Senators News: August 20th

-I’ve been away for a week and most of the hockey news has surrounded the tedious CBA negotiations and its attendant hysteria.  Through that noise some Sens news has come down the pipe

Peter Regin has been cleared for contact and considers himself healthy and fully recovered.

-Going back to August 10th, Tim Murray was on The Team 1200 and Nichols transcribed his comments.  He discusses Sens prospect Stefan Noesen:

We recognize certainly his ability and his potential. We have high expectations for him. I suspect that he’s going to be a top-six or seven forward. I suspect that he’s going to play on our power play someday. I suspect that he is going to be a hard guy to play against and be a very competitive guy so our expectations are high. As far as the casual fan, I’m not quite sure what they think or know from him. I think that there are fans out there that follow (the Senators) quite closely and follow the OHL quite closely and know that he’s a quite good prospect. The rules dictate that Stefan makes our team or goes back to junior but for the most part, and I know it’s a cliche but it is true, we’ll let him decide that. He’ll either knock our socks off or go back to junior and that’s basically the two choices that he has. He can’t come into camp and have a solid camp. We’ll be happy with that but it won’t put him on the hockey club.

There’s nothing new here other than setting the development ceiling the team see’s for Noesen.  Murray then commented on Mika Zibanejad playing in North American this upcoming season:

That’s our plan and that’s the thought obviously. We know things can change. There could be a family issue. There are multiple reasons why he would go back next year but that’s not what we want. The plan is for him to either be here eithere in Ottawa or in Binghamton. As I say, I shouldn’t be so definitive in an article like that because we know that it could change but the idea is for him to be here. He wants to be here. We want him here. Is there something that could pop up in the future to change that? Sure, but I don’t foresee that.

The possibility that Zibanejad might return to Sweden at all surprises me, but I still believe he’ll play for either Ottawa or Binghamton this year.  Murray then commented on Bobby Butler‘s buyout:

It was mostly the numbers game. It was partly the way he played. It was partly, I guess, the way that he prepared. I know I hear it all. I hear it’s a long season in Bingo and I hear a lot of things from different people and from different sources, but that came into it. I just think it was easy to do because of the numbers. It was basically $400,000 over two years. The cap hit doesn’t mean anything because of the position that we’re in. I just think the number and I have to say I guess a little bit the way that he played and prepared for last season sure (contributed to his buyout). To me Bobby was a success. He had a two-way contract. He came out of college hockey a little more mature athlete than a kid out of junior. He went down to Binghamton and he played some games (in Ottawa). He played in Binghamton and he scored some big goals down there. Maybe the team doesn’t win a (Calder) Championship without him, so I think his first year was a success. He gets a one-way (contract) because of the way that the CBA was worded and the amount of games that he has to play in the NHL for us to retain his rights and a whole bunch of different reasons that he gets the one-way deal. I think he kind of on the ice deserved the one-way deal. We had to give it to him or lose him anyway. I think maybe he just got caught up in: we win a championship, he played a lot, it was a short summer and he just… it all came at him too quickly and he didn’t know how to prepare for the following year. Now I think he can take a step back and certainly, I think you can learn from that. I assume that he’s having a better summer this year and is being more prepared. He signed a two-way (contract) with Jersey and now he has to earn his NHL games again and we’ll see where he’s at.

There’s nothing surprising about the comments.  Murray then talked about signing college free agents in general:

I think that they’re a good try. They are on a two-way. You have to give them a signing bonus. I think that when you can get a free player like that… I just don’t know what you guys expect or the fans expect when (we announce the signing of a collegiate free agent). For the most part, (Jesse (Winchester), Bobby (Butler) at times in their time with us in Ottawa, we’ve been very pleased with the production that we got from the money that we put out.

Murray touches on the primary problem college free agents face–hype (as I concluded not long ago).  The expectations for undrafted NCAA stars are often higher than is warranted.  The only other items of note was Murray commenting on Matt Puempel‘s improvements as a player and that the team is essentially done in free agency.

Adnan wonders what fans can expect in terms of production from Erik Karlsson and compares him to a number of other top offensive blueliners, but I think the most important comment is this one, “most of those players did this [continuing high levels of production] in the 1980s where scoring goals was a lot easier.”  If Adnan said “from the 1967 expansion into the early 1990s” he would be absolutely correct about when scoring was high in the NHL.  This makes the comparisons very tricky, as the trend in the NHL is less scoring (declining every single year).

The Hockey News has been slowly grinding out their predictions for the 2012-13 season and have picked the Senators to finish eighth in the Eastern Conference:

The Sens surprised many (THN included) when they made the playoffs last season. However, now that offense-minded dynamo and reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson has blossomed into a superstar, they won’t be able to sneak up on opponents. The good news is that with goaltending depth (Craig Anderson, Ben Bishop and Robin Lehner), a buttressed blueline (with the addition of Marc Methot) and promising youngsters including Kyle Turris, Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad up front, they don’t need stealth to in order to win.

I don’t know why THN doesn’t fully embrace being wrong about the Sens last year–it happened to most predictions.  There’s no need to qualify the error by saying the Sens were “sneaky”.  I actually think the Sens are likely to finish on the outside looking in (an opinion shared by Nichols), and I have problems both with decreased offensive capacity of Ottawa’s blueline, the ability of the team to reproduce their offensive production overall, and I my opinion of the Anderson/Bishop tandem is “wait and see”.

-For those who’ve followed the Dany Heatley saga after being traded from Ottawa, he’s filled a lawsuit against his former agent

Stu Hackel writes about the NHL’s deplorable officiating and notes that the uninspiring Colin Campbell has admitted the officiating standards have slipped considerably since the post-lockout era began.  One can only hope there’s a slight shift towards allowing skill to return to the forefront of the game.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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