Senators News: July 5th

Nichols serves up a transcript of Tim Murray’s appearance on The Team 1200 and he had a lot to say, so I’ll break it down by topic:

Marc Methot, “We’re really happy with the deal. Marc’s been around a long time; played in the OHL. Lots of history with him – not personally … just lots of viewings. You would assume that he would be very happy. No disrespect to where he came from but extremely happy to leave there and come to us for a multitude of reasons, including the one that it is his hometown. (It’s) kind of the same way as Parise went back to (Minnesota). I think it’s a plus. We gave up a good, young player to get him and we were quite willing to do that with our needs and with what we looked at going forward – with what’s in the organization and what’s not in the organization. These trades are made for today but they’re also made for years down the road. He’s excited and we’re excited and everybody hopes it works out obviously. He’s a big body. He skates well. He’s better defensively than he his offensively and obviously with Erik, we want him jumping all of the time. We want him going all the time. We want him taking chances most of the time. Maybe not all the time…but most of the time. We want him to just play his game that just won him the Norris Trophy. If you get a big body like that that can skate and recover and really, and hopefully it’s not often, but has to back Erik up… I like guys that can skate and can defend with their feet and long stick and reach and I think that’s what he is. I’m sure he’s going to get the chance to show that he can play with Erik and then it’s up to him. You can probably say the same thing about Jared Cowen; it’s just that he’s a younger player that’s all and maybe he’s not quite ready for that. Or maybe he is. Training camp will show a lot obviously.”  So there’s no guarantee he’ll play with Karlsson regularly, which is no surprise.  I think in an ideal world Methot is in the 3-4 hole on the blueline, not a 2 (just due to his lack of offensive production), but on the Sens blueline he’ll play elevated minutes.  Murray also makes it clear the Sens had no hesitation in trading Foligno, which indicates their evaluation of his contributions is much lower than some of the fan base’s.

Guillaume Latendresse, “With the concussions, we talk about concussions all the time like we’re all experts and we don’t really know (anything). I personally don’t know everything that Minnesota did with him when he was concussed. You bring him in and you get your doctors to look at him. We have got one of the best in Mark Aubry (sp?) when it comes to concussion problems. Guillaume comes in and he’s excited to come to us and he gets cleared by (the doctors). The contract is a good contract. He’s not the perfect player and we know that. We got him at $1.2 (million) or whatever it is with a $2.0 million cap hit, so there is some incentive there for him to make more money by scoring goals. He’s not far off from scoring 24 or 25 goals a couple of years ago. He has missed a lot of time, you’re right… but that could be a blessing if the head is completely healed. The wear and tear on the body over the last couple of years where the guys are going 100 mph and killing each other (on the ice), he’s kind of missed that a little bit – which is not what he wanted. We hope he’s healthy and we think he’s healthy and we’ve been told he’s healthy but you can never tell what the next hit will do obviously. We think it was a good bet by us to try and get some talent into the lineup that wasn’t part of the silly season. It was the same time of year but wasn’t quite the same kind of contract. We think he’s [Latendresse] a top-six forward. He’s a big body. He’s going to go to the net. He’s going to score goals and get points in different ways than Nick Foligno does. It’s going to be more of a north-south game. It’s going to be take the puck to the net. It’s going to be finishing checks. Now how often he’s going to do that and how consistent he is, we’ll find out. But that’s the type of player he was in Montreal. He played well against Ottawa. In my time here, we did need some size. He’s a little bit different and I have to say because Paul (MacLean)’s been preaching skating and you have to skate, so the one thing that we said to him was, ‘Get working out and being in shape and ready to skate.’ Because he’s not the prettiest skater and he’s not the greatest skater, so we’re going to try to make it fit. He’s a little different kind of player than guys that we’ve been trying to bring into the system. But you’re always going to have players just for different reasons – Mark Stone, who we like a ton, is not a great skater but we think he fits. We can talk about wanting to skate 200’ and skating being very important to the way that Paul coaches the game, but you’re still, I believe, other players, different types of players, can thrive within that system.”  The take away here is how carefully Murray is setting up expectations for him.  The Sens know he’s not a perfect player and are hoping he’ll work hard and produce.  The backhanded comment about Foligno is an interesting one and clearly the Sens wanted Nick to play a more north-south game.

-Losing Matt Carkner, “Well, I think at the end of the day, we might have went two years. We didn’t offer that until he started talking to other teams obviously. Hey, we all like Matt and just to get it out of the way, I don’t begrudge Matt whatsoever. He has worked extremely hard (and spent) a lot of years in the minors. … His chances of winning there are probably are a little less than if he had chosen to go a different route. And that’s fine. He has worked hard. He finally got a pretty big paycheck here and he’s looked after his family here for the foreseeable future for sure… if he’s smart with his money – which I know Matt is. There’s never going to be a bad word said about him. Now do we wish that he stayed with us for a little less money and a little less term? Of course. We’re selfish. We like guys like that but certainly, there are different reasons that scared us off from that.”  I think Nichols is exactly right in that the final comment is about Carkner‘s knees.  I’m thankful the Sens didn’t offer two years and that the Islanders threw crazy money and term at him.  A great guy, but I don’t think there’s much gas left in the tank.

-In regards to media hysteria about team toughness, “I like our team’s toughness and you just named them all (Neil, Borowiecki, Greening, Smith) and I like the different aspects of toughness that those guys bring. Is there a Matt Carkner in that group? No, he’s the nuclear deterrent and that’s what he is. We don’t have that now, so it’s going to have to be more of a team-toughness type of scenario. Maybe Zack is going to have to do a little bit more. Maybe Colin is going to have to do a little bit more. We know that if Borowiecki is on the team, he’s going to be ultra-competitive and really, really hard to play against. And that’s what team toughness comes down to: being hard to play against. If John Scott takes a run at Erik and Matt (Carkner)’s not in the lineup that night or if he’s only playing half the games for us or whatever, I’m not sure that there’s much that you can do about it. In those scenarios, I think you have to let the league take care of that type of thing but I think, just so far as being hard to play against and team toughness, those five or so guys that you named, and I think other guys can step up just a little bit – not fighting fifteen times or whatever but just being hard to play against, it will make us a tougher team.”  The need for a top heavyweight remains one of the most overrated aspects in hockey.  For all the ink spilled about the Ranger series this year people seem to forget that Brian Boyle isn’t a heavyweight–he’s simply big and agitating.  Guys like John Scott and Steve MacIntyre can’t play the game, so any time they dress they are hurting their team on the ice if they aren’t attacking someone.  Incidentally, it’s interesting Eric Gryba wasn’t included in the toughness comments since he can fight, but rarely dropped the gloves this past season in Binghamton (I wonder if that’s part of the reason Borowiecki moved ahead of him on the depth chart).

-On who impressed him at the development camp, “For sure and I’m going to forget names or not mention somebody and they’re going to get an excerpt of this and they’re going to get real mad or whatever. I’m used to that now because I do like to bring up names… but I mean, Borowiecki winning the ‘hardest worker’ again. It’s almost automatic with him. He will never be the most popular guy when he’s a NHL player for us but even on some practice days, he’s not going to be very popular with his own teammates because that’s how he practices. When you go and do a one-on-one drill with him, he is going to put you on your ass; whether you like it or not. It doesn’t matter if you’re the star of the team or not. He’s going to bring that aspect of just never stopping; never taking his foot off that pedal. We know what he is from a skill standpoint but his intangibles, his heart and his courage are off the chart, so we’re looking forward to him obviously. Robin (Lehner) came in (to camp) in a lot better shape with a lot better attitude. He spoke about it. It was very good. It’s easy to talk about (it) so we’ll see how it keeps going here… but real good signs. Some of the younger guys like (Michael) Sdao and Ben Blood and guys like that, they’re big bodies. You’re never quite sure when the mask is on in college versus when the mask comes off. Again, it’s not fighting, when you drill somebody in college, you’re just skating away and looking for the next guy to drill. Well, at our level and in the AHL level, they’re not skating away; they’re coming back for you, so there has to be a little courage there that we’ll find out about. But they’re big guys and they’re strong guys, so we’re excited about some of the bigger guys for sure. And the smaller guys obviously, there is high skill levels with some of these guys. They are top end junior kids, Noesen for one guy, showed a huge maturity in just in his outlook on how to be a pro and how to work out. I mean, I could go on and on but there were a lot of positives from guys that don’t have big expectations but there were a lot of improvements and positives from guys that have been talked about a lot.”  The thing that strikes me is his reference to Sdao, whom fans attending this year’s camp have criticised, but clearly they aren’t seeing what the organisation is.  Sdao was the most feared fighter in the USHL when he was drafted and that intimidation will be expected in Binghamton after he graduates.  He seems to have more offensive upside than Blood who is purely a physically punishing defensive defenseman.

Bruce Garrioch leaps into the Don Brennan sky-is-falling boat as he bemoans the loss of pressbox regulars Matt Carkner and Zenon Konopka.  Of the players The Ottawa Sun loves seemingly only Chris Phillips remains, but fortunately they can drown their sorrows with some of the Big Rig’s brew.  I don’t share the same level of dislike for Garrioch that most Sens bloggers do, but Bruce should be professional enough to separate his emotional ties to players and look at the big picture.  Konopka‘s loss has no impact on the team whatsoever–almost all his fights were staged and his faceoff approach has just been made illegal.  Carkner did stand up for his teammates, but whatever advantage that’s supposed to make had no discernible impact the year before and the deal he signed with the Islanders wasn’t one anyone should have matched.

Jesse Winchester and his 11 goals in 233 games await an offer from an NHL team.  I expect him to sign late with either an AHL deal or in Europe.  I think he’d look good in Binghamton, but there’s probably no room for him there given how many forwards are signed.

Tom Urtz Jr. offers his list of the top-50 prospects following the draft.  On the Sens sides of things he has Mark Stone at #49, Robin Lehner is #19, and Mika Zibanejad is #6.  Urtz doesn’t explain how he created his list, so take it with a grain of salt.

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3 Comments

  1. Bear in mind that Carkner’s play will likely improve this year as he will have fully recovered from knee surgery; he’ll have had a whole summer to train and practise, whereas last year he did not. That doesn’t mean he would crack the Senators roster this year, but he’ll bring to the Islanders more than just a willingness to drop the gloves, even if he’s not worth the contract they’ve given him.

    When it comes down to it, though, what Carkner brought to the Senators is not irreplaceable.

    • Agreed. It remains to be seen how Carkner’s legs will hold up (my concern would be his footspeed, which wasn’t good even before the injuries), but the hysteria over his departure is what’s hard to understand.

  2. […] Brennan echoes himself and Bruce Garrioch (from last week) by writing another article about how the Sens aren’t tough enough.  Unlike […]


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