The Hockey News 2012 NHL Draft Guide

The Hockey News 2012 NHL draft guide is out and here’s a look at their top-30 rankings along with my thoughts about the publication:

1. Nail Yakubov
2. Filip Forsberg
3. Mikhail Grigorenko
4. Ryan Murray
5. Matt Dumba
6. Morgan Rielly
7. Alex Galchenyuk
8. Griffin Reinhart
9. Jacob Trouba
10. Cody Ceci
11. Radek Faksa
12. Teuvo Teravainen
13. Derrick Pouliot
14. Sebastian Collberg
15. Hampus Lindholm
16. Zemgus Girgensons
17. Brandan Gaunce
18. Matthew Finn
19. Ludvig Bystrom
20. Olli Maata
21. Andrei Vasilevski
22. Pontus Aberg
23. Slater Koekkoek
24. Tomas Hertl
25. Thomas Wilson
26. Brady Skjei
27. Mike Matheson
28. Ville Pokka
29. Dalton Thrower
30. Stefan Matteau

The Hockey News (Adam Proteau wrote the blurb) believes the Sens need secondary scoring along with depth and sandpaper on their blueline.  They see Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad as the next players in the pipeline, but say they “lack size.”  Silfverberg doesn’t have a big frame, but no one who has looked at Zibanejad (in person or on paper) would mistake him for a small player.  There’s no mock draft included in the issue, but purely by the rankings Hampus Lindholm would be their candidate.  Ottawa ranks fifth in THN’s “Future Watch”.  Their list of shrewd post-lockout picks are (they actually mean lockout onward, given that they include 2005 picks): Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, Zack Smith, Erik Condra, Colin Greening, and Robin Lehner.  Their list of poor selections are Brian Lee and Jim O’Brien.

I’m not a huge fan of THN’s draft prognosis (last year they were the worst among sources as far as they ranked (three rounds)), but it’s the least expensive option available and it does provide profiles of the top-100 players.


Senators News: May 30th

Bruce Garrioch continues to pump out trade rumours by giving us his top-five Sens likely to be traded:
1. Nick Foligno(RFA), “At times, Foligno has left the Senators wanting more and that’s the message Murray delivered during their post-season meeting: If Foligno is going to be back, the team wants him to a be consistent, top two-line [top-line] player. If Murray decides to deal Foligno, there will be plenty of interest. Teams love his potential.”  All Ottawa would get back for Foligno is another player with the same issues–unrealised potential–so I don’t see him moving unless he was signed and part of a package deal.
2. Sergei Gonchar, “He won’t be shopped, but you can be assured Murray will listen to offers. The Senators were pleased with the way Gonchar finished last season. He was a strong, consistent performer.”  If anyone can figure out how this adds up to being moved they are welcome to explain it to me.
3. Robin Lehner, “The club wasn’t thrilled with the way 20-year-old Lehner developed last season in Binghamton. His work ethic was called into question, but he’s showing signs of maturity and that’s a positive for his career.”  I’m not sure if Garrioch means the organisation called his work ethic into question or not, since only the former is relevant.  Regardless, why give up on a young player when all you would get back is another young player with question marks?  It makes no sense, particularly given the great unknown that is Ben Bishop as an NHL-regular.
4. Zack Smith, “If he’s moved, Smith is simply a victim of depth at centre.”  I get the feeling Garrioch was pulling names out of a hat–or else trying to rationalise how to make room for his Chris Kelly rumours.
5. Bobby Butler, “The Senators will likely try to get something done after Butler scored six goals in 56 games this season, but it would be a tough sell for any team to give him a fresh start with that contract attached.”  The only realistic name on the list (as echoed by Lyle Richardson), I don’t think Butler will be as hard to move as Garrioch thinks, given that Matt Gilroy has already been traded twice based on his college career rather than his NHL achievements.

DaveYoung digs into Nick Foligno‘s numbers to assess if he’s a top-six talent.  He points out that 4 of Foligno‘s 15 goals were of the empty-net variety and that he lead the team in secondary assists ratio.  Dave concludes, “So even in a career year for Nick Foligno, his numbers were skewed by secondary assists and empty net goals. If he doesn’t get those empty netters, and only scores 11 goals on the season, is that what we are looking for from a top-6 player? I don’t think so.”  I also think Foligno is better suited to third-line duty.

Varada suggests fans overvalue their prospects (true) and that a proven commodity like Rick Nash is worth the salary and flatlined production.  In essence, he suggests the ridiculous package Columbus is looking for is worth it.  I understand Varada’s point, but there are three things to keep in mind here: 1) organisations that constantly trade away their prospects (like Columbus) don’t succeed long term or (usually) at all in the post-lockout era, 2) the numbers Varada sites (“even if Nash “only” scores you 25-30 goals for the next few years and never breaks that 70 point barrier again“) are Milan Michalek numbers–I’m not suggesting they are the same player, but if that’s the production you are going to get for 7.8 million you really are better off waiting and hoping for your prospects to pan out, finally 3) there’s no chance Nash will accept a trade to Ottawa.

-Here’s my look at Future Considersations 2012 NHL Draft Guide.

-Radio ratings are largely meaningless (link), but for local sports fans The Team 1200 sits 13th among Ottawa stations with their numbers declining.  A number of personalities were fired in February (Jim Jerome, Phil Melanson, and Mike Sutherland), and while I take no pleasure in anyone losing their jobs both Jerome and Melanson were understandably first in line to be let go.  I haven’t listened to the station regularly in months, largely because most of the personalities are all cut from the same cloth.  While I love hockey talk, debate doesn’t work well when both parties essentially agree (Jason York and Steve Lloyd spring to mind).

Future Considerations 2012 NHL Draft Guide

Future Considerations 2012 NHL draft guide is out and here’s a look at their top-30 rankings along with my thoughts about the publication:

1). RW Nail Yakupov, Sarnia, OHL, 5-10.5, 189

2). C Alex Galchenyuk, Sarnia, OHL, 6-1, 185

3). D Ryan Murray, Everett, WHL, 6-0.5, 200

4). C Mikhail Grigorenko, Quebec, QMJHL, 6-3, 200

5). LW Filip Forsberg, Leksand, Swe., 6-2, 180

6). D Jacob Trouba, USNTDP U18, USHL, 6-2, 195

7). D Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton, WHL, 6-4, 205

8). RW Teuvo Teravainen, Jokerit Jr., Fin Jr., 5-11, 165

9). D Morgan Rielly, Moose Jaw, WHL, 5-11.5, 190

10). D Mathew Dumba, Red Deer, WHL, 5-11.5, 180

11). D Cody Ceci, Ottawa, OHL, 6-2.5, 210

12). RW Sebastian Collberg, Frolunda Jr., Swe Jr., 5-11, 175

13). C Radek Faksa, Kitchener, OHL, 6-3, 200

14). D Derrick Pouliot, Portland, WHL, 5-11, 185

15). D Hampus Lindholm, Rogle Jr., Swe Jr. 6-2, 195

16). RW Colton Sissons, Kelowna, WHL, 6-1, 190

17). LW Nicolas Kerdiles, USNTDP U18, USHL, 6-1.5, 200

18). C Brendan Gaunce, Belleville, OHL, 6-2, 215

19). C Zemgus Girgensons, Dubuque, USHL, 6-1.5, 200

20). C Tomas Hertl, Slavia Praha, Czech Rep, 6-2, 195

21). G Andrei Vasilevski, Ufa, MHL, 6’-3.5”, 205

22). LW Pontus Aberg, Djurgarden, SEL., 5-11, 195

23). D Slater Koekkoek, Peterborough, OHL, 6-2, 185

24). D Ludvig Bystrom, Modo Jr., Swe Jr., 6-1, 205

25). G Oscar Dansk, Brynas Jr., Swe Jr., 6-2.5, 185

26). D Matt Finn, Guelph, OHL, 6-0, 195

27). D Olli Maatta, London, OHL, 6-1.5, 190

28). D Dalton Thrower, Saskatoon, WHL, 5-11.5, 190

29). G Malcolm Subban, Belleville, OHL, 6-1, 188

30). RW Tom Wilson, Plymouth, OHL, 6-4, 205

In FC’s mock draft they have Ottawa selecting Hampus Lindholm in the first round, saying “A nice cupboard full of forward talent from the past three drafts means the semi-rebuild will be a quick one. They need to focus now on acquiring some impact defensemen with their first rounder and possibly their second rounder in this draft. They go back to Sweden where they have experienced success and grab Lindholm with this pick.”  They list Ottawa’s needs as “A couple puck moving defensemen and goaltender depth.”  I agree wholeheartedly about the organisational need, although I expect the Sens will take the best player available.

Unlike the ISS guide there’s no examination of team depth, but they include goaltenders in their general listings (unlike ISS or Central Scouting) and for an inexpensive product Future Considerations is a solid purchase.  In terms of predictive success, last year FC was at the bottom of publications in terms of the percentage of listed players selected (44%, tied with Red Line Report), but was tied for first (again with RLR) for the most specific selections (player X at position X).

Senators News: May 29th

Bruce Garrioch has a lot to say in his latest article:
1) he’s still beating the drum on a Sergei Gonchar trade (“While the Senators will likely try to deal blueliner Sergei Gonchar — who has one year left at $5.5 million — to make room for Erik Karlsson’s new deal“).  Nichols takes this speculation more seriously than I do and points out the obvious flaw, “As unlikely that it is that they’ll be able to find a taker without inheriting taking back a terrible contract in return, it’s almost just as unlikely that they would move Gonchar knowing that they’re likely to lose Filip Kuba to unrestricted free agency.”  It simply makes no sense for the Sens to lose Gonchar and Kuba when the free agent pool is thin and the Sens lack defensive depth.
2) Garrioch wonders if the Sens would part with either Robin Lehner or Ben Bishop (presumably Gord Wilson would be signed to replace whoever was moved) to land a quality forward.  I have no idea what Bruce was smoking when he came up with this cannard, but with the glut of quality free agent goaltenders and the lack of any goaltending depth in the organisation this simply won’t happen.
3) Columbus GM Scott Howson wanted a roster player, first round pick, Mika Zibanejad, and Mark Stone for Rick Nash.  Yikes!

Darren Kramer talked about his journey to become a pro, “It was a big question mark for me and I didn’t know which direction I was going to go. It’s a life decision you have to make, but now that I’ve signed, it’s a relief to know this is the path I’ll be taking for the next few years. The intentions are to make the team in Ottawa but in reality, you know there are a lot of equally skilled players competing for spots. So chances are you’re going to have to be spending some times in the minors. Either way, I’ll be working hard to get to the National Hockey League. Everything has to get much better to make the step … the biggest thing is my foot speed and making sure I can keep up to the pro game. The guys you’re going to be playing with are all men now, so you also want to make sure you’re stronger and your body is where you want it to be physically.”  Bryan Murray stated the obvious in saying, “We know both [Kramer and Jakub Culek] will take a little time and development, but the door is very much open now in Binghamton for them to start their pro careers  … hopefully, they will take advantage of (the opportunity).”

Nichols has typed out an interview between Pierre Dorion and The Team 1200 and provides insightful commentary for it.  There’s no real news, other than the possibility that the Sens might trade up in the draft.

Ken McKenna presents his prospect awards for the Sens: Mark Stone is the most improved, Jim O’Brien the best defensive prospect, Stefan Noesen the hardest worker, Jakob Silfverberg the prospect of the year, Shane Prince the fastest skater, Michael Sdao the hardest shot, Mark Borowiecki the overachiever, Nikita Filatov the underachiever, Matt Puempel as the high risk/reward, and Derek Grant is his suggested breakout prospect for 2012/13.

-Here’s a look at the ISS 2012 Draft Guide.

ISS 2012 NHL Draft Guide

The ISS 2012 NHL draft guide has been released and these are their final rankings with changes marked in brackets (here are their previous rankings).  ISS does not rank goaltenders and skaters together, but none of the goaltending prospects are thought to be worthy of first-round selection:
1. Yakupov, Nail, LW 10/6/93 L 5.10.5 189 Sarnia OHL
2. Forsberg, Filip, RW 8/13/94 R 6.01 176 Leksands SweAl
3. Murray, Ryan, LD 9/27/93 L 6.00.5 201 Everett WHL
4. Grigorenko, Mikhail, RW 5/16/94 L 6.03.25 200 Québec QMJHL
5. Trouba, Jacob, RD 2/26/94 R 6.02 196 USA Under-18 NTDP
6. Reinhart, Griffin, LD 1/24/94 L 6.03.75 207 Edmonton WHL  (+4)
7. Rielly, Morgan, LD 3/9/94 L 5.11.5 190 Moose Jaw WHL
8. Dumba, Matt, RD 7/25/94 R 5.11.75 183 Red Deer WHL (-2)
9. Teuvo Teravainen, LW, 09/11/94, 5.11 161 Jokerit FinE (-1)
10. Ceci, Cody, RD 12/21/93 R 6.02.5 207 Ottawa OHL (-1)
11. Gaunce, Brendan, C 3/25/94 L 6.02 215 Belleville OHL
12. Maatta, Olli, LD 8/22/94 L 6.01.5 202 London OHL
13. Collberg, Sebastian, RW 2/23/94 R 5.11 Vastra SweJE
14. Galchenyuk, Alexander, RW 2/12/94 L 6.00.5 198 Sarnia OHL
15. Kerdiles, Nicholas, C/L 1/11/94 L, 6.01.5 200 USA Under-18 NTDP
16. Faksa, Radek, LW 1/9/94 L 6.03 202 Kitchener OHL
17. Wilson, Thomas, RW 3/29/94 R 6.03.5 203 Plymouth OHL
18. Finn, Matthew, LD 2/24/94 L 6.00.25 195 Guelph OHL
19. Lindholm, Hampus, LD 1/20/94 L 6.02.5 196 Rogle SweJE
20. Aberg, Pontus, LW 9/23/93 R 5.11 187 Djurgarden SweE
21. Koekkoek, Slater, LD 2/18/94 L 6.02 184 Peterborough OHL
22. Pouliot, Derrick, D 1/16/94 L 5.11.25 186 Portland WHL
23. Laughton, Scott, C 5/30/94 L 6.00 177 Oshawa OHL
24. Girgensons, Zemgus, F 1/5/94 L 6.01.25 201 Dubuque USHL
25. Sissons, Colton, C/R 11/5/93 L 6.01 189 Kelowna WHL
26. Skjei, Brady, LD 3/26/1994 L 6.03 203 USA Under-18 NTDP
27. Henrik Samuelsson C 2/7/94 R 6.02 195 Edmonton WHL (NR)
28. Dalton Thrower, D, 12/20/93 R 5.11.00 179 Saskatoon WHL (-1)
29. Bystrom, Ludvig, LD 7/29/94 L 6.00.75 208 Modo SweE (-1)
30. Adam Pelech, LD 8/16/94 L 6.02 210 Erie OHL (-1)

Falling out of the top-thirty: Tomas Hertl (30).

ISS assessed each team’s prospects assigning them a grade and here’s how the league looks to them:
Los Angeles, Washington
Chicago, St. Louis, Winnipeg
Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Islanders, Philadelphia, Phoenix
Anaheim, Boston, Carolina, Montreal, Nashville, Rangers, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Tampa
Calgary, Columbus, Detroit, New Jersey, Toronto, Vancouver
San Jose

In 2010 Ottawa’s prospects were given a C+ grade (with Kirill Lyamin on the horizon!), while in 2011 they also received a C+ (with Lyamin still “on the horizon”).  ISS see’s the following Sens prospects as on the horizon going into next season: Patrick Wiercioch, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Robin Lehner, Ben Bishop, Jakob Silfverberg, and Ben Blood.  They believe Ottawa “Needs help everywhere, priority should be Big center and in goal.”  Their selections are somewhat odd, with Pageau appearing ahead of Mark Stone, Stefan Noesen, Mika Zibanejad, etc (but then again they had Lyamin previously and the Zibanejad comment below).

In the ISS mock draft they have Ottawa selecting Brandan Gaunce with the 15th overall pick, saying “The Sens smashed a home run with Zibanejad last year and have seen their defensive prospects emerge well. Gaunce fits their strategy and needs. He makes them a very difficult team to play against in the near future.”  In 2011 they predicted Ottawa would select Ryan Strome.

My overall impression of ISS remains the same.  It’s a very useful guide to the draft, but I think their specific team analysis lacks sophistication and has to be taken with a grain of salt.  In terms of predictive success, ISS had the largest percentage of players selected in the draft last year (60%) compared to all the other draft guides (link), although their player-by-round predictions lagged behind most other outlets (Red Line Report, Future Considerations, and Hockey Prospects, only beating out The Hockey News).

Senators News: May 28th

-Capgeek has contract numbers for Darren Kramer (600k) and Jakub Culek (590k).

Scott Cullen has posted his off-season game plan for Ottawa: “The Ottawa Senators were the surprise team of the NHL last season, making the playoffs in a year that was expected to be a rebuilding effort. There is a lot to like about a Sens team that has quality prospects on the way and received solid contributions from several rookies last season, but there are also reasons to be wary. Consider that Sergei Gonchar and Daniel Alfredsson both had bounceback seasons in their late-30s, or that defenceman Erik Karlsson had the most points by a defenceman in more than a decade, or that both Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek stayed uncharacteristically healthy. Any of these factors could reverse course and come back to stall the Sens’ progress next season, but there is at least reason to be optimistic that Ottawa is in position to better handle any potential shortcomings — certainly better prepared than anyone could have imagined they would be at this time last year. GM Bryan Murray knows that, while his goaltending is solid with the trade deadline addition of Ben Bishop to complement Craig Anderson, he’ll have to address the blueline, where he has three unrestricted free agents that could leave and a restricted free agent in Erik Karlsson that will be in line for a dramatic raise in pay after his prolific offensive season. The forward group has depth, with lots of young challengers for roster spots, but could always use another proven scorer. Seeing as the Senators had the worst record among playoff teams last season, it doesn’t require much to believe that they could miss the postseason next year but, at the start of the 2011-2012 season, any talk of Ottawa making the playoffs was a pipe dream and we all saw how that played out. Needs: One top six forward, three defencemen.”  For the most part Cullen’s comments are spot on, but one of point to consider: Gonchar and Alfredsson‘s down years were the first of their careers, so stand as anomalies instead of their production this season.

-I only got one half of my Cup final (New Jersey facing the Kings), making my predictions half right.  The Western Conference finished without a single competitive series (only one went to six games!), sucking any drama one might have hoped for from the supposedly superior conference.  As for the finals, I expect the Kings will win.

-There’s not much to get excited about in this year’s playoffs, but I have enjoyed the slap in the face it is for all the journalists who’ve said you can’t win with Ilya Kovalchuk in the lineup.  There remains in some of the media an irrational dislike or suspicion over Russian players which I believe is because they make easy targets.  Just like when Swedes were soft or (for those of you old enough) when French Canadians were soft (thanks for that Don Cherry), it’s picking on a non-English speaking group without seeming influence on readership/viewership as a scapegoat for things someone dislikes.  Nationality has nothing to do with performance (I remember when journalists would earnestly say that no team with a European captain could win the Stanley Cup).  On top of that it’s amazing how glib people can get about one player.  An individual on a hockey team, even a great player, can’t win without a strong supporting cast (which is why Wayne Gretzky never won a Cup outside of Edmonton).  In the post lockout era in particular, only teams that have three productive lines have won the Cup.  I don’t think Kovalchuk has anything to prove, but it has been amusing to see him praised to the roof going into the Cup final given all the criticism he has received over the years (his success is somehow a slap in the face to Ovechkin, the new favourite whipping boy).

-The players attending the NHL draft combine have been announced.

Senators News: May 25th

-The Ottawa Senators have officially announced the signings of Jakub Culek and Darren Kramer.

Nichols reports that Sens prospect Jean-Gabriel Pageau has signed his ELC.

Joy Lindsay Tweeted that the Sens will qualify all their RFA’s except Craig Schira (so Nick FolignoErik Karlsson, Jim O’Brien, Kaspars Daugavins, Stephane Da Costa, Eric Gryba, and Nikita Filatov).

Nichols‘ looks at players looking to rebound from last year (Bobby Butler, Peter Regin, and Matt Carkner).  The only positive he can find for Butler is his Corsi rating; he cites Carkner‘s locker room popularity and “skill set” (presumably pugilism) as positives that outweigh wonky knees; Regin doesn’t require much explanation–if he’s healthy he’ll be fine.

Patrick Wiercioch talked about his throat injury this season, “I probably made the wrong decision lifting my chin up … I wasn’t expecting it and before I knew it I was down on the ice. That’s when the trainers ran in pretty quick. The injury happened Friday and I woke up Monday. I was extremely fortunate and will be forever indebted to my girlfriend for sticking by my side. She was phenomenal through the whole thing. I hope it’s behind me now. That’s why I’m here this summer training, I don’t feel this injury should have any impact on my ability to perform at training camp to push for a spot on the team.”

-Binghamton Senator Bobby Raymond, who played half the year for the team on an AHL contract, won the Kelly Cup (ECHL).

Senators News: May 23rd

Joy Lindsay Tweets that the Sens have signed prospect Darren Kramer.  There has been no official confirmation yet.

Jakub Culek has signed his ELC.

Luke Richardson will be named the new head coach in Binghamton (ahead of veteran Steve Stirling, the current assistant coach).

Don Brennan reports there have been no contract talks between the Sens and Jesse Winchester and Zenon Konopka (although it’s still early in that process).  Brennan admits the Sens may want Konopka‘s roster spot for a prospect.

Colin Greening talked about his season, “I really felt like I could have got to 20 [goals]. It was too bad (I didn’t). I felt like I was a little bit streaky when it came to goals, but I don’t consider myself a points person. My big motto always (has been) you play the right way, do the right things and good things will happen. That might happen with a goal or an assist. But honest to God, I wish I could have scored 20 goals. It was just one of those things … maybe next year. [The season] was a great experience. Overall, I was really happy. It was definitely a transition, especially with the schedule. The AHL schedule is definitely a lot different. I was exposed to the NHL schedule a little bit last year, but to actually go through that first full season was great. You’ve got to get used to that and the grind of the season, but I felt like it was good. I was certainly very honoured to be in the all-star (weekend). I couldn’t have expected that. To be on a line with (Milan) Michalek and (Jason) Spezza for most of the season was great, and to also spend time playing with Alfie … they’re great players. I don’t want to say I was surprised by any of it, but there were some interesting sights along the path.  [The playoffs were] very intense. And just the media attention, too, was definitely a new experience for me. I hadn’t really experienced that much media attention before. When you’re playing and there’s a bunch of analysts dissecting your game 30 seconds after you’re done playing, it’s definitely an interesting experience.”

Kyle Turris talked about his time in Ottawa, “It’s done wonders. It helps me confidence-wise moving forward and just knowing that I can help this team. And I want to help the team even more next year. I’m going to be working on things (over the summer) and I’ll just keep trying to help the team every night.  The confidence that they’ve given me to play my game and to have confidence in myself to play that game makes a world of difference. It allowed me to play and have fun. I’m looking forward to working out with [Chris] Schwarzy here and getting stronger and coming back to camp next year ready to help the team as much as I can.”  Pierre Dorion said “I think with Kyle, we’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg.”

Nichols takes a look at Ottawa’s PK (20th in the league) by taking a look at the stats.  He points out that the Sens could be without Filip Kuba (their best player by the PK numbers), Jesse Winchester, Zenon Konopka, Daniel Alfredsson, and Kaspars Daugavins (I view this as very unlikely given that he’s an RFA).  It’s worth looking through the numbers (particularly for Chris Phillips apologists–the Big Rig was on for more powerplay goals against than any other player, despite his shorthanded TOI being cut back this season), but on the whole the only loss the team will really feel is Kuba (Winchester played less than half the season and Konopka was scratched for more than a quarter of the games).  The Sens do have PK blueliners in their system, but they won’t be able to fill a hole that big.

Senators News: May 21st

Dave Young can’t figure out where Peter Regin fits in the Sens depth chart.  It’s a good reminder that all fans should focus on what the organisation says about a player when trying to figure out lineups and projections.  When Regin was re-signed Tim Murray said he was a top-nine forward, so that’s where Regin is going to be–in the top three lines.  This reminds me of a some of the Andre Petersson talk I’ve heard–Bryan Murray told Denis Potvin that he expects Petersson to be Jason Spezza‘s future right winger and those expectations are not reserved for fringe players.

Nichols wonders if Nick Foligno can provide the necessary scoring to be a second line player.  The article illustrates how Foligno established career highs in many categories and was among league leaders in 5-on-5 scoring.  The problem for Foligno remains consistency, including fading as the season wound down.  The positive for the organisation is the amount of competition internally so that the team isn’t dependent on him reaching another level.

Jared Crozier wonders which prospect is ready to step up to the next level within the Sens organisation.  He believes there will be a couple of spots open on the roster and suggests the following players could step in:
1. Jared Silfverberg – “The Swedish forward got a sniff in the playoffs, and showed there will be a period of adjustment.  He also showed that he will be more than capable of playing every day, it is only his ability to adapt to a new style of play that may hold him back.”  Crozier is making a modest prediction here, given that the Murray’s have said Silfverberg could have played in the NHL this season.  There’s no question that Silfverberg will be on the roster next season.
2. Mika Zibanejad – “The other Swedish forward probably would have seen action in the playoffs as well if not for a concussion.  Although he is a centre, I think he would be more suited to play the wing in the NHL and that is his best road to a top -6 slot next year.”  It’s up in the air if Zibanejad will start with the Senators next year, but he will get his chance to show he belongs.
3. Mark Stone– “The WHL’s second leading scorer played one playoff game with the Senators, notching a very impressive assist on a Jason Spezza goal.  He has great hands and size, but his skating ability might mean he starts in the minors rather than on the 4th line.” It’s a virtual certainty that Stone starts in the AHL next year.
4.  Shane Prince – “Perhaps the best player in the OHL over the second half of the season, Prince showed that he was a steal in the second round last summer.  A great skater who is a horse with the puck, he needs to add some size to his frame to play in the NHL next season, but should get the opportunity.”  I’ve read a lot of hyperbole about Prince who has yet to be signed, but Crozier is realistic enough to understand that he’ll be sent to Binghamton if he does turn pro.  There are many prospects ahead of Prince on the depth chart at the forward position (Stephane Da Costa and Andre Petersson to name just two), so the road to the NHL won’t be a short one for the 2011 draft pick.
One thing Crozier doesn’t address are the team’s needs on the blueline.  With the likelihood of Filip Kuba, Matt Gilroy, and Matt Carkner gone there are positions to fill with at least one coming internally.

Milan Michalek and the Czech Republic won bronze at the IIHF World Championships.  None of the other Sens players or prospects placed in the medals.

Senators News: May 17th

Nichols writes an excellent season-in-review.  It’s long and entertaining and worth reading in its entirety.  A few things to point out: he reminds us of all the bad press Kyle Turris received for his holdout; he takes a realistic look at Chris Phillips‘ play (“no longer capable of playing top four minutes against the oppositions best forwards“); points out that only Erik Karlsson received negative feedback from journalists as a Norris Trophy candidate; comments that Chris Neil should not be on the powerplay; comes to the defence of Jason Spezza (he’s a little glib in suggesting Milan Michalek doesn’t generate offence); and finally, reminds us that the season can’t be replicated–there won’t be the same expectations going into next season.

-Speaking of Nichols, he says something unintentionally misleading in his article concerning the lack of negotiations with Matt Carkner.  He writes, “In light of the knee injuries that limited Carks to 29 games this season“, which isn’t entirely accurate.  Carkner missed 24 games due to injury; the other 24 he was a healthy scratch.

Pat Cannone is excited to be re-signed, “I’m really happy, really excited. It was a great day a couple days ago. I’m really happy to be part of the organization still. It’s really nice, really comforting to know that you’re wanted for more than one year. I’m just really thrilled, and I just want to work hard this summer to have a good start to the season. My main focus is my skating, just to get a little quicker, get my first two steps going. Everything else will take care of itself if I focus on that this summer and keep improving my strength. I took two, three weeks off to give my body a rest. As I get started, I’m going five days a week. Closer to training camp, I’ll go six, but also give the body a rest sometimes and go four. It all depends on how the body feels throughout the whole process. But for now I’m donig off-ice five days a week, and I’ll be skating three times a week once the summer’s going. Hopefully I can do a lot more of the same, pick up where I left off at the end of the year. I need to be more of a leader, more of a well-rounded player and continue to work hard. That’s one thing I always saw throughout my college career, if you work hard, you set yourself up for success. With that mentality, everything should go well. I feel like for my rookie season, I was an older guy, and I tried to be a sponge, soak in everything from the vets we had. I think I did a great job with that. Being a leader at Miami only helped me for that first year pro. I’m not getting any younger, so the more I play, the wiser I feel like I’ll be. Credit the leadership we had in Binghamton this year — Corey Locke, Mark Parrish, Timmy Conboy— they really helped me throughtout my first season. Coach Kleinendorst was great to me. He was a big influence, and he taught be a lot of things. He was awesome. I wish him luck wherever he goes. That being said, whoever is your coach, you have to keep soldiering on and try to adapt and do the best you can. Obviously, we didn’t finish where we wanted. But everybody will be a year older, a year wiser, a year stronger. We still have a handful of guys that were members of the Calder Cup championship team. If we can put all the right pieces together, we’ll be just fine. We have a good core, some good rookies coming in. I think it will be a good year. Even the guys who came in late, like Chris Wideman and Cole Schneider, got a chance to get a feel for everything. Things could have gone better, but it’s great those guys got to come. Wideman‘s a great buddy of mine, so I’ll take him under my wing. I’m sure everything will run very smoothly.”

Rory Boylen joins Stu Hackel and Greg Wyshynski in dismissing the criticism of shot-blocking in this year’s playoffs.  He points out that the number of shots blocked is statistically no different than the last few years and “It seems, for the most part, the teams who score 5-on-5 (when real skill is on display) enjoy success.”  There are two problems with this argument: 1) the five best 5-on-5 scoring teams are gone (only one of which made it to the second round) and only two of the top-sixteen are still around (Rangers and Coyotes)–a 50-50 success rate is not evidence for a trend; 2) the games themselves are dull.  Defensive hockey isn’t inherently exciting, but this year has punished teams that try to push the tempo.  Yes, there is more interference allowed in the post-season, but something else is going on and if it’s not shot-blocking I’d love to hear what these writers think it is.  The top-ten scoring teams are playing golf right now, leaving us with the 11th, 13th, 17th, and 29th.  Mediocrity is being rewarded and the answer isn’t great goaltending–that exists in every playoff year.

The International Scouting Service (ISS) has released their latest rankings and here’s the top-30 which features many changes (for the previous list go here; I’ve listed previous rankings in brackets where applicable):
1. Yakupov, Nail, LW 10/6/93 L 5.10.5 189 Sarnia OHL
2. Forsberg, Filip, RW 8/13/94 R 6.01 176 Leksands SweAl
3. Murray, Ryan, LD 9/27/93 L 6.00.5 201 Everett WHL (4)
4. Grigorenko, Mikhail, RW 5/16/94 L 6.03.25 200 Québec QMJHL (3)
5. Trouba, Jacob, RD 2/26/94 R 6.02 196 USA Under-18 NTDP
6. Dumba, Matt, RD 7/25/94 R 5.11.75 183 Red Deer WHL
7. Rielly, Morgan, LD 3/9/94 L 5.11.5 190 Moose Jaw WHL
8. Teuvo Teravainen, LW, 09/11/94, 5.11 161 Jokerit FinE
9. Ceci, Cody, RD 12/21/93 R 6.02.5 207 Ottawa OHL
10. Reinhart, Griffin, LD 1/24/94 L 6.03.75 207 Edmonton WHL
11. Gaunce, Brendan, C 3/25/94 L 6.02 215 Belleville OHL
12. Maatta, Olli, LD 8/22/94 L 6.01.5 202 London OHL (13)
13. Collberg, Sebastian, RW 2/23/94 R 5.11 Vastra SweJE (12)
14. Galchenyuk, Alexander, RW 2/12/94 L 6.00.5 198 Sarnia OHL
15. Kerdiles, Nicholas, C/L 1/11/94 L, 6.01.5 200 USA Under-18 NTDP (22)
16. Faksa, Radek, LW 1/9/94 L 6.03 202 Kitchener OHL (15)
17. Wilson, Thomas, RW 3/29/94 R 6.03.5 203 Plymouth OHL (27)
18. Finn, Matthew, LD 2/24/94 L 6.00.25 195 Guelph OHL (16)
19. Lindholm, Hampus, LD 1/20/94 L 6.02.5 196 Rogle SweJE (25)
20. Aberg, Pontus, LW 9/23/93 R 5.11 187 Djurgarden SweE (17)
21. Koekkoek, Slater, LD 2/18/94 L 6.02 184 Peterborough OHL (18)
22. Pouliot, Derrick, D 1/16/94 L 5.11.25 186 Portland WHL (19)
23. Laughton, Scott, C 5/30/94 L 6.00 177 Oshawa OHL (20)
24. Girgensons, Zemgus, F 1/5/94 L 6.01.25 201 Dubuque USHL (21)
25. Sissons, Colton, C/R 11/5/93 L 6.01 189 Kelowna WHL (23)
26. Skjei, Brady, LD 3/26/1994 L 6.03 203 USA Under-18 NTDP (24)
27. Dalton Thrower, D, 12/20/93 R 5.11.00 179 Saskatoon WHL (26)
28. Bystrom, Ludvig, LD 7/29/94 L 6.00.75 208 Modo SweE
29. Adam Pelech, LD 8/16/94 L 6.02 210 Erie OHL (NR)
30. Hertl, Tomas, LW 11/12/93 L 6.02 198 pounds Slavia CzeE (29)

Falling out of the top-thirty: Daniil Zharkov (30).