Senators News: January 15th

-As expected Bryan  Murray has no immediate plans to make a deal for a blueliner; prices are high and he wants to see how the younger players perform before making that call.  It’s worth going through what Ottawa’s NHL depth chart looks like on the blueline in the absence of Jared Cowen (for depth players listed their age and the number of NHL games played):
Erik Karlsson
Sergei Gonchar
Marc Methot
Chris Phillips
Mike Lundin
Andre Benoit (29, 8GP)
Patrick Wiercioch (22, 8GP)
Mark Borowiecki (23, 2GP)
Eric Gryba (24, 0GP)
Tyler Eckford (27, 7GP)
There’s nothing after Eckford in the organisation and it’s an open question as to what any of the depth players can offer.  All can probably handle limited minutes on a bottom pairing, although to what degree remains an open question.

-Also as expected, it turns out Robin Lehner‘s understanding of the CBA was off target and he does have one more year left on his ELC.

-Not long ago both Luke Fox and The 6th Sens criticised the idea of expanding the playoff format and I want to add some perspective to the issue.  No reasons were given by my fellow bloggers, but Fox spends an enormous amount of time complaining that:

There is, of course, a giant downside to allowing all but 33.3 per cent of your teams into the playoffs: the weak will be rewarded.

This is a puzzling line of thought regarding the NHL from Fox.  The venerated Original Six era (42-43 to 66-67), rewarded .666 of its teams with playoff births and this ratio continued until 79-80 when 16 of 21 teams (or .761) made the playoffs (the venerated Gretzky era)–this lasted all the way to expansion in 91-92.  It wasn’t until the 93-94 season (with the addition of the Florida Panthers) that the NHL had less than two-thirds of its teams make the playoffs.  The complaint from Fox about having to add another round to the playoffs isn’t very strong, as the league has thrived going from two rounds in the Original Six to four in the modern day.  There’s nothing sacred about the current ratio or any ratio from what I can tell.  I haven’t seen any tangible evidence that it’s better to have more teams miss the playoffs.  The dislike seems to be tied to a meritocracy argument, but it doesn’t fit the history of the league which (one assumes) matters more than a sense of fairness.  It’s my belief that the NHL should echo its venerated past and start letting more teams into the fray.

-Elmira faces Cincinnati (22-12-4) tonight; the Cyclones are lead by Michael Pelech (31 points) and backstopped by Brian Foster (13-5-3 2.55 .908).

-Here the latest prospect update (for players with more than 10 games played I’ve indicated where they are in scoring; for blueliners they are compared to other defensemen on the team):

CHL
Cody Ceci (OHL Ottawa/Owen Sound) 44-11-30-41 (1st)
Matt Puempel (OHL Kitchener) 26-21-7-28 (1st) (injured)
Stefan Noesen (OHL Plymouth) 26-17-9-26 (7th) (suspended)
Jordan Fransoo (WHL Victoria) 36-3-8-11 (2nd)
Jakub Culek (QMJHL Cape Breton) 9-4-3-7 (10th)
Jarrod Maidens (OHL Owen Sound) (injured)
Chris Driedger (WHL Calgary) 24-8-3 2.19 .924
Francois Brassard (QMJHL Quebec) 19-13-3 2.77 .905

Allsvenskan (Swe)
Mikael Wikstrand (Mora) 29-9-9-18 (1st) WJC 6-0-4-4 (1st)

KHL
Nikita Filatov (Salavat) 38-8-11-19 (t-2nd)

NCAA
Ryan Dzingel (Ohio) – 22-9-8-17 (1st)
Jeff Costello (Notre Dame) – 16-6-9-15 (4th) (injured)
Bryce Aneloski (Nebraska-Omaha) – 23-4-11-15 (2nd)
Max McCormick (Ohio) – 22-7-5-12 (3rd)
Michael Sdao (Princeton) – 18-5-4-9 (1st)
Tim Boyle (Union) – 10-0-2-2 (t-6th)

USHL
Robbie Baillargeon (Indiana/Omaha) – 33-12-14-26 (1st)

One thing to note is that Francois Brassard, who got off to a great start, has slipped down to his rookie numbers from last year.

Central Scouting has released their mid-season draft rankings update (here’s the previous ranking). CS divides between goalies and skaters, North American and European, and in this list each individual league (which makes it far too bifurcated for me to copy it here).

Michael Grange wonders if Chris Campoli‘s prominent role in the CBA negotiations has cost him a job in the NHL.  While it’s possible, I think it’s much more likely that Campoli‘s mediocre play over the last three seasons is why he’s without a contract.

Stu Hackel wonders if the Rangers and Habs can really shelve the perfectly healthy Wade Redden and Scott Gomez simply to ensure they can be bought out in the summer.  It’s an interesting question, but if the NHLPA can truly grieve the issue it’s not receiving much play in the coverage.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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