The Binghamton Senators: Roster Changes and Potential Lineup

The surprise 2011 Calder Cup winners have seen a lot of turnover this off-season, with 16 players departing from the lineup and 12 being added.  As a point of comparison, the turnover from the 2009-10 season was 13 players leaving and 15 players added.  They have lost 6 of their top-10 scoring forwards, all three of their top-3 scoring defencemen, as well as their starting goaltender.  A total of 172 of their 255 goals (67%) have departed.  I’ll take a look at the potential lineup after going over the changes.

Departed Forwards (10)
Kaspars Daugavins, LW (73-19-35-54) – an RFA who was qualified, it appears as though he will jump to the KHL if he does not make the Senators ( [Daugavins has re-signed, but it remains unclear if he will report to Binghamton.]
Ryan Keller (71-32-19-51) – the UFA signed with the Edmonton Oilers ( story/?id=370939)
Ryan Potulny (71-21-28-49) – the Sens did not qualify him and he signed with Washington (
Erik Condra (55-17-30-47) – he signed a two-year, one-way deal with Ottawa
Roman Wick (70-20-22-42) – although qualified as an RFA, he signed a deal with his old team Kloten of the NLA (
Colin Greening (59-15-25-40) – he signed a three-year, one-way deal with Ottawa
Bobby Butler (47-22-11-33) – he signed a two-year, one-way deal with Ottawa
Cody Bass (58-6-9-15) – the Sens did not qualify him and he signed with Columbus (
Zack Smith (22-7-5-12) – he signed a two-year, one-way deal with Ottawa
Jason Bailey, RW (43-2-0-2) – the former Ottawa 67 was an RFA who was not qualified; he is currently without a team

Departed Blueliners (4)
Andre Benoit (73-11-44-55) – there’s a theoretical chance the UFA will re-sign with Ottawa, but rumours have him going to the Swiss league ( meldung/29594) or the Swedish Elite League (!/BergerNeueLZ/status/ 89853654332481536) [Benoit ultimately signed with Spartak Moscow of the KHL,]
Derek Smith (71-10-44-54) – the UFA signed with Calgary ( news.htm?id=569161)
Geoff Kinrade (78-6-19-25) – although qualified as an RFA, signed with Plzen of the Czech Elite League (
David Hale (36-2-4-6) – currently unsigned, the UFA is rumoured to be headed to Europe (!/SunGarrioch for July 6th)

Departed Goaltenders (2)
Barry Brust (52-29-19-2, 2.53, 0.925) – Binghamton’s surprise starting goaltender signed with the Straubing Tigers of the DEL ( article.php?article_file=1310911270.txt)
Mike Brodeur (9-3-5-0, 2.93, 0.903) – the injury-plagued UFA is currently without a team

Forward Additions (7)
Mark Parrish (56-17-34-51) – he played for the Portland Pirates in Buffalo’s system
Stephane Da Costa (NCAA 33-14-31-45) – the college free agent was signed towards the end of last year
Pat Cannone (NCAA 39-14-23-37) – the college free agent was signed towards the end of last year
Derek Grant (NCAA 38-8-25-33) – the 2008 fourth round draft pick left Michigan State after two years to turn pro
Louie Caporusso (NCAA 41-11-20-31) – the 2007 third round draft pick completed his senior year at the University of Michigan
Andre Petersson (SEL 31-8-4-12) – the 2008 fourth round pick was signed after finishing his second full year in the SEL
Wacey Hamilton (WHL 67-20-53-73) – the captain of the Medicine Hat Tigers was signed as a free agent

Blueline Additions (4)
Tim Conboy (70-0-12-12) – he played for the Portland Pirates in Buffalo’s system
Lee Sweatt (41-5-9-14) – signed as a free agent from the Manitoba Moose in Vancouver’s system [Sweatt has unexpectedly retired,!/NortonSports/ status/102063195795111936]
Jared Cowen (WHL 58-18-30-48) – the 2009 first round pick will play his first pro season
Mark Borowiecki (NCAA 31-3-8-11) – the 2008 fifth round pick left Clarkson a year early to turn pro

Goaltending Additions (1)
Mike McKenna (39-14-20-2, 3.61, 0.886) – the free agent goaltender was signed out of the Devil’s system in Albany

Returning Forwards (6)
Corey Locke (69-21-65-86) – the reigning AHL MVP returns for the final year of his deal
Jim O’Brien (74-24-32-56) – the 2007 first round pick had a great sophomore campaign and will look to improve on it in the final year of his ELC
Mike Hoffman (74-7-18-25) – the 2009 fifth round pick will look to take a step forward
David Dziurzynski (75-6-14-20) – the 2010 free agent out of the BCHL looks to take another step in his sophomore year
Corey Cowick (30-1-3-4) – it was a rookie year to forget for the 2009 sixth rounder
Francis Lessard (36-2-1-3) – the veteran heavyweight will return for another season

Returning Blueliners (3)
Patrick Wiercioch (67-4-14-18) – a rough rookie year for the 2008 second rounder
Craig Schira (67-3-10-13) – the 2009 WHL free agent’s numbers tumbled in his sophomore year
Eric Gryba (66-3-4-7) – Ottawa’s 2006 third round pick was Binghamton’s rookie of the year and is in the final year of his ELC

Returning Goaltenders (1)
Robin Lehner (22-10-8-2, 2.70, 0.912) – the 2009 second rounder will look to build off his incredible playoff run

Training camp will have a huge impact on all the prospects, so predicting a lineup is haphazard at best.  My guesses are based largely on comments from within the organisation as well as the performances of the players coming into camp.  Here’s what I think can be taken for granted:
1. Top-six forwards: Locke, O’Brien, Hoffman, Parrish, and Da Costa
2. Top-four blueliners: Wiercioch, Cowen, and Gryba
3. Bottom-six forwards: Dziurzynski, Cowick, Lessard, and Hamilton
4. The goaltending situation is obvious: Lehner starts, McKenna backs-up

Of the remaining forwards, any of Petersson, Grant, Cannone, or Caporusso could play in the top-six.  All were offensive players coming into the system, although I think Grant has the inside track to start because coach Kleinendorst is familiar with him and played him over Cannone in the playoffs this year.

On the blueline, I believe Schira, Borowiecki, and Sweatt will battle it out for the other top-four position.  Borowiecki has the inside track, given that he played ahead of both Wiercioch and Schira in the playoffs.

Assuming the roster remains the same (and I’m correct that Rundblad makes the Senators instead of Cowen), here’s my guess at the starting lineup:

Mike Hoffman-Corey Locke-Mark Parrish
While I think Hoffman is better at center, given the makeup of the roster I believe he’ll play on the wing.  Parrish seems like the most logical player to line up on the right side, although I don’t think he’s guaranteed to remain on the top line just because of his experience.
Derek Grant-Stephane Da Costa-Jim O’Brien
Binghamton is short on the right side and there’s no way Da Costa will play there, so I believe O’Brien will slide over.  My reason for Grant getting the nod at leftwing is above.
This line could also have Dziurzynski in the middle.  I don’t think either Caporusso or Petersson are effective as fourth-liners, but having Dziurzynski adds some size and jam, creating room for their talents.
An interesting mix, as both Cannone and Hamilton bring skill to the table while Lessard adds physicality.  I think it will be tough for Cowick to get into the lineup with all the depth at leftwing, but it’s likely Lessard won’t always play so he’ll slot here then.

Not a fun combination to play against.  Not the most skilled or fleet of foot duo, but particularly in the AHL they should create some havoc.  Both are excellent defensively.
While Borowiecki would be playing on his offside here, I’ll give him credit to beat out the veteran Conboy in adding physicality and defensive attention for his partner.
I’m not sure which is better at playing his weak side, but I believe they make a logical combination (size and toughness paired with skill).  This leaves Schira out, but I think he will work his way into the lineup eventually.

A few related links:
Bobby Butler comments on Robin Lehner‘s growing maturity (July 15):
Tim Murray calls Mark Borowiecki an NHL player (June 28):
Bryan Murray says Mike Hoffman looks like an NHL player: news.htm?id=569478

Senators Player Profile: Chris Neil

This is the fifteenth in a series of profiles on each player for the Ottawa Senators.

Chris Neil, RW, Contract: 2.0/13 (UFA)
6-161/98 (Gauthier), 6’1, Shoots R, YOB 1979, Markdale, Ont
2008-09 60-3-7-10 -13 146pim (14 fights) TOI 10:58 Hits 163
2009-10 68-10-12-22 -1 175pim (13 fights) TOI 11:58 Hits 245
2010-11 80-6-10-16 -14 210pim (12 fights) TOI 12:45 Hits 258

These days the seasons are up or down for veteran Chris Neil.  Three years ago, in his contract year, Neil had a disappointing injury-plagued season.  Despite that, Bryan Murray re-signed him to his current four-year deal, having faith that the season was an aberration.  Neil responded well the following year, scoring 10 goals for only the fourth time in his career.

This past season Neil struggled along with the rest of the Senators.  Although he was in the lineup for the most games since the 2006-07 season, his numbers were down and he posted the worst plus/minus of his career.  He also logged the most penalty minutes since his rookie year, but his fight totals were down.  All the indicators are heading south and there wasn’t much change in his game late in the season when the Senators were playing better (he was part of trade rumours heading into the deadline,, and he was also critical of his teammates during the year, 16729681.html).

One of the best middle-weight fighters in the game and a feared hitter, Neil may be on the downside of his career and his style of play doesn’t lend itself to longevity.  That being said, he still has a lot to offer and I have no issue with him starting the season with the team.  I do wonder about his long term future however, as the number of Senators who can fight and play physical begins to grow (Zack Smith, Zenon Konopka, etc).  Reasonable expectations for him next season would be 15-20 points with 6-8 goals.

Neil’s hit on Bryan Little:
Neil‘s hit on Chris Drury:
Neil fights Rick Rypien:
Neil scores against Washington:

Next up is Zenon Konopka.