Senators News: March 31st; Ottawa 0, Toronto 4

-Ottawa lost 4-0 to the Leafs last night in a game in which the team lost its way and finished poorly.  Ben Bishop took the loss and there were enough bad plays that no single player needs to be pointed too (although Chris Phillips was a team worst -3 and Mark Parisi deservedly takes him to task for it, you can’t win if you don’t score goals)–it was just an off night for the team (James Gordon singled out Jakob Silfverberg for his giveaway on the third goal, but Paul MacLean did not echo those sentiments).  Here’s the boxscore.  There were five shutouts last night, incidentally, as scoring continues to decline in the league.

-For those keeping track there were several fights in last night’s game, but it’s hard to keep the fighting theories on winning straight–presumably Matt Kassian needs to win them all for the butterfly effect to happen.  Bruce Garrioch gave Kassian a thumbs-up for his play so apparently fighting is good whether the team (or the fighter) wins or not.

-Binghamton lost to Wilkes-Barre 3-2 in a shootout; Nathan Lawson made 30 saves in the loss while Shane Prince and Danny New scored the goals.  Here’s the boxscore and the highlights.

Matt Weinstein writes about hockey in Binghamton and how the small market team survives in the AHL (due in part to government assistance).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: March 30th

-Ottawa faces Toronto (19-12-4) tonight; the Leafs are lead by Nazem Kadri (35 points) and backstopped by James Reimer (12-4-4 2.65 .916).  Ben Bishop will get the start.

Bryan Murray continues to emphasize he’ll do little or nothing at the trade deadline:

I know that we’re not doing much … if anything. I keep watching the team and I’m fairly happy with our young people with the way they’ve played. If something comes up that is of interest, we’ll certainly explore it.

And:

I’m not saying I won’t (make a move), but our kids have played well and we hope they’re going to get one or two guys back. Based on that, our depth will be better, and we’ve got a whole bunch of guys now that have shown they can play games in the NHL.

Scott had the scoring chances in the Rangers game 14-12.

-Binghamton defeated Adirondack 5-2 last night; Nathan Lawson made 37 saves to earn the win, while Cole Schneider (2), Pat Cannone, Mark Borowiecki, and Derek Grant scored the goals.  Here’s the boxscore and here are the highlights.

-The B-Sens play Wilkes-Barre (35-28-4) tonight; the Penguins are lead by Chad Kolarik (55 points) and backstopped by Jeff Zatkoff (21-9-0 2.00 .919).

Ben Blood picked up an assist in Elmira’s 4-1 win over Trenton; the assist is Blood‘s first of his professional career.

Tom Schreier (apparently taking over from Riley Forsythe at Hockey’s Future in covering the Sens–Forsythe hadn’t written anything since early January) interviewed Sens prospect Robbie Baillargeon, who talked about his decision to make the jump from prep school to the USHL:

 I would say pretty much after my second year of prep school I talked to [former Ice Head Coach and General Manager Kyle] Wallack, who was our coach last year and he just told me I had a really good year at prep school and it’s time to move on and challenge myself. I talked to a couple other people as well and they said it’s a great move and I agree with them. The league is unbelievable and it definitely prepares you for college at the highest level.

Mika Zibanejad is the highest ranked Senators prospect (#8) in Hockey’s Future‘s top-50 list of prospects.

-Rumours that NCAA free agent Danny DeKeyser would sign with Detroit have come true, removing him from the potential pool of Sens signees.

Allan Muir looks at what teams need to do to make the playoffs and concludes the Sens need to go 3-9-2.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: March 29th; Ottawa 3, New York Rangers 0

-Ottawa beat the New York Rangers 3-0 last night.  Ben Bishop made 24 saves for the shutout, while Andre Benoit, Guillaume Latendresse, and Colin Greening (empty net) scored the goals.  Jim O’Brien, Mike Hoffman, and Andre Benoit joined the lineup (Peter Regin and Mike Lundin were scratches while David Dziurzynski was sent down to Binghamton).  It wasn’t a great night for Eric Gryba, but it’s hard to complain too much when the team doesn’t give up a goal.  I hope Benoit‘s performance keeps Lundin permanently in the pressbox.  I thought Mike Hoffman was solid in his debut; there were a few early turnovers, but on the whole he played well (including a couple of great scoring chances).  Oddly, Latendresse played the least of any forward not named Matt Kassian.  Here’s the boxscore.

Nichols breaks down Eugene Melnyk’s appearence on The Fan 590 where he claimed he was going to forensically prove Matt Cooke intentionally injured Erik Karlsson.  I have no idea what Melnyk hopes to accomplish through his efforts–the league is not going to change it’s decision to not suspend Cooke, nor is it going to be happy that Melnyk is questioning their process.  Let’s say that somehow, some way, Melnyk is able to prove it…then what?  Is he going to take Cooke to court?  It’s as pointless as it is ridiculous.

-Binghamton plays Adirondack (27-33-5) tonight; the Phantoms are lead by Jason Akeson (44 points) and backstopped by Scott Munroe (12-16-0 2.78 .913).

-The Pittsburgh Penguins have loaded up for a playoff run by picking up Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla via trade, which would be a bigger deal if it had happened three or four years ago.  Morrow is two seasons removed from his last good year, but Iginla is still capable of putting up top-six numbers.  Does the move put the Penguins over the hump?  I really don’t know–the ability to grind and score upfront did not strike me as a need for Pittsburgh (puck movement from the back end as well as goaltending are more problematic in relative terms), but on the other hand it denies their competitors those additions.  By and large big acquisitions during the season does not translate to Stanley Cup success, but given that the Penguins were doing well without the additions I can’t see it hurting.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: March 27th

Jared Cowen practiced with the Sens today and Bruce Garrioch reports the plan is for him to start playing before the playoffs.

Mike Hoffman was recalled by the Sens yesterday.  Bobby Kelly (while amusingly reminiscing on Murray’s deadline dealings of the past) briefly makes the case for Hoffman, whose speed and puck skills are part of the package that makes him worth slotting into the lineup (Bobby points out he would have been among the first forwards recalled were it not for injury).

Kaspars Daugavins was picked off waivers by Boston; Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli was in Ottawa’s management group when Daugavins was drafted in 2006.  Scott says the move was dictated by the trade for Matt Kassian along with Daugavins complaints about a lack of ice time.  I agree with Scott that I’d rather have Daugavins than Kassian, but that being said there wasn’t a long term future for the Dog-man beyond this season–there are far too many good players in the pipeline for him to remain in the organisation.

-Binghamton plays Wilkes-Barre (39-20-6) tonight; the Penguins are lead by Chad Kolarik (53 points) and backstopped by Jeff Zatkoff (20-19-0 2.00 .919).

Jakub Culek, who due to injury has barely played in the QMJHL this season, has signed an ATO with Binghamton (via the same link as Hoffman).

Ben Blood was sent down to Elmira (link above).

-Rather than a normal prospect update I thought I’d just highlight which players are still playing: Tim Boyle (NCAA, although he isn’t dressing), Cody Ceci (OHL), Jeff Costello (NCAA), Jordan Fransoo (WHL), Stefan Noesen (OHL), Matt Puempel (OHL), Troy Rutkowski (WHL), Francois Brassard (QMJHL), and Chris Driedger (WHL).  Four of these players are signed and may join Binghamton depending on how their (and the B-Sens) season pans out.

Hockey’s Future has been counting down their top-50 prospects and thus far Robin Lehner clocks in at #31 and Jakob Silfverberg at #30.  I find lists like this largely meaningless, but they are something almost everyone engages in so enjoy.

Ryan Kennedy offers his 2013 draft projections (no idea what Kennedy’s guesses are based on, but presumably he’s talked to scouts) and for context I’ve compared it to ISS’ last rankings (differences in brackets):
1 – Jones, Seth – D – Portland – WHL
2 – MacKinnon, Nathan – C – Halifax – QMJHL (3)
3 – Drouin, Jonathan – F – Halifax – QMJHL (4)
4 – Nichushkin, Valery – F – Chelyabinsk Chelmet – RusS (2)
5 – Barkov, Aleksander – F – Tappara – FinE (6)
6 – Monahan, Sean – C – Ottawa – OHL (9)
7 – Lindholm, Elias – C – Brynas – SweE (8)
8 – Nurse, Darnell – D – S.S. Marie – OHL (5)
9 – Shinkaruk, Hunter – F – Medicine Hat – WHL (13)
10 – Hagg, Robert – D – Modo – SweJE (23)
11 – Lazar, Curtis – C – Edmonton – WHL
12 – Zadorov, Nikita – D – London – OHL (7)
13 – Erne, Adam – F – Quebec – QMJHL (NR)
14 – Ristolainen, Rasmus – D – TPS Turku – FinE (10)
15 – Anthony Mantha – LW – QMJHL (27)
16 –Alexander Wennberg – C – Djurgarden – SweJr (18)
17 – Rychel, Kerby – F – Windsor – OHL (16)
18 – Pulock, Ryan – D – Brandon – WHL (12)
19 – Gauthier, Frederik – C – Rimouski – QMJHL (20)
20 – Morrissey, JT – D – Prince Albert – WHL (19)
21 –Bo Horvat – C – London – OHL (NR) (24)
22 –Valentin Zykov – RW – Baie-Comeau – QMJHL (15)
23 – Zach Fucale – G – Halifax – QMJHL (NR)
24 – Jacob de la Rose – LW – Leksands – SEL (NR)
25 –Max Domi – C – London – OHL (28)
26 – Santini, Steve – D – USA U18 – NTDP (22)
27 – Burakowsky, Andre – F – Malmo – SweAl (17)
28 – Morgan Klimchuk – LW – Regina – WHL (NR)
29 – Ian McCoshen – D – USHL (30)
30 – Eric Comrie – G – Tri City – WHL (NR)

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: March 26th; Ottawa 3, New Jersey 2 (SO)

-The Sens defeated the Devils 3-2 in a shootout last night, with Ben Bishop making 32 saves in the win (and being a big factor); Chris Phillips and Colin Greening scored the goals (Alfredsson and Zibanejad in the shootout).  The Sens gave up two one-goal leads in the game and were ultimately outplayed.  Ottawa did not deserve the win (they only had 14 shots on goal!), but the mark of a good team is winning games like this.  It was not a great night for Mike Lundin (despite an assist) who played the least on the blueline by a wide margin.  Here’s the boxscore.

-The Sens have placed Kaspars Daugavins on waivers today.  I’m not sure if the club would be willing to bury him in the minors or not, but if so there’s not much salary left to pay him in the AHL.  It will be interesting to see if another team takes a chance on him (I doubt it).  I think Nichols sums up the reasoning behind it succinctly:

It’s no secret that Ottawa has battled injuries all season and other callups have proven themselves to be NHL-calibre players. At some point you knew that the numbers game would get congested in Ottawa. I mean, Spezza and Michalek are sidelined and the Senators still have 14 forwards (including the Dogman) who have demonstrated that they can play or fill a specific role. Being a fourth line/penalty killing specialist who was on an inexpensive one-way deal, Daugavins could possibly be on the outside looking in. Whether it was now or weeks or months, Daugavins, despite how well-liked he was by teammates or the fans, was eventually going to fall victim to the number’s game. Fortunately for him, he proved that he could be an effective depth guy/placeholder in the interim.

If Daugavins is not picked up on waivers it’s a clear sign that the Sens have no future plans for him once the season is done.

David Dziurzynski has been sent down to Binghamton; via the same link free agent signee Andrew Hammond signed an ATO to play with the B-Sens, which likely means Marc Cheverie will be returned to Elmira.

Scott illustrates that the Sens aren’t the same puck-possession team they were with Erik Karlsson.

-I’ve seen comments that the Sens would be better off trading Craig Anderson while his value is high and having the goaltending tandem of Ben Bishop and Robin Lehner going into next season.  I understand the sentiment here, but the problem with it  is how the organisation views their goaltending.  Anderson is an established, reliable starter who can clean up the mess if Lehner struggles in the early stages of his NHL development.  They don’t have that confidence in Bishop who remains an older prospect with starter ambitions.  It’s a much easier (and safer) move for the organisation to move the (less regarded) prospect and keep the veteran.  Anderson has a manageable contract and could always be moved a year or two down the line if Lehner‘s play warrants it.

-Here’s a look at the Sens free agent signings (Troy Rutkowski, Andrew Hammond, and Buddy Robinson).

Pierre LeBrun‘s power rankings have Ottawa 10th, writing:

The Senators just keep winning and winning and winning, despite all that top-end talent sitting in the medical ward. Running out of words to describe this accomplishment.

LeBrun also tosses out this rumour:

Another team I’m told that’s held discussions with the Stars about Derek Roy is the Ottawa Senators. Roy is an Ottawa native, so that’s a natural angle there. But on the other hand, I do not think the Senators want to pay a big price in any deal they make before April 3; they still have the long-term view in mind.

I think the latter sentiment may dynamite the notion; in an NHL where a broken down Douglas Murray warrants a pair of 2nd-round picks, the Stars are going to want something meaty for Roy.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Prospect Profiles: Troy Rutkowski, Andrew Hammond, and Buddy Robinson

Troy Rutkowski, D, Contract: 655k/16 (RFA) 5-137/10 (Sherman, Colorado)
6’2, Shoots R, YOB 1992, Edmonton, Alberta
2010-11 WHL Portland 72-10-37-47 (ppg 0.65) +24 65pim (3 fights)
2011-12 WHL Portland 72-13-32-45 (ppg 0.62) +18 37pim (1 fight)
2012-13 WHL Portland 72-20-46-66 (ppg 0.91) +32 43pim (1 fight)

Central Scouting ranked him 44th (North America) prior to his draft year (Red Line Report had him at #67), he tumbled to the fifth round due to inconsistent play.  As Michael Remmerde writes (via the link):

At various times this season, this guy gave you every reason to like him – great skill from the back end, outstanding power play skills, and even some rare flashes of physical ruggedness in his own end. But for most of this season, he just did nothing.

Here’s Red Line Report‘s scouting report prior to the draft:

Wildly inconsistent this season. Skating seemed to vary like the rest of his play. Sometimes looked heavy footed and slow, but other times showed he can carry the puck with speed. Good backward mobility, but overall his skating is not a plus. When he’s playing confidently, can be a big offensive force from back end. Can make a nice first pass or carry it end-to-end. Adept at joining the rush. Excellent PP skills, distributes the puck very well inside the zone and has a knack for finding shooting lanes. Accurate, hard shot, but we’d like to see him use the slapper more than relying on the wrister so much. Showed flashes of an active physical game in his own end, but played tentatively most of the season. Needs to keep his weight down to maintain his mobility and stamina. Has a ton of upside, but need to find consistency in his game.

He was considered a hit or miss pick who would either be a #4 blueliner or else a career AHLer (comparing him to Lukas Krajicek).  What’s clear is that he’s an offensively gifted blueliner (Jarrod Abbott called him a poor man’s Justin Schultz), but the Avalanche relinquished his rights allowing Ottawa to sign him as a free agent.  Abbott believes that one of the reasons Rutkowski was overlooked was because of the loaded blueline he played on–how much of his success was derived from teammates clearly played on the minds of NHL GM’s.  The signing strikes me very much as a hit-or-miss gamble.  There’s none of the near certainty that one had with someone like Schultz.

Andrew Hammond, G, Contract 720k/15 (RFA) FA 2013 (Murray)
6’3, Catches L, YOB 1988, Surrey, BC
2010-11 NCAA Bowling Green 6-17-3 2.67 .915
2011-12 NCAA Bowling Green 14-24-5 2.73 .903
2012-13 NCAA Bowling Green 10-15-3 2.47 .917

Like Robinson (below), Hammond was not on anyone’s radar during his draft eligibility and there’s precious little scouting material on him.  Chris Peters writes:

He has fair size, but his competitiveness has always been on display at BGSU. His breakout performance came last season as he helped Bowling Green make it to the CCHA finals before ultimately falling to Michigan in double overtime. Hammond made 55 saves that night in one of the great goaltending performances you’ll ever see.

Ben Meyer-Abbott wrote about him at the Chicago Blackhawks prospect camp this past summer and Hammond‘s coach (Chris Bergeron) said:

He’s not willing to accept mediocre or just OK. He wants to be great, and to him, that’s not just about words. It’s about the willingness to do what it takes every day.

That’s literally all I can find about Hammond beyond his statistics and the fact that he was his team’s MVP in his two previous seasons.

Buddy Robinson, RW, Contract NR/16 (RFA) FA 2013 (Murray)
6’5, Shoots R, YOB 1991, Bellmawr, NJ
2010-11 OJHL/CCHL Hamilton/Nepean 51-20-42-62 (ppg 1.21) 59pim
2011-12 NCAA Lake Superior 39-5-5-10 (ppg 0.25) 37pim
2012-13 NCAA Lake Superior 38-8-8-16 (ppg 0.42) -9 60pim

A free agent signing that was on no one’s radar, there’s not a lot of material written on Robinson (he was not ranked when draft eligible).  Linda Bouvet has a piece where Robinson talks a lot about himself:

It’s the first thing that everyone notices–scouts, coaches, other teams. ‘Wow, that’s a big guy.’ They expect me to play like that type of player. I’ve got to play like a big guy. I have to get stronger in the weightroom and be the one to get in the corners, get [my linemates] the puck. I love it though.

There’s also a fan post discussing him:

As has already been noted, he’s big…very big. He plays somewhat of a similar style to Kellen Lain, who has already signed with the Canucks – can lay some punishing hits, strong on the forecheck, good offensive upside. But where Robinson is better than Lain IMO is on the defensive side (Lain IMO is a better offensive player). Buddy is very good at supporting his defensemen & goalie, whether it’s in blocking shots or moving opposing players off the puck. He saw a lot of time on the Lakers’ penalty-killing unit this season and really excelled as a rock solid penalty killer. Two areas where he has vastly improved over the course of his collegiate career has been his skating and making better use of his towering frame. The size and strength he’s added has greatly enhanced his skating, making his strides more powerful and providing better balance on skates. That has, in turn, added to his foot speed. As a stronger player, he is better able to move players off the puck in all areas of the ice and it has really helped improve his overall play along the walls. Robinson also does a great job of using his size to protect puck and is tough to move off of it. If there’s one weakness that Robinson has (that should hopefully continue to improve in the AHL) it’s getting rid of pucks a little more quickly. At times this season, he’s held on to the puck too long, usually because he was indecisive. When he does move the puck quickly, he’s usually been pretty smart and confident about it.

This certainly fits what the bare stats indicate–that Robinson is someone who projects as a grinder, a depth player like David Dziurzynski.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: March 25th

-Ottawa faces New Jersey (15-11-6) tonight; the Devils are lead by Patrik Elias (29 points) and backstopped by Martin Brodeur (10-2-3 2.10 .914).  Ben Bishop will get the start, but no other lineup changes are expected.

Nichols provides an overview of the Danny DeKeyser sweepstakes and ends with this:

It’s worth reiterating that the Red Wings have widely been considered the favorites because DeKeyser’s a Michigan native who has been teammates with Red Wings Assistant GM Jim Nill’s son.

For those who missed it, here’s Red Line Report‘s scouting assessment:

He plays a simple, defence first, stay-at-home game. He’s not flashy at the offensive end, but moves the puck well and gets it to the right spots by making good decisions. Efficiently gets the puck out of the zone with crisp outlets. He’s physical and wins the battles down low, keeps the crease clear, and plays with a bit of a nasty edge. He’s an outstanding penalty killer who blocks a ton of shots.

Andy Strickland Tweets that the Sens are the frontrunners to land NCAA free agent Buddy Robinson (38-8-8-16), who finished his second year at Lake Superior State. [An update: the signing is now official.  The 6’5 rightwinger signed a three-year ELC and fits the mould of last year’s Cole Schneider signing where he’s a project for down the road (although presumably on the rugged side).  I’d expect him to report to Binghamton shortly (he’s signed an ATO), assuming all his academic commitments have been dealt with.  Robinson was tied for 5th in team scoring with Lake Superior.  The Sens have signed a player from Lake Superior before (Derek Smith), but that was under Muckler’s management.]

Mark Parisi goes through his weekly ups and downs and the only two players warranting a down are Jim O’Brien for being scratched (a reasonable choice) and Zack Smith because pucks have deflected off him into his own net (which seems a little unfair).  For my part I’d put Mike Lundin as someone who struggled (he may have broken a record with giveaways in his first game back from injury), as well as poor Peter Regin whose offensive woes continue.

-Binghamton has released Nick Craven from his ATO.  The NCAA free agent played four games for the B-Sens without producing a point.

-A couple of other B-Sens notes: Brad Peltz has still not suited up for an AHL game yet this season, nor has he been returned to the ECHL since he was called up from Trenton in January.  Ben Blood awaits his first AHL point 24 games in (although given that he only has 1 in 29 ECHL games, it’s not a big surprise).  I have to think after Marc Cheverie‘s performance on Sunday the situation would be ripe for NCAA free agent signee Andrew Hammond to get a start, but I’m not sure if he has finished his scholastic commitments yet and reported to the team.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)