Senators News: July 31st

-Things are slow in Sens land so Mark Parisi jumps into lineup speculation and wonders about who plays RW on the Sens’ second line.  He has a long list of suggestions and off the top Mika Zibanejad makes the most sense, but camp will ultimately make that determination (there’s no chance Mike Hoffman or Jean-Gabriel Pageau gets that spot).

-The gang at Senshot engage in prospect speculation and collectively suggest Shane Prince, Mark Stone, Codi Ceci, and Matt Puempel are prospects to watch, to which I can only say: thanks tips!

Luber talked to Mark Stone about this past season and his comments were interesting:

It’s [playing pro] different hockey. The guys are bigger, they’re stronger, they compete harder…it’s a different game. Sometimes in junior, you can get away with taking a night off but in pro hockey, you can’t do that.  You have to bring your best every single night. We had a really good team the first half, and I wasn’t playing as much in the role that I wanted but I learned what it takes to play both ends of the game. Towards the end of the season, got put more into a scoring role and really was playing a top-six role over the last 20 games or so and was able to start producing. You saw what happened with us on July 5th [MacArthur, Ryan, Alfredsson, etc], so there’s a lot of opportunities for young guys to step in and play pretty big roles. I know they’re going to give me an opportunity, it’s just a matter of me taking advantage of it or not.

It’s interesting that Stone was unhappy not playing in the top-six to start his career in Bingo, but seems to have taken the positives from that experience.  I don’t think he has a realistic shot to make the NHL roster this upcoming season however.

Chapin Landvogt takes a look at the Swedes taken in this year’s draft, but other than mentioning the Sens two picks has nothing to say about them.  I’ll answer his puzzlement over why neither Viktor Arvidsson and Lucas Wallmark were taken: the former is a small (5’9), which worries teams who can simply taken him for free (as a FA) if he becomes an established pro in Sweden, while the latter’s skating is considered atrocious.

-Elmira, Ottawa’s ECHL affiliate, re-signed a number of players including Artem Demkov, who left mid-season to play in the DEL.  I bring this up for two reasons: 1) clearly Elmira was okay with him jumping to Europe, and 2) it’s interesting to see how a top ECHL talent performs in Germany (not particularly well, netting 1 assist in 14 games).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Senators News: July 29th

Nichols reviews Rob Vollman’s Hockey Abstract (I’ve referenced him a few times, like his look at how AHL scoring translates at the next level and his rather unfortunate prediction that Dustin Penner was the best free agent signing of this past season, etc).  Vollman boldly predicts that the Sens are the odds on favourite to win the President’s Trophy, whose rationale Nichols sums up:

Take the previous season’s standings and regress all the luck-based factors towards the norm (which means move them towards league average), like injuries, close-game and post-regulation records, and the percentages (save, shooting, special teams).

Which Nichols points out:

Working in Ottawa’s favor last season was the fact that the team managed to hold its own despite the absence of many of its best players to prolonged periods of time. Injuries derailed the seasons of Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Jared Cowen, but thanks to the depth of the organization and some exceptionally ridiculous goaltending, the Sens persevered and clinched a playoff spot for the second consecutive season.

Nichols raises the salient point in regards to all this with:

I do however have to wonder how weighted the various goaltender save percentages were. One thing that I assumed would have had a greater bearing on Ottawa’s forecast (in a negative fashion) would have been the regression of their ridiculously inflated goaltender’s shorthanded save percentage rates.

Indeed.  The second factor is Corsi related, which Vollman believes Ottawa’s additions outweigh their loses, but Nichols again sums it up succinctly:

The caveat to all of these projections is that they’re completely luck dependent.

So in essence Vollman has flipped Ottawa’s bad luck on its head to arrive at his bold projection.  There’s no parade for winning the President’s Trophy, but if there was I wouldn’t be making plans for it purely based on Vollman’s analysis.

Travis Yost takes a look at the Corsi data of the NHL’s top TOI forwards per team versus their team’s overall performance, focusing on the biggest differences (Ottawa’s numbers are almost identical, so he doesn’t go into them).

Mark Parisi thinks a team can have too much talent, a conclusion he comes too via:

An abundance of talent isn’t a magical recipe for a Stanley Cup.

He bases this on the fact that talented teams don’t always win the Cup, which in itself is arguable (what non-talented teams have won?) but regardless isn’t much of an argument given that only one of thirty teams wins every year.  If one accepts the statement and follows the logic than teams should be petrified if their system gets too flush with talent–too much!  You have to wonder how Olympic rosters work.  This isn’t to pick on Mark, who I don’t think put much thought into the statement (this is all in the context of trading Colin Greening–who is a cheap utility forward–for Ales Hemsky–a broken-down player on a bad contract), which I’ve heard elsewhere.  Very simply a team can’t have too much talent, but what it can have is talented players who cause problems because they aren’t getting the ice time they think they deserve (Dany Heatley is an obvious example), or players who can’t be effective without high TOI totals that they aren’t getting on their current team.  All in all, an abundance of talent is not inherently a problem.

Mike Glotov writes a lengthy piece on the Sens in Russian and thanks to Google we unilingual fans can all take a look at it.  He suggests the Sens are a year ahead of their planned rebuild and wonders if that’s going to turn out well or not–ultimately concluding that it should (although he proposes trading Milan Michalek).  Glotov speculates on the lineup for the upcoming season and proposes:


There’s no sign of Jim O’Brien or Matt Kassian here and those absences make lot’s of sense.  As for the actual combinations, it seems like the right division of top-six and bottom-six players.

Sean Leahy echoes Frank Provenzano (writing behind ESPN’s paywall) who says salary arbitration is essentially dead:

The most likely possibility [for the future of arbitration], in my opinion, is more of what we are seeing right now. Fourth-line forwards, bottom-pair defensemen and players trying to solidify a breakthrough year of regular NHL roster time will probably continue to be the ones using the cement of salary arbitration to shore up their shaky NHL performance foundations. Settlements will continue to be the dominant norm, since the legal costs of $40,000-$50,000 associated with bringing a case to hearing simply aren’t worth it when fighting over $200,000 dollars instead of $2 million.

Larry Brooks believes the NHL does not have a problem with PEDs, just pain killers and sleeping pills (the former are heavy in evidence via Derek Boogaard).  Certainly enforcers were using steroids in the 80s and 90s, but lacking other evidence it’s hard to argue with Brooks assertion.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: July 28th

-The Sens officially signed NCAA free agent Ludwig Karlsson on Thursday.  The official release indicates Karlsson missed much of this past season due to a wrist injury and beyond not being drafted his appearance at Nashville’s camp (two weeks ago) and Anaheim’ s (last year) were not enough to induce either organisation to sign him.  Karlsson talked about the signing:

I’m a big guy that can skate and that loves to have the puck. I like to play fast and move the puck to my teammates and score goals. I’ve heard good stuff about the staff in Binghamton and I’m going to learn from them and earn a lot of experience. I’m aware of how important the hockey culture is in Ottawa and to their fans. I want to make the Ottawa Senators, that’s my main goal. I know it’s going to take a lot of work on my part to get to that. I have a lot to learn and I know this is the right spot for me to do just that.

Corey Pronman offered this brief assessment:

Solid skill, big shot. Low to mid tier prospect.

There’s really no other scouting material that I’ve been able to find, but his NCAA numbers seem to reflect Pronman’s opinion.

[Sept.1: Karlsson was listed as the 7th best college free agent by Red Line Report back in 2012.  They had this to say about him:

The Swedish winger arrived on the scene this year and showed gifted offensive instincts in leading Northeastern in scoring as a rookie – albeit a 21-year old freshman. Has a nice long stride and mixes up speeds well to beat defenders. Very good hands and stickhandles well enough to beat defenders off the rush and create passing lands for teammates. Quick release and has a goal scorer’s touch. Has a fine-sized frame, but needs to work on strength to get better in battles along the walls. Reminds us of fellow Swede Victor Stahlberg, who played in Hockey East for Vermont.

So there’s the best scouting assessment I’ve seen.]

-One of the questions Ludwig‘s signing raises is the impact it has on Binghamton.  The B-Sens have a lot of forwards already signed and it’s difficult to imagine all of them are going to be retained (even if Stephane Da Costa ultimately walks there’s 15 players who could play in the AHL).  To my mind if a piece is moved Jakub Culek is the obvious choice, but I’m not sure what (if any) value he has.

Nichols comments briefly on Corey Pronman‘s organisational assessment of the Sens from a few weeks ago and his most salient point is this:

one evaluator’s opinions are subjective and should never be taken as the be-all and end-all of analysis.

This is absolutely the case.  As I mentioned at the time, it’s interesting food for thought, but that’s about it.

-Thanks to Adnan for the plug on my updated Bryan Murray article.

-Here’s the 2012-13 appreciation video for the B-Sens.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: July 25th

-As expected, the Sens re-signed Corey Cowick to a one-year, two-way deal (625k) that is a modest raise over his ELC.

-I updated my Assessing Bryan Murray article.

Nichols breaks out his transcription machine and discusses Elliotte Friedman’s appearance on The Team 1200.  Friedman discussed Alfredsson‘s departure and said the following:

I think that in a lot of ways, Alfredsson and Murray were pretty honest about it when they spoke about it the day that it happened. I don’t that there is a lot of lying going on here. I think just the one thing here is that you have to read between the lines. And, I did write about it. I wonder if there was a little bit of mistrust between, not Alfredsson, but Melnyk and JP Barry over the whole Dany Heatley thing.

Nichols points out how he thinks this echoes a Wayne Scanlan Tweet reporting that Tony Rhodes said Alfredsson‘s decision was related to ownership as much as anything.  Friedman goes on to suggest that Alfredsson may not have liked how Murray phrased his initial rejection of a contract offer, but the entirety of his argument doesn’t add up to me.  Dany Heatley was a long time ago and if Alfie is as strong-willed as Friedman (and everyone) says he is, he’s not going to care if J. P. Barry was unhappy with how the Heatley situation was handled.  Alfredsson has had eight years to get used to how Bryan Murray speaks, so the GM’s language is nothing new.  I also don’t think Rhodes’ comment inherently reflects on Friedman’s theory–it just as easily applies to Melnyk’s financial difficulties (which Nichols seems to doubt despite all readily available news to substantiate it), something I thought were reflected in Alfredsson‘s comments after he decided to leave.  I don’t know if Friedman is deliberately obfuscating the reasons Alfie left because the Sens financial struggles are apparently not to be discussed, or if he genuinely believes an initial contract discussion plus a player change from several years ago is enough for Alfie to leave the team and city he’s called home for so long.  The latter seems extremely implausible.

-Speaking of Friedman, he Tweeted today that undrafted Swedish NCAA left winger Ludwig Karlsson might be signing with Ottawa as a free agent.  I’ve seen nothing else reflecting that, but it’s certainly a possibility.  Karlsson spent two years at Northwestern University, this last season being an abbreviated one for him (17-5-3-8).  The 22-year old was draft eligible in 2009 and Central Scouting had him ranked #138 among Europeans.

Kent Wilson writes about selection bias in hockey statistics and his intro gives you the gist:

When it comes to statistical analysis the population of interest  is everything.  Outcomes only apply to the population in the study. Furthermore, any manipulation of the population adds bias to the study. Sometimes this is obvious, but other times it might hide behind a curtain which isn’t obvious, even if we apply tests of statistical significance. That is why methodology is important.

So what is selection bias?

[It] refers to an error in the outcomes as a result of the method in which the data was collected or sampled.  When analyzing teams, this is easily avoided by collecting as many if not all games in each season, then randomizing the team-games for every year. For analysis of skaters or goalies this is tremendously more difficult. We aren’t working with a natural population with new individuals entering the population at random, nor leaving at random. Individuals are selected  on past (not current or intrinsic) characteristics. This is made all the more difficult because these selection pressures are often the same variables we are interested in studying.

And what is methodology?

When I refer to “method,” I use it as a basket term for everything one does in a study to come to a conclusion.  This includes a) the initial inquiry, b) the study design, c) the method used to collect data, d) analysis of that data, and e) interpretation of the results. Each of those steps feature potential biases.  I’ll synopse each stage briefly.

Definitely worth checking out.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Assessing Bryan Murray (updated through the 2012-13 season)

On April 8th, 2011, with one game remaining in a failed season, the Ottawa Senators re-signed GM Bryan Murray to a three-year deal.  The most obvious question at the time was why?  Clearly ownership saw Murray as the best man to rebuild the team that crumbled beneath him in 2010-11 and thus far it appears as though that belief was well-founded.  There’s no guarantee the Sens rebuild will continue in a positive direction, but it’s worth looking back at the work Murray has done as Ottawa’s general manager.

Bryan Murray took over from John Muckler on June 18th, 2007, just six days before the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.  I’ve read criticism of Murray regarding that draft, but there’s no question that the selections were made with Muckler’s scouting staff and guided by their philosophy.

2007 Draft

Considered a weak draft at the time (see McKeen’s, for a more optimistic view here’s Sports Illustrated; for a look at the overall success of the draft go here), Ottawa made four selections, trading away their final three picks to Tampa for a fourth round pick in the 2008 draft (Derek Grant).

1-29 Jim O’Brien (NCAA) Looked like a failed pick after his rookie season in Binghamton, but by the end of his ELC proved he could be a useful fourth-liner (although perhaps not with Ottawa)
2-60 Ruslan Bashkirov (QMJHL) A bust who was never signed and now plays tier-2 hockey in Russia
3-90 Louie Caporusso (OPJHL) The undersized forward spent his rookie year largely in the ECHL and as a four-year NCAA grad it doesn’t look like he has NHL-potential (perhaps not even AHL-potential); he was let go after his ELC expired
4-120 Ben Blood (USHS) Big blueliner also spent four years in the NCAA, but his rookie season as a pro was a disappointment as he was unable to be an AHL-regular

2007-08 Contracts

June 22 – Dean McAmmond – 2 years/1.4; a solid player, but his numbers dropped considerably before he was shipped out to the New York Islanders
July 3 – Matt Carkner – 2 years/0.5; made his way from the AHL to the NHL level
July 24 – Ray Emery – 3 years/3.166; re-signing the starting goalie in the Cup run seemed like a no-brainer, but was bought out the next year
July 31 – Chris Kelly – 1 year/1.263; based on his strong play when Spezza and Fisher were injured
August 7 – Luke Richardson – 1 year/0.5; a depth signing who never quite delivered
September 17 – Mike Fisher – 5 years/4.2; I thought at the time it was too much money and too much term; traded to Nashville in 2011
October 3 – Dany Heatley – 6 years/7.5; thought to be solid signing at the time (link), forced a trade to San Jose (2009) and is now in Minnesota (2011)
October 16 – Randy Robitaille – 1 year/0.625; a depth signing out of Russia, the Sens hoped he would provide some scoring depth (link), but he did not.  The following season saw him playing in Switzerland
November 2 – Jason Spezza – 7 years/7.0; I liked the contract at the time and I still do

2007-08 Coaches

Murray hired John Paddock, who had been his assistant the past two years and was a long time AHL coach (with a distant and lousy NHL coaching record from his days with Winnipeg, 281-106-138-37).  Paddock got the team off to a fantastic start (15-2), but wore out his best players and the team quickly slid down the standings. Paddock was fired February 27th, after two embarrassing back-to-back shutout losses, finishing with a 36-22-6 record (he’s since struggled to get head coaching positions in the AHL).  Murray took over and the team barely made the playoffs where they were promptly swept by the Penguins.

While the Paddock hiring may have seemed like a logical step to Murray—a solid minor league resume  and his assistant—he was hardly the best coach available, so Murray deserves criticism for the hire (as he has suggested himself since).


June 20 – Ottawa waived and then bought out Ray Emery; his play was only partially the issue.  Because of his age the cost of the buyout was reasonable.  Emery had to go to the KHL to salvage his NHL career, which now seems solidified as a quality backup.

2007-08 Trades

June 23 – Ottawa’s 5th (Matt Marshall; was not signed by Tampa after four years in the NCAA), 7th (Torrie Jung; was not signed by Tampa and he’s spent his pro career in the CHL), and 7th (Justin Courtnall; turned pro and spent his rookie season in the ECHL) to Tampa for a 4th in 2008 (Derek Grant; completed his sophomore season with Binghamton where he saw limited NHL action). The thought here was that the following year’s draft was much stronger and deeper and it appears as though Murray was right.  This is a win for Murray.
July 17, 2007 – Traded Peter Schaefer to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Shean Donovan. Muckler overpaid Schaefer, whose cumbersome contract wound up being buried in the minors and then bought out by the Bruins.  Donovan was a solid soldier for Ottawa, although there wasn’t much gas left in the tank.  This is a win for Murray.
February 11, 2008 – Traded Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves to the Carolina Hurricanes for Mike Commodore and Cory Stillman.  Corvo demanded a trade, so Murray didn’t have many options; Eaves struggled with injuries.  Commodore turned out to be a complete bust for the Sens (and subsequently for Columbus, who bought him out), but Stillman was an adequate rental.  None of the four players are still with the teams they were traded too.  Given that the trade failed to help the Sens in the playoffs this is a loss for Murray.
February 26, 2008 – Traded a sixth-round draft pick in 2008 (6-169, Ben Smith, who has 20 NHL games under his belt and is a solid prospect) to the Chicago Blackhawks for Martin LapointeLapointe was supposed to provide grit for the Sens, but his best days were long behind him and he was a disappointment.  Lapointe subsequently retired.  This is a failure on Murray’s part.

2008 Draft

Considered a good draft year (link) and the selections can be said to truly reflect Murray’s philosophy.  All the players selected have been signed except for Emil Sandin (who is now a UFA).

1-15 Erik Karlsson (SuperElit) – coming off a Norris trophy season he spent much of this year injured
2-42 Patrick Wiercioch (USHL) – lanky blueliner got his chance in the NHL and performed well
3-79 Zack Smith (WHL) – gritty center is an NHL-regular
4-109 Andre Petersson (SuperElit) – skilled winger missed most of his sophomore season due to injury
4-119 Derek Grant (BCHL) – lanky center had a solid sophomore season with Binghamton
5-139 Mark Borowiecki (CJHL) – punishing blueliner had a solid sophomore season in the AHL
7-199 Emil Sandin (SuperElit) – smallish winger failed to be a regular player in the SEL and was allowed to become a FA

2008-09 Contracts

March 25 – Jesse Winchester – 2 years/0.55; signed as a free agent out of college, Winchester didn’t produce offensively as planned, but turned into a solid grinder; he spent this past season playing in Europe
June 21 – Chris Kelly – 4 years/2.125 million; signed prior to becoming a UFA, Kelly continued to put up his usual numbers before being traded to Boston (2011)
July 2 – Jarkko Ruutu – 3 years/1.3 million; signed after reaching the Cup final with Pittsburgh, he didn’t deliver what was expected while he was with the Sens and was eventually traded to Anaheim (2011) for a 6th round pick (Max McCormick); he’s played in Finland since
July 2 – Shean Donovan – 2 years/0.65; a cap friendly contract, but Donovan had nothing left in the tank and only played 90 games over those two seasons; he’s now retired
July 8 – Jason Smith – 2 years/2.6; a bad contract for a player who didn’t have gas left in the tank, he retired before the second year of his deal and now works for the organisation
July 31 – Antoine Vermette – 2 years/2.75 million; unable to produce enough as a top six player in Ottawa, he was traded to Columbus in the first year of his deal for Pascal Leclaire and a 2nd round pick (Robin Lehner); he’s now with Phoenix
September 27 – Luke Richardson – 1 year/0.5; unable to stay in the lineup, he retired November 27th and stayed with the organisation.  He’s now Binghamton’s head coach
October 30 – Daniel Alfredsson – 4 years/4.875 million; an excellent contract

2008-09 Coaches

Murray hired Craig Hartsburg, who was coming off back-to-back World Junior wins.  Hartsburg had a good track record in junior, but his NHL record was mediocre (albeit more extensive than Paddock’s, 443-184-184-69).  Hartsburg was not a strong systems coach and the team struggled under his regime.  Finally, on February 1st, Hartsburg was fired after accumulating a 17-24-7 record (he went back to junior for two season and is now an NHL assistant coach).  Cory Clouston, enjoying a strong season in Binghamton, was brought up as the interim coach.  The team responded well under Clouston’s more structured approach and he was signed to a two-year deal.

Murray deserves criticism for the Hartsburg signing, who again was not the strongest candidate available.  The team struggled all season long and the coach was allowed to linger longer than was needed.  The Clouston hiring was much like the Paddock hiring–done without competition.

2008-09 Trades

June 20, 2008 – Traded their 1st round pick (Chet Pickard; struggled as an ECHL goalie and spent this past season in Europe) and their 3rd round in 2009 (Taylor Beck; is coming off a solid sophomore campaign in the AHL) for the 15th pick (Erik Karlsson). The Sens desperately needed an upgrade on their blueline, particularly on the right side; making a splash when the draft was in Ottawa likely helped the decision.  This is a huge win for Murray.
June 25, 2008 – Traded Brian McGrattan to the Phoenix Coyotes for the Boston Bruins’ fifth-round draft pick in 2009 (Jeff Costello). McGrattan’s substance abuse problems and declining effectiveness made him an asset that needed moving.  This is a win for Murray.
August 29, 2008 – Traded Andrej Meszaros to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Filip Kuba, Alexandre Picard and San Jose’s 1st round draft pick (previously acquired) in 2009 (which was subsequently traded to the Islanders). Meszaros and the team could not come to terms on a contract, so Ottawa did well in bringing in a solid veteran and prospect.  Meszaros never did find success in Tampa, but when moved to Philadelphia responded in a supporting role.  The Sens got more out of the trade (Kuba), so I’ll give this one to Murray.
September 2, 2008 – Traded Lawrence Nycholat to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Ryan Shannon.  Nycholat demanded a trade, so Ottawa exchanged their problem for one the Canucks had (Shannon had a one-way contract the following season).  The Sens definitely won the trade, as Shannon was a solid soldier while he was with the organisation.
November 10, 2008 – Traded Alexander Nikulin to the Phoenix Coyotes for Drew FataNikulin demanded a trade and rather than simply losing the asset to the KHL Ottawa brought in an AHL veteran.  Nikulin struggled with San Antonio and returned to play in the KHL afterward.  Fata signed with Providence after his year in Binghamton, but Ottawa received more tangible value than Phoenix, so it’s a win for Murray.
February 20, 2009 – Traded Dean McAmmond and San Jose’s 1st round draft pick in 2009 (1-26, Kyle Palmieri; a regular NHLer) to the New York Islanders in exchange for Mike Comrie and Chris Campoli. The Sens had no room for McAmmond, so took on Comrie’s onerous and expiring contract to get Campoli on a very cap friendly deal.  Comrie subsequently signed with the Oilers, while Campoli had an up and down career with the Sens before being traded himself (the acquired pick was used as part of the trade to draft Matt Puempel).  The final assessment of the trade is yet to be made, as it has boiled down to Palmieri vs Puempel.
March 4, 2009 – Traded Antoine Vermette to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Pascal Leclaire and a 2nd round draft pick in 2009 (Robin Lehner). Vermette had flat-lined as a player in the organisation; the Sens had to choose between he and Mike Fisher, and while Vermette had more offensive prowess, Fisher was the tougher player to play against.  The trade (including the pick) was intended to solidify the Sens between the pipes.  Vermette had two good seasons with Columbus before being traded, while Leclaire completely failed as a Senator.  Lehner may make Murray a genius, but in the short term this is a loss.

2009 Draft

Considered a deep and talented draft, Ottawa had its first top-ten pick since the 2005; other than Peltz every player has signed an ELC.

1-9 Jared Cowen (WHL) – big blueliner was injured most of his sophomore campaign
2-39 Jakob Silfverberg (SuperElit) – was excellent with Binghamton and solid with Ottawa in his rookie season; traded to Anaheim as part of the Bobby Ryan deal
2-46 Robin Lehner (SuperElit) – the big goaltender played his way into an NHL roster spot
4-100 Chris Wideman (NCAA) – undersized blueliner finished his collegiate career and showed promise in his rookie AHL-season
5-130 Mike Hoffman (QMJHL) – didn’t make the offensive leap in his third pro season
5-146 Jeff Costello (USHL) – gritty winger had a strong junior season in the NCAA
6-160 Corey Cowick (OHL) – gritty winger finally found consistency in his third year in the AHL
7-190 Brad Peltz (EJHL) – sniper left college early to sign an AHL-deal with Binghamton where he only played a few ECHL games; a bust
7-191 Michael Sdao (USHL) – tough blueliner finished his NCAA career and was solid in his brief AHL-stint

2009-10 Contracts

March 4 – Filip Kuba – 3 years/3.7 million; signed after a career year with Ottawa, he’s suffered repeated injury setbacks and became a lightning rod for criticism in 2010-11; enjoyed a strong final year before signing with Florida as a UFA
July 1 – Chris Neil – 4 years/2.0 million; signed after an awful year, was up and down, but has returned to form
July 6 – Alexei Kovalev – 2 years/5.0 million; a surprise signing at the time that failed utterly (if my memory is correct, the reaction at TSN to this was hilarious, but I can’t find the video of it); he was traded to Pittsburgh (2011) for a 7th round pick (Ryan Dzingel)
August 3 – Brian Elliott – 2 years/0.85; a cap friendly deal for a likeable player; unfortunately he lost his confidence in 2010-11 and was traded to Colorado for Craig Anderson; he’s been very good in St. Louis
October 20 – Matt Carkner – 2 years/0.7; a solid rookie season in the NHL was followed by diminishing returns; he signed with the Islanders as a FA
March 29 – Bobby Butler – 2 years/0.9; the highly sought-after NCAA free agent signed a deal similar to Winchester‘s in 2008; he won a Calder Cup in his first full pro season which was not a sign of things to come


October 2 – having no room for Christoph Schubert on the roster, Murray was unable to trade the big defensemen; he was picked up by Atlanta on waivers and had a decent season with the Thrashers, but his NHL career is now apparently over (he’s playing in Europe).

2009-10 Coaches

The first season for Murray where who was coaching was not a question; Clouston got the team into the playoffs and was generally given good grades for his performance (Puck Daddy).

2009-10 Trades

June 27 – Traded their 2010 6th round pick (6-166 Drew Czerwonka; was not signed by the Oilers and is playing in the CIS) to Edmonton for their 2009 7th round pick (7-191, Michael Sdao). The Sens considered the 2010 draft to be weak and were high on Sdao, so they made the move.  This is a win even though Sdao‘s pro prospects aren’t yet clear.
July 8, 2009 – Traded Alex Auld to Dallas for San Jose’s 6th round pick (6-178 Mark Stone).  With Elliott established as an NHL player, there was no need for Auld on the roster.  Stone has proven a very valuable prospect so this is a big win.
September 4, 2009 – Traded Shawn Weller to Anaheim for Jason Bailey. A minor-league exchange of disappointing prospects; Weller was in the final year of his rookie contract, while Bailey’s continued through 2010-11.  Neither asset remains with their new organisation.
September 12, 2009 – Traded Dany Heatley and a 5th round draft pick (5-136 Isaac Macleod; he finished his junior year at Boston College) in 2010 to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo and San Jose’s 2nd round pick (subsequently moved to the Islanders and then Chicago, 2-58 Kent Simpson; he spent his rookie pro season in the ECHL) in 2010. Heatley had demanded a trade at the end of the season and this was the best deal Murray could get for him.  Cheechoo proved to be a complete bust and was bought out.  Murray was never going to “win” the trade, particularly with a public trade demand from Heatley, but Michalek is at least a tangible asset who is signed long term.  Heatley spent two seasons in San Jose before being moved to Minnesota.
February 12, 2010 – Traded Alexandre Picard and their 2nd round pick in 2011 (subsequently moved to Edmonton, 2-46, Martin Marincin; had an excellent rookie season in the AHL) to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Matt Cullen. Murray paid a steep price for Cullen, who played well in the playoffs, but the team didn’t win and he wasn’t retained.  While Picard wasn’t important, giving up a 2nd round pick makes this a loss for Murray.
March 2, 2010 – Traded San Jose’s 2nd round pick (Kent Simpson) to the New York Islanders in exchange for Andy SuttonSutton never fit in with the Sens (rather like Mike Commodore two years before) and he wasn’t retained, so this is a loss for Murray.
June 25, 2010 – Ottawa traded their 1st overall pick (1-16 Vladimir Tarasenko; he enjoyed an excellent rookie season in the NHL) to St. Louis for prospect David Rundblad (1-17/09; subsequently traded to Phoenix for Kyle Turris). Sens scout Anders Forsberg was very high on Rundblad, who wound up dominating the Swedish Elite League the following season.  Assessing this trade is still three or four years away, but is likely a net loss for Murray.

2010 Draft

Considered a weak draft (link), the Senators had already traded away many of their picks so only made four selections.  Sorensen and Aneloski are no longer in the system while Culek and Stone are signed.

3-76 Jakub Culek (QMJHL) – defensive forward barely played in his overage season in the Q due to injury
4-106 Marcus Sorensen (SuperElit) – undersized energy forward was unable to secure time in the SEL and was not signed
6-178 Mark Stone (WHL) – big skilled winger had a solid (albeit injury-plagued) rookie season in the AHL
7-196 Bryce Aneloski (USHL) – offensive blueliner finished his NCAA career but was not signed by the Sens; now in the ECHL

2010-11 Contracts

July 1 – Sergei Gonchar – 3 years/5.5; considered the best available UFA blueliner, Murray won him over with term; considered a great signing at the time (link), it was occasionally a rocky road
July 1 – Jesse Winchester – 2 years/0.75; there was still belief that he had untapped upside, but I thought a one-year deal would have made more sense; he’s now playing in Europe
July 14 – Bobby Butler – 2 years/1.05; had an awful first full season in the NHL and was subsequently bought-out, signed with New Jersey and then waived and picked up by Nashville
July 21 – Nick Foligno – 2 years/1.2; never did establish himself as a top-six forward, he was traded to Columbus for Marc Methot as an RFA
July 29 – Peter Regin – 2 years/1.0; after a solid rookie year and a great playoff, big things were expected; instead he struggled in his sophomore season and then was injured most of last year; was re-signed to a cap-friendly, one-year deal
February 28 – Chris Phillips – 3 years/3.083; coming in the midst of an awful season, I didn’t like the price or the term for the declining veteran
March 31 – Stephane Da Costa – 2 years/1.325; the highly sought-after NCAA free agent signed a deal similar to Butler‘s in 2010; he wasn’t ready for the NHL and was inconsistent in the AHL; he was re-signed as an RFA


June 29 – Jonathan Cheechoo was bought out.  I don’t think Murray deserves much criticism here, as no one anticipated Cheechoo as being as completely finished as he has proven to be.

2010-11 Coaches

Cory Clouston was seen as an up-and-coming coach who had worked some magic to get the team into the playoffs.  Not everyone was a believer (The Hockey News), but the team entered the season with a lot of optimism (link).  Everything went wrong for Clouston.  When his goalies played well the team couldn’t score.  When the goalies didn’t play well the team still couldn’t score.  Players were disagreeing with him publically (look at November 30th link).  For a time it looked like Ottawa would be the worst team in the NHL.  With the season clearly over and a rebuild beginning, the team’s play picked up, but Clouston’s fate was sealed.  There was a lot of criticism over Clouston’s inability to communicate with players as well as his varying standards for how play effected ice time.  I believe the former trait made the latter worse.  For Clouston to get another chance in the NHL he’s going to have to find a new approach to handling NHL players (he spent last year in the WHL).

After Clouston was dismissed the Senators looked for a new coach.  Calder Cup winning Kurt Kleinendorst was among the top contenders, but Murray ultimately went with a man he knew from his days in Anaheim–Detroit assistant coach Paul MacLean.  MacLean had spent eight years as Mike Babcock’s assistant, with previous head coaching experience in the IHL and UHL (winning the Colonial Cup in the latter in 2000-01).  Kleindorst had better winning pedigree (ECHL, BISL, and AHL championships to go along with his U-18 gold medal), but MacLean proved himself in his rookie campaign by leading the Sens into the playoffs and making them a tough opponent for the Rangers in the first round.

2010-11 Trades

February 10, 2011 – traded Mike Fisher to Nashville for a 1st round pick (1-21 Stefan Noesen) and a conditional 2nd round pick in 2012 (voided). The trade kicked off the rebuild.  At the time the Senators were 17-30-8 and going nowhere.  Fisher had a big contract with term left (two more years).  Noesen was subsequently packed for Bobby Ryan which makes this a clear win.
February 16, 2011 – traded Chris Kelly to Boston for a 2nd round pick (2-61 Shane Prince). The likeable Kelly was better served on a team that was in contention and went on to help Boston win the Stanley Cup.  His contract (too much for a third-line center) and age brought about the move.  He’s re-signed with the Bruins.  As with the previous trade, this one can’t be assessed yet.
February 17, 2011 – traded Jarkko Ruutu to Anaheim for a 6th round pick (6-171 Max McCormick). Ruutu never found a comfort zone in Ottawa and getting something for the impending UFA was better than nothing (Ruutu remains out of the NHL). This is a win for Murray.
February 18, 2011 – traded Brian Elliott to Colorado for Craig Anderson. The trade that gave the team hope also dashed their chances for a top-three pick.  Anderson was in the midst of a horrible funk in Colorado and needed a change in scenery, while Elliott had completely lost his confidence.  This is a win for Murray.
February 24, 2011 – traded Alexei Kovalev to Pittsburgh for a conditional 7th round pick (7-204 Ryan Dzingel). Getting something for Kovalev was an achievement for Murray and makes this a win.  Kovalev subsequently played in the KHL.
February 28, 2011 – traded Chris Campoli and a conditional pick (voided) to Chicago for Ryan Potulny and a 2nd round pick (2-48, later traded to Detroit to select Matt Puempel; Detroit selected Xavier Ouellet; was solid in his final year in the Q). Campoli was no longer in Ottawa’s plans and they picked up an AHL-asset in Potulny who would help Binghamton win the Calder Cup.  Chicago walked away from Campoli‘s arbitration award and he then signed with Montreal (he’s now a UFA).  This is a win for Murray in the short-term, but ultimately boils down to Puempel vs Ouellet.
June 24, 2011 – traded two 2nd round picks (their own, 2-35 Tomas Jurco (had a middling rookie season in the AHL), and the one acquired from Chicago, 2-48, Xavier Ouelette) for Detroit’s 1st round selection (1-24 Matt Puempel). The Sens were high on Puempel, who they considered for the 21st overall pick, so jumped at the opportunity to get him.  Time will tell on the trade.
June 25, 2011 – traded their 3rd round pick (3-67 T. J. Tynan) to Columbus for Nikita Filatov. Filatov wanted out of Columbus, but there wasn’t much interest in the NHL.  I liked the gamble, but Filatov was unable to stick in the NHL line-up and returned to Russia.  The Sens have retained his rights, but loss this deal in the short-term (truly assessing the deal will depend on Tynan‘s development (he had a rough junior year in the NCAA)).


February 24, 2011 – picked up Marek Svatos from Nashville on the waiver wire.  Desperately in need of NHL bodies, Svatos didn’t achieve much before being concussed by Jay Rosehill.  There was never any intention of keeping him and he did not play last season.
February 28, 2011 – picked up Curtis McElhinney from Tampa on the waiver wire.  McElhinney allowed Robin Lehner to stay in the minors and he was decent as the season wound down.  There was never any serious consideration of keeping him and played for Portland in the AHL last year (he subsequently signed a two-way deal with Columbus).

2011 Draft

The draft lacked the high-end talent of previous years, but was considered to have good depth.  Because of Ottawa’s trades they had a plethora of picks to re-stock the organisation (for full scouting reports go here).

1-6 Mika Zibanejad (SEL) – looked better in Ottawa than Binghamton this past season, but still rough around the edges
1-21 Stefan Noesen (OHL) – power forward enjoyed a solid final year of junior hockey before being traded in the Bobby Ryan deal
1-24 Matt Puempel (OHL) – had a solid finish to his OHL career
2-61 Shane Prince (OHL) – undersized forward showed promise as an AHL rookie
4-96 Jean-Gabriel Pageau (QMJHL) – after a slow start as a pro enjoyed a great late run in the NHL
5-126 Fredrik Claesson (SEL) – solid AHL season from the Swedish rookie
6-156 Darren Kramer (WHL) – spent a lot of time in the ECHL during his rookie season
6-171 Max McCormick (USHL) – gritty forward had a solid sophomore season in the NCAA
7-186 Jordan Fransoo (WHL) – big blueliner didn’t develop as much as needed and was not signed
7-204 Ryan Dzingel (USHL) – skilled forward enjoyed an excellent sophomore season in the NCAA

2011-12 Contracts

March 21 – Craig Anderson – 4 years/3.1875; too much term for my liking, but Anderson was excellent this past season
May 19 – Zack Smith – 2 years/0.7; well-deserved contract, he’s coming off an up and down year this season
May 19 – Colin Greening – 3 years/0.816,667; provides solid if unspectacular play
July 1 – Alex Auld – 1 year/1.0; was even more terrible than expected; his NHL career is over (played in Austria this past season)
July 5 – Zenon Konopka – 1 year/0.7; the popular forward didn’t play much and signed with Minnesota the following season
July 6 – Erik Condra – 2 years/0.625; not much pop in his offensive game, but provided a ton of intangibles

2011-12 Coaches

Paul MacLean was excellent in his rookie season as the Sens head coach (41-31-10), unexpectedly leading the team to a playoff birth and making them a tough seven-game out for the New York Rangers.

2011-12 Trades

December 11 – Traded their 2013 7th round pick (John Gilmour) to Chicago (which then was moved to Calgary) for Rob Klinkhammer; the move was meant to help Binghamton, which he did before being called to duty in Ottawa to round out the season; he subsequently signed in Phoenix; unless Gilmour turns into an NHLer this was a good trade for Ottawa
December 17 – Traded David Rundblad and their 2nd round pick to Phoenix (subsequently moved to Philadelphia, who picked Anthony Stolarz; he struggled in the NCAA, but was solid in the OHL this season) for Kyle Turris.  The Sens were desperate for a second-line center and Turris was demanding out of Phoenix.  This trade has to be measured against both Rundblad and Tarasenko, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out, but it really does address an organisational need (assuming Turris develops as expected).
February 26 – Traded their 2013 2nd round pick (Tommy Vannelli) to St. Louis for Ben Bishop.  At the time Craig Anderson was hurt and the team was desperate to add goaltending depth as Robin Lehner was having an off-season.  Bishop was subsequently traded to Tampa for Cory Conacher and a 4th-round pick (Tobias Lindberg), so the latter plus the pick will be assessed against Bishop and Vannelli.
February 27 – Traded Brian Lee to Tampa Bay for Matt Gilroy.  Two players who were failing in their respective organisations, given that the Lightning have re-signed Lee (who did not play well this season) and Gilroy was allowed to walk, this is a loss for Murray.
July 1 – Traded Nick Foligno to Columbus for Marc MethotFoligno was an RFA and clearly the Sens were not sure that he would ever become a full time top-six forward, so they exchanged him for a defensive defenseman.  Methot was excellent in his first year in Ottawa, while Foligno (signed by the Blue Jackets to a big deal, 3 years/3.083) did not show signs of evolving into a better player, so this is a win for Murray.

2012 Draft

Thought to be a weak draft, the Sens made seven selections with no second round pick for the third year in a row; none of the prospects are expected to crack the lineup this upcoming season (for full scouting reports for each player go here).

1-15 Cody Ceci (OHL) – offensive defenseman helps fill an organisational need after the departure of Rundblad; enjoyed a strong end to his junior career
3-76 Chris Driedger (WHL) – his strong performance earned him consideration from team Canada’s WJC braintrust
3-82 Jarrod Maidens (OHL) – skilled forward still isn’t fully recovered from a serious concussion
4-106 Tim Boyle (USHS) – an off the radar selection who didn’t play much in his NCAA rookie season
5-136 Robbie Baillargeon (USHL) – the talented forward struggled until traded in his final USHL season
6-166 Francois Brassard (QMJHL) – a strong season as Quebec’s starting goaltender
7-196 Mikael Wikstrand (Allsvenskan) – defensive defenseman put up big numbers while playing with locked out NHLers, but lost his zip post-lockout; will spend another season in Sweden

2012-13 Contracts

May 4 – Peter Regin – 1 year/0.8; coming off an injury-plagued year the Sens rolled the dice on him staying healthy, but his play simply didn’t measure up
June 19 – Erik Karlsson – 7 years/6.5; the Norris Trophy winner signed a cap-friendly, long-term deal with the club which serves both well so long as he can stay healthy
July 1 – Mike Lundin – 1 year/1.15; the injury-prone, offensively limited blueliner was awful in limited duty; signed in the KHL
July 1 – Guillaume Latendresse – 1 year/2.0; the injury-prone winger suffered from injury and inconsistent play and was let go
July 11 – Chris Neil – 3 years/1.9; a good deal for both sides
July 18 – Jim O’Brien – 2 years/0.637; a solid deal to fill out the bottom of the lineup, he fell out of favour with the coaching staff this season leaving his future cloudy
July 23 – Kaspars Daugavins – 1 year/0.635; a similar deal to O’Brien‘s, but with less commitment, he was waived and picked up by Boston late in the season; currently a UFA


This summer saw the end of the road for highly touted college free agent Bobby Butler.  Despite ample opportunities he struggled badly enough that no other team would take a chance on him at his current salary.  It’s hard to criticise Murray for giving him the deal, but with all the prospects in the wings there was no room for Butler.  He joins a now lengthy list of free agents signed out of college post-lockout who have failed in the NHL (Gilroy, Hanson, Wellman, etc), making me wonder just how much talent is really hidden there.

2012-13 Coaches

MacLean’s magic continued as he willed the injury-bedevilled Sens into the playoffs (25-17-6) and through the first round before getting steamrolled by Pittsburgh.

2012-13 Trades

March 12 – Traded their 2014 6th-round pick to Minnesota for one-dimensional enforcer Matt Kassian; a kneejerk move that did nothing to help the team’s performance (they were 8-8 with him in the lineup during the regular season); if the Wild pick is a dud than the move isn’t quite as bad
April 3 – Traded Ben Bishop to Tampa for Cory Conacher and a 4th-round pick (Tobias Lindberg); Bishop had lost the duel against Robin Lehner to back-up Anderson and as a pending free agent was moved; it will be some time before the trade can be assessed, but the Sens did well to get what they did for an asset they had to move anyway
June 7 – Traded Sergei Gonchar to Dallas for a conditional 6th-round pick (the condition was met when Gonchar signed with the Stars, the Sens picked Chris Leblanc); Ottawa wasn’t going to meet the 39-year old’s contract demands, so getting something for him is a win for Murray
July 5 – Traded Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen, and their 2014 1st-round pick to acquire Bobby Ryan from Anaheim; the Sens clearly got the best player in the deal, but acquiring the power forward required a hefty price–judgement, as always, will take some time
July 9 – Traded Pat Cannone to St. Louis for future considerations; Cannone had a lousy sophomore season in Binghamton and was scheduled to make a fat AHL salary the following year; moving him is a win


March 27 – Kaspars Daugavins was picked up by Boston; it was a rough season for the popular Latvian who spent much of his time in the pressbox; there was no room for him in Ottawa so getting him off the roster is a win for Murray

2013 Draft

Considered an average draft, the Sens made seven selections with no second round pick for the fourth year in a row; none of the prospects are expected to crack the lineup this upcoming season (for full scouting reports for each player go here).

1-17 Curtis Lazar (OHL) – character pick is expected to play for Canada at the WJC
3-78 Marcus Hogberg (Swe Jr) – big, raw talented goaltender is expected to start regularly in the Allsvenskan
4-102 Tobias Lindberg (Swe Jr) – off-the-wall rightwinger is a long term project who likely will play another season of junior in Sweden
4-108 Ben Harpur (OHL) – big defenseman is a project who will spend more time in junior this coming season
5-138 Vincent Dunn (QMJHL) – agitator is a couple of years away
6-161 Chris Leblanc (EJHL) – off-the-waller will play with Merrimack in the NCAA
6-168 Quentin Shore (NCAA) – blueliner will continue his collegiate career at Denver

Contracts 2013-14

July 5 – Clarke MacArthur – 2 years/3.25; did not fit into Toronto’s system, the top-six forward soaks up the spot presumably taken by Silfverberg prior to him being traded
July 8 – Joe Corvo – 1 year/0.9k; vet who forced his way out of Ottawa not long ago returns on a cheap, one year deal where he’s expected to round out the bottom of the blueline
July 12 – Erik Condra – 2 years/1.25; re-signed possession wiz got a well-deserved raise
July 22 – Patrick Wiercioch – 3 years/2.0; offensive-blueliner signed a good deal off a limited sample size

There are a couple of more RFA situations to sort out and as they are I’ll add them here.


As it stands, that is the complete record for Bryan Murray.  He has been the GM for five years during which he’s made the playoffs three times (losing in the first round each time), hired four coaches, and seen the core of the 2007 Stanley Cup final wither away.  So, by category, here’s how I assess him:

The Draft: A, excellent.  The cupboard was bare when Murray took over and now it is starting to overflow.  The 2008, 2009, and 2011 drafts were considered excellent, while 2010 is disappointing (it’s too early to judge 2012 and 2013).  The pump is primed and the Senators should have successive waves of quality players filtering into the organisation for years to come.
Contracts: C, mediocre.  I have his score at 22-19-4 (with the third column representing either results that are yet to be determined or that were neither good nor bad).  Murray’s free agent signings remain a weak point.
Trades: B+, good.  I have his score at 18-9-10 (very few are draws, most in the third column are yet to be determined).  Murray’s deadline deals to help playoff pushes have been his biggest failures.
Coaches: C, average.  Three failed coaches are only gradually being made up for by one excellent hire.
Overall: B+, good.  Murray has been a better builder than contender, but time may seem him overcome the latter challenge as well.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: July 22nd

-The Sens re-signed RFA Patrick Wiercioch today to a three-year deal where he’ll make 2 million per season.  The signing is no surprise and the amount seems fair value if Wiercioch continues to take his conditioning seriously.  The deal guarantees his spot on the roster (which ever never in doubt in my opinion) and slots him among the team’s top-four.

-The signing leaves Jared Cowen, Corey Cowick, and Stephane Da Costa as the RFA’s remaining to be signed.  There’s no reason to expect all three not to be re-signed, although there are a lot of rumours that Da Costa is on his way out (I wonder if he’ll go the European route if he can’t come to terms with Ottawa, although a trade would make more sense if he believes he’ll have a better opportunity at the NHL elsewhere).

Jason Chen offers a belated review of the Sens draft and does a solid job of detailing all the picks.  Nothing new for those of you who read the scouting reports I posted awhile ago (I’ve updated Quentin Shore, incidentally, having accidentally posted ISS’ report twice instead of including McKeen’s as planned), but it’s in a more condensed form so may be worth checking out for those who want to skim through.

-Minor Sens note: former 2010 draft pick Bryce Aneloski signed with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears.

-I’m working on a number of things at the moment, including updating my ever popular assessment of Bryan Murray as the Sens GM.  I hope to roll some of that out this week.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: July 20th

Travis Yost continues to document the inconsistent statements by Eugene Melnyk about his finances and those being made by Ottawa team president Cyril Leeder.  Nichols transcribes the part of Leeder’s interview that interested him and the president said the following:

Since Eugene (Melnyk) has bought the team, we’ve been in a really good spot financially and we will continue to be.

Does Melnyk really need the casino?  Does the owner’s need reflect a team need?  We will find out.  The rest of Leeder’s material didn’t strike me as particularly engaging, but you can read it via the link above.

-Ottawa re-signed Luke Richardson and the rest of the Binghamton staff, which was well-deserved.

-Some house keeping: the Sens schedule has been released and (as expected) the NHL is going to the Olympics.

Varada writes an amusing article about the keys to success for a hockey team.  My favourite part is this:

Nothing contributes to the performance of an NHL hockey team like signing or trading for a player with minimal ability to play NHL hockey, putting him on the roster at the expense of a kid who could probably use the development time, and then playing him six minutes a night. Whatever swagger your team develops as a result of having a tough guy with a funny mustache on it (I’m developing a metric called SWAGFAC to sell to NHL teams) is probably immediately wiped out in the one instance in which he finds himself in a critical situation and the team gets scored on because he didn’t realize that he was holding his stick upside down.

What more needs to be said?

Bobby Ryan was in town to stir up hype and good will, but other than good PR it’s not the kind of thing I find engaging.  A slight error in the link btb, as Nichols writes that David Dziurzynski signed a two-year rather than a one-year deal.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: July 17th

-I updated my profile of Sens prospect Ryan Dzingel.

Travis Yost summed up the contradictory public statements about the Sens finances–funny how that story seems to have vanished from the mainstream media almost as soon as it arose.

Senschirp keeps RTing his story that Mike Hoffman needs to be re-signed, so here’s the heart of his post:

Hoffman is a skilled forward with terrific speed and strong offensive instincts. He showed flashes of what he can do in his short stint with the team last season before running into injury troubles.

Senschirp makes two statements following this: 1) he’ll get the same kind of deal Mark Borowiecki received (two years with the second one-way), because 2) he’s ready to make the jump to the NHL.  I disagree on both counts.  I don’t see the Sens giving Hoffman a one-way deal because I’m not convinced that he’s ready to make the jump.  As I mentioned in my review of Binghamton’s season, Hoffman‘s offense seems to have stagnated at the AHL-level, where it isn’t elite and that doesn’t bode well for his transition to the NHL.  Given that, he’s a player who has to occupy a bottom-six role at the next level and the evidence that he can do so isn’t there yet.  He’s also up against a lot of competition at forward position from other prospects, like Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mark Stone, etc. [Travis Yost reports that Hoffman has signed a one-year, two-way deal.]

Sun Media announced job cuts and the closing of a number of its papers yesterday (commiserations and best wishes to all those effected), but these have had minimal impact at The Ottawa Sun (one job loss was announced).

Paul Grant confirms my take on the impact of the lockout on the fanbase:

Everything went to abnormal: revenues, attendance and ratings went through the roof. The NHL lost 58.5 percent of its games but made 72 percent of its full-season revenue, not to mention the pure gravy for the 16 playoff teams. The shortened regular season experienced 97 percent capacity and the playoffs were at the mathematically impossible more than 100 percent capacity. You get the point. Fans came back in droves.

Stu Hackel writes at length about Fred Shero as an innovative coach.

-Sportsnet continues to take the cake when it comes to Z-grade articles and Chris Johnston adds to the tally with an article about players jumping to the KHL.  Articles about the KHL “threat” made the rounds en masse five years ago and Johnston simply ignores the fact that Kovalchuk left for murky personal reasons (it’s difficult to unpack the how or why of the move, since it benefits the Devils immensely, but it’s completely unlike an Alexander Radulov or the RSL departure of Alexei Morozov).  The move isn’t the beginning of a “trend” and the best players will always come to the NHL because it’s the best league there is.  All the KHL will do is continue to siphon off underachievers, older players, or prospects who are unhappy with their situation within a franchise (Ken Campbell echoes these points).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: July 15th

Travis Yost points out that while the Sens PK is likely to regress this coming season, their powerplay should improve.

-With the Sens development camp over I wanted to look at who didn’t warrant organisational comments (which is never a good sign, but not inherently a case of a player performing poorly).  To begin with, none of the free agent invitees (Branden Komm, Justin DaSilva, Mathieu Gagnon, Jeff Corbett, Macoy Erkamps, and Jack Berger) were referenced in any of the material I’ve seen, which indicates that they will not be seen again in the Sens organisation.  The following players were singled out as performing well by various members of the Sens management: Tobias Lindberg, Curtis Lazar, Chris Leblanc, Michael Sdao, Ryan Dzingel, Max McCormick, Buddy Robinson, Cole Schneider, Shane Prince, Chris Wideman, Cody Ceci, Marcus Hogberg, Chris Driedger, Francois Brassard, Andrew Hammond, Fredrik Claesson (named the camp’s hardest worker), Cory Conacher, Mika Zibanejad, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.  So who wasn’t singled out for praise?  It’s an interesting list:
Mark Stone
Wacey Hamilton
Derek Grant
Darren Kramer
Troy Rutkowski
Tim Boyle
Ben Harpur
Jeff Costello
Jakub Culek
Matt Puempel
Jarrod Maidens (injury is a factor)
Robert Baillargeon
Vincent Dunn
Quentin Shore

I don’t put much stock in established players (like Stone) going unmentioned, while Puempel got a pat on the back of a different sort when Stefan Noesen was traded, but if you’re a marginal prospect like Jakub Culek this anonymity is worrisome.  There’s no condemnation inherent with the list, but I consider it interesting food for thought.

Amelia L has thoughts for the Sens marketing department and the one that stands out to me is attempting to expand the fanbase into Northern Ontario (Atlantic Canada makes sense to me too, although Amelia only speaks about the former).

Michael Grange wrote about Daniel Alfredsson‘s departure awhile ago, but among the deluge of such pieces it had passed me by.  Grange compares his departure to that of Brett Favre out of Green Bay and while he doesn’t delve into the minutia of Alfie‘s decision he concludes that no matter what went into the choice it has tarnished his image.  I don’t like that word (tarnish) to describe the decision, because neither Grange nor anyone else has really made an argument for why staying with an organisation throughout your career is inherently good–it’s rare, but to me that doesn’t inherently have a value attached to it.  If Grange had said it has changed Alfredsson‘s image forever I would agree wholeheartedly–his career will be bookmarked by the last minute change.

Rory Boylen echoes a long-standing sentiment in hockey when he writes:

My belief is [plus/minus is] utterly useless, except maybe when there are major anomalies within teams.

There’s no real argument against this that I’ve ever seen.  The only use it ever has is with team outliers.  Interestingly, Boylen refutes the idea of a prevailing league bias against Corsi/Fenwich analytics (something Eric T accepted when arguing against it the other day), saying:

[They are] gaining popularity among teams and talent evaluators. Ask any scout or GM in the league about player evaluation and they’ll tell you it’s imperative to get all the information you can about a player to feel comfortable about making a decision or having a professional opinion on them. To ignore them out of hand is to intentionally block out a new perspective and method of analysis, which runs against everything talent evaluators should stand for.

-Boylen (same link) also believes there’s no chance the Sens can lose the Bobby Ryan deal:

Sure, Silfverberg could reach and exceed his offensive potential and I’d bet on him becoming a solid NHL player. Sure, Noesen’s shot could translate to NHL scoring stardom. And, sure, the first-round pick could end up being a player who sticks around the league for 20 years. That’s a lot of “coulds” that have to come together for the Senators to really look bad on this one. Ryan WILL score 30 goals again and again. About 30 players will score 30 goals in any given NHL season – the last time more than that reached the plateau was in 2008-09. And from the first season Ryan reached 30 goals (2008-09) through this season, he ranks 20th in the league in goals per game. The only player with more 30-goal seasons in that span is Alex Ovechkin with five.  And even if the other side of the deal comes together perfectly for Anaheim, Ottawa still got the immediate boost it was after to help keep its momentum going in the right direction. Can the Sens really ever “lose” a deal in which they’re getting the exact player and contribution they desired and paid for? It’s not as though they significantly depleted their impressive pipeline of futures – they could afford it from the start. I’d say the greater risk was taken by Anaheim, who acquired a whole lot of potential and controllability, but also a whole lot of uncertainty.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: July 13th

-The Sens re-signed Erik Condra to a two-year, 1.25 million deal, making his arbitration drama among the shortest in memory.  The deal is a good one for both sides, as Condra gets a well-deserved raise, but neither side makes a long commitment to each other.  Nichols sums him up pretty well (and Travis Yost has similar comments):

Despite these modest [offensive] numbers, his exceptional puck possession numbers and ability to drive play as a winger have earned him somewhat of a cult-like appreciation around these corners of the interwebs. Unfortunately for Condra, the fact his value is better quantifed by Corsi means he’ll probably always be undervalued at contract time.

Clarke MacArthur talked about signing in Ottawa:

 I think there were six or seven teams kicking the tires and I just really thought Ottawa would be a good fit for me. I like where their team is going, they obviously have a great coaching staff there and just from playing against them and their compete level I thought it was going to be a good fit. I think it gives me a chance to play on those top couple of lines. A couple of years ago in Toronto when I had those minutes I was able to produce pretty good numbers. And, it’s a team that’s a playoff team. That was obviously my main focus — getting back on a playoff team again after getting a taste of it last year. I feel that Ottawa is team that can not only make the playoffs but also do something. I’ve heard nothing but positive things. Just to see their team with the amount of injuries they had last year and what he was able to do for that young team and the direction he kept them in line with, it’s only a positive thing for a player like me to sign there. I had some setbacks when I was younger but I always felt I could compete and play at that next level. So far I’ve done that and I feel like I’ve still got a lot to prove in the NHL. Obviously you want to thrive and strive to be more consistent. It’s something over the last couple of years I’ve tried to do and I want to carry that forward. They have a lot of depth up front and obviously with Spezza he’s a marquee centreman in the league and Kyle Turris, from what I’ve seen, is an up-and-comer with a lot of potential as well. It’s going to be an exciting time. I’ve played with Craig Anderson in the minors [in Rochester] so I’ve known him. Chris Phillips is from out in our area in Alberta. I know a couple of guys, I don’t know anyone too well, but I’m sure like all teams everyone seems to be good guys and I’m looking forward to meeting guys.

Essentially his comments boil down to he wanted top-six minutes and he wanted a team that was playoff bound.  It will be interesting to see how MacArthur does in MacLean’s system, which (at least in theory) should suit him better than Carlyle’s in Toronto.

Randy Lee talked about development camp and Nichols has transcribed the bulk of the interview and after talking about the importance of player development and how the camp is invaluable particularly for prospects in college or Europe he talked about Fredrik Claesson:

Freddie is a very unique guy. He works his rear end off and he has fun doing it. He’s playful. He’s fun. He makes you laugh. But he does it and he never comprises on work – and he does it on the ice, he does it in the seminars, he does it in the sparring sessions, he does it in the skating sessions, he does it in the sprint mechanic sessions… everywhere you see him, he’s pushing and he’s enjoying himself and it’s contagious and it’s a great thing to be. It was good for us this year that we were down to a final group of five and we polled everybody who worked with the players this year and it was pretty well consistent with this group of five. And it was really close in terms of the voting. In years past, we’ve had great workers who stood out like the Mark Borowieckis but we had a real elite group this year. It was good and good to Freddie on winning (the hardest worker) award.

More generally:

Our two Swedish players [Marcus Hogberg and Tobias Lindberg] were incredible in terms of really absorbing the information. They amalgamated into the group really well. They really pushed themselves. We have some big bodies now and Pierre (Dorion) did a good job getting some big projects and I like that. These are great big guys that have a lot of upside. They do have some deficiencies right now, but you can tell that they’re like a raw piece of putty that you can really work with. Overall, the whole group was really receptive to everything we were doing. And it’s interesting, one of the best pulses I get on the group is talking to our drivers. We have a group of drivers that work with these guys and shuttle them all over the place and they get the pulse of what these kids are like. And they said, ‘Bar none, this is the best group of players that we have ever had.’ And especially the draft picks this year, they’re really good quality kids. Like Bryan (Murray) and Paul (MacLean) wanted – they just don’t want good players, they want good people.”

After talking about how nearly every hard working player who “gets it” will make it to the NHL one day and that Cory Conacher was “overwhelmed” by his exit interview, he discussed some other prospects:

Two guys are our high-estate players, Ryan Dzingel and Max McCormick; both guys that were later picks… Michael Sdao too, another college guy that was a seventh round pick. Dzingel was a seventh round pick and I believe Max was a sixth round pick or fifth. (They’re) later round picks but they’ve really worked hard. They’ve applied themselves to these camps. They take the information back. They stay in touch with you and work with Chris Schwarz. They work with our nutritionist and they’ve become a partner with us in their development but they do go back and play well for their teams and commit to them as well. And those guys made huge progress. You guys got to see a bit of Mike Sdao when he finished the season in Binghamton last year and a real character guy; a real guy that worked on his game. Dzingel and McCormick, people are going to like them because they’re both character kids. They work their rear ends off and Dzingel is a real high-end skill guy and Max McCormick is a real high-end character guy. (The fans) are going to like Buddy Robinson. That was a great signing by our organization. We get this guy without having to give up anything. He’s a character kid. He’s a good person. He wanted to come to our organization. He did well last year when he went to Binghamton. He got a taste of it – of what the actual jump is to make the jump is to go to the American Hockey League because guys don’t appreciate how big that step is. He embraced that challenge and he performed really well. He came into camp and worked his rear end off. He’s a great skater. He’s got great speed. There’s a few things that we’re going to work on with him because of mobility issues since he’s such a big guy. But he’s got a lot of upside and he’s willing to learn and he wants to learn and he wants to get better. Definitely, and he [Sdao] knows what his skillset is. He knows what type of player he has to be to be successful. He’s a hard-nosed guy. He’s got to be hard to play against. He’ll protect his teammates. He’s not a thug by any sense, but if the situation is there where he has to stand up for his teammates, he’ll do that. And he’s going to be a really good shutdown guy – he’ll block shots, he’ll be hard in front of the net and he’ll lay the lumber down on guys. He’s an old-school defenceman with real good character.

-I updated my profile of Matt Puempel.

Eric T examines the kneejerk reaction to Corsi numbers from some players and journalists and he clarifies what those numbers are meant to accomplish succinctly:

The lesson isn’t “stats can help you win”; it’s “knowing more than the other guy can help you win”.

So in essence what Corsi let’s you do is:

This is what Moneypuck is all about. Nobody is trying to argue that Corsi is a perfect rating system, that shot quality is irrelevant. The point is that the talents that drive Corsi contribute more strongly to winning than people realize.

It’s a very well written piece and I highly recommend it.  It may be worth a reminder that all statistics are an attempt to understand performance through numbers–hockey hasn’t been as easily reducible to numbers as baseball, but that gap is being narrowed by things like the Corsi numbers.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)