The Binghamton Senators: 2012-13 Roster Changes and Potential Lineup

The Binghamton Senators finished 30th in the AHL with a 29-40-7 record for 65 points, which represents a 27-point (and 13 win) drop over last year’s Calder Cup winning season (when they were 12th in the league).  The team was 23rd in scoring (their 201 goals was 54 less than last year), and 27th in goals against (their 243 goals 22 worse than last year).  The team featured 11 rookies, 7 of whom were regulars in the lineup.  Twelve players from the Calder Cup team remained (thirteen if you count Daugavins’ brief tenure with the team).  Tim Murray admitted the unexpected retirement of Lee Sweatt hurt the team a great deal (comparing him to Andre Benoit), and admitted the other veterans he signed (Parrish and Conboy) weren’t able to replace those lost from the previous season (Ryan Keller and David Hale are the most likely parallels, although Murray also mentioned Ryan Potulny who was acquired by trade mid-season).  It was a disappointing season for the team, although it did feature some was positive development for individual players.  Here’s my full review of the season.  Sixteen players will no longer be with the team when it begins next season, removing 76 goals from the lineup (37% of last season’s total).

Departed Forwards (9): Corey Locke (38-10-31-41) to TPS in the SM-Liiga; Rob Klinkhammer (35-12-23-35) to the Portland Pirates; Mark Parrish (51-15-15-30) UFA; Jack Downing (47-9-8-17) tryout with Binghamton; Jim O’Brien (27-7-7-14) NHL; Nikita Filatov (15-7-5-12) to Salavat Ufa in the KHL; Mike Bartlett (58-3-4-7) to HC Innsbruck in Austria; Kaspars Daugavins (7-2-4-6) NHL; Francis Lessard (43-1-1-2) UFAO’Brien and Daugavins were both re-signed to one-way deals with Ottawa.

Departed Blueliners (5): Craig Schira (73-4-9-13) to Frisk Asker in Norway; Tim Conboy (53-2-9-11) to Ingolstadt in the DEL; Dan Henningson (32-2-8-10) UFA; Josh Godfrey (38-2-6-8) Las Vegas (ECHL); Bobby Raymond (38-0-4-4) retained by Florida (ECHL).

Departed Goaltenders (2): Mike McKenna (14-18-5, 2.98, .918) to Peoria; Brian Stewart (no AHL games) to Bakersfield (ECHL).

Departed Coaches (1): Kurt Kleinendorst

Many of the players above were part-time in one way or another.  In essence Binghamton lost a top-four defenseman (Conboy), a bottom-pairing blueliner (Schira), a quality back-up goaltender (McKenna), roughly three top-six forwards (Locke, Parrish, and Klinkhammer/O’Brien), an enforcer (Lessard), and a couple of depth forwards (Bartlett and Downing).  The team also lost its head coach in Kleinendorst who was very popular with his players.

Forward Additions (7): Hugh Jessiman (AHL 67-27-17-44), Mika Zibanejad (SEL 26-5-8-13), Mark Stone (WHL 66-41-82-123), Shane Prince (OHL 57-43-47-90), Jean-Gabriel Pageau (QMJHL 46-32-33-65), Darren Kramer (WHL 71-21-19-40),  Jakub Culek (QMJHL 55-13-27-40).  Pageau and Prince can be returned to their junior teams.

Blueline Additions (5): Andre Benoit (KHL 53-5-12-17), Tyler Eckford (AHL 75-10-15-25), Chris Wideman (NCAA 41-4-20-24), Ben Blood (NCAA 42-3-18-21), Fredrik Claesson (SEL 47-1-6-7).

Goaltending Additions (2): Nathan Lawson (AHL 19-17-4 2.57 .914), , Marc Cheverie (ECHL 10-4-8 2.71 .910)

Coaching Additions (1): Luke Richardson

There are a lot of forwards slated for Binghamton (I am making the assumption Jakob Silfverberg plays in Ottawa) and while some will likely spend time in Elmira (ECHL) I have to imagine that either a CHL-eligible player will be returned to junior or else there will be some player movement.  I’m assuming that Zibanejad will be in Binghamton and if so he’s one of three potential top-six forward additions (along with Jessiman and possibly Stone); Kramer is expected to fill the enforcer role while the other players will slot in the bottom of the lineup.  The blueline has been completely overhauled with Benoit as the #1 defenseman and Eckford filling out a top-four slot; the other blueliners will fight for bottom-pairing slots with time in Elmira not out of the question.  Lawson is a quality back-up.  Luke Richardson has his first head coaching job and it will be an interesting challenge for the former NHLer.

Returning Forwards (10): Mike Hoffman (76-21-28-49), Andre Petersson (60-23-21-44), Pat Cannone (76-19-24-43), Stephane Da Costa (46-13-23-36), David Dziurzynski (72-11-17-28), Derek Grant (60-8-15-23), Corey Cowick (53-5-6-11), Wacey Hamilton (74-5-6-11), Louie Caporusso (ECHL 29-16-16-32), Cole Schneider (NCAA 38-23-22-45)

Returning Blueliners (3): Mark Borowiecki (73-5-17-22), Eric Gryba (73-5-15-20), Patrick Wiercioch (57-4-16-20)

Returning Goaltenders (1):  Robin Lehner (13-21-2, 3.26, .907)

Among the returning forwards three will definitely be in the top-six (Hoffman, Petersson, and Da Costa), while Cannone could slide down.  Dziurzynski and Grant round out the top-nine while the remaining forwards will compete to play on the fourth line.  There’s a good chance Borowiecki will stick with the Sens, while I think there’s no chance of Lehner beating out Bishop and staying in the NHL–not because he’s incapable, but because I don’t think the organisation will risk putting Bishop on waivers.  Either all three of the defensemen can be slotted into top-four roles or if (as expected) Borowiecki is absent than just Gryba and Wiercioch get those slots.  Lehner will be the unquestioned starter.

Training camp will have an impact on positioning, so predicting a lineup is haphazard at best.  Here’s what I think as things stand now (and using my assumptions about Borowiecki being on the NHL roster):
1. Top-six forwards: Mike Hoffman, Andre Petersson, Stephane Da Costa, Hugh Jessiman, Mika Zibanejad, and Pat Cannone
2. Top-four blueliners: Andre Benoit, Eric Gryba, Tyler Eckford, and Patrick Wiercioch
3. Bottom-six forwards: David Dziurzynski, Mark Stone, Derek Grant, Wacey Hamilton, Darren Kramer, Cole Schneider
4. The goaltending situation: Lehner starts, Lawson backs-up

I’m assuming Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Shane Prince will be returned to junior.  This leaves three forwards on the outside looking in (Corey Cowick, Louie Caporusso, and Jakub Culek) and I really wonder if the Sens will want that many prospects playing in Elmira or simply practising with the team.  Given their ages, Cowick and Caporusso are the players most likely to be moved if that’s the direction the Sens want to go.  Mark Stone could crack the top-six, but he may wind up as a top-nine forward to start his pro career.

Ben Blood will play regularly as the 5-6 blueliner, while Chris Wideman and Fredrik Claesson will battle it out for the rest of the ice time.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)