Senators News: July 10th

-Ottawa signed defenseman Tyler Eckford to a two-way deal.  Eckford was a 7th round pick by the Devils in 2004 and spent last year with the Portland Pirates (75-10-15-25).  The 26-year old left-hand shot has spent the last four years in the AHL, earning 7 NHL games through that time, although there’s virtually no chance he’ll suit up for the Sens.

Scott Cullen looks at Ottawa’s free agent signings:
Mike LundinA player that flies under the radar, [he] was out of the lineup for much of last season due to a back injury then, later in the year, a sports hernia, but he’s been quietly effective when he does play. Lundin played only 17 games for the Wild last season and was asked to play tough minutes. He’s played more than 20 minutes per game in each of the last three seasons so, presuming he’s healthy, Lundin should step into a regular role on the Ottawa blueline.”
There’s nothing new here, but it confirms what has already been said about Lundin.
Guillaume Latendresse is a big forward with soft hands who has flashed offensive ability in his career, but has spent most of the last two seasons on the sidelines battling a groin injury then a concussion that limited him to a total of 27 games over the last two seasons. When he wasn’t hurt last season, Latendresse played a career-high 15:11 per game and scored five goals in 16 games. If he can manage to stay healthy, Latendresse could provide secondary offence for the Senators, offsetting at least some of what the Senators lost when they traded Nick Foligno to Columbus. Considering how much time Latendresse has missed over the last two seasons, it’s optimistic to assume that he won’t run into any injury problems, but it’s a low-risk contract for the Senators. If Latendresse is a 20-goal scorer, then he’ll be a bargain. If not, it’s the cost of a make-good contract.”
I agree with Cullen that it’s a reasonable gamble that may or may not pay off.  Latendresse is essentially a place-holder while the Sens forward prospects develop.

Amelia L looks at the investment by NHL teams into scouting post-lockout, although she admits “Admittedly, this is not an exhaustive study, more of a cursory first look at scouting in the NHL. The scouting numbers for each team are based on current website information and this information is not always complete or readily available.”  This lack of information isn’t as bad as it used to be (I know from trying to do something similar several years ago), but she’s forced to leave out Tampa Bay and Edmonton because of it.  It also means that (unfortunately) the information that is available cannot be assumed to be definitive, only indicative.  She finds that NHL clubs employ an average of 15 scouts (14.8 to be precise), with the following from highest to lowest:
Toronto 23
New Jersey 20
Vancouver 20
Winnipeg 18
St. Louis 18
Dallas 18
Chicago 17
Philadelphia 17
Washington 17
New York Rangers 16
Los Angeles 16
Buffalo 16
Anaheim 15
Pittsburgh 14
Phoenix 14
Montreal 14
Minnesota 14
Detroit 14
Boston 13
Ottawa 13
San Jose 12
Nashville 12
Florida 12
Colorado 12
Calgary 11
Columbus 10
Carolina 9
New York Islanders 9
Edmonton n/a
Tampa Bay n/a

Detroit and Toronto have the most European scouts of any team (5), with Nashville next (4); Anaheim, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, New Jersey, the Islanders, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Jose, St. Louis, and Vancouver have no European scouts listed (14 teams), although it’s clear from the large “miscellaneous” category of scouts that both Calgary (8) and Anaheim (13) must have some in Europe.  There’s no direct relationship that can be drawn from this snapshot wherein the number of scouts equals the quality of a team’s prospect pool, but that being said, having a gutted scouting department can’t help.

-Here’s my profile of Andre Benoit.

Peter Raaymakers compares the opposition to the new Phoenix Coyote deal to the opposition to the redevelopment of Lansdown Park here in Ottawa.  I don’t see anything other than the most superficial similarities–in both cases tax payers are carrying the freight for private enterprise (like the Skydome in Toronto).  Fundamentally, Ottawa has to do something to Lansdowne because the structures are old and dangerous, so it wasn’t a question of revamping it or not, but rather how.  Phoenix has a financial white elephant in the Coyotes and unlike Raaymakers I don’t think it’s a done deal that they will stay (for the sake of Phoenix tax payers I hope they don’t).


Player Profile: Andre Benoit

Andre Benoit (DL, 5’11, DOB 1984, undrafted, capgeek: 650k/300k)
2009-10 AHL Hamilton 78-6-30-36 +18 63pim (ppg 0.46)
2010-11 AHL Binghamton 73-11-44-55 +2 53pim (ppg 0.75)
2010-11 NHL Ottawa 8-0-1-1 -1 6pim (ppg 0.12)
2011-12 KHL Spartak Moscow 53-5-12-17 -1 34pim (ppg 0.32)

The undersized undrafted star for the Kitchener Rangers enjoyed a career year two seasons ago while winning a Calder Cup with Binghamton (the second Cup of his career).  Last year he decided to earn big money in the KHL and signed with Spartak Moscow and finished third in scoring among Spartak’s blueliners and was eighth overall.  His team was one of the worst in the KHL (19th out of 23), and while he enjoyed the experience he wanted to return to North America so that his daughter could attend an English school.  The Sens did not want to lose him last year and are ecstatic to have him back.  Benoit is one of those “local products” the Murray’s love so much (hailing from St. Albert), but it’s not merely a feel-good story because he will make a big impact on Binghamton’s punchless blueline.  As a long-time pro there’s not much assessment needed for what he’ll bring to Binghamton and if he stays healthy for an entire season he’ll add a lot of offence to the team.  Here’s Benoit talking about his first NHL game (as a Senator in 2011).