Senators News: August 23rd

-The Sens signed 2012 first-round pick Cody Ceci to his ELC today.

-NHL.com has posted a series of articles on the Sens, beginning with Arpon Basu‘s ranking the team’s prospects:
1. Mika Zibanejad
2. Jakob Silfverberg
3. Robin Lehner
4. Cody Ceci
5. Mark Stone
6. Stefan Noesen
7. Matt Puempel
8. Mark Borowiecki
9. Patrick Wiercioch
10. Shane Prince
Many of the organisational comments included by Basu are either very broad or ones we’ve heard before, but it’s worth including Pierre Dorion’s comments on Mark Stone: “Mark has taken it upon himself to get better. He’s been in Ottawa a lot to work on his skating – which still needs improvement – and his strength. But what he has in terms of hockey sense, his shot, his ability to make plays and his offensive instincts are things you can’t teach.”  The comment about his strength is one I haven’t heard before and is yet another sign he will be in Binghamton for at least the coming season.  I don’t think Shane Prince belongs in the top-ten, but as with any prospect time with tell.

Corey Masisak tries to guess what the Sens upcoming lineup will be:

Michalek-Spezza-Silfverberg
Latendresse-Turris-Alfredsson
Greening-O’Brien-Zibanejad
Condra-Smith-Neil
Regin

Karlsson-Methot
Gonchar-Cowen
Lundin-Phillips
Borowiecki

I have a few problems with Masisak’s speculation, although other than Zibanejad he has all the players I expect to be on the NHL roster listed (Daugavins should be included).  Peter Regin will not be an extra forward, nor will Jim O’Brien play on the third line; otherwise the forward lines are up in the air.

Basu wonders if last season’s success will be a springboard for the Sens.  Bryan Murray thinks so:

It very definitely should give us a bit of a springboard this year. Our finish and our performance in the playoffs last season gave us some confidence that we’re going in the right direction. With Lundin and Methot in our top six, with the continued growth of Cowen and with Karlsson being what he is, age-wise those four guys should improve and should help us improve defensively.

I expect Murray to be optimistic, but given that neither blueline acquisition adds offence and both Karlsson and Cowen could have down years (the former because he’s unlikely to repeat his success, the latter could suffer from the sophomore slump).  Given that possibility, the engine that moves the puck to the forwards could start to break down.

-Here’s my profile of Erik Condra

ESPN‘s Tim Boughton, Paul Grant, and David Walton assess the moves in NHL free agency.  Walton liked Alexander Semin (Carolina), Boughton liked Teemu Selanne (Anaheim), and Grant liked Jason Garrison (Vancouver).  I don’t see Selanne as a true UFA since he would only play for Anaheim (Boughton’s other choice was RFA Tuukka Rask).  All three thought Parise and Suter (Minnesota) were given too much money and term, but I just can’t see any other signing as coming close to the impact those two will have on the Wild.

-The Swedish Elite League will not sign any locked out NHL players (should there be a lockout).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Player Profile: Erik Condra

Erik Condra, RW, Contract: 0.625/13 (RFA) Drafted 7-216/06 (Muckler)
5’11, Shoots R, YOB 1986, Trenton, MI
2009-10 AHL Binghamton 80-11-27-38 (ppg 0.47) +4 61pim (1 fight)
2010-11 AHL Binghamton 55-17-30-47 (ppg 0.85) +20 28pim
2010-11 NHL Ottawa 26-6-5-11 (ppg 0.42) -1 12pim TOI 15:52
2011-12 NHL Ottawa 81-8-17-25 (ppg 0.31) +11 30pim TOI 14:09

The last pick in GM John Muckler’s last draft, the undersized Erik Condra was drafted after winning Rookie of the Year in the CCHA playing for Notre Dame.  He spent the four full years in the NCAA, leading his team in scoring every year (finishing 159-48-110-158).

Bryan Murray signed him to his ELC and without much fanfare and Condra joined Don Nachbaur’s Binghamton Senators (a good article about him when he signed here).  Outplaying fellow rookie Jim O’Brien, Condra was named Rookie of the Year in Binghamton (echoing his CCHA achievement).

In the final year of his ELC Condra‘s game took a significant leap forward, not only in terms of production and defensive play, but he clearly made the players around him better (particularly Jim O’Brien and the now departed Roman Wick).  When Bryan Murray began to clean house at the NHL level, Condra was brought up and remained with the team the rest of the season.  Coach Cory Clouston was a big fan of Condra‘s, who received more ice time than any other recalled rookie.  Condra played a role in Ryan Shannon‘s increased production at the end of the season (15 of his 27 points came after Condra was recalled, much of it spent playing together).

When the season ended Condra was given a two-year, one-way contract (joining fellow 7th-rounder Colin Greening in landing a one-way).  He’s a versatile player who doesn’t excel at any particular aspect of the game other than with his brain.  Condra credits Randy Lee in helping his game.  It was difficult to project how Condra would do last season, but his output was reasonable and remained fairly consistent (15 points in the first half, 10 points in the second); I predicted he would get 30 points this past season.

I expect more of the same from Condra this upcoming season, although his production will depend on his ice time and who he plays with.  I’d predict very similar numbers, as his versatility allows Paul MacLean to play him up and down the lineup.

-Here’s Condra missing an empty net, saving a goal, and scoring on a breakaway.