Binghamton Player Profile: Kaspars Daugavins

This is the eighth profile on prospects expected to play for the Binghamton Senators.

Kaspars Daugavins, LW, Contract: 0.600/12 (RFA)
3-91 2006 (Muckler), 6’0, Shoots L, YOB 1988, Riga, LAT
2008-09 AHL 23-2-1-3 9pim (1 fight)
2008-09 OHL 30-11-17-28 35pim (1 fight)
2009-10 AHL 72-21-25-46 16pim
2010-11 AHL 73-19-35-54 34pim

Picked in John Muckler’s last draft, Daugavins was playing for HK Riga in Latvia and was overlooked by Central Scouting (although he was ranked #118 by ISS); he came to the attention of scouts at the WJC.  After he was drafted Daugavins joined the St. Michael’s Majors of the OHL.  He played two full seasons in the OHL before turning pro.

Daugavins joined Cory Clouston’s squad in Binghamton for the 2008-09 season, but struggled and was loaned to the Majors in late December (www.mississauga.com/ article/25937).  He put up his usual numbers back in junior.  The following season, under coach Don Nachbaur, Daugavins finally found his stride as a pro.  He finished sixth in scoring on the team and earned his only NHL call-up.

Coming into this past season, Daugavins was expected to be a key figure in Binghamton and one of the primary candidates to be called up in case of injury.  He had a slow start and was a healthy scratch five times in November.  After that experience, Daugavins hit his stride and caught fire (56-46), finishing fourth in scoring.  The Senators tried calling him up late in the season, but on that occasion he was injured.  Daugavins was a force in the playoffs, finishing third in scoring and first among prospects.  He described the playoff experience as “The run to the Calder Cup was hard, but it paid off and was such a great feeling.  I finally felt like a champion and was happy for all the work we put in during the season” (http://www.puckagency.com/ 2011/07/13/the-legend-of-kaspars-daugavins-continues-to-grow/).

Entering the off-season the Senators qualified Daugavins, but he didn’t immediately accept and he signed a tryout contract in the KHL (www.dinamoriga.eu/lv/news/view/ parbaudes-laika-ligumi-ar-vairakiem-hokejistiem).  The tryout wouldn’t affect his future in North America, but left many wondering if Daugavins would report to the Sens.  In August he signed a new deal (not his qualifying offer) that included a slight raise in his NHL salary (600k) and a significant increase in his AHL salary (105k).  It’s assumed that he will report not just to training camp but to the AHL as well.

The issue that Daugavins struggled with this past season was conditioning, which may explain his desire to join a KHL training camp (European camps open earlier than their North American counterparts).  I don’t believe he has a chance to make the Senators out of training camp, although he’s an obvious choice to be called up.  His production in Binghamton should take another step forward, so assuming he stays healthy 60-65 points can be expected.

His Hockey Futures profile: www.hockeysfuture.com/prospects/kaspars_daugavins
A great shootout goal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkIXY_5m7Dg
Interviewed in the Calder Cup playoffs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vce9x1ivC7o
OT winner against Manchester: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlsK-YCz1ok

Next up is Robin Lehner.

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Binghamton Senators Sign Two Blueliners

According to the Binghamton website (www.binghamtonsenators.com/news/topnews/ index.html?article_id=1112) blueliners Bobby Raymond and Josh Godfrey have signed AHL contracts with the club.  The undrafted Raymond was part of the Binghamton team that won the Calder Cup last year (playing in nine games), while Godfrey (a former Washington draft pick) spent most of last year with South Carolina in the ECHL.  The signings give the organisation some depth in case of injuries or trades.

Bobby Raymond, D, Contract: AHL
Undrafted, 5’11, Shoots L, YOB 1985, Lucknow, Ont
2009-10 France 26-4-6-10 26pim
2010-11 ECHL 72-8-26-34 68pim

Raymond is an NCAA (RIT) grad who lead the ECHL in plus/minus last year.  [A note about Raymond: when not playing in Binghamton he’ll play with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL, not Elmira.]

Josh Godfrey, D, Contract: AHL
2-34 2007 (McPhee), 6’1, Shoots R, YOB 1988, Collingwood, Ont
2009-10 ECHL 29-5-11-16 20pim
2010-11 ECHL 49-15-12-27 24pim

Godfrey was a member of Canada’s 2008 WJC team, but hasn’t been able to find a permanent home at the higher pro levels.  Here’s what Hockey Futureshad to say in their talent analysis: “Godfrey’s calling card coming out of was his Al MacInnis-like slapshot. His defensive game was patchy at best and would need refining at the pro level if he was ever to be a competent NHL defenseman. Godfrey’s development has been slowed by injury during his first two years with the Capitals – which have limited him to parts of two seasons spent mostly with South Carolina in the ECHL. When on the ice, Godfrey has begun to use his stick handling skills and skating ability more often as well as remaining a threat from the point, particularly on the power play, with his shot. He is still figuring out positional play and situational awareness. Despite his size, he is
not an especially physical player but is a better than average skater for a big man” (http://www.hockeysfuture.com/prospects/josh_godfrey).

Binghamton Player Profile: Corey Cowick

This is the seventh profile on prospects expected to play for the Binghamton Senators.

Corey Cowick, LW, Contract: 0.611/13 (RFA)
6-160 2009 (Murray), 6’2, Shoots L, YOB 1989, Gloucester, Ont
2008-09 OHL 68-34-26-60 48pim (2 fights)
2009-10 OHL 27-15-6-21 33pim (1 fight)
2010-11 ECHL 31-5-9-14 76pim
2010-11 AHL 30-1-3-4 20pim (2 fights)

Only the second Ottawa 67 ever drafted by the Senators (the others are Will Colbert in 2003 and Shane Prince this year), Cowick was coming off his best year in the OHL.  A power forward whose career kicked off when he was brought to Ottawa from Oshawa, the hope was for continued improvement in his final season in the OHL.  Unfortunately for Cowick, he was injured in the pre-season and played only 27 games.

Coming into his first training camp, Cowick was optimistic, “I just want to turn more heads.  At development camp I think I did a good job of establishing myself as a player in the organization. I just want to continue that and take it day-by-day.  I want to get in an exhibition game, so I want to prove myself enough at this rookie tournament so that I don’t give them a choice. I want to make them have to put me in an exhibition game and then go from there.  For me, everything stays the same. It doesn’t matter where I am. I’m going to go out and hit as many people as I can. I don’t want to try to do too much and hinder my game.”  Pierre Dorion said of Cowick, “Down the road, he’s got a big spot in our organization.  We see him as a shutdown kind of guy who is going to play some important minutes against the other teams’ top lines in the future or even near future. What he’s got to work on is just executing quicker and moving the puck quicker. If he’s able to do things at a quicker pace, I think he’ll have a realistic chance of making our team” (http://www.ottawasun.com/sports/hockey/2010/09/10/15314321.html).

His rookie season did not go according to plan.  Cowick began the year in Binghamton as a healthy scratch, with his primary competition for ice time being David Dziurzynski.  When he did make it into the lineup, he got suckered into a fight with John Kurtz who concussed him.  When Cowick was healthy again in mid-November there was no room on the roster for him, so he was sent to Elmira in the ECHL.  Cowick remained in Elmira until mid-February, his numbers insignificant, with rumours of him clashing with coach Malcolm Cameron (who was fired in February).  When NHL call-ups made room for him, Cowick enjoyed a good couple of weeks (scoring all his AHL points of the season) before becoming an unproductive fourth line player.  With the return of all the NHL call-ups, he had no hope of getting into Binghamton’s lineup for the playoffs.

When he was interviewed this summer, Cowick talked about his lost development opportunity (www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/Sens+prospect+Corey+Cowick/5013381/ story.html?cid=megadrop_story), but said he wasn’t looking for a change of scenery and wanted to move up on the depth chart.  Going into this year’s training camp, Cowick will be trying to make Binghamton’s roster, not Ottawa’s.  I believe he’ll have a difficult time getting into the lineup; he will need to either start producing or else increase his physical play.  Assuming he stays healthy and plays a full season, Cowick could put up 10-15 points.

Interviewed after being drafted: http://video.senators.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=45112
Concussed by John Kurtz: http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/97722
Fights Jake Carrick: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqq_E83COQ8
Cowick and Borowiecki‘s day with the Calder Cup: video.senators.nhl.com/ videocenter/console?id=121141

Next up is Kaspars Daugavins.

Senators News Update (Jack Downing, Marcus Sorensen, Erik Condra, Nikita Filatov, and Ben Blood)

With NHL training camps opening in less than a month, organisational news and speculation is beginning to appear more and more.  Here’s a look at the most interesting items:

[August 26 update: the Downing signing is official (www.binghamtonsenators.com/ news/topnews/index.html?article_id=1114).  It’s an AHL contract, so if he fails to make the team he’ll play in Elmira of the ECHL.]

-Elite Prospects has posted a rumour that NCAA University of Vermont grad Jack Downing has signed with Binghamton (http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=19064).  Normally I wouldn’t comment on a rumour like this, but it has been picked up by Binghamton beat-writer Joy Lindsay (www.pressconnects.com/apps/ pbcs.dll/section?category=PluckPersona&U=551340dd39644ae695cca9fe0180e879 &plckPersonaPage=BlogViewPost&plckUserId=551340dd39644ae695cca9fe0180e879& plckPostId=Blog%3a551340dd39644ae695cca9fe0180e879Post%3ad609e6dd-1e48-4250-aa1e-ce9817d072a4&plckController=PersonaBlog&plckScript=personaScript& plckElementId=personaDest).  Personally, I don’t see Ottawa adding another forward to the AHL-roster (there are already 14 forwards signed for Binghamton’s lineup).  If the rumour does have validity, I could see Downing actually signed for Elmira’s roster (ECHL) or participating in Ottawa’s rookie tournament.

-Sens prospect Marcus Sorensen (4-106 2010), who signed with Skelleftea of the SEL this past spring, is being loaned to the Allsvenskan (the second-tier pro league in Sweden).   Sorensen said “I think it’s good to play [in the Allsvenskan] in the top two lines instead of a fourth line in Skellefteå.  Hopefully this is just a few weeks or a month and that I later I will be back in Skellefteå again.  Of course I’m disappointed but there’s nothing to do about it, but go full speed ahead and hope that I’m back again soon” (http://translate.google.se/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=sv&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=sv&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fnorran.se%2Fsport%2Farticle1192418.ece&act=url, I took some liberties with this to make the translation clearer).

-NHL.com includes Erik Condra as a player to watch (www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=587059) as they look at Ottawa heading into the 2011-12 season; the analysis of the team is pretty sparse

Le Droit‘s Simon Cremer takes a look at how Ottawa fans react to skilled players (supportathletique.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/les-fans-dottawa-et-nikita-filatov), fearing fans will jump all over Nikita Filatov if he doesn’t have an immediate impact (and perhaps even if he does).  It’s an interesting argument, but the point I definitely agree with is that fans favour grinders and plumbers over danglers (Peter Regin is a great example of a guy who is good defensively, but only gets credit for points-scored).

Senshot conducted an interview with Brad Schlossman (senshot.com/2011/08/04/ prospect-profile-ben-blood) who covers the UND Fighting Sioux (home of Ben Blood, 4-120 2007).  A few quotes: “Blood was a first-pair defenseman last season, playing alongside Los Angeles Kings first-rounder Derek Forbort. Blood should be UND’s top defenseman this season. … He will be their top penalty-killing defenseman this season. I’m also expecting him to see some power play time. … The Sioux lost their top two point guys on the power play in Chay Genoway (Wild) and Matt Frattin (Leafs).  I think the pro atmosphere [of UND] is probably an advantage rather than pressure. … He has been one of the guys setting the tone in the weight room the last couple of summers and I’m guessing he’s doing the same this year.  He’s got good size, good reach and is very good defensively. He’s capable of producing at least one big hit per game. Almost never lets guys [get] around him. He’s very good at doing the little things. He can win a battle along the boards and flip a backhand high off the glass to get it out of the zone. [He’s] just a reliable defenseman.  He has better than average puck skills and I think we really started to see some of those come out last year. You don’t expect him to ever take the puck to the net, but he did it on a couple of occasions last year. I think he can further develop his offensive skills this year.  He’s a legit prospect. He will play in the NHL. Most defensemen have a stint in the AHL to start their careers and Blood may as well. But I would be surprised if he doesn’t reach the NHL during his rookie season. … He’s a guy who is outstanding at the little things and isn’t a fun matchup for opponents.”

Binghamton Senators Profile: Craig Schira

This is the sixth profile on prospects expected to play for the Binghamton Senators.

Craig Schira, D, Contract: 0.545/12 (RFA)
FA 2009 (Murray), 6’0, Shoots R, YOB 1988, Spiritwood, SK
2008-09 WHL 71-16-43-59 46pim (2 fights)
2009-10 AHL 68-8-13-21 27pim (1 fight)
2010-11 AHL 67-3-10-13 18pim (2 fights)

The undersized blueliner was signed as a free agent out of the WHL in 2009 at a time when Binghamton had few blueline prospects on the roster (Brian LeeDerek Smith, and Tomas Kudelka).  It was Schira‘s fifth full season in the WHL, having enjoyed a career year playing with the likes of Jonathan Blum (Nashville first-rounder) and Brent Regner (Columbus fifth-rounder).  Schira had begun his WHL career with the Regina Pats, but didn’t blossom until he joined Vancouver in 2007-08.

Like virtually every rookie, Schira found the initial transition to the AHL difficult–the speed and size of the players particularly (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFwjqaJ24N4).  He was the youngest blueliner in Binghamton (excluding Erik Karlsson‘s month in the minors), finishing third in defensive scoring (behind Derek Smith and Geoff Kinrade).

Coming into last season, Schira was optimistic after his rookie season, “I see myself as someone who is going to play in the NHL, I felt great. I had to get used to the speed, but after that I thought I played well” (http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/35256-Craig-Schira-joins-crew-of-young-defencemen-knocking-on-Senators-door.html).  He was returned to Binghamton under new coach Kurt Kleinendorst.  Unlike his rookie season, Schira found himself in more of a shutdown role and saw his production slip.  He was also an occasional scratch (3 times).  He played the entire opening round series against Manchester, but missed the next two rounds via injury and by the time he was healthy again there was no room for him in the lineup.

Going into this season the numbers seemed against Schira, but the retirement of Lee Sweatt (http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/08/12/no-sweatt-sens-free-agent-pickup-retires-before-camp) benefits him more than anyone else.  Should the lineup stay the way it is, Schira will be a regular and has a chance to play his way up in the lineup.  Any trade of a blueliner at the NHL level benefits him also.  However, I won’t make predictions passed on hypotheticals.  As it stands Schira‘s a bottom pairing player who is unlikely to play on the powerplay, so if he stays healthy a good season would see him produce 20 points.

Discusses his first pro season: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFwjqaJ24N4
Fights Stu Bickel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6c5oYKsVLc
Nice hit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzMEts0yjd8

Next up is Ottawa native Corey Cowick.

Binghamton Player Profile: David Dziurzynski

This is the fifth profile on prospects expected to play for the Binghamton Senators.

David Dziurzynski, C/LW, Contract: 0.6/13 (RFA)
FA 2010 (Murray), 6’3, Shoots L, YOB 1989, Lloydminster, AB
2008-09 AJHL 54-12-25-37 185pim (5 fights)
2009-10 BCHL 57-21-53-74 79pim (5 fights)
2010-11 AHL 75-6-14-20 57pim (3 fights)

On April 4th, 2010, Bryan Murray signed BCHL free agent David Dziurzynski.  Originally intending to play in the NCAA, his agent advised him to turn pro and Dziurzynski choose the Sens’ bonus-laden contract over other offers (he receives a $50,000 signing bonus each year of the deal).  Prior to the 2009-10 season, Dziurzynski was a physical forward in the AJHL who wasn’t on anybody’s radar, but he enjoyed a breakout season that demonstrated his skill with Alberni Valley.

The Silver Seven posted comments about Dziurzynski: “He [an agent] says David Dziurzynski is huge, strong and very slick. He says he has very soft hands and can skate like the wind. He was on the top line (league wide) with 2 brothers (one of whom was a 4th round pick of Montreal…Mark Macmillan [the other was Mitch Macmillan, now playing in the NCAA]). Turns out David was the reason that line was so dominant. Lots of 2nd assists and even more ‘3rd‘ assists. My agent said in the playoffs, when the team was losing, the kid “decided” to stop making his linemates look so good and took over. Look up his playoff stats….pretty impressive.  The kid has a grade 9 education, and was heading up to Fort MacMurray to work the oil rigs (and disappear from the hockey scene) but after such a strong season, was hustled by Edmonton, Ottawa, NYR and another team (forgot the 4th…sorry).  My agent has seen plenty of talented kids move from the WHL/BCHL to the NHL and, to quote ‘this kid could very well stun some people'” (www.silversevensens.com/2010/7/14/1568683/some-info-on-david-dziurzynski).

Dziurzynski himself, commenting on the signing and his breakout season, said “It’s the best fit for me to develop. They have a great program and their focus on development was one of the main attractions.  It [Alberni] was a great experience.  The league is unbelievable. It changed my life. I had a couple good linemates that I played with — it was the best line in the BCHL.”  His coach, Nolan Graham, added “When we start talking about David, Mark and Mitch were great for him.  David’s a big guy and he’s strong on the puck, but I think what he brings is a great hockey sense and we all saw that in the playoffs.  In Game 5 against Nanaimo, he assisted on a big-time goal and I don’t know if anyone in the building saw Mark MacMillan open on the backdoor. He really made that line click and was huge for us offensively” (www.bchl.bc.ca/leagues/ newsletter.cfm?clientID=1413&leagueID= 2393&page=43942&stype=2).

Despite the jump in level to the AHL, Dziurzynski had an easier transition than many of his fellow rookies (he essentially took Corey Cowick‘s spot on the roster).  After being scratched the first three games of the season, he remained in the lineup (when healthy) the rest of the season.  Primarily a depth player, he did show some skill (enjoying a hot streak in January where he posted 9 of his season’s 20 points).  Dziurzynski played the first 12 games of Binghamton’s Calder Cup run, but was then scratched with the return of Cody Bass (he returned to the lineup for two games in the final as an injury replacement for Roman Wick).  All in all it was a very successful rookie season for Dziurzynski, but not the kind to generate any hype.

There’s no question that Dziurzynski will return for another year in Binghamton.  He’ll play in the bottom six, although whether he’ll stay on the wing or move to center remains to be seen.  He’s unlikely to receive powerplay time, but he should see his production increase if he can stay healthy (25-30 points).  Depending on his development curve, he will be challenging for a spot in the next year or two.

Dziurzynski scores twice in the BCHL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrcTPWG4nHY
A fantastic BCHL goal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UDS8cNoowU
Fights Nick Buchanan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROZRY5cQsRI

Next up is Craig Schira.

Binghamton Player Profile: Jim O’Brien

This is the fourth profile on prospects expected to play for the Binghamton Senators.

Jim O’Brien, C/RW, Contract: 0.816,666/12 (RFA)
1-29 2007 (Murray), 6’2, Shoots R, YOB 1989, Maplewood, MN
2008-09 WHL 63-27-35-62 55pim (1 fight)
2009-10 AHL 76-8-9-17 49pim (1 fight)
2010-11 AHL 74-24-32-56 67pim (2 fights)

Jim O’Brien was Bryan Murray’s first ever draft pick for the Ottawa Senators, although he became GM just prior to the draft and there’s no doubt that John Muckler’s draft philosophy guided the selection.  The 2007 draft was considered weak (mckeenshockey.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=604850,) without much depth and many have been critical of O’Brien‘s selection.  Ranked 25th by Central Scouting and 38th by ISS, O’Brien was a graduate of the U.S. National Development Program.  He had just completed his first year at the University of Minnesota, where as a rookie he’d put up decent numbers (43-7-8-15) on a team featuring Kyle Okposo and Erik Johnson.  Coach Don Lucia said “I think for Jimmy, it’s more of where he is going to get to when he fills out. He’s 6’2 and will be 200-210 when he really fills out. That’s when he’ll become the complete player and that’s two or three years down the line. You project players and where they are today, but it’s even more important where they can get to. I think Jimmy has got a pretty good top end. He’s going to get stronger in the weight room; it’s just a matter of time. He’s dedicated to that and puts in the time. He has to work on his lower body/leg strength, which will make him a better skater also. Jimmy is the consummate team player and he has high expectations for himself. He has good skills. He can score, make plays and pass the puck. I think his competitiveness is one of his strengths. He wants to get better and he’s willing to work to get better. He’s very committed and he’s going to get there with his dedication, commitment and work ethic” (www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/9451/2007_prospects_jim_obrien/).

After the draft O’Brien left the NCAA and joined Seattle in the WHL where he enjoyed a solid rookie season.  Improving on his production the following year, he was selected as a member of Team USA in the WJC and played well.  Although O’Brien was never a dominant player in the WHL, he was expected to do well when he joined Binghamton for the 2009-10 season (http://senators.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=480916).

O’Brien quickly found himself in coach Don Nachbaur’s dog house.  Although he was rarely scratched, he received little ice time and the year was considered a complete failure.  When the season was over the organisation told O’Brien that he was in danger of no longer being considered a prospect.  To O’Brien‘s credit, he took the criticism to heart and worked hard over the summer (www.ottawasun.com/sports/hockey/2011/01/ 02/16735431.html).  About his rookie year he said “Last year was definitely a learning experience for me. Strength-wise, I  don’t think I was there. But I learned a lot during the year and I got  better as I went along. I went home this summer and off the ice, I worked  harder than I ever have before. I came into camp and came into the year  feeling great … It definitely went a lot better than last year. I felt good out there and it was definitely a good feeling coming out of camp.

This past season in Binghamton O’Brien spent much of the year playing with Erik Condra and he enjoyed great success.  He was called up on four separate occasions to the Senators and acquitted himself well (http://senators.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=547957) although he could not earn a permanent call-up like his linemate. Ultimately, O’Brien finished second in scoring behind Corey Locke.  While he struggled in the playoffs (finishing 11th in scoring), it did not diminish the fact that he’d pulled himself off the prospect scrapheap.  The Ottawa Sun (the article isn’t signed) speculated that O’Brien would have a shot in the upcoming season’s camp (www.ottawasun.com/ sports/hockey/2011/01/25/ 17024581.html), a sentiment I do not share.

Assuming O’Brien puts the same effort in training this summer as he did last year, he should have a good year in Binghamton.  He’ll receive top-six ice time and assuming he stays healthy his production will increase (60-65 points is a reasonable expectation).  His future as a NHL prospect is clearer now–that of a bottom-six, depth player–although it remains to be seen if that will be achieved as a Senator.

His Hockey Futures profile (the analysis is pre-draft): www.hockeysfuture.com/ prospects/jim_obrien
O’Brien fights Michael Vernace: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmvbnXEq-Cg
O’Brien interviewed in the fall: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNSqPOAohmY

David Dziurzynski is next.