Senators News: June 18th

fmblair examines the notion that the Sens have too many centers on their roster and dynamites the notion very effectively:

A quick look at the Boston Bruins’ depth chart reveals that Ottawa’s divisional rival mixed in 7 centres amongst their top-12 forwards. Their counterpart in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Chicago Blackhawks, carried six centres throughout the regular season. While it’s true that each individual player has a different ability to adapt to a new position, there’s certainly precedent for carrying more than 5 centres and playing one or more of them on the wing, I don’t think that Ottawa’s dealing with an unmanageable situation on their hands.

Blair doesn’t think the Sens depth at center is very strong (beyond the five aforementioned) and it’s hard to argue the fact (Stephane Da Costa and Derek Grant would stand as the top two in Binghamton, although the organisation has a number of wingers who have played the position and could slide over).

The Silver Seven has started grading Sens players, beginning with the goaltenders.  I’ll skip the departed Ben Bishop, but they award both Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner A’s, which is on target.  They wisely note that Anderson is unlikely to ever reach this year’s numbers again.

-The Sens have changed the name of their building again (this time in honour of Canadian Tire); no word on whether Canadian Tire money can be used at the arena, but I’m sure many fans are raiding their stashes in the hopes that it can.  Some of us will find the association amusing long term, but for most it will be as meaningful as every other name the arena has had (which is to say, not at all).

-While the paths of former Sens are frequently followed in blogs and elsewhere, less attention gets paid to former B-Sens who have since gone elsewhere.  Here are a few players from the recent past whose subsequent paths I find interesting:

Mike Brodeur (09-11) – given credit for saving the Sens playoff hopes in 09-10, he struggled with injuries the next season (losing his job to Barry Brust) and was allowed to walk.  He spent the bulk of the following season with Las Vegas of the ECHL and then managed only a couple of games this year where he was awful with Orlando (which likely means it’s the end of the line for his pro career)
Geoff Kinrade (09-11) – a NCAA free agent signing the Sens qualified as an RFA, the Calder Cup-winning blueliner went to Europe anyway, joining HC Plzen in the Czech Republic; he moved to the more lucrative Swiss league the following season (with Bern) where he remains
Craig Schira (09-12) – a WHL free agent signing, his play regressed in Binghamton and he was allowed to walk as an RFA; he signed with Frisk Asker in Norway and after dominating that league will now play for HPK in the SM-Liiga
Mat Robinson (09-10) – primarily an Elmira (ECHL) player, he jumped to Sparta Sarpsborg in Norway the following season and converted a dominating performance into playing for Timra in the Allsvenskan in Sweden; despite questionable defensive skills he’s parlayed his European experience into a KHL contract with Dinamo Riga
Rob Klinkhammer (11-12) – a mid-season acquisition meant to help the struggling B-Sens, he spent some time in Ottawa before the season ended and then was allowed to walk.  Phoenix signed him and he translated a strong season in Portland into time with the NHL club, earning himself a one-way deal for next season
Shaun Heshka (11-12) – picked up as an emergency replacement after the unexpected retirement of Lee Sweatt, he was traded to Peoria after only ten games due to his awful play.  This year he wound up winning the SM-Liiga’s best defenseman award which he’s converted into a KHL contract

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: June 17th

-Paul MacLean won the Jack Adams trophy as the NHL’s coach of the year, while Daniel Alfredsson won the Mark Messier award for leadership.  Both wins are well-deserved and it’s a nice pat on the back from the hockey establishment.

Travis Yost dives into team shooting percentage in the NHL in order to make some sense out of it.  He believes the idea of shot quality is overrated, with the evidence illustrating that puck possession and goaltending are what’s really relevant to a team’s success.

-There has been a proliferation of mock drafts, but not many by anyone notable.  NHL.com‘s latest (consisting of Adam Kimmelman, Mike G. Morreale, and Steven Hoffner) has the Sens picking: Max Domi (x2) or Kerby Rychel.  Last year Kimmelman correctly predicted the Sens would take Cody Ceci in the first round.

Dave Young wonders why there are so many UFA speculation stories surrounding the Sens and doesn’t hit on the most obvious reason: bloggers and journalists have to write about something and there’s just not that much news to report.

-Speaking of idle speculation, Mark Parisi imagines a world where Mika Zibanejad is trade bait for any top player on the St. Louis Blues.  I have no idea why he believes the Blues have an interest in Mika (or the Sens in moving him), but for those who like to dream that dream, enjoy!

-More European free agents have come off the market, with Reto Suri signing with Tampa and Joacim Eriksson going to Vancouver.

-Nashville somehow turned Ottawa castaway Bobby Butler into an asset (T. J. Brennan).  Neither Florida or Nashville have to sign their new players (both are RFA’s), but it would be odd to make the transaction without that intent.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: June 12th

Kaspars Daugavins talked about the differences between Ottawa and Boston:

Well, the first thing probably was that the guys are really serious. There is a lot on the line on this team; they want to win. I saw that right away when I came in. I knew these guys are in for a job and were more serious than Ottawa maybe. I know these guys can win. They work hard in practice. They work hard after practice in June. I knew this would be a good team to play for.

I agree with Nichols that this isn’t Daugavins taking a shot at his former teammates, but rather him contrasting where the organisations are right now (Cup contender versus rebuilding franchise).

-Lacklustre Senator Mike Lundin has read the tea leaves and seen no future in the NHL and signed a KHL deal with Barys Astana.

worsteverything contemplates potential free agent signings for the Sens, which makes for fun reading, but I don’t think any of the players mentioned is coming to the capital.

Nichols believes the Sens need a leftwinger and pitches for Patrik Elias, who fits the kind of past-his-prime talent Murray has managed to land in the past.

-Speaking of free agents, any Sens fans who are expecting Ottawa to be a successful player on the free agent market needs to reconsider.  Murray nibbled at inexpensive fill-ins this season and that’s prior to the full development/flood of top-end prospects entering the organisation.  The Sens might add an inexpensive veteran blueliner or forward this off-season, or they may sit tight and do nothing.

-Here’s my look at the Sens draft post-lockout draft success (05-08).

-Here’s my look at The Hockey Writers various draft pieces.

David Johnson offers some words on the statistical analysis wars that go on in assessing player-talent in the NHL.  I can’t condense his arguments sensibly (I suggest you read it yourself), but I will quote his conclusion:

The possession method primarily provides value when dealing with small sample sizes as it will reduce small sample size and random variance issues. Shot differential metrics are inherently a flawed metric though because shot differential isn’t the end goal of the player (goal differential is what matters in the win/loss column) and shot quality and ability to drive/suppress shooting percentages exists and are real. There is nothing wrong with using possession metrics as an evaluation tool so long as we are aware of this limitation just as there is nothing wrong with using goal based metrics as an evaluation tool so long as we are aware of its sample size, randomness and uncertainty limitations. Neither are perfect, both have their uses, both have their limitations and in reality both should be considered in any player evaluation.

I agree with Johnson that one method does not dismiss the other when making assessments.

-A number of European free agents have been signed over the last month or two and the number may be fairly high this year with the cap shrinking.  Here’s the current list of signees: Antti Raanta (Chicago), Reto Berra (Calgary), Ilari Melart (Columbus), Anton Belov (Edmonton), Michael Raffl (Philadelphia), and Petter Emanuelsson (San Jose).

-The Penguins threw my prediction for a loop by re-signing Dan Bylsma.  To my mind this puts Ray Shero on the firing line if things don’t work out, although it’s worth keeping in mind a new contract doesn’t guarantee much for a head coach.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Looking at Ottawa’s Draft Success (2005-08)

There are many articles reviewing draft accuracy (like TSN’s Scott Cullen‘s last year) and as engaging as they are I’ve always had problems with the way they are defined and presented. Examinations of the draft that cover a long period of time fail to account for the changes in the league and the draft itself, so the comparisons often aren’t apt. When articles cover more recent drafts (Hockey Futures does them at five-year intervals) they are forced to make judgements on players whose futures are yet to be defined (for example, Colin Greening had not started his pro career by that time). All this preamble is to make two key points: 1) the attitude and approach to the NHL draft changed seismically after the 2004-05 lockout, 2) the typical make-or-break moment for a draft pick varies considerably, with the most basic level depending on what league they were drafted from. To expand on the second point: CHL draftees generally take five-years to develop (allowing for two more years of junior and then the full length of their ELC); college-bound players can take six to eight years, depending on how much time they spend in the NCAA; European players used to be even more varied when teams kept their rights forever, but with transfer deals signed with the DEL, SEL, and the SM-Liiga (where rights are only retained for two years) their usual range is now like the CHL (five years), but there are exceptions (like the KHL or players like Carl Soderberg who didn’t sign with Boston until he was 27).

Given the above, how have the Sens done with their selections? I think I can make judgements on John Muckler’s last two drafts and Bryan Murray’s first (along with a look at his second). How am I defining a successful pick?  Any skater who has played 200+ NHL games (along with some judgement calls; goaltenders are particularly difficult).  With that many games the player has managed at least two and a half seasons of NHL work and that’s a decent return on the investment.  So, without further adieu:

2005
Muckler clearly had a hard-on for international tournaments, as every player except the one still with the Sens (Greening) played in those tournaments. Pre-KHL Muckler gambled on taking Russians who slid down the draft, but only one (Zubov) ever suited up for the organisation. It was not a great draft for the Sens by any standard. A few stats: there are 49/230 (21.3%) number of regular NHLers from the draft (you can judge for yourself here). By round: 1st 19/30, 2nd 8/31, 3rd 5/30, 4th 6/34, 5th 5/36, 6th 1/31, 7th 5/36. Players who have played over 200 games: 36 (15 1st, 7 2nd, 4 3rd, 6 4th, 2 5th, 1 6th, 3 7th); played 100-199 games: 19 (5 1st, 2 2nd, 2 3rd, 1 4th, 5 5th, 1 6th, 3 7th).

1-9 Brian Lee (DR, US high school/USHL; WJC) – NHL (Tampa Bay); 209 NHL games played; marginal NHLer (6-7 d-man)
An enigmatic player who still hasn’t defined what kind of pro player he is (if he is one). He’s big, but not physical. He makes a solid first pass, but is unable to produce offensively. He can play a limited role in the NHL, but does not dominate in the AHL. His career, for however long it goes, will likely remain on the margins. Many Sens fans groused about Lee because of the fantastic players taken after him (Anze Kopitar and Marc Staal in particular), but he’s not the worst player taken in the first round (3 never played a game, 6 more played less than 50), and one can argue whether he’s better or worse than Jack Skille who was taken by Chicago at #7. To me, the pick isn’t a complete failure, but it’s several steps removed from what it could or should have been.
3-70 Vitali Anikeyenko (DR, Russia tier-3; U-18) – deceased (Lokomotiv plane crash); bust
Other than attending one development camp (in 2005), the Sens didn’t get a sniff of Anikeyenko, who spent the bulk of his career playing for Lokomotiv (which tragically cost him his life). Whether he had NHL potential or not remains an open question, but judging by his KHL numbers I’d suggest he projected at best a bottom-pairing defender. Naturally there were better picks available, including Conn Smyth winner Jonathan Quick (#72), but between his selection and the Sens next pick, only 3 (of 24) NHL regulars were selected. The pick has to be viewed as a failure, both for the Sens inability to anticipate the problems of signing Russian players and also for not ascertaining just how interested Anikeyenko was in coming to North America.
4-95 Cody Bass (CR, OHL; U-18) – two-way contract (Columbus); 48 NHL games; AHLer
He spent four years in the Senators organisation where he helped Binghamton win a Calder Cup, but Bass remains a fringe player. Not productive or durable enough for full-time fourth line duty in the NHL, he’s destined to bounce back and forth between leagues as a “character guy”. Players like Bass are good for their organisations, but not the kind that’s worth a draft pick. In terms of who was available between his pick and the Sens next there was depth blueliner Chris Butler (#96). In terms of style of play, the Sens would have been better off picking Jared Boll (#101).
4-98 Ilya Zubov (C/LW, Russia tier-2; U-18); – KHL (Moscow); 11 NHL games; AHLer
The most successful of Muckler’s Russian picks, he spent two years in the organisation where he established himself as a productive AHLer. Like Bass he probably could have stayed in North America and been an occasional call-up, but he clearly did not have the talent to become a regular NHLer. There were 5 regular NHL players over the next 17 picks (the best is Keith Yandle at #105), so plenty of better talent was available.
4-115 Janne Kolehmainen (LW, SM-Liiga; WJC) – SM-Liiga (KalPa) – bust
The last Finn selected by the Senators organisation, there’s never been any interest expressed by the Sens to sign the big winger, whose performance flatlined the year after he was drafted. If there’s any solace in the wasted pick it’s that only 1 NHL regular was selected over the following 21 picks (Darren Helm at #132).
5-136 Tomas Kudelka (DL, Czech junior; U-18) – Czech Elite League (HC Vitkovice) – marginal AHLer
The second-last Czech picked by the Sens (Jakub Culek was the last), he was a solid junior player in the WHL who did not excel in his three years in the AHL. In a lot of ways he is a less-talented Brian Lee, as he has good size, but isn’t overly physical and his offensive game did not translate at a higher level. There are 5 NHL regulars over the next 50 picks, but none of those players match the talent of those missed earlier.
6-186 Dmitri Megalinsky (DL, Russia tier-3; WJC) – KHL (Novokuznetsk) – bust
Here again the Sens can be criticised for not doing their homework, because unlike Anikeyenko (one development camp) or Zubov (two years in the AHL) they never got a sniff of Megalinsky, who became a KHL regular. There were 2 NHL regulars selected through the next 18 picks and Sergei Kostitsyn (#200) certainly would have been a better role of the dice. Whether Megalinsky had the chops to play in the NHL remains an unresolved, but doubtful proposition.
7-204 Colin Greening (C/LW, CISAA) – NHL (Ottawa); 150 NHL games – NHL regular (top-9 forward)
The final role of the dice was the only true payoff in the draft. I suspect Greening is the only player drafted right out of Upper Canada College. He spent five years developing before joining the organisation and the result is more than could have been expected, as Greening will have a long career as a solid top-nine forward. Two other NHL regulars came after his selection, with the best being the last (Patric Hornqvist at #230).

2006
Muckler’s last draft. He broke his obsession with international tournament players and Russians, with all North American selections save Daugavins. In Ottawa terms this is a much better draft with potentially 3 regular NHLers coming out of it. A few stats: there are 39/213 (18.3%) number of regular NHLers from the draft (you can judge for yourself here). By round: 1st 19/30, 2nd 10/33, 3rd 3/30, 4th 2/30, 5th 0/30, 6th 3/30, 7th 2/30. Players who played 200 or more games: 31 (18 1st, 6 2nd, 3 3rd, 1 4th, 2 6th, 1 7th); played 100-199 games: 10 (1 1st, 5 2nd, 1 3rd, 1 4th, 1 6th, 1 7th).

1-28 Nick Foligno (LW, OHL) – NHL (Columbus); 394 NHL games – NHL regular (top-9 forward)
Arguably the second best pick of the draft from that point onward (behind Milan Lucic at #50), he also trumps a number of players taken before him (3 never played in the NHL, 5 have played fewer than 30 NHL games and he’s clearly better than James Sheppard (#9)). Given that, he is a very successful selection despite his inability to firmly nail down a top-six role.
3-68 Eric Gryba (DR, USHL) – NHL/AHL (Ottawa/Binghamton); 31 NHL games – NHL prospect (5-6 D)
The big blueliner spent four full years in the NCAA before graduating and helping Binghamton to their first Calder Cup. He is on the horizon for full NHL duty coming into next season, with Mark Borowiecki as his biggest competition on the depth chart.  Three regular NHLers were picked over the next 23 selections, with Brad Marchand (#71) the best.
3-91 Kaspars Daugavins (LW, Belarus; WJC) – NHL (Boston); 91 NHL games – marginal NHL prospect (fourth-liner)
It has been a long road for the undersized forward to get to the NHL. He spent three season in the CHL and then two more in Binghamton before becoming a marginal roster player. His upside is limited. Only two NHL regulars occur over the next 30 picks (James Reimer at #99 and Matt Beleskey at #112).
4-121 Pierre-Luc Lessard (DL, QMJHL) – CIS (Trois-Rivieres) bust
A high-scoring blueliner from the Q, he was never offered a contract and only had a cup of coffee as a pro (ECHL). He’s a complete miss as a pick, but none of the next 30 selections have become regular NHLers.
5-151 Ryan Daniels (G, OHL) – CIS (Laurier) – bust
A rare goalie selection for the Sens, he is another player who was not offered a contract, but unlike Lessard didn’t even get that professional cup of coffee. There are three regular NHLers over the next 30 picks, with Viktor Stalberg (#161) being the most prominent.
6-181 Kevin Koopman (DR, KIJHL) – ACHA II (Brown) – bust
The scouts did not do their homework here, as Koopman retired to become a doctor before the Sens could think about offering him a contract. One NHL player was selected over the next 30 picks (Derek Dorsett at #189).
7-211 Erik Condra (RW, NCAA) – NHL (Ottawa); 152 NHL games – NHL regular (bottom-6 forward)
The third last pick of the draft, he finished up his college career and then earned rookie of the year honours in Binghamton before becoming a solid addition to the NHL lineup. Even though Condra has limited upside, to get a roster player this late in the draft is clearly a home run.

2007
Muckler was fired two weeks before the draft, so while this is nominally a Bryan Murray draft it’s basically following Muckler’s scouting philosophy. Not surprisingly, Murray traded away the team’s late round picks so that the next draft could fully follow his direction. Less time has passed to truly assess how many hits and misses this draft had, but it’s clearly a weak draft.  Only Jim O’Brien might be a regular NHL player from Ottawa’s selections and even that is no guarantee.  A few stats: there are 31/211 (14.6%) number of regular NHLers from the draft (you can judge for yourself here). By round: 1st 16/30, 2nd 4/31, 3rd 1/30, 4th 5/30, 5th 1/30, 6th 2/30, 7th 2/30. Players who played 200 or more games: 17 (11 1st, 4 2nd, 1 5th, 1 7th); played 100-199 games: 15 (5 1st, 1 2nd, 2 3rd, 4 4th, 2 6th, 1 7th).

1-29 Jim O’Brien (CR, NCAA; U-18) – NHL (Ottawa); 63 NHL games – marginal NHLer (fourth-liner)
After two mediocre years in the WHL and a terrible rookie season in the AHL, many thought O’Brien‘s days were numbered. However, he turned his game around in the minors, won a Calder Cup, and managed to earn himself a one-way contract. The sample size is small, but it appears as though he can take a regular shift with the big boys, albeit in a supporting role. Compared to the players taken before him, 5 have never played in the NHL (keeping in mind that Cherepanov tragically died), and 6 have played fewer games thus far. Three regular NHLers were taken over the next 31 picks, with P. K. Subban (#43) the best of them.
2-60 Ruslan Bashkirov (LW, QMJHL) – VHL (Ryazan) – bust
The only Russian taken by Murray at the draft, Bashkirov is such a bust that he can’t even play in the KHL. This is the definition of a bad pick with Wayne Simmonds taken immediately after him (#61).
3-90 Louie Caporusso (C/LW, OPJHL) – ECHL/AHL (Elmira/Binghamton) – bust
Despite a strong NCAA resume Caporusso struggled at the AHL level. He may have it in him to become a regular AHLer, but his NHL potential seems non-existent. There may be as many as five NHLers taken over the next 30 picks, making the pick look much worse.
4-120 Ben Blood (DL, USUS) – ECHL/AHL (Elmira/Binghamton) – AHL prospect
There was a long wait for Blood, as he spent a year in the USHL and then four more at college before turning pro. He was thought to have the potential to be a bruising bottom-pairing NHLer, but was unable to be a regular AHLer in his rookie year. As Ottawa’s last pick in the draft he has to be compared to the rest of the selections (91 picks), where Jamie Benn (#129) stands out as the biggest miss.

2008
Bryan Murray’s first true draft and it was a good.  Emil Sandin is the only pick unsigned and all the rest of the players have played at least one NHL game.  It’s too early to fully vet the success of the draft overall, so I’ll simply list players who have played the most thus far (for the list go here). Players who played 200 or more games: 17 (13 1st, 1 2nd, 1 3rd, 1 5th, 1 7th); played 100-199 games: 11 (4 1st, 3 2nd, 1 3rd, 2 4th, 1 6th).

1-15 Erik Karlsson (DR, SuperElit) – NHL (Ottawa); 233 games – NHL star
The Sens sent a pair of picks to Nashville in order to move up to take Karlsson; the slender Swede has a Norris trophy under his belt and as long as he can stay healthy should drive the offence for years to come.  The first definitive home run by Murray
2-42 Patrick Wiercioch (DL, USHL) – NHL (Ottawa); 50 games – NHL regular (top-four)
It might be a little early to call him a regular, but after two mediocre AHL seasons the gifted blueliner seems to have finally made the transition to the pro game; other prominent selections prior to the Sens next pick include Justin Schultz (#43) and Derek Stepan (#51)
3-79 Zack Smith (C, WHL) – NHL (Ottawa); 200 games – NHL regular (bottom-six)
Gritty center had been passed over in the previous draft but has proven a solid investment by the Sens (only two other players taken after him have played more games); the best player over the next 30 picks is Adam Henrique (#82)
4-109 Andre Petersson (RW, SuperElit) – AHL (Binghamton); 1 game – NHL prospect (top-nine)
Small Swedish forward was a solid WJC performer who enjoyed a good rookie season in the AHL last year, but injury cost him his sophomore campaign; between he and the next Sens pick Dale Weiss (#111) and T. J. Brodie (#114) stand out
4-119 Derek Grant (C/LW, BCHL) – AHL (Binghamton); 5 games – NHL prospect (bottom-six)
Lanky tier-2 pick left college early to turn pro and has been solid (if unspectacular) in his first two AHL seasons; the twenty picks between he and the next selection include Gustav Nyquist (#121), Andrei Loktionov (#123), and Matt Calvert (#127)
5-139 Mark Borowiecki (DL, CJHL) – AHL (Binghamton); 8 games – NHL prospect (5-6 D)
Gritty blueliner has all the intangibles, but hasn’t been ready for prime time just yet; among the next 60 picks are Matt Martin (#148), Philip Larsen (#149), Jared Spurgeon (#156), Cam Atkinson (#157), and Jason Demers (#186)
7-199 Emil Sandin (LW/RW, SuperElit) – Allsvenskan – bust
The diminutive forward was a late round flyer coming off an excellent season in the SuperElit, success he translated into an SEL contract with Brynas.  Unfortunately, he could never fully adjust to the Swedish premier league which meant he had no chance whatsoever at the NHL level and he went unsigned.  He currently plays in the Allsvenskan.  His story is almost exactly the same as 2010 draft pick Marcus Sorensen.  The only pick worth mentioning after this is Anders Lindback (#207)

Although the verdict on 2008 can’t be fully made yet, the contrast between the value of Muckler’s drafts versus Murray’s is stark.  It will be interesting to see (going forward) how the Murray era prospects success unfolds.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

The Hockey Writers NHL 2013 Draft Collection

The Hockey Writers website provides a smorgasbord of draft information and I thought I would post both their top-30 list (they provide the top-120 on the site), latest mock draft, as well as their attempt to blend Central Scouting‘s four-pronged rankings into a sensible, single list.  I haven’t used THW as part of my draft analysis for the last couple of years after they bombed out on the 2010 draft (ranking as the least accurate predictor for that season), but that doesn’t mean their opinions aren’t worth looking at (and as a free source, it’s handy for draft fans).

In their most recent mock draft Carl Maloney has Ottawa picking Curtis Lazar, writing:

A polished two way product, Lazar is effective in all three zones. He’s also an excellent skater with a high hockey IQ. Thought at one point to be a top ten pick, he brings character and intangibles as well and could eventually be a steal at #17. Projects as a solid, second line centre for the Sens down the road.

Their top-30:

1. Seth Jones
2. Nathan MacKinnon
3. Jonathan Drouin
4. Aleksander Barkov
5. Elias Lindholm
6. Sean Monahan
7. Rasmus Ristolainen
8. Nikita Zadorov
9. Hunter Shinkaruk
10. Darnell Nurse
11. Max Domi
12. Frederik Gautheir
13. Alexander Wennberg
14. Bo Horvat
15. Ryan Pulock
16. Josh Morrissey
17. Valeri Nichushkin
18. Anthony Mantha
19. Curtis Lazar
20. Samuel Morin
21. Adam Erne
22. Andre Burakovsky
23. Valentin Zykov
24. Steve Santini
25. Kerby Rychel
26. Ryan Hartman
27. Madison Bowey
28. Mirco Mueller
29. Laurent Dauphin
30. Jacob de la Rose

There are differences between THW’s list and most others (Valeri Nichushkin is far lower than all other lists), although there’s no radical selections included (players with low rankings elsewhere appearing in their top-30).

Finally, Christopher Ralph‘s attempts to create a master list from the four-part mess that is Central Scouting‘s draft rankings.  The effort is laudable, but his methodology could use some work–here it is:

For the two rounds I took TSN’s Bob MacKenzie’s mid-term draft rankings and inserted the player from the European or Goalie rankings where Bob MacKenzie’s ranking suggested. For the remaining rounds, I simply inserted 5 European skaters and 2-3 goalies per round based on the average for the 2011 and 2012 drafts.

MacKenzie is a good source to use for smoothing out the disparate lists (although there’s no way to know how well his opinions mesh with those at CS), but I wish there was more to it than that.  If there’s one thing CS provides that’s a poor indicator of players being picked it’s their European rankings (3 of their top-20 Euro’s were not drafted last year, for instance), but that has no bearing on where they would select a player.  There’s no rhyme or reason for where European players are inserted into the list once Ralph has finished with MacKenzie’s picks, although given what he has to work with it’s likely as good as anyone can do.  Here’s his combined top-30:

1. Seth Jones
2. Nathan MacKinnon
3. Jonathan Drouin
4. Aleksander Barkov
5. Valeri Nichushkin
6. Darnell Nurse
7. Elias Lindholm
8. Sean Monahan
9. Hunter Shinkaruk
10. Rasmus Ristolainen
11. Alexander Wennberg
12. Valentin Zykov
13. Frederik Gauthier
14. Andre Burakovsky
15. Mirco Mueller
16. Anthony Mantha
17. Shea Theodore
18. Ryan Pulock
19. Zach Nastasiuk
20. Chris Bigras
21. Bo Horvat
22. Zachary Fucale
23. Ryan Hartman
24. Kerby Rychel
25. William Carrier
26. Jacob de la Rose
27. Max Domi
28. Curtis Lazar
29. Robert Hagg
30. Jimmy Lodge

It’s an interesting list, albeit can’t be definitive until CS finally combines its rankings.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: June 10th

-The Sens traded Sergei Gonchar to the Dallas Stars for a conditional 6th round pick; the Stars subsequently signed Gonchar to a two-year deal.  I applaud the Sens for getting something for the veteran (Scott Cullen agrees; they essentially retrieve the pick they wasted on Matt Kassian, albeit it’s a 2013 they acquired versus a 2014 they surrendered) and the move fits with my assumption that Gonchar was never part of Ottawa’s plans going forward.

Chris Lund looks at the Sens shooting percentage this season and breaks down the numbers.  He concludes that the Sens were with the NHL pack when it came to the quality of the opportunities, but (in his estimation) simply suffered from bad luck to finish at the bottom of the scoring efficiency barrel.  He reminds us that this season is a small sample size and thus hard to judge from (which is entirely sensible).

-Speaking of shots, Corey Sznajder Tweets zone-entry plus shot-generation stats for the Sens in the Montreal series, which illustrates how effective Kyle Turris, Erik Karlsson, Milan Michalek, and Erik Condra were in that regard.

Mark Parisi wonders about Bryan Murray’s future.  The beginning of the article describes what lead to the rebuild and goes over some of the moves Murray made (for a full overview of Murray’s time as Sens GM go here).  He wonders whether Tim Murray or Pierre Dorion would take over if Bryan decides that (at age seventy) it’s time to retire or move to a less stressful position.  My feeling has long been that Tim will take over for his uncle when the time comes, but I agree with Mark that at this stage Bryan can punch his own ticket whenever he feels like it.

-Here’s my look at Red Line Report’s NHL draft guide.

-Here’s my comparison of the various NHL draft guides.

Travis Yost documents the inconsistency of the Brendan Shanahan-fronted NHL disciplinary decisions.  I’m not sure what more can be said about the NHL’s inability (or unwillingness) to police itself, but Travis does a nice job looking at the face of the current era.

-The conference finals were both short series’ this season, with the Bruins bouncing the Penguins in four straight while Chicago knocked off the defending cup champs in five.  I was happy with both results and the NHL will be pleased in having two big markets in the finals.  Hopefully the final will be more contested than it was last year.  I prefer the Blackhawks style of play over Boston’s, but otherwise have no strong feeling either way for who I want to win.  Incidentally, I wonder where writers who thought Jonathan Quick was on his way to another Conn Smythe will jump too now that the Kings have been eliminated.

-The debate about whether Penguins coach Dan Bylsma should be fired or not doesn’t seem like a difficult call to me.  Other than yanking the overrated Marc-Andre Fleury, he didn’t make a lot of coaching adjustments during their playoff run.  The Penguins simply overwhelmed the Islanders and Sens with talent, something they were unable to do against the defence-first Bruins.  He has to pay the price, otherwise the blame moves upstairs to the GM.

Ken Campbell reminds us that officiating continues to be awful in the playoffs.  As much as I agree and sympathise with Campbell, I can’t remember a single time where the league has tried to officiate the playoffs with something resembling regular season form (maybe some language to that effect in Carolina’s cup run, but otherwise the NHL embraces the chaos).

-Corey Pronman has posted his 2013 NHL draft rankings and here’s his top-30 (keep in mind Pronman takes a dim view of goaltenders and defensemen at the draft–he explains his reasons if you click on his introduction link; I gave my opinion of his rating model last year):

1. Jonathan Drouin, Left Wing, Halifax-QMJHL
2. Nathan MacKinnon, Center, Halifax-QMJHL
3. Seth Jones, Defense, Portland-WHL
4. Valeri Nichushkin, Right Wing, Traktor-KHL
5. Aleksander Barkov, Center, Tappara-SM-Liiga
6. Elias Lindholm, Center, Brynas-SEL
7. Sean Monahan, Center, Ottawa-OHL
8. Rasmus Ristolainen, Defense, TPS-SM-Liiga
9. Max Domi, Center, London-OHL
10. Hunter Shinkaruk, Center, Medicine Hat-WHL
11. Darnell Nurse, Defense, Sault Ste. Marie-OHL
12. Ryan Pulock, Defense, Brandon-WHL
13. Andre Burakowsky, Left Wing, Malmo-Allsvenskan
14. Bo Horvat, Center, London-OHL
15. Alexander Wennberg, Center, Djurgardens-Allsvenskan
16. Nikita Zadorov, Defense, London-OHL
17. Pavel Buchnevich, Left Wing, Severstal-KHL
18. Adam Erne, Left Wing, Quebec-QMJHL
19. Valentin Zykov, Right Wing, Baie-Comeau-QMJHL
20. Josh Morrissey, Defense, Prince Albert-WHL
21. Robert Hagg, Defense, MODO-SEL
22. Anthony Mantha, Left Wing, Val-d’Or-QMJHL
23. Madison Bowey, Defense, Kelowna-WHL
24. Artturi Lehkonen, Left Wing, KalPa-SM-Liiga
25. J.T. Compher, Center, USA Under-18-USHL
26. Mirco Mueller, Defense, Everett-WHL
27. Jacob De La Rose, Left Wing, Leksands-Allsvenskan
28. Steven Santini, Defense, USA Under-18-USHL
29. Curtis Lazar, Center, Edmonton-WHL
30. Shea Theodore, Defense, Seattle-WHL

His list this year isn’t as unorthodox as 2012’s with Pavel Buchnevich as the only player Pronman picks in the first round that isn’t echoed elsewhere.  I didn’t specifically break down his predictive success in 2012 as I didn’t use him as a source (he also only listed 125 players in 2012, unlike the 250 this year), but in terms of player X at position X he was 3/30 which was actually good for last year (only Bob McKenzie did better).

-In non-hockey news, I have no idea what Ottawa’s CFL franchise was thinking in picking the name “Redblacks” for the franchise–the only thing it brings to mind for me is a racial slur, but even if that doesn’t resonate with others it’s neither catchy nor iconic.  Hopefully the team will be better than the name.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Assessing NHL Draft Guides

With all the major hockey draft guides out it’s time to compare what they offer versus their cost.  Each guide has two common elements: players listed numerically along with player profiles (sometimes comprehensive, sometimes selective).  The guides may have mock drafts, organisational comments, and/or a look at eligible overage players and European free agents.  Other elements often included are a look at top players for the 2014 and 2015 drafts, but I don’t put much stock in them as I don’t see the value in that information.

I’ve arranged the guides by their cost:

ISS $59.95
Players listed: 220 (divided between skaters and goaltenders)
Player profiles: all
Organisational assessment: yes, but only as a grade and a list of “top prospects”
Mock draft: yes
Overage eligible/European free agents: no

RLR $50.00
Players listed: 315
Player profiles: top-115
Organisational assessment: yes (comprehensive)
Mock draft: yes (two of them)
Overage eligible/European free agents: yes

Hockey Prospects $39.99
Players listed: 210
Player profiles: all (including additional players who do not make their top-210)
Organisational assessment: no
Mock draft: no
Overage eligible/European free agents: no
Other: includes game reports on players

McKeen’s $30.00
Players listed: 120 (plus 32 honourable mentions or sleepers)
Player profiles: all
Organisational assessment: no
Mock draft: no
Overage eligible/European free agents: no

Future Considerations $19.99
Players listed: 210
Player profiles: all
Organisational assessment: no
Mock draft: yes
Overage eligible/European free agents: no

The Hockey News $4.99
Players listed: 100
Player profiles: top-60
Organisational assessment: yes
Mock draft: no
Overage eligible/European free agents: no

Red Line Report lists the most players (315), while The Hockey News has the fewest (100).  Hockey Prospects has the most player profiles (more than ISS’ 220), while THN has the fewest (60).  RLR has the most comprehensive organisational analysis and the most mock drafts (2).  Only RLR looks at eligible overage draft players or European free agents, while only Hockey Prospects includes actual game reports as analysis.  When it comes to pure cost for value Future Considerations is the best bargain while McKeen’s provides the least amount of value for the cost.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: June 7th

Nichols transcribes Pierre Dorion’s interview on The Team and includes his thoughts.  These echo Dorion’s comments from last year, but a few things stuck out to me.  Talking about how they try to break players from giving just pat answers:

Well, maybe it’ll be a player whose work ethic was questionable and we’ll ask him why his work ethic isn’t really good. And we’ll give specific dates – on specific dates, ‘On this date and this date, we had this scouts here and he questioned why was that? What were you trying to do?’ Or, if it’s someone that’s a scorer that tells us that he’s scored and we’ve seen him 10 times, and he tells us we haven’t seen him score, ‘how come against these teams he didn’t score?’ – a little bit something along those lines.

How they approach the draft:

You never know what could happen – we could move up or we could move down, we’ve done that in the past. I’ve been doing this for quite a long time now, almost 20 years in the NHL, I have a pretty good idea at seventeen, if you give us a range of five or six players, we have a good idea what we’re doing. But, we always have surprises. I think as you mentioned last year, we had Cody Ceci in our top five and we ended up having him at fifteen. Bryan and Tim (Murray) have told me from day one, prepare for any scenario – whether it’s picking one, which I think maybe is not realistic, or picking five or picking whatever, as a group of scouts, we’re always prepared for any scenario. Even though sometimes it doesn’t matter, sometimes we’ll argue… this year we argued on five or six on our list because you never know what can happen and we want to be prepared for it.

His thoughts on mock drafts and trying to guess who other teams will pick:

I think we just do our own homework. I think mock drafts are great for fans and I think it’s great to see what your respective team might get (at their draft spot) but until the draft happens and the first sixteen players are taken, I don’t think the Ottawa Senators are really worried about what other teams are going to do. We have got to be good at what we do. We do do our homework. We have an idea of what players are going to go where through enough of our contacts, so we have a pretty good idea of what’s going on, but we might have a surprise. From that point of view, we might just wait for the first sixteen and then make our selection.

When asked to name the biggest surprises in terms of player development Dorion didn’t mention any surprising names, talking about Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Patrick Wiercioch, Eric Gryba, Mika Zibanejad, and Robin Lehner.

Dmitry Chesnokov reports that Sergei Gonchar is close to signing a KHL deal, but I believe this is largely posturing (Tavis Yost does too).  Everyone knows he could go make a pile of money playing in Russia, but clearly his goal is to play in the NHL.

-Here’s my look at the Senators roster decisions.

-Here are my reviews of McKeen’s and Hockey Prospects‘ 2013 NHL draft guides.

Andy McDonald was forced to announce his retirement due to post-concussion issues.  The NHL continues to not take the issue seriously and I expect that (like the NFL) legal action will ultimately be necessary before the league truly removes head shots (and perhaps fighting) from the game.

Stu Hackel takes a look at Pittsburgh’s struggles against Boston in the playoffs and believes a lack of discipline is a big part of the problem–it’s a characteristic of the Crosby era and clearly puts the Penguins on tilt.

-For those who remember my look at European free agents, one of the players from the previous year (Simon Moser) has been invited to Nashville’s training camp in the fall.  I’ll do a thorough review of my speculation after free agent madness is over.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators Roster Decisions

With the season over it’s time to look at Ottawa’s roster decisions this off-season.  I believe most of the decisions are straightforward, but I’ll list the full contract roster and go through all the RFA’s and UFA’s and then speculate on possible trade bait (next year’s rookies are marked in italics; players I expect to be re-signed are in green and those let go/may be traded are in red):

NHL
Forwards (15)
Daniel Alfredsson (UFA)
Peter Regin (UFA)
Guillaume Latendresse (UFA)
Erik Condra (RFA)
Jason Spezza
Milan Michalek
Kyle Turris
Chris Neil
Zack Smith
Mika Zibanejad
Cory Conacher
Jakob Silfverberg
Colin Greening
Jim O’Brien
Matt Kassian
Defensemen (9)
Sergei Gonchar (UFA)
Andre Benoit (UFA)
Mike Lundin (UFA)
Patrick Wiercioch (RFA)
Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips
Marc Methot
Jared Cowen
Eric Gryba
Goaltenders (2)
Craig Anderson
Robin Lehner

AHL/ECHL
Forwards (18)
Hugh Jessiman (UFA)
Mike Hoffman (RFA)
Stephane Da Costa (RFA)
Corey Cowick (RFA)
David Dziurzynski (RFA)
Louie Caporusso (RFA)
Buddy Robinson
Stefan Noesen
Matt Puempel
Cole Schneider
Wacey Hamilton
Shane Prince
Mark Stone
Andre Petersson
Jean-Gabriel Pageau
Jakub Culek
Derek Grant
Darren Kramer
Defensemen (8)
Mark Borowiecki (RFA)
Cody Ceci
Ben Blood
Troy Rutkowski
Fredrik Claesson
Michael Sdao
Tyler Eckford
Chris Wideman
Goaltenders (2)
Nathan Lawson (UFA)
Andrew Hammond

The easy decisions are letting Regin, Latendresse (the decision has already been made), Lundin, Jessiman, and Caporusso walk (Capgeek has the latter with another year on his deal, but that does not fit their prior listing for him–I don’t know if they were wrong before or are wrong now, but I think it’s the latter).  I don’t expect Lawson to stay–not that the Sens wouldn’t want a solid minor league goalie, but veteran goaltenders in the AHL rarely stay in one place–always looking for a better deal/opportunity.  Benoit might be let go if he insists on a one-way deal.  Da Costa may have run out of rope with the organisation, although he’s young enough that they may be able to trade him.  I believe Gonchar will depart for wherever he can land a two-year deal (I don’t think the Sens will offer him one).  The other UFA’s and RFA’s I expect to stay.

Of the signed players, there’s no need to keep Kassian, but it seems as though the organisation likes him so he may stay.  O’Brien appears to be on the way out the door and if he’s traded I’d expect a draft pick in return.  Hamilton hasn’t impressed in his first two seasons with Binghamton, but doesn’t have any trade value so he may stick around.  There’s going to be a big inject of talent in Binghamton with the arrival of three first round picks (Noesen, Pumpel, and Ceci), but they should easily slip into top positions abandoned by the Sens Swedes once the current NHL season commenced.  I haven’t listed Pageau as part of the NHL roster because I don’t think he’s guaranteed a spot–he’ll have to earn it in training camp.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Hockey Prospect’s 2013 NHL Draft Guide

The Hockey Prospect’s 2013 NHL draft guide is out and here’s a look at their top-30 rankings along with my thoughts about the publication (for last year’s go here and for their accuracy go here):

1. Nathan MacKinnon
2. Seth Jones
3. Jonathan Drouin
4. Valeri Nichushkin
5. Aleksander Barkov
6. Sean Monahan
7. Elisa Lindholm
8. Nikita Zadorov
9. Rasmus Ristolainen
10. Max Domi
11. Bo Horvat
12. Alexander Wennberg
13. Valentin Zykov
14. Zach Fucale
15. Madison Bowey
16. Darnell Nurse
17. Joshua Morrissey
18. Samuel Morin
19. Anthony Mantha
20. Ryan Hartman
21. Curtis Lazar
22. Adam Erne
23. Morgan Klimchuk
24. Hunter Shinkaruk
25. Nicolas Petan
26. Chris Bigras
27. Emile Poirier
28. Kerby Rychel
29. Frederik Gauthier
30. Ryan Pulock

This is the so-called “Black Book” edition from Hockey Prospect‘s (their smaller, less expensive version is sold out–or so I presume, as I never saw it as ‘in stock’ on their website) and it has more girth than any other draft publication (nearly 700 pages).  It does not include any specific organisational material or a mock draft.  The bulk is made up of scouting profiles (for all 210 players listed and more) and lengthy scouting reports from various games and events.  The game reports are the one unique element for the product which is something that will appeal to a small slice of the fandom.  The product is a little more expensive than Future Considerations‘ guide, but cheaper than ISS, so among the full-listing guides it’s the kind of thing that is only going to appeal to hardcore draft fans.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)