European Undrafted Success Stories Revisited

I haven’t updated my undrafted success stories out of Europe article in a couple of years and there’s no time like the present. I’ve focused on the post-lockout NHL because of the different parameters in which players are viewed (particularly undersized players).  I’ve set the “European pro” bar at 23 (anything earlier and I consider the player to still be a prospect, drafted or not).  The numbers next to the player’s name are their stats prior to being signed.

2006 (3)
Niklas Backstrom (G, Liiga) 32-9-10, 1.68, .940 – 413 NHL games
Patrick Thoresen (SEL) 50-17-19-36 – 106 NHL games
Patrick Fischer (NLA) 44-21-32-53 – 27 NHL games

2007 (4)
Jonas Hiller (G, NLA) 28-16, 2.60 – 404 NHL games
Cory Murphy (D, Liiga) 45-13-37-50 – 91 NHL games
Erik Ersberg (G, SEL) 41GP, 2.39, .908 – 69 NHL games
Jaroslav Hlinka (Cze) 46-19-38-57 – 63 NHL games

2008 (7)
Antti Niemi (G, Liiga) 26-14-6, 2.35, .926 – 386 NHL games coming into this season; won a Cup with Chicago
Ville Leino (Liiga) 55-28-49-77 – 296 NHL games
Tim Stapleton (Liiga) 55-29-33-62 – 118 NHL games
Anssi Salmela (D, Liiga) 56-16-16-32 – 112 NHL games
Fabian Brunnstrom (SEL) 54-9-28-37 – 104 NHL games
Ryan Vesce (Liiga) 56-26-18-44 – 19 NHL games
Per Ledin (SEL) 52-16-17-33 – 3 NHL games

2009 (5)
Jonas Gustavsson (G, SEL) 42GP, 1.96, .932 – 179 NHL games coming into this season
Mika Pyorala (Liiga) 55-21-22-43 – 36 NHL games
Henrik Karlsson (G, SEL) 34GP, 2.45, .914 – 26 NHL games
Alexander Salak (G, Liiga) 20-20-9, 2.40, .923 – 2 NHL games
Johan Backlund (G, SEL) 2.56, .907 – 1 NHL game

2010 (3)
Mats Zuccarello (SEL) 55-23-41-64 (1.16) – 303 NHL games coming into this season
Jussi Rynnas (G, Liiga) 14-13-1, 2.71, .911 – 4 NHL games
Marcel Muller (DEL) 53-24-32-56 – 3 NHL games

2011 (3)
Raphael Diaz (D, NLA) 45-12-27-39 (0.86) – 201 NHL games
Victor Bartley (D, Allsvenskan) 52-11-23-34 – 121 NHL games
Iiro Tarkki (G, Liiga) 20-20-14, 2.09, .924 – 1 NHL game

2012 (4)
Viktor Fasth (G, SHL) 2.04, .934 – 63 NHL games
Roman Cervenka (KHL) 54-23-16-39 – 39 NHL games
Daniel Bang (SHL) 50-8-10-18 – 8 NHL games
Harri Pesonen (Liiga) 60-21-14-35 – 4 NHL games

2013 (2)
Michael Raffl (Allsvenskan) 49-24-22-46 – 217 NHL games coming into this season
Antti Raanta (G, Liiga) 1.85 .943 – 64 NHL games coming into this season

2014 (6)
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (SHL) 52-20-15-35 – 155 NHL games coming into this season
Melker Karlsson (SHL) 48-9-16-25 – 118 NHL games coming into this season
Dennis Everberg
(Allsvenskan) 47-17-17-34 – 70 NHL games
Dennis Rasmussen (SHL) 52-16-24-40 – 44 NHL games coming into this season
Ronalds Kenins (NLA) 39-8-17-25 – 38 NHL games
Borna Rendulic (Liiga) 57-11-21-32 – 14 NHL games

2015 (8)
Artemi Panarin (KHL) 54-26-36-62 – 80 NHL games coming into this season
Sergei Kalinin (KHL) 58-12-13-25 – 78 NHL games coming into this season
Andreas Martinsen (DEL) 50-18-23-41 – 55 NHL games coming into this season
Yvgeni Medvedev (D, KHL) 43-3-13-16 – 45 NHL games
Sergei Plotnikov (KHL) 56-15-21-36 – 45 NHL games
Joonas Kemppainen (Liiga) 59-11-21-32 – 44 NHL games
Jakub Nakladal (D, Liiga) 50-3-12-15 – 30 NHL games
Vojtech Mozik (D, Czech) 51-10-19-29 – 7 NHL games

2016 (5)
Nikita Zaitsev (D, KHL) 46-8-18-26 – playing for Toronto
Michal Kempny (D, KHL) 59-5-16-21 – playing for Chicago
Roman Lyubimov (KHL) 52-7-7-14 – playing for Philadelphia
Yohann Auvitu (D, Liiga) 48-6-15-21 – playing for New Jersey
Tim Heed (D, SHL) 52-8-15-23 – has played for San Jose

No players have been directly signed from the Slovak Elite League, Erste Bank Liga (Austria), Get Ligaen (Norway), or Al-Bank Ligaen (Denmark).

There are 50 players above (27 forwards, 11 defensemen, and 12 goaltenders); to get a sense of their value there are 6 skaters who have played two seasons worth of games, along with 7 goalies who have played at least 60 games.  Excluding this years players (for obvious reasons) that’s 13 of 45 (28%), which as risks go is pretty solid (it’s slightly above the rate of 2nd round picks, whose success rate stands at 26% in recent times).  Understandably there are far fewer impact players–no defensemen of note, just two forwards (Zuccarello and Panarin), along with three starting goaltenders–but given how few high end players go undrafted it’s still significant.  A notable change from when I first started looking at this is that there hasn’t been a starting goaltender found since Niemi way back in 2008, suggesting that NHL scouts have improved in that area (and clearly the desperate need for blueliners has prevented any uber-talented defender from reaching this list).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

travisyost

Travis Yost asks the question: are the Sens better under Guy Boucher?  He looks primarily at the defence corps where the trends are negative, pointing to reductions in Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot‘s performances and illustrating the well-understood failings of Cody Ceci and Dion Phaneuf.  He concludes:

At the end of the day, I think you have to ask at the midway point whether or not this team is any better under Boucher. They certainly appear like a different team. But, when you start adding everything up, it’s as if Ottawa has just sacrificed offence at the altar of better defence. And that better defence part? It’s still up for debate.

The above prompted Nichols to comb through additional data and the only tangible improvement is on the PK, but he’s not sure that’s actually a system improvement or simply due to factors that will change over time.

Both sets of analysis point back to what I found looking at the impact of coaching about a year ago, where it’s extremely difficult to separate out the effect of coaching versus the quality of the roster itself.  Good teams thrive despite poor coaching (Tortorella?), while bad teams will struggle with good coaching.

postmedia

There was some Twitter hubbub over Don Brennan a few days back and while I think Brennan is of no importance he’s an excuse to talk about the state of the media in reference to sports (I haven’t discussed Brennan’s opinions since 2015 and not his hockey opinions since March of 2014–his stupidity can be entertaining, but there’s no point in addressing his opinions).

For those who don’t know: Postmedia has owned the former Sun properties since 2014.  The company is run by the conservative Paul Godfrey, who also ran Sun Media from 1991-2000 (under MacLean-Hunter, Rogers Communication, it’s own authority, Quebcor, and briefly Metroland Media Group (the Toronto Star)).  The company owns many papers, so I’ll only list those that may have some bearing on Senators media coverage:
The National Post (former national paper founded in 1998 by ex-con and uber conservative Conrad Black; acquired via CanWest’s bankruptcy in 2010)
Ottawa Citizen (acquired via CanWest as above)
Ottawa Sun (acquired with the Sun Media chain in 2014)
Kingston Whig-Standard (as above; part of the Osprey Media block of papers)
Kingston This Week (as above)
Belleville Intelligencer (as above)
Pembroke Daily Observer (as above)

It’s fascinating to go through the various ownership changes of the different papers, but generally it’s a matter of increasingly shrinking staff and circulation.  More to the point, Postmedia controls all the papers that provide the majority of Sens coverage, meaning staff writers like Brennan can have their opinions appear in any of them.

wichita-thunder-logo

Wichita’s leading scorer Alexis Loiselle has left the team for the DEL’s (Germany) second division.  How the paper thin Thunder will compensate for the loss is difficult to say.  With starting goaltender Scott Greenham currently in Binghamton they’ve signed Kent Patterson from the ECHL scrapheap to serve as rookie Drew Owsley‘s backup.  In other roster moves, Sens org favourite Nathan Moon was jettisoned to Toledo for no apparent return (perhaps cash or future considerations).  The team is 2-2-2 since my last update (13-16-3 for the season).

freeagent

I thought I’d take a look at the most successful undrafted FA signings from last year (in terms of their performance thus far).  It’s a small sample size, but interesting nonetheless:
Nikita Zaitsev (D) (Tor) 41-1-15-16
Lured out of the KHL (CSKA Moscow) he’s third on his team in blueline scoring
Troy Stecher (D) (Van) 36-1-12-13
Top-scoring blueliner; undersized (5’10) blueliner signed after his junior season at North Dakota; he fits the bill of a classic undrafted success story from college by being a smaller player
Tim Heed (D) (SJ) AHL 29-9-23-32
Another undersized defenseman (5’11), the Sharks signed him after two excellent seasons with Skelleftea; he’s second in the league for points by a blueliner (fourth in points-per-game)
Kalle Kossila (W/C) (Ana) AHL 31-7-18-25
Undersized (5’11) forward was signed after his final year with St. Cloud State; he’s third on the team in scoring, tied for 8th in rookie scoring (t-12th in points-per-game)
David Rittich (G) (Cal) AHL 7-5-1 2.04 .929
Signed after a strong season with Mlada Boleslav in the Czech league, the big goaltender is inexplicably playing behind Jon Gillies despite superior numbers; he’s well ahead of all rookie numbers (I’m excluding Ken Appleby, whose numbers are close–he’s technically a rookie, but played a full season in the ECHL last year)

Former Sens draft pick Marcus Sorensen is having a decent AHL-season with San Jose (32-11-8-19); always projected as an energy-player it’s difficult to say just from the numbers whether the Sharks will hang on to him or if he’ll go back to Sweden.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Analyzing Binghamton’s Improved Play

Binghamton_Senators_svg

I wanted to explore Binghamton’s improved record over the last month to point out specifically what’s changed for the team.  Before we get into details it’s important to note that these changes have simply moved the BSens from awful to average and that it’s unreasonable to expect the hot streak to continue.

Since December 7th (a period that includes 14 games) the BSens are 9-4-1.  To spell out how much better they’ve been, they were only 5-14-2 beforehand, so this is an enormous change (from a 0.285 winning percentage to 0.678).  Why has this happened?  Combing through the numbers and performances there’s only one consistent element that starts at that time: no Zack Stortini.  Binghamton has not won a game with the useless pugilist in the lineup since November 19th–he’s currently on an eight-game losing streak.  He, of course, isn’t the only reason.

Other factors: Jason Akeson rounding into form (after being held pointless his first three games; the aforementioned streak begins with his first assist); sticking with the hot hand in net; an improved powerplay (9-50, 18%); no Ryan Rupert (he hasn’t played for Binghamton since December 3rd); and finally, more scoring (43 goals, so roughly 3 per game).  The goals aren’t attached to lopsided shot advantage (the team is 6-8 in terms of shooting more during the streak), hot goaltending (combined the two goalies are only .900 or better in half the games), or a good penalty kill (34-45, 75%).  Recently (the last five games) Kleinendorst has been using seven defenseman, something that seems to help an otherwise weak blueline (the only blueliners who have played all 14 games are Chris Rumble and Chris Carlisle).  Here are the player numbers during the streak (powerplay points noted as well):

Akeson 14-2-10-12 (3 PPP)
McCormick 14-5-5-10
Rumble 14-3-7-10 (5 PPP)
Rodewald 14-7-2-9 (5 PPP)
Paul 14-3-6-9 (2 PPP)
Varone 11-2-5-7 (3 PPP)
Harpur 11-1-6-7 (PPP)
Flanagan 8-3-3-6 (PPP)
Sieloff 11-1-5-6
Nehring 14-0-6-6
Bailey 9-4-1-5 (2 PPP)
Robinson 11-4-1-5
Carlisle 14-1-4-5 (PPP)
Perron 11-1-3-4
Kostka 11-1-3-4 (3 PPP)
Blunden 13-1-3-4
Krushelnyski 11-1-1-2
Lepine 13-1-1-2
Erkamps 4-0-1-1 (PPP)
Doornbosch 1-0-0-0
Stortini 2-0-0-0
Loiselle 3-0-0-0
Englund 10-0-0-0
Gagne 13-0-0-0

Driedger 4-2-1 GAA 2.41 S% .932
O’Connor 5-2-0 GAA 2.72 S% .898
Greenham 0-0-0 GAA 7.50 S% .750

I’m surprised by Harpur‘s offensive totals over the streak; this is the most productive Paul has been since Tobias Lindberg was traded away last year; and McCormick! These are the kinds of totals he should be getting at this stage of his AHL career.  On the down side you expect much more from Blunden (he averaged 0.77 points per game last year); Kostka‘s 5-on-5 production is negligible (1 point); you want more from a FA signing like Nehring; and rookies like Englund and Gagne haven’t hit the scoresheet at all.  Clearly the team doesn’t miss Curtis Lazar (it’s also worth noting that Fredrik Claesson has been out of the lineup due to injury).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

pierre dorion

Nichols looks at Pierre Dorion’s recent comments on prospects, but there’s not much to say about it.  Nichols is absolutely correct that Binghamton’s recent improved play isn’t a true sign of development or growth (albeit I find it interesting how defensive Dorion is about the team’s performance).  For those who don’t watch the BSens the primary difference the last month or so is better player usage (more starts for Chris Driedger, benching Zack Stortini, etc–of late Kleinendorst is getting much more value out of dressing seven defensemen instead of six).  Nichols is right that neither Nick Paul nor Francis Perron are anywhere near ready for the NHL and that most of the production on the BSens comes from veterans with no potential (the addition of KHL castaway Jason Akeson has helped a lot).  Nichols comments on where the Sens draft from (Sweden, US, etc) might have benefited from some extra reading, and I think his idea about Melnyk’s background influencing a lack of Russians as far-fetched (how would that jive with the Gonchar and Kovalev additions?), but on the whole the substance is fine.

dzingel

It’s been interesting reading all the praise this season for Ryan Dzingel, given all the doubt expressed in the off-season (as I point out in that link, I had no such qualms).  He’s yet another example that if you draft for skill the potential payoff is always better than what you get out of guys who are ‘good in the corners’.

prospects

Here’s a look at how various Sens prospects are doing (players are organised by points-per-game, PPG; I highlighted those who played in the WJC):

CHL
Filip Chlapik (Charlottetown; 2-48/15) 26-20-24-44 (1.69, 1st in scoring)
Played for the Czech’s in the WJC (5-2-1-3), tied with four others for 3rd in scoring; he’s 17th in scoring in the QMJHL, but 2nd in PPG
Tomas Chabot (Saint John; 1-18/15) 14-5-15-20 (1.42, 1st in blueline scoring)
Played for Canada in the WJC (7-4-6-10), tied for first in scoring and was named tournament MVP; he’s second among blueliners in PPG in the Q (admittedly it’s a small sample size)
Logan Brown (Windsor; 1-11/16) 21-8-21-29 (1.38, 3rd in scoring)
Roughly on par with 17-year old Gabriel Vilardi for production on the team, he’s among the top-15 in the OHL (PPG)
Filip Ahl (Regina; 4-109/15) 29-18-14-33 (1.13, tied for ninth in scoring)
Played for Sweden in the WJC (7-0-2-2), tied with three other players for 12th in scoring; as one of the older players on the Pats his numbers aren’t remarkable (he’s 6th in PPG)
Cody Donaghey (Charlottetown/Sherbrooke; T-16) 37-10-25-35 (0.94, 1st in blueline scoring)
He’s 4th in blueline scoring in the Q (8th in PPG); Sherbrooke is a bad team so his pace is likely to slow down
Maxime Lajoie (Swift Current; 5-133/16) 40-7-19-26 (0.65, 2nd in blueline scoring)
He’s top-20 in the WHL for blueline scoring (19th), although lower when it comes to PPG (23rd); he’s on a similar pace to his production when he was drafted

NCAA
Colin White (Boston; 1-21/15) 18-10-7-17 (0.94, sophomore; 3rd in team scoring)
Played for the US in the WJC (7-7-1-8), tied for 2nd in scoring; he’s essentially tied for first in team scoring in PPG with Matt Gaudreau (Johnny’s brother)
Robert Baillargeon (Arizona; 5-136/12) 22-9-9-18 (0.81, senior; 1st in team in scoring)
Playing for an atrocious Arizona team that’s not that interested in winning
Christian Wolanin (North Dakota; 4-107/15) 19-2-10-12 (0.63, sophomore; 2nd in blueline scoring)
A distant second to blueliner Tucker Poolman (Win) in scoring, it’s been a good season for him
Chris Leblanc (Merrimack; 6-161/13) 10-3-2-5 (0.50, senior; tied-9th in scoring)
Habitually praised by Sens management at rookie camps he’s in the midst of yet another unremarkable season; by PPG he’s third on the team in scoring, but it’s a small sample size
Shane Eiserman (New Hampshire; 4-100/14) 20-3-6-9 (0.45, junior; 9th in scoring)
Essentially no improvement since his freshmen year
Miles Gendron
(Connecticut; 3-70/14) 21-3-6-9 (0.42, sophomore; 1st in blueline scoring)
Steady improvement over his freshmen year; leads a fairly limp blueline
Kelly Summers (Clarkson; 7-189/14) 21-1-8-9 (0.42, junior, 2nd in blueline scoring)
He’s actually third in PPG on the blueline, although top-scorer James De Haas (Det) isn’t far in front of him; he continues to show gradual improvement
Todd Burgess (RPI; 4-103/16) injured (freshman)
Expected to miss the entire season
Joel Daccord (Arizona; 7-199/15) 2-7-0 4.74 .863 (freshman; worst of three goaltenders)
The team is giving all three of its goaltenders a chance and he’s struggled the most (he is the youngest, however); clearly the team isn’t concerned with winning this year

Europe
Markus Nurmi (TPS Jr; 6-163/16) 21-10-11-21 (1.00, 1st in scoring)
TPS is in the midst of a rebuild and most of the key players on their roster are older players (with the exception of undrafted 22-year old Jasper Lindsten and 20-year old Patrik Virta); the 18-year old Nurmi is the youngest forward to suit up for the men’s team (3-0-0-0)–the next youngest being 19-year old Teemu Vayrynen (18-1-1-2); among his peers in Finnish junior he’s 10th in overall scoring (or tied with several for fourth in points-per-game), with a healthy lead over his junior teammates
Jonathan Dahlen
(Timra; 2-42/16) 27-12-9-21 (0.77, 2nd in scoring)
it’s important to note that he’s currently in the Allsvenskan, not the SHL (so Sweden’s second division); he played for Sweden at the WJC (7-5-1-6), finishing 5th in scoring; the 19-year old plays for a very young roster, currently behind future high draft pick Elias Pettersson (he’s also second among players 19 and under in the league), but otherwise well ahead younger players and those close to his age (18-year old Jesper Boqvsit is closest 17-3-8-11)
Christian Jaros (Lulea; 5-139/15) 26-3-5-8 (0.30, 3rd in blueline scoring)
His team doesn’t score much (Johan Harju leads the team with just 18 points) and he plays a ton for a 20-year old, so his numbers are solid if not overwhelming
Marcus Hogberg (Linkoping; 3-78/13) 11-10-0 1.99 .928
Fifth in the league in save percentage; well ahead of his partner’s numbers (Jacob Johansson)

WJC performances aren’t great indicators of future performance (eg Louis Leblanc, Brandon McMillanLuke Adam, Josh Godfrey, etc), however, thus far every MVP has gone on to be a good to great NHLer (with the possible exception of Slovakian goaltender Denis Godla, albeit it’s far too soon to say), so that bodes well for Chabot.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

apathy

Nichols penned a post that, among other things, mentions the apparent apathy of the fanbase.  He rejects the idea that this is related to Daniel Alfredsson‘s departure (I completely agree), instead suggesting:

For many, it begins and ends with ownership. The sad reality for many is that they have waning confidence in Eugene Melnyk and his ability to deliver a winner. This goes beyond the simple focus on Ottawa’s player payroll.  A lot of fans refuse to accept the reality of Ottawa’s internal budget

He talks to a lot more fans than I do, so I’m sure some are unwilling to accept the team’s internal budget, but it’s not the only problem with the team.  While Melnyk’s use of the franchise to prop up his own business mistakes is annoying, that’s not at the core of what bothers me.

In Ottawa’s case, the call to win is intense because of the demands ownership places on management to reach the postseason. Thanks to one of Canada’s smallest season ticket bases and rumours about the owner’s liquidity problems, the belief is that short-term competitiveness and playoff gate revenues are put ahead of everything because Melnyk desperately needs this team to be profitable.

This is where ownership causes problems.  It’s easy for a fanbase to embrace a plucky, underdog franchise, but budget + win now is insanity.  Despite that, it’s still not what really bothers me about the organisation.  Nichols adds one final (and for him, surprising) point:

Fortunately, the performance of the team’s prospects — Jonathan Dahlen, Thomas Chabot, Colin White and Filip Chlapik and Filip Ahl — at the World Junior Championships has helped fuel some optimism for the future.

I’m shocked to read this, as it’s not long ago that Nichols was among the biggest complainers about “prospect porn.”  Has he changed, or does he really embrace these players?  I have to think it’s the latter, but I’m not sure what’s changed for him–I hope it’s not merely the presence of these players at the WJC, as neither those appearances or performances are meaningful predictors in terms of future success.

So what bothers me about the Sens?  Management.  My eventual disillusionment with Bryan Murray and subsequent realization that Pierre Dorion is just more of the same has me resigned to short-term decisions based on outdated modes of thinking.  The team’s assessment management has been horrible and their drafting record is simply average.  You cannot manage a budget team without both good drafting and development and that’s not happening here.  Whenever that changes I’ll be a lot more enthusiastic.

Nichols talk of apathy dovetails into something I was looking into recently.  I’ve had the impression for awhile that the Sens blogosphere is shrinking, so to test that idea I took a look at where it stands:
The Black Aces – shutdown in 2014 (even the archives are gone now); the oldest Sens blog, Jeremy Milks offered rough and tumble opinion back in the day
613WPG – deleted by journalist James Gordon after just a few posts last year; great content for the five seconds it existed
Sens Nation – hasn’t posted regular content since 2015, with extremely sporadic posts last year; opinion-based material
WTYKY – just two posts the last two months, with irregularity going back quite a ways; a smorgasbord of material depending on the content provider, but also opinion-based
Senshot – Joel Vanderlaan brought it back from the dead a couple of weeks ago, but there were four months of silence after Ian Smith departed; current content seems to be just be news summaries (nothing you can’t find elsewhere)
The 6th Sens – erratic of late, it’s the only consistent analytics-focused blog (with Travis Yost leaving Hockeybuzz for TSN there’s no other regular provider of said content)
Senschirp – daily content; mix of news summary and opinion
The Silver Seven – daily content; what it provides varies by contributor, but it’s mostly opinion (some analytics from Ary M)

This doesn’t include the daily posts on Hockeybuzz by Jared Crozier, but that’s not a Sens exclusive site so it doesn’t require the fanbase to support it (Crozier is opinion-based and doesn’t hold a candle next to his predecessor Yost).

For a Sens fan looking for content online there’s not much variety (most of the opinion pieces are entirely generic–backed up by little to no analysis).  BSens coverage continues to be almost non-existent (right now it’s Vanderlaan’s news blurbs along with Jeff Ulmer’s Black Aces-esque pieces on The Silver Seven).  Prospect coverage is almost completely dead, although Ary M just adopted performance breakdowns which I applaud (and hope continue).  If the org was selling hope (which is what a budget team should do) I’d imagine there would be a greater focus on prospects.

So to answer my own question: is there blogger shrinkage?  I can’t say from the above–the sample size is just too small.  Readership numbers would be more telling, but I don’t have access to them.  Certainly from my point of view the blogosphere isn’t as dynamic as it was a couple of years ago–nothing comes close to replacing the daily dose of Yost and Nichols reduced production means there’s very little substance to comb through.

prospects

Speaking of prospects Pierre Dorion said this:

The organization would never look at a Russian and not draft him because he’s Russian. Have to look at the individual.

I don’t believe this at all.  The Sens haven’t drafted a Russian out of Russia since 2005 (Muckler regime) and they haven’t drafted a Russian from anywhere else since 2007.  As the easiest for-instance of their attitude, Bryan Murray (and Pierre Dorion) gave up the chance to draft Vladimir Tarasenko in order to get David Rundblad in 2010–saying at the time that they had no interest in the Russian.  Dorion’s first draft showed no radical departure from Murray’s approach–yes, they picked their first Finn since 2005 (Nurmi), but I always thought that absence was purely a fluke rather than policy (the same thing applying to Czech, Slovak, etc players–it has been clear for a long time that the Sens only pay for serious scouting in Sweden when it comes to Europe).  Drafting Russian players often mean you have to pay more because of their KHL-option, and the Sens are cheap, so I think the purpose of Dorion’s comments is to pretend his options are open (the same reason, I believe, he was talking about being able to spend money last year).  While the Sens might sign established Russian NHLers as free agents, there is no chance this regime is going to draft one out of Russia (or even, I’d guess, the CHL).

tort-face

The NHL always coughs up some weird stories and this one reminds of me Patrick Roy’s miracle run with Colorado back in 2013-14.  Who would have thought someone as clueless as John Tortorella would be leading the oddly-built Columbus Blue Jackets to romp through the league?  I’ve looked at coaching before and the collective analysis over the years broadly concludes that 1) results are mostly due to the roster, but that 2) younger coaches, coaches with historical losing records, and Cup winners (other than Randy Carlyle) have positive impacts when brought in.

Analysis

Jonathan Willis writes an interesting article looking at where analytics stands in hockey at the moment, talking about its diversification and the rise of microstats.  An interesting specific he offers is this:

It’s long been a truism in conventional hockey thought that handedness matters—think of P.K. Subban’s difficulties making Team Canada—but it had long been underexplored on the analytics side. Domenic Galamini’s work, published in March, helped change all that. Galamini found that defence pairings in which a player played on his off-side (i.e. a left-shooting defenceman playing on the right side of the ice) suffered a massive disadvantage compared to tandems with two players on their strong sides.

He also mentioned something I missed including here from a few years ago:

Others have pushed further. It’s long been known that shooting from the off-wing increases the chance of scoring (any doubt was erased by a Matt Cane paper in 2014). Yet there’s more to it than that. Tyler Dellow, most recently a consultant for the Edmonton Oilers, has helped drive forward the conversation about how left-shot/right-shot combinations work on power plays, seeing what kind of groupings best drive goals for.

It’s a great summary and I highly suggest reading the entire piece.

wichita-thunder-logo

Wichita jettisoned Daultan Leveille to Brampton, who accomplished nothing after they acquired him from Elmira (10-0-3-3).  Whatever voice in the Sens org that encouraged the move can’t have made Thunder GM Joel Lomurno very happy.

As for the team itself, the bottom has dropped out and they’ve gone 2-9-0 since my last update (11-16-1 on the season).  Sens org favourites Leveille and Nathan Moon have not helped (the team also acquired former Anaheim draft pick Brett Perlini for a couple of games before moving him along).  Here’s a look at top-scorers as well as all Sens/BSens property (arranged by points-per-game, PPG):

Alexis Loiselle 25-14-10-24 (0.96 PPG)
Vincent Arseneau 13-6-4-10 (0.76)
Gabriel Gagne 15-5-4-9 (0.60)
Nathan Moon 16-4-5-9 (0.56)
Louick Marcotte 27-6-9-15 (0.55)
Matt DeBlouw 23-3-8-11 (0.47)
Nick Trecapelli (D) 24-3-8-11 (0.45)
Gerrad Grant 23-3-7-10 (0.43)
James Melindy (D) 28-2-9-11 (0.39)
Macoy Erkamps (D) 21-0-8-8 (0.38)
Landon Oslanski (D) 27-2-8-10 (0.37)
Vincent Dunn 19-1-3-4 (0.21)

Scott Greenham 8-4-0 2.95 .925
Drew Owsley 3-8-0 3.27 .904

No surprises as yet, although certainly the Sens must have hoped for more from Erkamps (Dunn remains a lost cause–it’s amazing to think Randy Lee praised him this summer).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Binghamton Senators: Number Crunching

At the end of last season I did a “with-or-without” list for players versus team-performance and I was curious where things stood with that stat this year.  For those unfamiliar with the idea, what you’re looking for is significant impact of a player being in (or out) of the lineup in terms of wins and losses.  The more games played the more a player’s numbers will regress to the mean.  For the numbers below I excluded those with minimal games played (so Erkamps, GrantDunn, Loiselle, and Doornbosch).  Before the individual stats we can compare this year’s team to last years (for the latter go here, with green representing improvement, red decline):

2015/2016
7-17-2 (0.30), 29th in the league/10-17-3 (0.38), 30th in the league
Goals For: 2.73/2.33 (-0.40)
Goals Against: 3.61/3.33 (+0.28)
PP: 14.6 (13 goals)/11.7 (13 goals) (-2.9%, goals even)
PK: 79.2 (25 against)/78.8 (21 against) (-0.4%, -4 goals)
Win/loss when scoring a PPG: 4-5-1/5-4-2 (slight improvement)
Win/loss when surrendering a PPG: 3-13-1/7-11-1 (improved)

So what has the Kurt Kleinendorst accomplished?  He’s played four more games than at the same point last year and arrives with a slightly better winning percentage.  Offensively the team continues a decline whose trend goes back a few seasons, but defensively there’s been marginal improvement.  On special teams the offensive decline is present and the PK isn’t any better, although the impact of special teams on results is heading in the right direction.  It’s not included above, but Binghamton gives up far fewer penalties than under Luke Richardson’s limp regime.  I’m inclined to put most of the blame on the teams struggles on management–this is their assembly of talent–but Kleinendorst doesn’t get off scot-free.  I’ll delve more into where I think he deserves blame below.

Winning Percentage Individual Numbers (the team is 0.38)
Gabriel Gagne 0.55
Jason Akeson 0.45
Chad Nehring 0.44
Nick Paul 0.42
Chris Carlisle 0.41
Ben Harpur 0.41
Patrick Sieloff 0.40
Alex Krushelnyski 0.40
Fredrik Claesson 0.40
Mike Blunden 0.39
TEAM 0.38
Francis Perron 0.38
Casey Bailey 0.38
Jack Rodewald 0.38
Kyle Flanagan 0.37
Buddy Robinson 0.37
Gulliaume Lepine 0.36
Chris Rumble 0.35
Andreas Englund 0.34
Curtis Lazar 0.34
Mike Kostka 0.33
Phil Varone 0.31
Ryan Rupert 0.31
Zack Stortini 0.29

The least surprising thing about this data is the drag Stortini is on team performance–he’s a terrible player who has neither the speed nor skill to help his teammates.  No one should get excited about Gagne‘s number here–it’s a small sample size during which individually he’s done nothing (10-0-0-0).  Both Akeson and Nehring are quickly regressing to the mean, so on the top side there’s nothing truly notable.  On the bottom end it’s interesting seeing Varone and Kostka well below the norm–this could be a symptom of being overplayed (particularly in the latter’s case)–albeit it’s still a little alarming.  I think where you can question Kleinendorst is in player usage–who he dresses, who he starts, etc, and there’s room for improvement here (albeit we can’t know how hamstrung he is by management edicts).

Here are some other numbers:

Powerplay Leaders
Kostka 5
Rodewald 4
Bailey 4
Carlisle 4
Varone 3
Rumble 3

Even Strength Leaders
McCormick 13
Varone 12
Flanagan 12
Bailey 10
Blunden 9
Paul 9
Robinson 9

Shot Support for Goaltenders (as in, a better shots-for than shots-against ratio)
Matt O’Connor 8-10
Chris Driedger 8-1
Andrew Hammond 2-0
Scott Greenham 0-2

I included this stat simply because of how much more support Driedger has received.  Last year I noted there was more scoring when he was between the pipes–I have no explanation to offer here, I just find it interesting.

A selective Binghamton ‘Where Are They Now’ from last season (Luke Richardson remains unemployed):
Cole Schneider (AHL Rochester) 25-11-17-28
Leads the Amerks in scoring
Eric O’Dell (KHL HK Sochi) 34-5-8-13
He’s 7th in team scoring
David Dziurzynski (DEL Iserlohn) 30-6-5-11
Middling numbers in Germany
Jerome Leduc (Czech Pardubice) 31-3-5-8
2nd in blueline scoring
Travis Ewanyk (ECHL Idaho) 28-12-11-23
Doing well at the level he belongs
Michael Keranen (KHL/Liiga Jokerit/Ilves) 7-1-2-3
Struggling mightily since leaving the Minnesota organisation
Danny Hobbs (Denmark Sonderjysk) 26-9-18-27
Randy Lee-favourite has found a good league for his skills
Mark Fraser (AHL Bakersfield) 25-0-1-1
Being big and fast continues to give him unwarranted opportunities
Ryan Penny (ECHL Reading) 28-6-13-19
Third in team scoring
Nick Tuzzolino (ACH Stoney Creek) 8-0-7-7
If you’re asking wtf is the ACH it’s the Allen Cup League

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

I had some scattered thoughts to share as I take a break from writing Netflix articles:

I was very happy with Ary M‘s prospect piece (go read it if you haven’t).  I like comparative analysis, but I don’t see it enough in blogs (just endless opinions based on…god only knows).

After being traded to the Rangers Matt Puempel sounded off about the Sens coaching staff (not teaching skill and the double standard for skilled players).  This is self-serving on his part, but as it’s something we’ve heard over and over again from players when moved there’s something fundamentally wrong with how Ottawa handles its assets (I’ve discussed this before; about Puempel himself there’s this).

Tom Pyatt and Chris Kelly are struggling…does this really surprise anyone?  When the former was signed I naively assumed he was Binghamton bound, that belief born of the understanding that he’s not an NHL player.  When Kelly was signed it was time for eye-rolling (with later analysis) and a failed attempt to understand why the normally sensible Nichols (and Ross A) were happy about it.  As I pointed out then the move made little sense–an old, declining player with nothing left in the tank?  Apparently more than just management were unable to see the flaws in the off-season.  The question for both players isn’t “why are they struggling,” but rather, “why were they on the roster.”

A bit more randomly: I thought Travis Yost had an article looking at Colton Parayko (3-86/12) and the struggle to draft defensemen, but if so I can no longer find it.  I bring him up because another defenseman taken in the third round of the 2012 draft (3-78 Shayne Gostisbehere) is putting up crazy numbers. Unlike Parayko the Flyer defenseman doesn’t have size (he’s 5’11), which is probably why scouting services didn’t rank him for the draft, but both players are interesting examples of how relatively poor NHL teams are at assessing blueliners.  For those curious, the Sens took Chris Driedger before the Flyers defenseman and Jarrod Maidens before Parayko.

Let’s do a Where Are They Now segment from the draft:
Tobias Lindberg
 (4-102/13 part of the Dion Phaneuf trade) – AHL 22-3-6-9
Mika Zibanejad
 (1-6/11 T – Derrick Brassard) – NYR 19-5-10-15
Stefan Noesen
 (1-21/11 part of the Bobby Ryan trade) – AHL 18-3-8-11
Matt Puempel
 (1-24/11 waivers) – NYR 6-1-0-1
Shane Prince
 (2-61/11 T – 3rd flipped to NJ as part of the Logan Brown trade) – NYI 20-4-5-9
Marcus Sorensen
 (4-106/10 unsigned FA by SJ) – AHL 19-4-4-8
Jared Cowen
 (1-9/09 part of the Dion Phaneuf deal) – was caught up in a failed legal challenge against being bought out by Toronto
Jakob Silfverberg (2-39-09 part of the Bobby Ryan trade) – Ana 29-8-12-20
Robin Lehner (2-46/09 T – 1st pick Colin White) – Buf 5-9-4 2.45 .920
Patrick Wiercioch (2-42/08 FA) – Col 25-2-6-8

What can we gather from this mishmash of characters?  They love trading young prospects for aging veterans; they were 1 for 4 in first round picks between 09-11 (ouch); Silfverberg is better than Ryan now who, in three full seasons, earned the Sens one first-round exit; Zibanejad has been much better than Brassard (as expected); they gave up too early on Lehner (as expected); it’s much harder to call the Prince deal one way or another yet (or giving up on Wiercioch); while his numbers aren’t good this season, I still think tossing Lindberg away was a mistake (he’s buried amidst a talented Marlies roster).  The only silver lining here is that the Sens are able to get something for players who aren’t very good, but it’s almost always older, fading assets.

A final note: Varada emerged from the ether to write 17,000 words on…nothing that actually interests me, but it was good to see him–WTYKY really hasn’t been the same since he hung up the gloves.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)