Senators News: June 30th

Justin Schultz has made his decision and signed with the Edmonton Oilers.  It’s not much of a surprise given how thin the Oiler blueline is–there’s probably no other team that provides as much opportunity.

-Apparently Matt Carkner felt a one-year deal without a raise was something he could afford to reject.  Nichols rightly points out how Carkner‘s impact has decreased each year with the Sens with no sign of that changing.  His TOI has decreased, his penalty killing time has decreased, and “Moreover, he plays soft minutes against the opposition’s worst players. His Corsi relative quality of competion was the worst amongst the Senators’ d-corps regulars for each of the past two seasons.”  Nichols also points out that his salary is in line with similar players, but I do not share his hope of a happy compromise between Ottawa and Carkner.  It’s time to move on.

-Randy Lee talks about Jean-Gabriel Pageau and indicates he’s bound for either the AHL or ECHL, “He’s never going to be a huge player, but he’s better at the stuff we want him to be better at, like being able to contain bigger players, like battling. He’s such a skilled guy. In (Thursday’s) scrimmage he did a pretty good job against bigger guys, and we like that. The puck follows him and he does a really good job that way. But he’s got to be able to be an offensive guy in the AHL, so it’s going to be a challenge. The biggest thing we want to do with our players is put them in a position to succeed. There’s no use going to a level where they can’t play. If you’re an offensive guy, you have to play in offensive situations.”

-Talking about himself, Pageau said “I think I’m ready for that step. I know I have to be stronger and put on some weight. I’m not a big guy, so I have to be more powerful, so my training will be a big part of it. If I’m going to make the next step, I have to be ready mentally and physically.”  There are a lot of undersized forwards bound for Binghamton so it will be tough for Pageau to make space for himself in that lineup.

-Randy Lee also commented on Frederik Claesson in the same article, “We had a nice meeting at the hotel in Calgary, and he looked at me and said, ‘I need to play in the AHL next year. To make the transition, I need to play on that ice surface, I need to play that number of games, I need to play in that type of environment.’ Which was really refreshing to hear. A lot of guys say, ‘I’m just going to come when I can play pro.’ But you know what? You have to invest in yourself, and you’re going to be further along in the end if you take those steps along the way.”  Lee compared Claesson to Mark Borowiecki in terms of his competitiveness (high praise indeed).

Shane Prince talks about his prospects for the upcoming season, “After four years in the OHL, I think I’ve kind of grown out of that league a little bit and I’m looking to move my game on to the professional level and work my way up to the NHL. You always have to prove something. There are always guys coming into the system, different guys each year. You’ve always got to show yourself because there are guys ready to take your spot. I’m never going to take a session off and I’ve going to do everything I can to make team (in training camp). I’m definitely going to strive to make the (big-league) team. I’m not going to sell myself short, but if I do get sent down to Binghamton, I’m going to do my best to help that team win and give it everything I have to work my way up.”

-Here’s a look at the first four days of the development camp.

-Rob Brodie writes about Chris Driedger; there’s not much new here, other than the Sens had not talked to him before drafting him.

-Brodie also wrote about Francois Brassard, which, like the Driedger above, doesn’t contain anything new of substance.


Senators Development Camp (days one through four)

-This is the list of attendees and activities for the camp (with two apparent errors: Daniel New is not at the camp).  The on-ice session are open to the public.

-Here are the Sens prospects introducing themselves on Sens TV.  Not included is Mikael Wikstrand (who had not yet arrived from Sweden) and Jeff Costello (who may not yet have arrived).

-Here’s Sens TV’s look back on day oneday two, and day four of the camp.  For some reason there’s no video for day three posted yet.

-Wayne Scanlan writes about Randy Lee‘s long tenure with the organisation (going back to 1995) and it’s worth reading through to appreciate the man whose fingerprints are all over so many of the team’s players.

Senschirp writes about a Q&A with Dave Cameron and Steve Stirling and they mentioned the most NHL-ready prospects in Binghamton were Mark Borowiecki, Eric Gryba, Mike Hoffman, and Patrick Wiercioch.

Cody Ceci has been blogging throughout the camp and the most interesting comment thus far was “We spent a lot of time on stickhandling drills today. I’ve never done a full hour of stickhandling.”  This surprises me, given just how important puck control and puck management is at all levels of the game.

-I went to the scrimmage on Thursday evening, which was thoroughly entertaining.  The place was packed and the game was competitive.  There wasn’t much scoring (Mike Hoffman getting the lone goal).  Hoffman also hit Jordan Fransoo in the face–ouch!  It was the most physical scrimmage I’ve seen, but as expected the play was pretty scrambly.   Many bloggers were blogging during the game and while I don’t think much can be concluded about individual players from the session, I thought I’d collect some comments to provide a range of fan opinions.  Peter Raaymakers provides thoughts on twelve players in the game, praising Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Stefan Noesen, Darren Kramer, Corey Cowick, Mika Zibanejad, Cody Ceci, Mark Borowiecki; he had more mixed feelings about Trevor Van Riemsdyk and Cole Schneider.  Random thoughts of mine:
Brad Peltz – was cheating defensively and was impatient in the offensive zone
Michael Sdao – some poor first passes lead to turnovers; was strong along the boards
Darren Kramer – always gave an extra shot after he threw a hit
Chris Driedger and Francois Brassard – were solid except on the penalty shots

-Inspired by all the ink spilled about the Ottawa 67s connection between Shane Prince and Cody Ceci, I thought I’d spill some ink of my own on other connections between Sens prospects:
*Corey Cowick (08-10), Shane Prince (09-12), and Cody Ceci (09-12) all played for the Ottawa 67s
*Mark Borowiecki, Corey Cowick, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Cody Ceci, and Francois Brassard are all from the greater Ottawa area
*Ceci and Matt Puempel both played on Team Ontario’s U-17 team (09-10)
*Mike Hoffman (06-07) and Shane Prince (08-10) were both originally Kitchener Rangers, but not at the same time and under different coaches
*Hoffman (07-08) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (09-12) played for Gatineau, but again not at the same time and under different coaches
*Pageau (08-09) and Brassard (09-10) both played for the QMAAA L’Intrepide, but in different years
*Mark Stone and Chris Driedger are both from Winnipeg
*Stone (08-12) and Jordan Fransoo (09-12) both played for Brandon
*Darren Kramer (10-11) was a teammate of Jared Cowen‘s in Spokane
*Mike Zibanejad and Fredrik Claesson both played for Djurgarden throughout their junior and professional careers and were also teammates on this season’s WJC team
*Zibanejad and Mikael Wikstrand were teammates on Sweden’s U-18 team (10-11); Claesson played the year before (09-10) and Lehner the year before that (08-09)
*Lehner (07-08) was a teammate of Erik Karlsson‘s in Frolunda’s junior system
*Chris Wideman (07-08), Bryce Aneloski (07-10), and Jeff Costello (08-10) all played for Cedar Rapids in the USHL
*Max McCormick and Ryan Dzingel both play for Ohio in the NCAA; they also both played on the US U-19 team (10-11)
*Michael Sdao (07-09) and Ryan Dzingel (09-11) both played for Lincoln in the USHL and while not at the same time they were both coached by Jim McGroarty
*Ben Blood (07-08) and Robert Baillargeon (11-12) both played for Indiana in the USHL, but far apart and under different coaches

Senators News: June 29th

Darren Kramer talks about his approach to becoming a pro, “I want to come in with a positive attitude and try to make Ottawa. But as a realist I know I’m going to have to spend some a little bit of time in the minors to develop. I have to improve my strength and conditioning. But mostly it’s my foot speed and my skating, and if I can get that up to par, then I think I have a really good chance of one day being an Ottawa Senator. I’d like to contribute and be considered trustworthy to be on the ice in the defensive zone. Times are changing. Guys who can only fight are starting to get weeded out. And if you look at my (6-2, 210-pound) frame, I’m not a big 6-7 guy. I’m an average-size player, so I have to be able to contribute offensively and be trustworthy in the defensive zone.”  Randy Lee talked about him saying, “He wasn’t there [in Spokane] as a thug. He played in important situations. He knows he’s got to be quicker off the mark and he’s got to be a faster skater. But he’s a big strong kid and he’s got a Chris Neil-type work ethic. He cares, he’s a team guy. He doesn’t like to fight just for the sake of fighting. He does it to protect his teammates. Or if something needs to be taken care of, he’ll do that. He’s a project, for sure. “But he’s got enough tools that he’s hopefully going to evolve, but it may not be overnight.”

-Tim Murray spoke briefly about Michael Sdao, “He plays a hard, physical game, he’s hard to play against. Because those are the guys you win with.”  Sdao himself said, “We have a great coaching staff at Princeton. All three of our coaches played college hockey and then went on to play pro. I think I’m learning a lot from them. This is my last year at school and I’m going to take a leadership role on the team. I’m looking forward to that and having a good year. You always want to finish strong. I like to think that back in the day I could [fight]. But I’ve got to sharpen up on those skills, too.”  Sdao was considered one of the best fighters in his draft year (2009).

Stu Hackel looks at what teams in the Eastern Conference need and for Ottawa he says “It remains unclear if captain Daniel Alfredsson will return, but even if he does, the Senators will be in the hunt for a top-six forward (and they’ve been mentioned in conjunction with the Rick Nash sweepstakes). But with pending UFA Filip Kuba likely not returning, they’ll also be looking for an experienced defenseman, preferably a stay-at-home-type, perhaps to partner with Norris Trophy-winner Erik Karlsson (Kuba’s old gig), or a shutdown guy.”  So Hackel simply reiterates what we’ve heard before: stay-at-home blueliner and a top-six scoring (for the right price).  I still think it will only be one of the two via free agency and that will be the defenseman.

DaveYoung throws his two cents into the Justin Schultz sweepstakes (picking up on the Bob McKenzie Tweeted news that the Minnesota Wild are also on his list) and comes to the conclusion that Ottawa is the best fit for him.  While I disagree (he could play 30 minutes a night with Edmonton), he does remind us why the Schultz sweepstakes are different than Matt Gilroy, Fabian Brunnstrom, or Bobby Butler: “Schultz was drafted [#43], was identified early as being a player with a serious ceiling.”  This is exactly why teams wet themselves when they found out he was going to become a free agent.

-There have been a lot of bio’s of players at the development camp, but most have simply reiterated what’s been said before so I haven’t commented on them.  For those interested here’s Mark Stone, Mark Borowiecki, Mika Zibanejad and Matt Puempel.

-My first look at the development camp should come out today (including a look at last night’s scrimmage).  For those who didn’t attend or watch it being streamed it was a lot of fun and while there’s very little seating and the PA system is incomprehensible, fans should definitely check it out if they have the opportunity.

Senators News: June 28th

Bob McKenzie has Justin Schultz‘s final list of teams: Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, and the New York Rangers.  The two that make little sense to me are Vancouver and the Rangers.  While Schultz would get an opportunity with both those franchises it would be less than with the other three, as the Oilers, Leafs, and Senators can all offer him top-four minutes and top-pairing powerplay time.

Matt Carkner turned down a one-year deal from the Senators and is expected to test the free agent market.  This doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t re-sign with the Sens, but he will explore free agency.

-The boys at Welcome to Your Karlsson Years posted an interesting post-draft discussion.  Varada wonders if the Sens should have taken a forward (Teuvo Teravainen) instead of a defensemen given how difficult the latter are to project.  He is also as puzzled as I was that the Sens drafted two goaltenders.  I have to agree with James that “I’m not ready to buy into this 20 minute old theory of ‘don’t waste your first round pick on a defenseman’ that’s been going around lately.”  I think many of the misses with blueliners is due to poor scouting rather than an overall difficulty in figuring defensemen out.  James, incidentally, projects Mark Stone‘s post-draft stats as his draft stats.  Finally, there’s a comment on the page about how little fans really know about the players drafted because of how little information is provided for any but the top players.  For those interested in actual scouting reports on the Sens picks, go here.

-I’m hoping someone can explain Robbie Baillargeon‘s hilarious yet slightly enigmatic Tweet, “Went Rambo today in the fake hostage take down, got the mission accomplished by recusing Alfie.”

Peter Raaymakers channels his inner wishes when he writes about who he’s looking forward to watching, “and Michael Sdao (both turning pro after college careers)“.  While the Sens would have loved for Sdao to leave college early, I believe this is a typo for Ben Blood.

-The over inflated opinions of the Sens prospects makes for engaging reading (I’m still seeing Shane Prince being talked about like he’s a star in the making), but after going to these things for years and reading reports about them you have to take it all with a large grain of salt.  To my mind, what you should pay attention to are: 1) the player given the hardest worker award, 2) players who are invisible (not including first-time attendees–Mark Stone was invisible his first year), and 3) organisational comments about specific players.  Always keep in mind that marginal players can look good if they have the right linemates.  In Raaymakers link above he mentioned being impressed by Corey Cowick last year and that’s a great example of how an older prospect who can’t establish himself in the AHL can look good at this level.

-The folks at Senshot are taking forever to grade all the Ottawa Senators, but they are a generous bunch giving a “C” to free agent and Don Brennan BFF Zenon Konopka.  Who knew staged fights and warming the pressbox was so rewarding?

Senators News: June 27th

-Despite his reputation as a temperamental guy, Robin Lehner has learned to answer media questions when it comes to his future.  “I’m trying to prepare myself as good as I can now, to get a spot. You never know. You go for it and see what happens. I’m feeling good. I’m looking forward to (camp) and I’m excited. They’re doing the best they think, for me. They’re not trying to go against me. They’re trying to develop me as good as they want. I’m an asset to them. They want me to do as good as possible. You’ve got to trust them, too. They’ve got a lot of hockey experience in this organization. I’m 20, going on 21. I don’t know that much. I’m just eager to play, eager to show myself. When I’m in Sweden during the summer, of course you’re trying to see what happens. But I’m confident, I’m not too nervous. I really like this organization. I don’t want to leave this organization. Whatever it takes. I don’t think it’s going to happen. That’s my gut feeling. I don’t see it happening. If it would, it would. I’m an asset and they’re going to use me as best they can.

James Gordon floats the idea of signing Jordan Tootoo.  It’s not a preposterous idea, but I don’t see the Sens signing any FA other than a defenceman.

ISS (Ross MacLean) looks at the best draft picks by round and gives the Sens the nod for the third round, saying “The third round had several great picks, but Ottawa made my two favorite selections of the entire draft with goaltender Chris Driedger at 76 and Jarrod Maidens at 82. Driedger has great potential and brings a tremendous attitude and never-quit passion to the crease, while Maidens would have been a first-rounder if he hadn’t missed most of the OHL season due to injury. While Maidens’ long-term health status remains in the air, his upside is tremendous.

Ken Warren doesn’t like the fact that Justin Schultz is getting to pick the team he plays on.  Warren’s argument is that because the Ducks picked him and invested in him as an asset, he owes it to Anaheim to play for them.  He suggests that this kind of behaviour violates the spirit of the draft.  It’s an absurd argument.  Any team that drafted Schultz would have put the same effort into developing him–all drafted players are assets that teams develop.  The Ducks could have tried to salvage something from losing him by trading his rights, but declined to do so.  Warren is right that the draft is designed to add balance to the league, but here I’d say the fault is Anaheim’s for not making their organisation appealing enough to Schultz.   Finally,  Schultz is fully within his rights to do exactly what he is doing.  If the Ducks don’t like it, they can blame the league and try to negotiate a way to prevent it in the next CBA, but I doubt anything will change.  Almost all the power within the league is with the teams and I have no issue with a player using a loophole available to him.

Senators News: June 26th

Tim Murray was on The Team 1200 and Nichols has transcribed the conversation which is worth reading in full.  Murray talked about the team’s development camp, “I don’t have a lot to do with it, so I can’t take any credit for it. But I think that Randy (Lee) and his team, you know, Randy has been through this 100 times. He has had people who have left this organization long before I got here and asked these people if he could help them set up their development camp wherever they have gone. He’s a pro at this and then you add our strength people – Chris (Schwartz) and our skating people and everybody. I’m not naming names but they’ve been around a lot and they’ve fine-tuned it, if you will. There have been mistakes made in the last ten years but I think on every mistake, we’ve tried to learn by that and develop something better. And you’re right, it’s the off-ice stuff as much as the on-ice stuff. We bring in a sleep expert in and some nights, I need that. But we give them all the information and again, when we talk about Cody, it’s what they do with it. We can’t force feed them. We can give them the information. We try to draft the player who will take and use the information, but it’s up to them.”  He also talked about the Sens interest in college free agent Justin Schultz who essentially can pick where he wants to go.  Murray described him this way, “Not many kids do this but you have a Canadian kid who on the surface, it looks to me like he wants to play in Canada and I think he can play now. That’s the message that we’ll be sending to him. He’s an offensive defenceman. He’s a puck-mover. His transition game is outstanding. He’s similar to somebody that we already have and I’m not comparing him to him but he’s just similar to him in style. And how far he gets with that style, we’ll find out.”  Murray says the team has a chance to land him, saying it’s between 3-5 teams and Ottawa is on that list.  Given that salary isn’t an issue (Schultz has to sign an ELC) presumably he wants guarantees that he’ll play on the NHL roster.

Steffe G:Son writes an excellent article on new Sens prospect Mikael Wikstrand.  The article is worth reading in full, but Steffe says of him “Even  though he didn’t get to show much of his offensive flare and the power play abilities that produced some points at the junior levels in Sweden,  he definitely didn’t look out of place at the senior level. He’s a good bet to make the Swedish WJC team for the tournament in Ufa this winter, and was one of 10 defensemen invited to the summer camp that’s the start of the U20 team’s season, with a camp in Sweden late July followed up by a tournament in Lake Placid. Wikstrand, who likes his name spelled with a “W” despite the passport saying “Vikstrand”, is a decently sized, mobile defenseman that can transport the puck with his skating and easy-solution, crisp passes. As a young  player in a men’s league, he would often opt for the simple play, as we’ve seen so many times with other young defensemen. Smart decisions defensively and while he’s not a physical force by no means, doesn’t shy away from contact and is fairly strong on his skates.”  He’ll play another season with Mora in Sweden and then possibly make the jump to the SEL or perhaps be brought over to play in the AHL (depending on his development).

Ken Warren reports that the Sens are still in talks with Matt Carkner and Jesse Winchester, but not with Zenon Konopka.  I wonder if the Sens are offering the pair two-way deals with a high AHL salary (that’s the only way I’d keep them), but Warren has no specifics to offer about the negotiation specifics.

Andy Strickland reports that Ottawa is negotiating for an extension with Chris Neil.  I agree with Nichols that Neil‘s best years are behind him.  There’s a lot of wear and tear on that body and I wonder what kind of extension it would be.

-UFA Corey Locke has signed in Finland.

Senators News: June 25th

-The Sens have announced their development camp roster: Forwards: Robert Baillargeon, Jeff Costello, Corey Cowick, Jakub Culek, Cameron Darcy*, Ryan Dzingel, David Dziurzynski, Wacey Hamilton, Mike Hoffman, Darren Kramer, Jarrod Maidens, Max McCormick, Stefan Noesen, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Brad Peltz, Shane Prince, Matt Puempel, Cole Schneider, Mark Stone, Mika Zibanejad; Defencemen: Bryce Aneloski, Ben Blood, Mark Borowiecki, Timothy Boyle, Cody Ceci, Fredrik Claesson, Jordan Fransoo, Daniel New*, Michael Sdao, Trevor Van Riemsdyk*, Chris Wideman, Mikael Wikstrand; Goalies: Francois Brassard, Chris Driedger, Robin Lehner.  Those marked with an asterix are FA attendees.  Robert Baillargeon is incorrectly listed as a blueliner.  Daniel New attended the Sens camp a couple of years ago (2010) (this is apparently an error).  Eligible prospects not included are Jakob Silfverberg, Derek Grant, Andre Petersson, Patrick Wiercioch and Louie Caporusso.  Stats for FA’s:
Darcy Cameron (RW, 6’0, DOB 1994, USHL 24-4-2-6)
Daniel New (DL, 6’1, DOB 1989, NCAA 36-2-12-14)
Trevor Van Riemsdyk (DR, 6’2, DOB 1991, NCAA 37-4-15-19)

Peter Raaymakers collects all the video related to the players drafted and the comments about them (most of which are available on Sens TV), which I reference simply for this comment “Some of Ottawa’s best reporters scrummed around Ceci after the draft, asking him such deep-probing questions as, “Do you live with your parents?” and “What highway exit do you take to get home?”  Gord Wilson should be singled out for inane questions given that he interviews everyone for Sens TV.

Sam Cosentino gives Ottawa’s draft a B+, saying “Bryan Murray and his staff had a strong draft.  When everyone thought Murray was dead-to-rights in Ottawa, he rebounded with a Calder Cup championship last season, a playoff appearance this season for the big club and an excellent 2012 draft. Cody Ceci is a gem at No. 15. Third-round pick Chris Driedger showed signs of brilliance in the second half of the season between the pipes with the Calgary Hitmen.  Due to concussion issues, Jarrod Maidens slipped to middle of Round 3.  Had he been healthy, he was a surefire first-round pick. Timothy Boyle is the younger brother of the Rangers’ Brian Boyle and will get an extended look playing college hockey at Union. Robert Baillargeon slipped to the fifth round, while the Sens stole goalie Francois Brassard in the sixth. Mikael Wikstrand was ranked 23rd by the European division of NHL Central Scouting.  He slipped all the way to the 196th overall pick in Round 7.  There’s home run potential if Maidens can recover.”

Craig Schira, the lone RFA released by the Sens, has signed in Norway (following in the footsteps of former Binghamton teammate Mat Robinson who now plays in the SEL).

Senators News: June 24th

-Here’s my look at the draft through the lens of prognostication as well as a look at Ottawa’s draft.  The Sens weren’t able to make any trades during the festivities, but many transactions occurred around the league with more to come.  It’s pretty clear GM’s and owners aren’t concerned about the upcoming CBA given the transactions and re-signings.

-I thought the best reaction to the Sens draft was from Scott when the Sens drafted Cody Ceci, “At the very least the Ottawa Sun will be psyched.”  That goes for most of the selections given the Ottawa media’s proclivities.

-Some trivia about new Sens draft pick Francois Brassard: his father Marc is the sports editor at Le Droit.

Allen Panzeri stated the obvious regarding the Rick Nash rumours: he does not want to come to Ottawa (something I mentioned back when the rumours started to circulate).  My feeling has been that Columbus GM Scott Howson is using Ottawa to try and jack up the price for Nash, which is going to be relatively low (as Lyle Richardson discusses) given that this is essentially a Dany Heatley situation where the player dictates where he is going.

Reviewing the Ottawa Senators’ 2012 NHL Entry Draft

With the draft in the books it’s time to take a look at how the Ottawa Senators did.  Just like the previous two drafts the Sens tried to land a 2nd round pick and were unable to do so.  As with the recent Murray trends, the team went local with an Ottawa 67, picked a player from the QMJHL, selected from the WHL, USHL, Sweden, and picked a player nearly off the map.  I’ve compiled all the scouting reports I can find below.  Beyond that I look at my predictions.  Here’s who was picked:

First Round – Cody Ceci 15th overall

Third Round – Chris Driedger 76th overall, Jarrod Maidens 82nd overall (pick acquired from Nashville in the Mike Fisher trade)

Fourth Round – Timothy Boyle 106th overall

Fifth Round – Robbie Baillargeon 136th overall

Sixth Round – Francois Brassard 166th overall

Seventh Round – Mikael Wikstrand 196th overall

Acronyms: ISS (International Scouting Service), RLR (Red Line Report), FC (Future Considerations), HP (Hockey Prospects), McK (Mckeen’s), THN (The Hockey News), CSNA (Central Scouting North American skater), CSNAG (CS North American goalie), CSE (CS European skater)

The Players
Cody Ceci (DR, 6’2, DOB 1993, OHL 64-17-43-60)
Draft rankings: CSNA #6, THN/ISS #10, FC #11, McK #12, HP #13, TSN #14, RLR #19
The highest scoring draft-eligible CHL defenseman this year, Ceci is yet another pick from Ottawa’s backyard, the OHL’s 67s.  This is the third time Bryan Murray has drafted a 67, following in the footsteps of last year’s Shane Prince and 2009’s Corey Cowick.  A three-year veteran in the OHL, Ceci played internationally for Canada’s U-18 team in 2010-11 and was a late cute for this year’s World Junior roster.  Tim Murray said Ceci was in their top-five.
ISS’ scouting report: they list his size/strength, skating, puck skills, shot, defensive play, and hockey sense as Very Good, his offensive play as Excellent, and his physical play and competitiveness as Good.  They write that his strenghts are his vision on the puck, a heavy/accurate shot, quick feet and can jump into the play, and smart own zone play.  “Weaknesses: Physical play & Aggressiveness low in zone. Skill: Excellent all-around game while showing intelligent/creative plays on both sides of the puck. Scouting Report: Cody plays a dynamic two way game. He continually shows his ability to shutdown the opposition using his speed and smarts. This season he showcased his superior offensive talents where he quarterbacked the Ottawa 67’s offense. Cody has shown strengths on both sides of the puck from anticipation in laying the big hit and awareness in rushing the puck up ice. Ceci has tons of confidence on the backend and although being able to shutdown top opponents he has definitely added a high risk, high reward aspect to his game. When he keeps it simple in his own end he is generally more effective. Headsy D-man with tremendous upside. Possesses the right attitude to continue to develop his game. NHL Potential: Big time Upside – top 4 who can play all situations. Style compares to: Brent Burns.
TSN’s Craig Button writes: “Cody is the prototypical work horse player. He goes about the game playing in all of the important situations and at the critical times, seemingly effortless but with an incredible effectiveness and efficiency that goes unheralded but is ultimately important to winning. He plays a game that is rooted in his razor sharp attention to detail, strong positioning and an awareness of what he can do to shift the balance to his team’s favour. He does it in so many ways; eliminating opponents in defensive situations, getting the puck up the ice, either by passing or skating, jumping into the attack when required, running the power play with a combination of passing and shooting and helping kill penalties with whatever sacrifices are necessary. He possesses all of the requisite skills, physical and mental, as well as a determination to make a difference in the game in some way, shape or form. He is a coach’s dream in that when he is on the ice, the game is under control and your team has an increased chance of success.
FC’s scouting report: “STRENGTHS: Ceci’s progression this season has been outstanding. From our initial viewing at the NHL R&D to now, he may have been the one player who has grown the most all year. His mobility, with a focus on his lateral movement and acceleration, has really improved as well. There has been a big jump in Ceci’s mobility and his footwork. He looks to have added some speed to his game. Always known as a strong defense first defenseman, Ceci is now showing that he has some nteresting offensive upside. He was aggressive with the puck, skating it out of his end and either passing it off to a teammate or skating it into the offensive zone. He has one of the strongest shots in the league, both accurate and heavy. He has smart positioning in his own end. He has really improved his puck skills and is showing the ability to create offense from the back end. He has the size and strength to consistently win puck battles down low at his own end. He blocks shots and closes off passing lanes with positioning and his active stick-handling. He shows a strong anticipation for when it is time to pinch into the zone for added offensive pressure. His combination of size, mobility and puck skills make him an intriguing player. WEAKNESSES: His physicality has still not shown even though he is a six-foot-three, 210-pound defenseman. He shies away from destroying smaller opponents, which is admirable, but not if it is for a lack of aggressiveness. There is some debate as to whether his offensive skills will translate in the NHL to the points we are seeing him put up in junior as he is not overly creative or puck savvy. SCOUT QUOTE: “The big blueliners progression this season has been outstanding. From my initial viewing at the NHL R&D to now, he may be the one player who has grown the most all year.” NHL POTENTIAL: Top four two-way defenseman.”
Here’s HP’s scouting report: “Cody’s skating isn’t perfect by any means, but he moves fairly smoothly up the ice. His first few steps are far from great, but he has good overall mobility for a player his size. He generates good speed and his puck rushing ability is excellent. He’s very calm with the puck and intelligent in the decisions he makes. He reacts quickly to the movement of the puck and is extremely powerful down low. He clears the front of the net, will block shots and has great positioning. Cody’s physical game requires some explaining. He doesn’t have a mean streak and doesn’t go looking to pound opposing players enough. He separates the forward from the puck when challenged. When they try to go around him, he forces them outside fairly well, and as we mentioned earlier, his mobility allows him to stay with rushing forwards. Cody is effectively physical because he’s build so solid and is so strong, he could destroy players along the boards, but that is just not an aspect of his game he seems to get excited about. While he’s a solid defensive defenseman, he shows a lot of offensive upside as an offensive defenseman as well. Cody is the anchor on the 67’s power play and has a cannon for a shot. It comes in low and hard and is extremely effective. He moves the puck well, picking the right options with limited time to process the situation. What is really impressive, is he seems to have great instincts and recognition of when to pinch on the opposing blueline. We’ve seen him score a few goals utilizing this ability. Cody is one of the safer prospects in the draft. He has great size and is effective in every area of the game. He is one of the most NHL ready players in the draft and it should be interesting to see where he gets selected. We don’t realistically expect him to stick in the NHL until he completes at least one more year of junior, and perhaps a season in the AHL.

Chris Driedger (GL, 6’3, DOB 1994, WHL 24-12-3 2.80 .896)
Draft Rankings: ISS 3rd rnd, CSNAG #13, RLR #129, FC #155, HP #185
A slightly off-the-wall pick (only ISS had him as a third-rounder), taken shortly after Daniel Altshuller was scooped up by Carolina.  After spending last year as the back-up with Tri-City, Driedger carried the mail for Calgary this year.  He played in the U-17 tournament in 2010-11, but has no international experience this season.  There’s no question he’s going back for another year in the WHL (Pierre Dorion implied he was a project while Tim Murray said he’s extremely athletic).  George Fargher, the scout most responsible for the pick, said he thought Driedger was 3-4 years away from being NHL-ready.
Here’s ISS’ scouting report: they list all his attributes as Very Good, then write: “While Matt Murray got most of the attention for his play during the Top Prospect Game, Driedger was equally as good, if not better and should have cemented himself in the top 5 goalie talk for the draft. Driedger is already very good, but has shown incredible development in his ability to track the puck and adjust to rebounds this season. He still has a ton to learn and seems eager to put in the work to do so.
All FC’s has to say it: “A hot and cold puck stopper who shows flashes of potential; he needs to be more consistent.”
Here’s HP’s scouting report: “A big goaltender who showed some flashes of brilliance as the season progressed. Driedger split the regular season with his goaltending partner, and was able to have a fairly good season for Calgary. Driedger plays a controlled style. He is mostly a butterfly style, but has shown some good display of athleticism when required. He moves from post to post at an above average level, and has a tendency to dive when there is a quick pass being made. He has to improve on his quickness to be more effective. He has average puck tracking abilities, and must get better at looking through traffic to stop shots. He is a little slow at reacting to plays when there is a screen in front of him. One of his strengths is his rebound control. He is very good at steering shots to the corners and making sure that opponents do that get many opportunities to try to bang home a rebound. He keeps his stick active to direct those pucks away from danger. One other area of improvement would be his puck handling skills. He is not very good at moving the puck to his defensemen, and is almost a liability every time he goes behind the net to stop a dump in. Driedger still has a lot of improvements to make, but looks well on his way to potentially become a good goaltender as a pro. He certainly has the size to move up the ladder, but needs to put everything in his game together to do so.

Jarrod Maidens (C/LW, 6’0, DOB 1994, OHL 28-12-11-23)
Draft Rankings: CSNA #35, THN #38, McK #47, TSN #48, ISS #58, FC #61, HP #74, RLR #81
Had his season ended by a nasty concussion which is probably what caused him to slide down so far in the draft.  He gets a lot of flattering comparisons to other players, although it’s sometimes hard to match specific comments to the overall assessments.  He’s also someone I’d expect to be returned to junior hockey.  Pierre Dorion flat out called him a pro (meaning in the future) and said his health was fine.  Greg Royce, the scout most responsible for him, said they liked his competitiveness and projects him as a third line player.  He’s not expected to attend the development camp.
ISS’ scouting report: they list his skating, puck skills, shot, defensive play, and physical play as Very Good, his competitiveness as Excellent, and his size/strength, offensive play, and hockey sense as Good.  They give his strengths as compete level, leadership/character, defensive awareness, and accurate shot/quick hands.  They write: “Weaknesses: Continue to add strength & Mobility Skill: Very good puck handling and offensive instincts with incredible grit. Scouting Report: The kind of player that every coach wants on his team. Extremely driven, effective in all zones while being most dangerous from the hashmarks in. Unfortunately for scouts Maidens got injuried and missed the final 44 games of 2011-2012 season with Concussion like symptoms. Center with a powerful stride, excellent speed once he’s moving, and a strong heavy shot. Plays a meat and potatoes type game defensively while showing a high degree of smarts in the offensive end, knows where his teammates will be and thinks ahead of the play. Competes from start to finish. Communicates to his teammates and is a natural leader. Looking forward to seeing what he will achieve when he is healthy next season. NHL Potential: Top 6 – grit and leadership mixed with offensive upside. Style compares to: Mike Richards.”
FC’s scouting report: “A strong power centre with goal scorer’s instincts. Not a pylon but could use work on his first few steps and edge work for quick turning. Has a very deceiving skating stride that generates a very good amount of straight line speed. His shot is his biggest strength as it is pro-caliber and dangerous when he gets into the offensive zone. Uses his size to protect the puck and drive into the greasy areas for a scoring chance. He thinks the game quickly and shows solid maturity in his overall game. Wants to win and shows the work ethic and leadership to take charge and lead by example. Could use some added strength but uses what he has to battle for pucks and bring a hard forecheck. He is not a fighter but will stand up for himself and is projected to play a power forward game at the next level. His draft season was not what he wanted it to be to say the least as he struggled with concussion symptoms all year. His potential is first round worthy but injury concerns push his stock down. NHL POTENTIAL: Top six two-way forward.”
HP’s scouting report: “When Jarrod Maidens was selected 4th Overall, he was expected to be an impact player for the Attack as he developed. However up to this point it’s been a bit of a reverse role than most rookies. Due to a concussion, Jarrod was only able to participate in 28 games this season. However Maidens’ biggest moment with the Attack likely came while still in his rookie season. Jarrod scored the OHL Championship winning goal in overtime to help the Attack capture their first ever OHL Championship. Jarrod is a good skater for someone over 6 ft. tall. He rushes the puck effectively and particularly when he’s on Left Wing, he drives the wing hard, protecting the puck towards the net. He has a good shot, with a very quick release on it. While his puck protection is good and he seems to absorb contact well, showing good balance, he doesn’t seem to engage much in the physical game. His willingness to throw hits is inconsistent at best and he does take the long route to the puck, trying to win it without taking the initial hit. He has size, but overall plays a little smaller. We’d like to see him add some more muscle and physicality to his game, as he needs to be more aggressive to maximize his potential. His skating, hands and shot will make him a valuable prospect, but we feel he could drop more than his skill would suggest, due to how much hockey he missed with his concussion.”

Timothy Boyle (DR, 6’1, DOB 1993, USHS 24-6-12-18)
Draft Rankings: CSNA #208
The most enigmatic pick by the Sens.  No one has a scouting report on him, although he’s Brian Boyle‘s brother.  He’s coming off a down year at Noble & Greenborough and will be playing for Union College in the NCAA.  A long term project, it will be interesting to see what he can do at this year’s development camp (if he attends).  Pierre Dorion said they decided to draft Boyle after seeing him play with other players they were scouting and feeling he was the best player on the ice.  Tim Murray expects him to play out his collegiate career.  Bob Janecyk (the scout most responsible for him) said he was a skilled guy  who can skate and has good size.

Robbie Baillargeon (CR, 6’0, DOB 1993, USHL 54-14-34-48)
Draft Rankings: CSNA #50, ISS #69, HP #71, THN #73, RLR #76, FC #107
Another player whose stock fell during the draft, he’s coming off a strong rookie season in the USHL after dominating at Cushing Academy.  He’s scheduled to attend Boston University and much like Boyle above I’d expect him to do so.  Tim Murray implied he would play the full four years in college.
ISS’ scouting report: they list his skating, puck skills, and hockey sense as Very Good, while his shot is Good and his size/strength is Average.  They write: “A quality player that makes his teammates better. He doesn’t look like much physically, but he’s a real playmaker who is a couple of steps ahead of everyone else out there. Although he has not set the USHL scoring charts on fire, he was able to showcase good offensive potential for the next level. He is creative and skilled enough to execute in difficult circumstances. He is not strong and that does force him to rely on his skating and stick skills too heavily.”
FC’s scouting report: “A fleet footed offensive minded forward. His feet generate good speed and are able to make lateral cuts very quickly. His skating ability and soft, creative hands adds considerably to his ability to produce offensive chances for his line. Reads the game well with strong anticipation and vision. Makes strong, crisp passes and has the moves to beat defenders and goalies one-on-one. His shot, while not overpowering by any means, is accurate and off his stick quickly. Defensively he has the ability and smart to know where his check is and what to do to close of the lane but does not always execute from lack of trying. Other times he looks like a true two-way force. His body language can be problematic as he shows his frustration playing with less skilled linemates from time to time. He will need to add considerable strength as he is often out-muscled when engaging in puck battles. Committed to Boston University. NHL POTENTIAL: Second line offensive forward.”
HP’s scouting report: “Baillergeron joined in the Indiana Ice this season and is a Boston University commit for the 2013 season. Considering he only really played secondary minutes in Indiana this season, his numbers are extremely impressive. What sticks out about Baillargeon is his entire offensive game. He can really do it all in the offensive zone. He has the ability to finesse, or to play a power game, which allows him to be very dynamic. Moreover, his high level finishing and distributing abilities while being able to make elusive plays. He is lanky right now, but is still strong on the puck. In fact, he has a very good frame to develop into. In terms of improvement, he needs to work on his first few steps. His skating is not a setback by any means, but improving the first few steps will really help him. Obviously, he must also add some strength to his frame before entering BU in 2013. His defensive play is not perfect, but has come a long way. Overall, his first USHL season has been quite impressive and with his offensive upside we won’t be surprised if he gets selected earlier than some may think.”

Francois Brassard (GL, 6’1, DOB 1994, QMJHL 20-10-3, 2.80, .905)
Draft Rankings: CSNAG #15, RLR #120, ISS 5th rnd, HP #191
One of the goaltenders brought to Ottawa prior to the draft and a local product, I have to see him as insurance in case Driedger does not turn out.  He’s projected as a backup however, so there may simply be different expectations of him from the organisation.  He will undoubtedly return to the Q next season.  Tim Murray called him a raw talent, but wasn’t nearly as effusive about him as Driedger.  Trent Mann, the scout most responsible for his selection, emphasized how much of a battler he was.
HP’s scouting report: “The back-up to Louis Domingue, Brassard saw his fair share of action this season and responded well. The first thing we noticed with Brassard is his composure when he’s between the pipes. He is very calm and that’s always a good sign coming from a young goaltender. He excels with his butterfly style and has good lateral movements. He covers the bottom of the net well with his pads even though he has a tendency to go on his knees too quick. Brassard also reads the play well and is able to follow the puck through traffic. He needs to develop his glove side a little bit more and would benefit a lot from challenging the shooters more as he plays deep in his crease. His upside is not high end at this point but his abilities, along with composure and mental toughness makes him a good flyer to take later in the draft.”

Mikael Wikstrand (DL, 6’1, DOB 1993, Allsvenskan 47-2-1-3)
Draft Rankings: CSE #23, ISS/THN #85, FC #113, HP #167, RLR #191
Continuing the trend of players who slipped down the draft, Wikstrand (I’ve seen the name spelled “Vikstrand” as well) is the token Swede for the Sens this year.  He was part of Sweden’s U-18 squad last year and spent most of this past season playing in Sweden’s tier-2 professional league.  At the moment the plan is for him to return to Mora and develop.  From the scouting reports he looks like a hit or miss prospect.  Pierre Dorion believes he’ll be on Sweden’s World Junior squad next season.  Tim Murray called him well-rounded saying he does everything well.  Vaclav Burda, the scout most responsible for his selection, emphasized his skating.  Hey and fellow scout Mikko Ruutu also liked that he was able to handle himself in the men’s league.  They want to see him work on his physicality.
ISS’ scouting report: they list his size/strength, skating, and shot as Good, while his puck skills and hockey sense are Average.  They write: “A good mobile, two-way defender that moves the puck effectively. Vikstrand accelerates well in all directions and exhudes maturity, already having played over 75 pro level games in Sweden. He stands out most in situations when he has a little bit of extra time and space to make a play, such as the PP- but proves to be capable in 5 on 5 situations as well. He has good upper body strength & battles hard along the boards & can throw the odd big hit here and there.”
FC’s scouting report: “A smart and safe two-way defenseman. Skates well with good speed and quick feet but is not overly dynamic. Has nice vision and makes strong breakout passes. Can get his point shot off quickly and on target. Defends well with an active stick and strong body positioning, closing gaps quickly and blocking off passing lanes. He does many things very well, and is a smart defensive player coupled with decent puck moving skills. However, he’s not extremely physical, and he does not possess much in the way of a high offensive upside. His cool and calm all-around game and the confidence he brings to his blueline are like what you see in a ten year veteran. Might be more ready for pro hockey than many others in this draft out of Sweden, but the upside is certainly not as high as some. He will need to add some more strength over the summer to have a shot at cracking an NHL lineup. NHL POTENTIAL: Bottom pairing two-way defenseman.”

My predictions went down in flames for the most part, although I did guess two of the seven picks and in some cases they selected players I did not think would still be available.  Here’s a review:
1-15 – I thought Hampus Lindholm would be the pick here or, in his absence, Derrick Pouliot or Olli Maatta.  Only the latter was available when the Sens picked, but they clearly had Ceci ahead of the Finnish blueliner (who was not expected to be available at this point).
3-76 I had Calle Andersson listed here, with James Melindy, Dylan Blujus, or Baillargeon as alternatives; Andersson was available as were all my alternatives except Blujus, but the Sens went with their first goaltender Dreidger
3-82 I had Esa Lindell here, but he was taken as was my alternative Mitchell Moroz; Maidens was not supposed to be available this late
4-106 I had Erik Karlsson listed here, but he was already gone; Kevin Roy was my alternative, but he too was gone; Boyle was not a player I would have guessed the Sens would pick
5-136 I had Daniel Altshuller here, but he was taken in the third round; Baillargeon was not supposed to be here (but was considered above)
6-166 I had Carter Rigby here who went undrafted; my alternative was Brassard who the Sens picked (I did not guess they would draft two goaltenders)
7-196 I had Mike McKee as the pick, but he was long gone; my alternative Zane Jones went undrafted; Wikstrand was not supposed to be available here

Reviewing the 2012 NHL Entry Draft

In what was described as a weak to average draft there was little consensus beyond the top-10 (just like in 2011).  Scouts said that little separated players ranked 11-40 and the conventional wisdom was spot on–exact predictions got hammered this year as compared to the previous two drafts.

Acronyms: EOTS (Eye on the Sens), TSN (Bob McKenzie), FC (Future Considerations), HP (Hockey Prospects), RLR (Red Line Report), THN (The Hockey News), ISS (International Scouting Service), and McK (McKeen’s)

First round
Player X at Position X
TSN 5/30
HP/FC/ISS/McK 2/30
Players picked for the round
TSN 27/30
McK 26/30
RLR 25/30
EOTS/THN 24/30
ISS/FC/HP 22/30

Second Round
Exact Placements
TSN 2/31
Round Placements
TSN 18/31
EOTS/RLR/McK 12/31
THN 11/31
HP 10/31
ISS/FC 6/31

Third Round (minus TSN because Bob McKenzie’s list is only the top-60)
EOTS/HP 1/30
RLR 8/30
EOTS/HP 7/30
FC/McK 6/30
THN 4/30
ISS 3/30

Fourth Round (minus THN because their list is only the top-100)
McK/FC 1/30
McK 6/30
HP 5/30
EOTS 4/30
FC 3/30
RLR 2/30
ISS 1/30

Fifth Round (minus McK because their list is only the top-120)
Incredibly (or perhaps not), none of the sources had an exact prediction for the rest of the draft
FC 6/30
EOTS 5/30
HP 4/30
ISS 3/30
RLR 1/30

Sixth Round
FC 3/30
EOTS/HP 2/30
RLR/ISS 1/30

Seventh Round
EOTS 3/30

All Rounds (this excludes TSN, THN, and Mckeen’s because they did not predict the entire draft):
EOTS 57/211 (27.0%)
HP 52/211 (24.6%)
RLR 51/211 (24.2%)
FC 48/211 (22.7%)
ISS 38/211 (18.0%)

This represents a 5% drop from last year for me and most of my sources (except for HP which marginally improved).  The results for ISS were particularly abysmal.  However, the business of slotting players in specific rounds doesn’t get much better than the low 30s% so to fully assess how well we picked players who would be drafted, here’s the listed players taken in the draft (again, only using those who predicted the entire draft):
EOTS 160/211 (75.8%)
RLR 156/211 (73.9%)
HP 152/211 (72.0%)
FC 150/211 (71.1%)
ISS 146/220 (70.4%) (ISS’ picks can’t be cut down to 211 because of the way they are put together)
Unranked players taken: 23 (10.9%)
Players from European leagues: 35 (16.6%)
Note: I didn’t use Corey Pronman‘s (of Hockey Prospectus) list, but his tally: 110/125 (88.0%)

This is a 5% improvement in predicting the total number of players taken compared to last year.  All the source numbers rose as well.  The most consistent predictions remain the top-100 players.  The highest ranked player who was not drafted was Russian Anton Slepyshev (ranked as a second or third rounder, #50 on my list), followed by Dane Fox (#57).  No other player went undrafted who was listed by at least six sources, but three other prospects picked by five were on the outside looking in (Cody Corbett (#102), Andrei Makarov (#107), and Marcus McIvor (#122)).  Among the unranked players selected, many were older (like Sergei Kostenko), one re-entered the draft (Frederik Andersen), but there wasn’t the usual dominance of unknown Europeans (10 of the 23 were from Europe).

Here’s the list of the highest ranked players not taken from each source (CSNA=Central Scouting North America, CSE=CS Europe, CSNAG= CSNA Goalies, CSNG=CSE Goalies):
#46 Dane Fox
#70 Max Iafrate
#79 Devin Tringale
#10 Anton Slepyshev
#13 Vyacheslav Osnovin
#19 Erik Thorell
#7 Andrei Makarov
#8 Patrik Bartosak
#4 Jean Auren
#6 Mathias Israelsson
ISS skaters
#36 Anton Slepyshev
#54 Dane Fox
#66 Emil Lundberg
ISS goaltenders
#13 Joonas Toivonen
#15 Patrik Bartosak
#41 Anton Slepyshev
#44 Andrei Makarov
#45 Dane Fox
#60 Dane Fox
#78 Anton Slepyshev
#93 Brett Foy
#48 Anton Slepyshev
#63 Emil Lundberg
#66 Cody Corbett
#60 Dane Fox
#67 Anton Slepyshev
#75 Henri Ikonen
Corey Pronman
#17 Anton Slepyshev
#42 Nathan Walker
#49 Austin Cangelosi