noted size where I feel it’s important (the NHL preference for size remains a factor); in general I’ve used HP’s sizes, as Mark Edwards’ waits until after the NHL combine to finalize those numbers

Draft Rankings

First Round

1. Hughes (1) – there’s no dissenting views among the top-three and they all appear in this order
2. Kakko (2)
3. Bowen (D) (3)
4. Turcotte (5)
5. Dach (6)
6. Zegras (6.5)
7. Krebs (7.5)
8. Podkolzin (7.5) – the Russian factor could always push him down
9. Cozens (8.75)
10. Boldy (10.25)
11. Caufield (11.25) – at just 5’7 I think he could very easily slip (I’m suspicious of his numbers as well, as he wouldn’t be the first player to benefit from excellent teammates and then crash without them)
12. Soderstrom (D) (12)
13. Seider (D) (14.25)
14. Newhook (15.25)
15. C. York (D) (15.5)
16. Broberg (D) (15.5) – in the top-ten for McKeen’s
17. Harley (D) (19.5)
18. Tomasino (20.5)
19. Suzuki (20.5)
20. Lavoie (20.75)
21. Poulin (23.5)
22. Heinola (D) (24.25) – the first player not universally slotted in the first round
23. Knight (G) (25.33) – keep in mind HP doesn’t give him a number in the draft, so being their top ‘tender is difficult to parse for aggregation
24. Kaliyev (26.5) – has a second-round pick
25. M. Robertson (D) (27) – ibid
26. Brink (27.75) – 5’8; his size is probably why he’s evenly split between first and second rounds
27. Bjornfort (D) (28) – has a second-round pick
28. McMichael (28.75) – ibid
29. Holmstrom (29) – split 1st/2nd
30. Johnson (D) (30) – ibid
31. Hoglander (32) – 5’9; ibid–size could see him tumble

Other first round selections: Dorofeyev (3), Pelletier (2), Leason, Thomson, Vlasic, Rees, Kolyachonok, Helleson, Johansson, Mastrosimone, and Puistola.

Second Round

32. Pelletier (33.25) – 5’9; split 1st/2nd (again, size could sink him)
33. Leason (34.25) – gets a first-round pick
34. Thomson (D) (37.75) – split
35. Beecher (38)
36. Vlasic (D) (38.5) – 6’5; gets a 1st-round nod from Bob
37. Rees (38.75) – gets a first-round pick
38. Kolyachonok (D) (39) – ibid
39. N. Robertson (41.25) – at 5’8 he could fall far
40. Dorofeyev (41.5) – Bob wrecks his number (third round); everyone else has him first (Russian factor to be considered)
41. Tracey (45.5)
42. Afanasyev (46.5)
43. Helleson (D) (47.75) – gets a first-round pick
44. Johansson (D) (48.25) – ibid
45. Korczak (D) (53.5) – split 2nd/3rd
46. Foote (54.25)
47. Mastrosimone (54.5) – 5’9; gets a first and third-round pick
48. LaCombe (D) (54.5)
49. Nikolaev/Nikolayev (57.25)
50. Grewe (58)
51. Puistola (58.75) – gets a first-round pick
52. Legare (58.75)
53. Norlinder (D) (59.25)
54. Spiridonov (60.33) – no HP (so sub-108 for them)
55. Farinacci (62.75) – one fourth-round pick
56. Henriksson (65.75) – 5’9
57. Teply (66.75)
58. Firstov (67)
59. Tuomisto (D) (67.75) – one fourth-round pick
60. Misyul (D) (68)
61. Honka (D) (68)
62. Sogaard (G) (68) – 6’6

Third Round

63. Z. Jones (D) (71.33) – surprisingly FC, despite listing 300 players, doesn’t list him
64. Fagemo (71.75) – gets a pair of second picks
65. Kniazev/Knyazev (D) (73) – ibid; on the small side for Dmen (plus, Russian)
66. Kokkonen (D) (73.5) – on the smaller side
67. Pinto (75) – two seconds and two fourths
68. Attard (D) (75.5) – not listed by either HP/FC, but Bob has him mid-second
69. Clarke (76.5)
70. Huglen (76.5) – all over the place–not listed by FC and McKeen’s just gives him an Honourable Mention (HM henceforth)
71. Thrun (D) (78.75)
72. Donovan (80) – not listed by HP/FC
73. Caufield (82) – not listed by HP
74. Gritsyuk (82.75) – FC puts him in the fifth, which sinks his number
75. Spence (D) (83) – at 5’9 he could slide all the way out of the draft
76. Warren (D) (83.75) – also undersized
77. Phillips (84) – 5’9; a fifth sinks his number (size a concern here)
78. Cajkovic (85.25)
79. Chystyakov/Chistyakov (D) (88)
80. Struble (D) (88.5) – has a second-round nod
81. Guskov (88.5)
82. Bolduc (D) (89) – just an HM for McKeen’s
83. Kochetkov (G) (89.66) – has a second-round nod
84. Beckman (91.75) – number thrown off by a sixth
85. Vukojevic (D) (92.33) – not listed by HP
86. Campbell (94.75) – two second-round picks
87. H. Jones (G) (98.33)
88. Beaucage (98.5)
89. Hamaliuk (99) – McKeen’s drags down his number
90. Alexandrov (100.5)
91. Lundmark (D) (101.75) – second-round nod from Bob
92. Ahac (D) (102.5)
93. Okhotyk (D) (103) – gets two seconds; this is Bob’s last pick on my list
94. Gutik (86.33) – two thirds and a fourth

At this point we’ve run out of Bob McKenzie’s picks; we’ll shortly lose HP as well, which means the list leans hard on FC and McKeen’s (not necessarily the strongest foundation, but it’s the foundation we have).

Fourth Round

95. Moynihan (88.66)
96. Keppen (93.66)
97. Bychkov (D) (94) – undersized Russian
98. Aaltonen (98) – at 5’8 I could see teams passing on him (either later or entirely)
99. Protas (98.33)
100. Lindmark (99.5) – not listed by FC
101. Rybinski (101.5) – gets a second-round pick; HR from McKeen’s
102. Blaisdell (102.33) – gets a second-round nod
103. Tieksola (104) – 5’9
104. Wolf (G) (112.5) – undersized goaltenders (he’s just under 6’0) are almost never picked
105. Janicke (116.33)
106. Nikkanen (119.33)
107. Abramov (119.33) – gets a second-round pick
108. Ciccolini (125)
109. Guenette (D) (129) – doesn’t appear in McKeen’s
110. Hanus (D) (132) – ibid
111. Krannila (137.5) – ibid
112. Pitlick (139.33) – 5’8; an early second to HP, FC has him out of the draft
113. Rizzo (141.66) – 5’9; rankings all over the place
114. Del Gaizo (D) (150) – 5’9; FC doesn’t list him and as a blueliner that small he could fall out of the draft
115. Slepets (155.33) – FC has him out of the draft
116. Berger (D) (191.33) – ibid; this is the end of HP supported picks
117. Saville (G) (64) – gets a second; beginning of pure FC/McK aggregates
118. Pasic (65) – ibid
119. Constantinou (D (70.5) – ibid
120. Fairbrother (D) (78)
121. Miner (G) (81.5) – at 6’0 he’s undersized for a ‘tender, so could tumble out of the draft
122. Saarela (88)
123. McCarthy (D) (98.5)
124. Porco (100.5)

While there are a couple of solo HP picks to come, we’ve hit the end of them contributing to aggregate.

Fifth Round

125. Alnefelt (G) (102.5)
126. Blumel (103.5)
127. Mutala (104.5)
128. Portillo (G) (107.5) – 6’6 (according to FC; HP doesn’t list him)
129. MacKay (111.5)
130. Kallionkieli (113.5)
131. Mironov (113.5)
132. Ellis (G) (119.5)
133. Toporowski (119.5)
134. Lychasen (D) (120.5)
135. Murray (122)
136. Fensore (D) (122) – 5’6; I’ll eat my hat if a blueliner this short gets picked
137. Sundsvik (123.5)
138. Zaitsev/Zaytsev (124)
139. Antropov (128)
140. Simoneau (129) – at 5’6 I don’t think he gets drafted
141. Washkurak (134)
142. Strondala (135) – 5’7; at his size he could drop out entirely
143. Brewer (D) (137)
144. Rowe (G) (139)
145. Nussbaumer (139)
146. Newkirk (140)
147. J. Lee (D) (144)
148. Romano (147)
149. Has (D) (150)
150. Parssinen (150.5)
151. D’Amico (153) – at 5’9 he could slide out of the draft
152. Caroll (154)
153. Maccelli (158.5)
154. Raty (159.5)
155. Loponen (D) (159.5) – at 5’9 he could fall out of the draft

Sixth Round

156. Hatakka (D) (160)
157. Costmar (167.5)
158 Schwindt (170)
159. Gauthier (G) (170)
160. Alistrov (179.5)
161. Soderblom (181) – 6’6; size will help the big Swede
162. Gylander (G) (183) – 6’5 according to FC (HP doesn’t list him)
163. Williams (185.5)
164. Brinkman (D) (191)
165. Muzik (196.5)
166. Barlage (200)
167. Eggenberger (202.5)
168. Maier (G) (205) – at just 6’0 he could easily fall out of the draft
169. Bertuzzi (206.5)
170. Moser (D) (211) – the last of the shared FC/McK picks
171. Najman – McKeen’s has him early in the third round (CS likes him too)
172. Gildon – McKeen’s has him mid-third round
173. Koster (D) – 5’9; late third-rounder for McKeen’s, but at that size he’s more likely to fall out of the draft
174. Malone – mid-fourth-rounder for McKeen’s
175. Stevenson – late fourth-rounder for McKeen’s
176. Psenicka – 6’5 (HP doesn’t list him, so trusting McKeen’s); big Czech is a mid-fifth-rounder
177. Nodler – late fifth for McKeen’s
178. Brodzinski – late fifth for McKeen’s
179. Sheshin – 5’8; late fifth-rounder for FC; McKeen’s mentions him in their preamble as possibly going in the first half of the draft, but oddly doesn’t list him–being Russian and 5’8 isn’t going to help
180. J. York – marginal fifth for McKeen’s
181. McKenna – early sixth for FC; HM for McKeen’s
182. Leyh – as above on both counts
183. Topping – early sixth for McKeen’s; listed out of the draft by FC
184. Sjolund (D) – early sixth for FC; HM McKeen’s
185. Wahlgren – ibid
186. Allensen (D) – mid-sixth for FC; HM McKeen’s

Our aggregate possibilities ended this round, as we run out of shared players between FC/McKeen’s. My approach from this point was using the highest ranked players.

Seventh Round

187. Taponen (G) – undersized; mid-sixth for FC, HM for McKeen’s; at just under 6’0 he’s likely to slide out of the draft
188. Uba – late sixth for FC; HM McKeen’s
189. Siedem (D) – ibid
190. Burzan – ibid
191. Olson – ibid
192. Hirvonen – ibid
193. Intonen – ibid
194. Myllyla – early seventh for McKeen’s; FC lists him out of the draft
195. Cajka – ibid
196. Giroday – ibid
197. Pedersen – mid-seventh for McKeen’s; FC lists him out of the draft
198. Likhachyov – ibid
199. Darin – HP has him in the second round, but he’s not listed elsewhere (besides CS)
200. Bergeron (D) – FC has him as a mid-third rounder
201. Ford – 5’8; HP has him in the third, but size will hurt him
202. Serdyuk – a late third for FC
203. Moberg (D) – early fourth for FC
204. Rousek – fourth for FC
205. Doyle (D) – ibid
206. A. Lee – fourth for McKeen’s
207. Feulk – fourth for FC
208. Orekhov (D) – fourth for McKeen’s
209. Sedlak – ibid
210. Gordon – fourth for FC
211. Yakovenko – fourth for McKeen’s
212. Bruschweiler – ibid
213. Rtischev – late fourth for FC
214. Konovalov – late fourth for McKeen’s
215. Francis (D) – early fifth for McKeen’s
216. Gnyp (D) – ibid
217. Basse (G) – 6’5; final HP slotted player (unlisted elsewhere)

We don’t have a pile of double-selected players as we normally would. What’s left on the board are eight fifths from FC and six from McKeen’s (along with a pile of sixths and sevenths). There are always highly touted EU players from the CS list ignored by the draft guides and that continues: Chinakhov (#30), Tesanov (#40), Denezhkin (#41), Svoboda (#42), Komissarov (#48), and Voronkov (#50). Inexplicably McKeen’s discusses Chinakhov without including him in their lists.

For those keeping score I said the following smaller players might fall out of the draft entirely: Spence, Aaltonen, Pitlick, Rizzo, Del Gaizo, Fensore, Simoneau, Strondala, Loponen, Sheshin, Koster, Ford, Wolf, Miner, Maier, Taponen, and Konovalov. The undersized goaltenders and blueliners in particular are at risk. Who might fill in these slots? Likely a lot of players not listed, but of those who are, here are the most probable: all CS EU players above along with McCartney, Chizhikov, Silovs (G), Bakanin, Hedlund (G), Tsyplakov, Burenov (D), Rasanen (D), Parik (G), Silianoff, Kope, Schiemann, Sergeev, LeGuerrier, Uens (D), Popovic (D), and Garayev.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa Senators Mock Draft

It’s time to make predictions for who the Sens will pick in the 2019 draft (you can see last year’s mock draft here). I do this for fun–it’s difficult to know who will be available when the Sens pick and they have their own eclectic tendencies. Speaking of which, let’s go over which way the Sens picks tend to blow:
-No picks from Europe (the last two seasons)
-Stay safe (not taking chances) the last two seasons
-Size size size (the Sens have only picked two’s player under 6’0 since 2011–Dahlen and Crookshank, both of whom are 5’11–while Dorion has signed or traded for players who are undersized, he doesn’t seem to want to draft them)
-Grit/character/good-in-the-room–they consistently pick at least one player with no discernible skill that has ‘intangibles’
-Goaltenders late (since Lehner (09) no ‘tender has been picked earlier than the third round)
-At least 1 French-Canadian/QMJHL player since 2008

With that established, let’s take a look at who they might land. I’ve listed five players around the pick based on my list with some added thoughts.

1-19 (listed 17-21)
Harley OHL (D)
Tomasino OHL
Suzuki OHL
Lavoie QMJHL
Poulin QMJHL

I feel like one of the Q-players, if available, are likely to go (in that order) rather than Suzuki, largely due to organizational preferences.

2-32 (30-34)
Johnson USHL
Hoglander SHL
Pelletier QMJHL 5’9
Leason WHL
Thomson WHL (D)

With all the blueliners taken last year I think Leason gets the nod over the undersized Pelletier.

2-44 (42-46)
Afanasyev USHL
Helleson USDP (D)
Johansson SuperElit (D)
Korczak WHL (D)
Foote WHL

The Sens like their bloodlines, so I think Adam Foote’s son gets the nod.

3-83 (81-85)
Guskov OHL
Bolduc QMJHL (D)
Kochetkov VHL (G)
Beckman WHL
Vukojevic OHL (D)

We won’t see a Russian (particularly from Russia), so I suspect Beckman would be the target.

4-94 (92-96)
Ahac BCHL (D)
Okhotyk OHL (D)
Gutik MHL
Moynihan USDP
Keppen OHL

If he’s around they’d lean into Ahac (who can take his time developing in the NCAA), but if not Keppen is bigger (Moynihan is under 6’0) so he’d be the choice.

5-125 (123-127)
McCarthy USDP (D)
Porco OHL
Alnefelt SuperElit (G)
Blumel USHL
Mutala WHL

It wouldn’t surprise me if they take a flyer on a goaltender (especially one who can sit in Sweden for years before they have to sign him), but Blumel is another guy to stash in the NCAA, so I’d lean that way.

7-187
Wahlgren
Allensen (D)
Taponen (G)
Uba
Siedem (D)

Adding a defenseman to the tally makes sense.

I’m not expecting much of this to occur since, especially as the draft grinds on, all sorts of players slip unexpectedly or get taken early, but given what we know this is what I think the org would do.

My big draft article is upcoming–the rough version is done and I’ll have it up before the first round picks this evening.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

NHL Draft Guides

Image result for dumpster fire

Over the last few years I’ve noticed a frantic retreat by the major draft guides–varied attempts to prevent what’s clearly a slide in (paid) interest (I’ve gone over hockey’s declining popularity, along with most other major sports, previously). Let’s go over the last seven years (2013 onward), since that’s how long I’ve broken down the guides in a way that includes price. We’ll look at the changes and assess:

  • International Scouting Service (ISS): 2013 ($59.95–pre-ordered); 2017 ($10); 2019 (cancelled guide)
  • Red Line Report (RLR): 2013 ($50.00); 2019 ($90.00)
  • Hockey Prospect‘s (HP): 2013 ($39.99); 2018 ($49.99)
  • Future Considerations (FC): 2013 ($19.99); 2016 ($22.99); 2017 ($24.99); 2019 (no more direct download; guide hosted by them online)
  • (bonus) McKeen’s: 2013 ($30); 2019 (only accessible with a minimum 3-month subscription)

I haven’t tracked McKeen’s throughout the years, so I’m including them to make a broader point (given that they, like ISS, have abandoned selling a guide).

You could argue, rightly, that price increases are normal–there’s inflation to deal with. However, we aren’t seeing gradual changes like that generally. What did ISS do? For a long time they overpriced their guide to push pre-orders, but that model stopped being sustainable so they switched to become the cheapest guide out there (2017-18), hoping volume would make up for the revenue and now, just three years later, they’ve completely cancelled it. RLR’s change is even more drastic–the first price change they’ve made in at least a decade, suggesting declining volume (not a surprise given RLR hasn’t changed their coverage in forever). McKeen’s seems to be going the ISS route (although they still have their guide). HP’s hike is pretty high (25%), but given how long they kept it at $40 it’s not as clear it’s a sign of panic. FC decided to prevent direct downloads of the pdf, suggesting they’re worried about private sharing and, thus, every sale matters to them in a way it didn’t before.

Conclusions? Three of the five most popular draft guide publishers are in full retreat–ISS has given up, McKeen’s only sells it to boost subscriptions, and RLR has pushed out an absurd 80% price hike. There’s less obvious panic in HP and FC, although with FC hosting the content online you are at their mercy in terms of how long it remains available to you (I’m not a fan of that) [this has been corrected, see below]. To me this screams that there is less overall interest in the guides, therefore in the draft, and therefore in the NHL generally. Draft guides were always a niche part of the market anyway, so are only sustainable en masse when there’s significant demand. What survives, for now, is either the best or most accessible content, but for the draft in particular it’s the best content which remains with the least amount of change.

[Update: Aaron Vickers, of Future Considerations, got in touch with me after this with a couple of clarifications: you can download the guide–it’s simply not directly from the sales link (you do it via Adobe), and as such he’s not concerned with people having their copy directly; he also says sales are excellent. As I told him in response, my opinion here isn’t about the specifics of his guide (which has always been the best buy for casual fans), but about the overall trend without the guide-publishing industry.]

For those asking about my own draft dissection, it’s currently up in the air. It’s a tremendous amount of work and the interest is waning, so we’ll see what happens. If enough people ask I’ll make sure to do it, although it’s disappointing that I’ll have to switch some things up in the absence of both ISS and RLR (despite neither being very good for predictive purposes).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)