Senators News: October 24th

-Bobby Kelly cautions Sens fans too keep their excitement in check over Mikael Wikstrand‘s strong start to the season (I discussed how his talent should not surprise on Monday), which is sound advice for all prospects.  It’s not just a question of the relationship between the talent of the league the prospect is playing in versus the NHL, but that numbers at one level aren’t easily translatable to another (outside of players who dominate top professional leagues).  Given the current hype, I’ll remind fans what scouts said about Wikstrand prior to the 2012 draft:

ISS: A good mobile, two-way defender that moves the puck effectively. Vikstrand accelerates well in all directions and exhudes maturity, already having played over 75 pro level games in Sweden. He stands out most in situations when he has a little bit of extra time and space to make a play, such as the PP- but proves to be capable in 5 on 5 situations as well. He has good upper body strength & battles hard along the boards & can throw the odd big hit here and there.

Future Considerations: A smart and safe two-way defenseman. Skates well with good speed and quick feet but is not overly dynamic. Has nice vision and makes strong breakout passes. Can get his point shot off quickly and on target. Defends well with an active stick and strong body positioning, closing gaps quickly and blocking off passing lanes. He does many things very well, and is a smart defensive player coupled with decent puck moving skills. However, he’s not extremely physical, and he does not possess much in the way of a high offensive upside. His cool and calm all-around game and the confidence he brings to his blueline are like what you see in a ten year veteran. Might be more ready for pro hockey than many others in this draft out of Sweden, but the upside is certainly not as high as some. He will need to add some more strength over the summer to have a shot at cracking an NHL lineup. NHL POTENTIAL: Bottom pairing two-way defenseman.

-Stu Hackel wonders if the NHL is intentionally sabotaging the CBA negotiations in an attempt to undercut NHLPA leader Donald Fehr.  It’s an interesting piece, but I doubt the league would shut down the season to eliminate one guy.  Ultimately, ownership is hurt more by missing a season than the players.  There is only so long that the NHL can afford to leave itself off the entertainment map (I’m not sure how much I buy that personal animosity factors in to it).  James Mirtle summarizes my thoughts:

So the NHL is tired of talking to “a baseball guy” and trying to take its message directly to the players, looking for a sympathetic ear. Such an end-around isn’t unusual – after all, it happened during the last lockout – but it usually comes as part of an endgame strategy. Are we that far along already? Maybe. But this time around it is as much to do with (a) testing the players’ resolve and (b) frustration with NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr’s dour consistency as anything. It’s also a sign the league is getting a little anxious – and that a compromise that can end this lockout could actually not be as far away as the rhetoric suggests. What the NHL is really doing here is fishing for weak points in the membership: players who really don’t want to miss paycheques and are willing to consider the not quite 50-50 offer on the table. It doesn’t sound like they found all that many.

-I wonder how much time Scott Howson has left now that John Davidson has been hired to take over hockey operations for Columbus.  Davidson did a fantastic job building the Blues and I expect he will have a positive impact for the Blue Jackets.

-The New York Islanders are preparing to move to Brooklyn in time for the 2015-16 season.  This comes as no surprise as the tax payers on Long Island have consistently refused to help pay for a new arena while giving Islander ownership other land to develop as they wish.  I can’t think of any meaningful impact the move will have other than making the team more financially solvent.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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