Senators News: July 11th

Chris writes an excellent article (I highly recommend reading it through) exploring the Sens penalty killing and whether or not it will be worse than this past season.  He concludes that goaltending (more than anything else) contributed to the team’s excellent numbers, which to my mind means the change in penalty killers isn’t as relevant.  However, he points out (and I agree) that it’s extremely unlikely to get the same kind of goaltending performances this upcoming season so there’s no reason to doubt a decline of some proportion in the upcoming season.

Erik Condra filed for arbitration and Travis Yost writes about that archaic process.  The thing to remember is Bryan Murray almost always makes a deal prior to the arbitration hearing, so I don’t expect things to get that far.

Adnan takes a look at why Clarke MacArthur‘s offensive numbers dipped his last two years with Toronto, and points out in 11-12 his line often played against top opposition, while 12-13 he was underused by Randy Carlyle.

Mark Parisi manages to write an article about the Sens finances without referencing any of the information that has come to light over the past few weeks.  He blames the NHL system for Ottawa’s financial troubles while claiming no one can know the Sens numbers (and therefore, Mark has no idea if those troubles truly are Ottawa’s or Melnyk’s).  While Mark may have a point about the NHL’s financial system (although as he admits no one really knows how that system operates), it’s more than a little baffling that he doesn’t delve into any of the news about Melnyk’s finances (other than to say we don’t know what those financial issues are, if they exist).

Allan Muir gave the Sens a B- for their draft this year (among the worst grades he handed out in the Eastern Conference), but provides no real explanation for it.

-The NHL announced yesterday that the Sens and Canucks will be playing in the next Heritage game.  It will be interesting to see what kind of ratings are generated–if good, it becomes a little harder for CBC to hang its hat on Ottawa being a poor television draw.

-News columnist Jeffrey Simpson apparently made an ass of himself back in 2011 when he sent a letter to Cyril Leeder demanding Bryan Murray be fired.  I have to admire his passion, but hopefully Simpson learned to leave hockey decisions to people who understand the game.

-I remain puzzled why TSN, Sportsnet, etc continue to report the total salary for a player who is signed rather than their annual salary, since the latter is all fans are interested in.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: July 10th

-The Sens re-signed Mark Borowiecki to a two-year deal; the first is two-way, the second one-way.  This smoothly allows him to patrol Binghamton’s blueline in the coming season, but means he’ll have a spot on Ottawa’s blueline the next.  The signing caused a rare slip from Nichols (hopefully fixed soon) where he writes as if Borowiecki‘s deal is one-way both years.

-Ottawa also re-signed David Dziurzynski to a one-year, two-way deal, although the official announcement from the team hasn’t come out yet.

-Development camp has ended and assessments from the organisation are out.  Given praise were Tobias Lindberg, Curtis Lazar, Chris Leblanc, Michael Sdao, Ryan Dzingel, Max McCormick, Buddy Robinson, Cole Schneider, Shane Prince, Chris WidemanCody Ceci, and all the goaltenders.  The player who won the award for the camp was Fredrik Claesson, and for those who’ve paid attention to what’s been said about the Swedish defensemen it’s not a big surprise.  Pierre Dorion said:

He’s just all character. Where he started last year to where he finished in the playoffs, he went from being a guy that was just in the lineup to an important guy in the lineup. I think it says a lot about him.

Gare Joyce wrote about Bobby Ryan‘s background:

DOB on Bobby Ryan’s birth certificate: March 17, 1987. St Patrick’s Day. Fitting for a kid with a name as Irish as Ryan. Except the name Ryan isn’t on it. It’s Robert Shane Stevenson. Bobby Stevenson grew up in Cherry Hill, N.J., just outside Philly. His father, Bob, was a tough guy, built like a bank vault. He owned an insurance company and, truth be told, when people looked at him–he boxed back in his day–they thought they might need some. Which brings us to the events of Oct. 29, 1997. They come hard and fast. On that night, father and son sat in their second-row seats at the CoreStates Arena, Flyers vs. Blues. Dad was rooting for the home team because he knew he’d be seeing his friend, Bob Clarke, the Flyers GM, at Clarke’s gym the next day. The son was also rooting for the Flyers, even if the Blues’ Brett Hull was his favorite player. It should have been a good time for Bobby–the Blues won–and, like so much of his life after that, it was, for as long as Bobby was at the arena. After the game, the Stevenson men came home. With his son heading to bed, Bob met up with some pals for a couple of beers. He came home around 11:30. Bobby, 10, was fast asleep. “We had a good life,” Bob says. “Homes, security. Right up until that night.”

And the Stevensons did have a good life, as good a life as you can have when Dad has a wicked temper–he’d had charges from a bar fight dismissed earlier that year–and when he suspects Mom of having a substance-abuse problem. Bob was certain Melody Stevenson (née Ryan) was using drugs (she denies it). That’s why he’d rigged a tape recorder to the home phone. When he came back from the bar, Bob checked the tape. There was one call–innocent, Melody says. Didn’t matter. It set Bob off like the bell ringing. He went after Melody. Lefts and rights. Choking. What started in the bedroom spilled into the street, then to a neighbor’s house, where Bob, burning like a four-alarm fire, ripped a door off its hinges. The cops were called, and Bob was arrested. Bobby didn’t wake up. Or at least that’s what he told Melody when she picked him up at a neighbor’s house after she’d spent four days in the hospital being treated for a fractured skull and internal injuries. He still says that today. Bobby knew his parents’ marriage was troubled, even as he knew they loved each other. Says Mark Ellis, Bobby’s roller hockey coach: “It’s not that Bob didn’t care. You get the sense he cared too much.” But Bob wasn’t charged with caring too much. He was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and criminal restraint. Didn’t matter that Melody wouldn’t cooperate with prosecutors, who still figured that the physical evidence and the eyewitness accounts would net a conviction. Didn’t matter that she stayed by her husband, that she thought Bobby needed his dad.

Bob was released on $75,000 bail, which he skipped in December. He fled to El Segundo, Calif. Later, the wife he’d beaten and their only child drove across the country to be with him. Not just for a new life, but for a new identity. Bob Stevenson, insurance executive, became Shane Ryan, professional gambler. And Bobby Stevenson, young hockey star in New Jersey, became Bobby Ryan, hockey prodigy and new kid in town. Bobby played along with the charade. “My parents made it clear,” he says. “They were serious, so I only had to be told once. You’re Bobby Ryan to anybody who asks, no exceptions.” Did Bob jump bail to save his own hide? No, says anyone who knows him. This wasn’t a guy who was afraid of prison. This was a guy afraid of not being there for his kid. “My son is the only thing I ever got right,” Bob told friends at the time. And Melody says that the plan was always for Bob to turn himself in “when he thought the time was right, when Bobby got 15 or 16.” Talk to Bobby now and you get no sense of hardship or crisis during the family’s undercover days. Didn’t matter, he says, that his father was away a lot of the time, gambling in the casino at Hollywood Park. Didn’t matter that the family lived in a tiny apartment. Bobby loved looking out the window and watching the waves break on Redondo Beach. He loved being able to find a roller hockey game every day, just a couple blocks from his home. “Those were good times, because we were together,” Bobby says. “At first, I had to think when I was asked about my name or where I came from or my parents. But after a while, it was like I was an actor. I stayed in character.”

But nobody is that good an actor. Bobby Stevenson was already a force in national roller hockey circles back in Cherry Hill. Now, as Bobby Ryan, he was skating for California teams that he’d played against in tourneys. Bob could hide as Shane Ryan, but Bobby’s talent gave him away. “There were rumors, this secret that everyone knew,” Ellis says. “But no one asked. No one wanted to hurt Bobby.” The secret lasted until 2000. Maybe Bob got too comfortable. At Blockbuster one day, he used a credit card with an older, different alias. That night, U.S. marshalls broke down the door of the Ryan home. This time Bobby woke up from his deep sleep. The life of Shane Ryan was over. Bob Stevenson was cuffed and taken from the house while his 12-yearold watched. “That was the hardest time,” Bobby says. “I felt broken. I was down. I didn’t know if I wanted to keep playing hockey anymore.” With Bob extradited to New Jersey and serving time at Riverfront State Prison in Camden after pleading guilty to aggravated assault and bail jumping, Melody worked two jobs–as a rink manager during the day, taking Bobby along with her, and at an airport at night, with Bobby at the apartment doing homework (he was homeschooled by his mom). “At the arena, Bobby could get free ice time, and at the airlines, I could get him discount airfare to tournaments,” Melody says. Hockey’s not cheap, and Melody was strapped for cash, so teammates’ parents helped out with gear and tourney fees. That motivated Bobby to give ice hockey his all. “I decided that we came this far and I had to go for it,” he says.

Joyce carries the story through the OHL and then into the NHL.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: July 9th

-Yesterday the Sens traded Pat Cannone to St. Louis for future considerations.  The Sens had waived him in January, but found no takers (likely due to his high AHL salary, 105k next season).  Beyond Cannone‘s poor season, moving him also helps clear the glut of forwards who will be filling Binghamton’s roster.

Mike Glotov writes about Daniel Alfredsson‘s departure in Russian and granting that Google translate is iffy the gist of his theory is that Jason Spezza ultimately was the reason.  This is definitely an interesting and dramatic theory, but without more backing it can’t leave the theoretical realm.

Randy Lee talked about Shane Prince‘s development:

The (AHL) is a challenging league. Some guys do respond and some guys don’t. I was most impressed with the way he engaged himself, the way he fought to get to lose pucks. He was harder to play against. He was all of the things we wanted to see.

Lee said Prince was one of the players who improved the most this past season.

Matt Puempel talks about this past season and looking forward:

I just try to work hard every day and improve each year. That’s all you can do is control what you can control. That’s where I’ve kind of left it. Obviously size is one thing and speed comes with that and having skill take care of itself and lead where I can. Like I said, I just control what I can control and work hard to make the best of it. I liked it [Kitchener], it was a blast there. Unbelievable coaching, the organization, everything there was fun — I think that was part of it — the product on the ice was pretty good. Obviously we wanted to go further, we lost to a pretty good London team in the second round. Some people said whoever won that series was going to go on. Then to go over to Binghamton and play in the playoffs was a learning experience and I think I grew as a player and person there. I enjoyed that too. You’re playing against certain guys [in the AHL] that have played the majority of their careers in the NHL and different guys that have been called up. It’s kind of cool to see where you stand and to see where you can put your name at. It’s a good measuring stick and I thought I did well there and I thought the coaches put me in good situations, playing with good linemates and everything like that and, like I said, all you can do is learn and take in so much from pros that you’re playing with and around everyday. The way they handle themselves is something cool to see and something I had a lot of fun learning. Obviously having to change leagues, it’s an adjustment, it comes with patience. You want to score every game but in reality that’s not the case and you just do different things though to make you’re not invisible and not one-dimensional out there. That’s something I’ve tried to work on over the past couple of years. It’s always nice to score and it was good to help the team out in the playoffs there. It’s [development camp] been really long days some days, you have to be strong mentally and that’s a big part of the game — we’ve learned about that this week. It’s dwindling down here, tomorrow we head out, but obviously any time you’re involved in the organization and with the guys here and learning so much and taking in so much. It’s a short time but they pack the days and it’s real good to break up the summer too. They do a good job of mixing things up and making things different. This year was different from the past two years and was a good change. It’s been really good, the fan support is amazing obviously and it’s good to just be around the guys you don’t see all summer and just kind of hang out with them. Everyone’s goal is to play here — since I was one year old I think. There’s a huge development point, I think, from the standpoint of making the next level. Ottawa is going to help you and guide you in any situation you want and put you in good situations, whether it’s in Binghamton or here, you just have to improve every day and be a pro and see where you end up. Hard work is going to get you the furthest.

Andrew Hammond discussed the same thing (link above):

 It’s been really good [development camp]. It’s nice getting to be able to put faces to names now and get to know a lot of people in the organization and obviously all of the activities they have us doing this week is really good for your development. It has been a really positive experience so far. It’s a little bit different [from Chicago’s camp]. This camp focuses more on skill development whereas that one was more scrimmages and stuff like that. I think this camp’s emphasis is more on developing the players rather than trying to gauge where everyone is at. I think I’ve gotten better as the week has gone on and I think that’s the goal of the camp. Absolutely (it did [NCAA]) — I think it gave me a lot more experience in the last four seasons. I’ve been able to get some key game experience and obviously a lot of shots in those games. As a goalie you’re only going to get better by playing and, fortunately, I was able to do that at Bowling Green. It was good [joining Binghamton at season’s end], you don’t really know what it’s like until you’re there — you hear things, but nothing really beats doing it yourself. It was good to kind of get my feet wet and see what the organization is like and, you know what, it was just good to get over there and meet some of the guys and start my path as a Senator. You learn a lot of things, it’s not just on the ice, it’s off the ice. How to handle yourself and the things you need to focus on as far as nutrition and fitness and things like that. Coming here I’ve kind of learned about the whole package of what it’s like to be a pro hockey player. It’s an unbelievable resource to have [Rick Walmsley]. He’s already brought up a couple things that have probably been bad habits over the years and already this week I’ve seen tremendous improvement in those things so being able to  work one-on-one with him has been a great aspect of this week. I’m really fortunate to have him here. I’m just going to go into camp and be as prepared as I can for it. Just leave everything on the ice and obviously just try and have the best showing I can. I just try to make everything look easy. It’s not always technically perfect but for the most part I try and keep everything pretty sound. You’ll see me making a little bit of a desperation save if I have to so, at the end of the day it’s just about stopping the puck. Whatever it takes.

And Jarrod Maidens:

 I’m out playing, getting on the ice, no contact but I can skate and stickhandle and feel the puck. It’s just nice to be working out and doing this stuff again. I know I’m definitely not where I want to be yet because it has been so long but I’m happy with how I feel so far getting out there and I feel I’m slowly making progress each time I get out there. I think my goal right now is the season coming. Just recover now and do what I can to be healthy and ready to go again. It’s definitely nice [working with Mark Reeds]. You’re more comfortable when you kind of know the guys — players and the coaches as well. With Mark, talking with him, I know he’s a smart guy. I just ask him questions and listen to what he has to say. I think it’s definitely a little bit easier this time in two ways — at least I’m on the ice and participating and I know guys now, so I kind of know what to expect and feel more comfortable that way. I love coming here, it’s great, you learn a lot and it’s a fun time. Right now I’m just working on getting back — I’m still part of the Owen Sound Attack and we’ll see where things go when I get back and start working hard again.

Nichols writes a lengthy piece about the Sens roster changes over the past few days and there’s a lot of food for thought.  Most interesting is his analysis of what Ottawa gave up to get Bobby Ryan:

There’s no question that the return for the Ducks is a healthy one, but each of the individual pieces comes with warts. I will miss Silfverberg [but] nevertheless Silverberg will turn 23 in October, making him just three years younger than Bobby Ryan. We tend to overlook the actual age of players like Cory Conacher and Silfverberg, ignoring that the likelihood of them taking their games to another level is probably smaller than it would be for say, a 19 year old prospect like Zibanejad. In their 22 year old NHL seasons Bobby Ryan was about twice as productive as Silf on a per game basis [67-31-26-57 in 08-09, his first full season in the NHL]. Jakob‘s skating was never a strength. Stefan Noesen projects as a power forward with some offensive skill, but as a player whose ceiling second line winger, he may wind up just being a third line player. Losing a first round pick is never palatable, mostly because as a fan, the draft is an event itself and you never want to see your favorite organization sitting on the sidelines. But, from many accounts, the 2014 NHL Draft is shaping up to be a weak class, so if you’re Ottawa brass, it makes sense that if you’re going to roll the dice, you do it by moving a 2014 first. Speaking of risk, the Senators are inheriting plenty of it, despite getting the best player in the deal. They parlayed a plethora of controllable years on their assets for two seasons worth of Ryan (it’s not like the guy has been VERY public about wanting to be a Philadelphia Flyer in the past year). Due to the finite number of roster spots available, obviously not all of Ottawa’s prospects within its vaunted system can play for the Senators, but these prospects and draft picks are the currency of the NHL. And perhaps Ottawa could have used these prospects as part of a larger package to bring in a better player or a comparable player who has a longer term on his contract. Using this rationale, rumours that Ottawa had interest in Jets winger Evander Kane make sense. Instead Ottawa gets a player deemed expendable by a middle of the pack Anaheim Ducks team that has for whatever reason, has opted not to use a 26-year old four-time 30-goal scorer as a building block for its franchise. Yesterday, Wayne Scanlan appeared on our podcast and dispelled those concerns because he felt that more than anything, it was a financial decision on the part of the Ducks. Considering the exorbitant contract extensions that Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf received, there’s some truth here. But, Ryan has been a player who’s been rumoured in trade negotiations for years. Is it a red flag? Maybe, maybe not. These things are often overblown, see Turris.

This is a shortened version of Nichols distillation of the trade, but on the whole it’s difficult to argue with his points.  I never saw Silfverberg as more than a second line player capable of potting 20-goals, while Noesen‘s trend is looking more and more along the lines of a third-liner.  I’d be careful predicting the depth of a draft, as pre-season estimates often change, but it’s true that the Sens are getting the best player in the deal (granted, perhaps only for two seasons).  Is that enough?  I think it depends on what expectations are for where Ryan will take the team.  Does the organisation see him helping them to a Cup this season or next?  It seems hard to imagine, however the team does need a healthy star forward and right now none of their prospects can fill that need.  In that sense, especially with Alfredsson leaving, they had to add someone like Ryan into their lineup.

Varada also thinks the moves make the Sens a better team, but he focuses more on the numbers (possession in particular).

-Nichols (same link above) also adds a comment to the effect that Pat Cannone‘s numbers suffered due to the number of top prospects crowding Binghamton’s lineup, but that’s simply not the case.  A quick review: Cannone finished the season with 25 points, which was 12th on the team in scoring; 9 of those points (36%) came over a ten-game period in November-December when he was playing with Silfverberg.  In the 42 games he played after the Sens top prospects left he produced a meagre 14 points (so stretching that pace over a full season he would have had…25 points).  He’s not a terrible player, but his season was poor by any standard.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: July 8th

-The strange off-season continues for the Sens as they signed former Sen Joe Corvo (40-6-11-17) to a one-year, 900k contract.  Murray said the following about the deal:

Joe brings us a veteran defenceman that has a history of scoring points in the National Hockey League. He is now one of seven defenceman that we have in the organization and we need depth — or we needed depth — and we certainly have that provided now in Joe. He has been here, he has an understanding of what it takes to play in this market now and, again, the most important thing with Joe is he’s a veteran guy that can play on the power play, he can shoot the puck well, address some of the needs that are needed in the league today where you need to get points from your back end and he’s one of those people that can provide it.

Corvo does fill a need for Ottawa (a right-handed, offensively minded blueliner), but that’s not what comes to mind for Ottawa fans.  Let’s recall that Corvo forced his way out of Ottawa in 2008 and (admittedly like many of us) didn’t think much of the (largely unchanged) media here:

The media (in Ottawa) at times can be completely ridiculous, the way they can take some of the stories that are nothing and make something out of them.

Murray wasn’t very charitable about him when he traded Corvo:

I don’t know whether it was the pressure or never having a life away from the building, but he felt that Joe would enjoy going to an American team. He wanted to play where there was less scrutiny. He just couldn’t handle the pressure here.

Corvo also mentioned that his family didn’t like it in Ottawa (same link).  And lest we forget, Joe has other things in his past that won’t endear him to fans:

In a November 2003 story published in the New Hampshire Union Leader, it was reported that Corvo was a member of the Monarchs when the assault incident on a woman happened during an informal team night out in Boston in the early morning hours of Nov. 13, 2002. While at the Trio Restaurant that day, prosecutors said Corvo grabbed a 34-year-old woman’s buttocks. Staff members at the restaurant told Corvo to leave and he did. But Corvo returned, allegedly punched the woman and then kicked her when she fell to the ground. The woman was later treated at Massachusetts General Hospital for bruises and swelling on her face. Nearly a year later in 2003 as a rookie defenseman with the Los Angeles Kings, Corvo pleaded guilty to a felony count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon — his foot — and one misdemeanor count of simple assault and battery. Corvo was given a suspended sentence by a Boston Municipal Court Judge. He was placed on probation for three years and ordered to complete a batterer’s program and to perform community service in Boston.

That’s a long time ago, but it does speak to character.  It’s hard to view the new partnership as anything other than a train wreck, but as the team’s fifth defenseman perhaps he’ll stay under the radar enough that all will be forgotten.

Travis Yost tries to figure out how Erik Karlsson and Bobby Ryan will connect through an examination of Ryan‘s possession numbers via the defensemen he’s played with in Anaheim.  It’s safe to assume one will help the other, but I’ll focus on this:

although I’m sure that it also has a bit to do with playing alongside Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne

You can’t divorce his linemates from the players on the blueline when it comes to performance.  Virtually everything I’ve seen discussing Ryan includes how well he’ll do alongside Jason Spezza, but I really wonder if Spezza will remain healthy.  He has back problems that will never go away so his career is about managing them.  Regardless, Ryan will do well if his superstar partners are healthy.

Harrison Mooney thinks the Sens are better off with the way Daniel Alfredsson handled his departure:

he took all the blame, and now you don’t have to feel bad about your organization going in a different direction.

I agree he did the organisation a favour by putting all the blame on himself and allowing them to move forward.  It would have been very easy for Alfredsson to start blaming the organisation for various things, but ultimately he made everything about him.

Elliotte Friedman believes Alfredsson left because he felt insulted with the negotiations for his contract–saying that after all the home town discounts the Sens should have simply let him pick his price.  It’s an interesting theory and I think it played a role in his decision, but ultimately I think Friedman’s focus is too narrow–it’s simply one factor among others.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: July 7th

-My development camp material is a bit late, but nevertheless here’s a start. The roster has only one notable absence (Mikael Wikstrand), who is presumably out with the same injury that made him miss the World Championship in May.  Amelia L (same link) talked about how the Sens camp has evolved over the years and we already have the official schedule posted by the team.  There are five goaltenders, eleven defensemen, and twenty-four forwards attending the camp.  This is one more goalie, one less defenseman, and four more forwards than last season.  For seventeen players this is their first development camp (this includes all seven new draftees, six invitees, and four signed free agents).

-The history of invitees to Sens camp is mixed; Daniel New wound up getting an ECHL deal after he finished college, but most players (like Matt O’Connor or Cameron Darcy) are simply there to fill out the lineup.  This year among the non-draft eligible players the Sens invited include Bentley (NCAA) goaltender Branden Komm (2009 eligible), mammoth Ohio (NCAA) defenseman Justin DaSilva (2008 eligible), and Princeton forward Jack Berger (2009 eligible; teammate of Michael Sdao)–none of these players were ranked by Central Scouting in their draft year, so a little background:

Jack Berger served as Princeton’s captain and was a finalist for the ECAC’s Hockey Student Athlete of the Year Award the past two years.  His previous season he was named to ECAC’s All-Academic Team.  The big right-winger is a USHL Des Moines grad whose offensive totals slipped considerably in his third collegiate season. The 6’6 Justin DaSilva was recognized as an Ohio State Scholar-Athlete (11/12).  The big man is a BCHL grad who only has 7 points in 64 NCAA games. Branden Komm was an Atlantic Hockey All-Academic and was named to the All-Atlantic Hockey third team (11/12) and was an Atlantic Hockey All-Academic (10/11).  His numbers were down in his third collegiate season; prior to the NCAA he played for Northfield Mount Hermon high school.

-NCAA free agent signee Buddy Robinson talked about development camp as well as his experience in Binghamton:

It was good (in Bingo), when I got there I had a week to learn the system and Luke (Richardson) and (Steve) Stirling did a great job, I mean, they just taught me everything. I had a week of practices with the team and the guys were really good to me. It went as smooth as you can get pretty much. Of course it’s a jump to the next level but all the coaches and players made it real smooth for me. I find it’s a much more controlled game, everyone is where they’re supposed to be. If you get out of position one time another team is going to make you pay for it. I feel like I had to work on that part of my game, just being in position more and making everything crisp out there and being ready. I feel good [at development camp] — it’s a lot different. My first camp last year was in Vancouver and I was pretty nervous but I got a few games under my belt and I know most of the guys here so it has been really fun. I’m really comfortable here. Like I said, everyone has made me feel really welcome. It’s been great so far. There [Vancouver] it seemed to me to be more business just because I didn’t know anyone, I came in, didn’t really know anybody and just focused on hockey. Here you focus and everyone works hard but you’re with your friends so it just makes you want to push it even further. I just want to have a great development camp, I’ll have my exit interview here in a few days and then we’ll go to training camp and see what happens. I’m going to work as hard as I can. And you never know — if I come into training camp well prepared and see what happens. Hopefully I can get a few games in here or there. Everyone looks on the paper, they see how big I am before they even see me so everyone is expecting a big, physical game. That’s what I try to do. I want to get in the corners and try to set up plays for guys who shoot the puck in the slot.

-WHL free agent signee Troy Rutkowski talked about his development camp and his season:

It has been good, it’s been a tough experience. I feel like I just finished my season yesterday so to get back out there is good and it’s been fun. It was nice to get that championship that third time in the Western League. The Memorial Cup was a good experience, but it would have been get to get that one at the end there. [Coaches] Mike Johnson and Travis Green did a job in developing not just me but players. I think when I came into the league I was more offensive — I was pretty strictly offensively minded — and over the years that kind of changed into a two-way game. I tried to become more of a two-way d-man. There have been a few great captains there [Portland] and to follow up in that was an honour. It’s [development camp] been good, it’s really friendly here and it’s nice being in a Canadian city. Everything has been good. I knew Wacey Hamilton a little bit, Darren Kramer and I have crossed paths through the years. It’s been good, it’s been fun and everyone has been really nice. I’m just trying to put out my best performance every time I hit the ice and so far I think I’ve done that. Like I said it has been fun.

Dave Young offers his thoughts on day five of the development camp and apparently while Wacey Hamilton doesn’t do much in actual game action, he looked good at camp.  The other comment that stood out was that he was impressed with Jarrod Maidens, which is a good reminder that prior to his concussion he was considered a potential first-round pick.

-On the weird side of things, Jared Cowen is apparently an RFA.  It’s an unnecessarily complicated matter, but here’s Travis Yost with the gist of it along with his thoughts on the repercussions:

According to CapGeek, it was Jared Cowen‘s 2010-2011 season that did not slide. Long-term perspective, it seems to me a good thing to have Jared Cowen‘s entry-level contract expiring one year sooner than anticipated, mostly because it comes on the heels of (a) an injury-plagued season that curtailed his production; and (b) upon return, and a proximate result of returning at less than 100%, his play suffered.

It’s clear that Cowen was qualified in time, but the matter slid under the radar enough that most bloggers (myself and Travis included) were unaware of the fact.

Corey Pronman weighs in with his organisational rankings (you can read his methodology and my thoughts on it here; Corey was dead last in accurately picking the draft this year, but that doesn’t inherently reflect on his ability to judge talent).  Ottawa winds up 18th in his list.  He writes:

The Senators lost Mika Zibanejad and Patrick Wiercioch to graduation, along with Jakob Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen to trade, but Ottawa still has good depth and a number of players to like. They have quality prospects at all positions, including an elite goalie prospect in Robin Lehner. Defenseman Mikael Wikstrand was a great riser this year, but first round pick Cody Ceci was up and down.

There isn’t much to sink ones teeth into here, so I put it down as interesting food for thought.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: July 6th

-Yesterday was a madcap, crazy day for the Sens as Daniel Alfredsson exercised his option as a free agent to sign with another team (Detroit); the Sens then made a blockbuster trade to acquire Bobby Ryan (giving up Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen, and their 2014 1st-round pick), while also signing Clarke MacArthur, meaning a third of the Sens top-six was overhauled.  There is a lot to talk about, beginning with Alfie.

-There are any number of theories on why Alfredsson decided to leave, with Nicholas J. Cotsonika seeing it as a matter of money and ego.

The Senators didn’t want to pay Alfredsson’s price, and he was too proud to beg. They took him for granted, and he explored his options.

I think Alfie‘s half-statement here:

If this is my last season, I don’t want to change anything that’s going on there. I don’t want to demand Bryan or Eugene to …

…sacrifice everything to win the Cup now–this season.”  I think Alfie see’s his time is almost up and while an older Detroit team has every reason to pull out all the stops to win now, the Sens are still finishing their rebuild as a budget team.  Add that to Melnyk’s financial woes and the move becomes a little less surprising, although it clearly caught management off-guard.  Alfredsson‘s friend Tony Rhodes explicitly said ownership was behind the change (Scott focuses a little more on the competitive side and suggests that the Sens being crushed by the Pens may have made Alfie think/realise that Ottawa was still a couple of steps away).

-The question of whether Detroit is in a better position to win the Cup this season (as compared to Ottawa) seems moot, but I think they are.

-The Sens acquired Bobby Ryan, fulfilling the rumours I dismissed last year when they first cropped up.  The power forward did not come cheap, costing the Sens three significant assets (readers can correct me, but I think it’s a similar collection of assets that another team rejected last year).  While Noesen‘s development in the OHL might not have been what the Sens hoped for, Silfverberg looks like a responsible 20-goal scorer and even a late first-round pick generally produces a player who succeeds at the NHL level.  In that sense, Ottawa offered three (eventual) roster players for one.  In return the Sens get an offensively dynamic player in his prime (26) who the team will expect to score 30 goals while he’s here (he was on a sub-20 goal pace this season, but his points-per-game were on target).  Chris likes the trade, looking in depth at Ryan‘s numbers with the only potential warning sign being his mediocre possession numbers the last two seasons.

-The acquisition of free agent MacArthur slid under the radar due to the two much bigger events.  MacArthur was cut loose by the Leafs after three successful seasons in Toronto.  The Sens signed him for two years at the same salary the Leafs were giving him.  The utility forward’s offensive numbers have been declining the last two seasons, but are still good enough for him to patrol the top-six here.  He’s a good possession player and I like the deal (as does Chris), although he’s been let go by two of his previous teams now (Buffalo and Toronto) and I’m not sure if there’s an underlying reason for it.

-Do the two acquisitions negate the financial questions (see below) around the team?  Ryan makes a hefty salary and MacArthur is no slouch either–they add 8.35 to the Sens cap.  Or do they?  Alfredsson was going to make 5.5 and with Silfverberg‘s salary added that’s 6.4.  Ottawa has also shed the salaries of Latendresse, Lundin, Gonchar, and Regin already (along with Andre Benoit), so in reality that team hasn’t increased its spending.

Travis Yost does an excellent job summating the information he’s put together regarding Melnyk’s financial troubles and I highly recommend reading through it.

-Like the rest of you I’m still trying to absorb all the news and information that’s coming out, but I will say I wish Alfredsson well.  It would have been great to have the captain finish his career here, but I don’t begrudge him taking one last shot at the Cup.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: July 4th

-One by one players rumoured to be going to the Sens are being signed elsewhere (Daniel Briere to Montreal, Patrik Elias with New Jersey, etc), but other rumours continue, as David Clarkson spent a day in Ottawa and Bruce Garrioch is floating Pierre-Marc Bouchard as a possibility (it makes no sense to me).  I don’t see Clarkson coming here, as I think his visit is about drumming up his value (a view Nichols shares).

-I still have no doubts whatsoever that Daniel Alfredsson will re-sign here.

-Three of the Sens draft picks this year are getting invited to the WJC camps: Curtis Lazar (Cdn), Marcus Hogberg (Swe), and Quentin Shore (USA).

Paul MacLean (on the heels of the three-year extension he signed this morning) named Shane Prince, Matt Puempel, Michael Sdao, Curtis Lazar, and Cole Schneider as the players who have impressed so far at the development camp.

Tobias Lindberg talked about his surprise in being drafted:

I didn’t expect to be drafted this high, or at all, because I hadn’t heard so much from different teams. You meet people here who spoke to 20 teams. I had only spoke to two, so I was pretty insecure but when they picked me I was so happy.

Ottawa was not one of those two teams who spoke to him.  The Sens have made surprise picks out of Sweden before, although the most recent examples (Marcus Sorensen and Emil Sandin) have not turned out well.

Scott tries to figure out why Ottawa’s budget is as tight as it is and I agree with his supposition that it’s non-team related expenses that are the problem.  The positive side of the team numbers (as best as Scott can figure) is that it shouldn’t be a problem for Melnyk to get a partner or sell the team–the thing is, assuming everything that’s being said is true, Eugene needs the hockey team to prop up his other businesses, so I imagine his only course of action right now is finding a partner.

-I’ve begun updating my prospect profiles, thus far doing Jeff Costello and Michael Sdao.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: July 3rd

-The Sens have re-signed UFA goaltender Nathan Lawson to a one-year, two-way contract.  Lawson will be Binghamton’s starting goaltender next season, allowing free agent signee Andrew Hammond to ease into his pro career as a backup.  It likely means an end to Marc Cheverie‘s time with the organisation, while leaving prospects Chris Driedger and Francois Brassard to stay in junior for another year.

Michael Sdao spoke about the year that was and the first day of camp:

It was good. It was good to get in there and get some experience and finish up school at the same time. Now I’m a hockey player, I’m not a student anymore so it’s been good. It’s [the AHL] been great — every time you play against better players you become better too. It was definitely a good experience in Binghamton and it’ll be good heading into camp this year. I’m a physical defenceman, I move the puck and just try to keep it simple. I play a hard game, try to keep guys honest and just be a hard player to play against. It [today’s testing] went well. All of my numbers improved from last year so it’s definitely moving in the right direction. I think [the numbers improved because of] working with Chris Schwarz and just working hard, being in the gym and getting the work done.

As a seventh round pick very little has been written about Sdao, but he was considered the best fighter in the 2009 draft and was a reasonably productive player in the NCAA.

-Grit-loving Jeremy Milks likes the Sens first-round pick.

Travis Yost has been writing about the financial woes of Eugene Melnyk.  I’ve been dismissive of these claims in terms of them affecting the Sens ability to re-sign Daniel Alfredsson (the captain isn’t going anywhere) and because they echo the sentiments of a guy like Doug MacLean.  At the time (November) when MacLean was floating the rumours, The 6th Sens‘ Scott (same link) believed the problems were due to his divorce.  Travis, however, makes a stronger case that Melnyk’s problems are via his non-hockey related business.  It’s important to emphasize that–the team is doing fine.  What will this mean for hockey operations?  Other than a lack of big free agent signings (which make no sense for the team anyway), I’d say nothing in the short term.  The NHL has extensive experience handling financially troubled franchises and Ottawa is a strong market.  What’s interesting to me about all of this is virtually nothing has been said by local reporters or in the larger sphere of hockey reporting (perhaps because of things like this).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: July 2nd

-The Sens have released their development camp roster:
Andrew Hammond (FA 2013)
Chris Driedger (3-76/12)
Francois Brassard (6-166/12)
Marcus Hogberg (3-78/13)
Branden Komm (FA NCAA Bentley University)
Troy Rutkowski (FA 2013)
Chris Wideman (4-100/09)
Michael Sdao (7-191/09)
Fredrik Claesson (5-126/11)
Cody Ceci (1-15/12)
Tim Boyle (4-106/12)
Ben Harpur (4-108/13)
Justin DaSilva (FA NCAA Ohio)
Mathieu Gagnon (undrafted)
Jeff Corbett (undrafted)
Macoy Erkamps (undrafted)
Buddy Robinson (FA 2013)
Corey Conacher (FA 2013)
Cole Schneider (FA 2012)
Wacey Hamilton (FA 2011)
Derek Grant (4-119/08)
Jeff Costello (5-146/09)
Jakub Culek (3-76/10)
Mark Stone (6-178/10)
Mika Zibanejad (1-6/11)
Stefan Noesen (1-20/11)
Matt Puempel (1-24/11)
Shane Prince (2-61/11)
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (4-96/11)
Darren Kramer (6-156/11)
Max McCormick (6-171/11)
Ryan Dzingel (7-204/11)
Jarrod Maidens (3-82/12)
Robert Baillargeon (5-136/12)
Curtis Lazar (1-17/13)
Tobias Lindberg (4-102/13)
Vincent Dunn (5-138/13)
Chris Leblanc (6-161/13)
Quentin Shore (6-168/13)
Jack Berger (FA NCAA Princeton)

-Here’s my review of the Sens 2013 NHL entry draft, including the most comprehensive scouting reports on all the players picked out there along with comments from the organisation about each player.  Allan Muir gives the Sens a B- for their draft, writing:

Another team desperate for offense, the Sens tabbed forward Curtis Lazar (17) in the first round. Scouts raved about his character and wheels, but his scoring potential is up for debate. Marcus Hogberg (78) is a big, rangy goaltender who fills the organizational hole left by the trade of Ben Bishop. Center Quentin Shore (168) was picked up late after being passed over last year. He’s hardly a blue chipper, but he’s a kid whose heart and bloodlines make him worth watching.

How this becomes his grade is not clear–his assessment would be much more useful if he wrote who they should have taken (since, presumably, a B- is a subpar assessment).

-Here’s my look at how all the draft prognosticators did in the draft.

Amelia L writes about how the Sens approach to development camp changed with the Murray regime.  She sums it up with:

Ottawa’s development camps have evolved from relatively simple, introductory camps to complex multi-purpose events. Originally, camps were held so recent draft picks and prospects could meet coaches and workout as part of an internal evaluation program. Today, the annual development camp is a week-long indoctrination into all aspects of club life. The expanded staffs of recent development camps reflect an organizational push to ensure the methodology employed in the NHL is used in the AHL. Coaches and assistants, video coaches, and the athletic therapist of the Binghamton Senators now attended the camps as well, ensuring a united message is delivered to all prospects. Initiatives such as yoga, biochemistry sessions, nutrition seminars, and healthy cooking classes illustrate an increased concern on players’ overall health, a growing trend in pro sports. Team building exercises and “Champions” presentations help future teammates bond and indoctrinate players about the “Ottawa way” – the club’s expectations on and off the ice. In the future, I wouldn’t be surprised to see organizations such as the “You Can Play Project” take part in this aspect of development camps. Perhaps seminars such as “Acceptable Use of Social Media” will be added to next year’s camp.

Elliotte Friedman stirs the blogging pot with this:

Can there seriously be an issue between Daniel Alfredsson and the Ottawa Senators? Can you imagine Boston — now in need a right-winger — even being able to bid because this gets to Friday?

I don’t see an issue.  Many sensible bloggers have given this serious consideration due to the perceived financial troubles of Eugene Melnyk (see below), but those issues (even if true) won’t get in the way of signing Alfredsson.

Travis Yost (who unfortunately is still floating Mika Zibanejad trade rumours because the Sens have “too many centers”) wonders about Melnyk’s financial woes:

questionable finances from Biovail litigation, divorce hearings

Creating an apparently self-imposed 50 million team salary cap (according to Ken Warren) and trying to jive this with Melnyk’s boisterous statements early on in his regime about spending money in order to have success.  I think anything Eugene has ever said needs to be with a grain of salt (certainly his divorce won’t creating the kind of financial distress that will affect the team)–as Travis points out the team tried to land Rick Nash just last year, so what limits are there really?  Travis believes it hurts their efforts in the free agent market, but how many marquee players want to come to Ottawa irrespective of the money they have available?  Not many methinks.

-One thing I’m glad Travis pointed out (in the link above) is how similar The Ottawa Sun and The Ottawa Citizen‘s coverage of the Sens tends to be–sometimes to the point of wondering if there’s a real difference between the two.

-Speaking of Travis, he illustrates that (at least this year) the money spent on goaltending seems to have no correlation to performance (or, at least, save percentage).  I like the idea, although it would have been better if he’d included a similar chart for goaltenders not making top dollar for comparison’s sake.

Ian Altenbaugh believes the 2013 draft is one of the best ever (Tim Murray described it as average); he doesn’t include Ottawa as either a winner or a loser for their picks.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing the 2013 NHL Entry Draft

In what was described as an average draft with a consensus on who the top-four players got jumbled as Seth Jones fell to the fourth-overall pick.  As per usual, precise picks (player X at position X) got hammered among the various draft publications (as well as myself), but there was also a dip in the overall percentage of players predicted to be selected in the draft.  Without further ado, here are the numbers.  Acronyms: EOTS (Eye on the Sens), TSN (Bob McKenzie), FC (Future Considerations), HP (Hockey Prospects), RLR (Red Line Report), THN (The Hockey News), ISS (International Scouting Service), McK (McKeen’s), CP (Corey Pronman), and THW (The Hockey Writers).

First Round
Player X at position X
THN: 1
Players picked for the round

This is pretty similar to last year, just slightly lower (although I improved).  The biggest surprise pick was Marko Dano (with Emile Poirer the next most).  Adam Erne was the most surprising player to fall out of the round.

Second Round
TSN: 3
All others: 0
TSN: 20
EOTS: 19
McK: 18
THN: 17
HP: 14
ISS: 12
CP: 9

A solid round (except for CP, who did not have a good draft day), but it was not a sign of things to come.  Given how few exact picks there are, I didn’t continue tracking them beyond this point.   The biggest surprise pick was Tyler Bertuzzi (Remi Elie the next most).

Third Round (minus TSN)
McK: 13
THN/HP: 10
FC: 9
THW: 5
RLR: 3

Overager Mattias Janmark-Nylen was the first unranked player taken in the draft (RLR did suggest he might go), with Kurtis Gabriel quickly following.  Highest rising ranked pick was Keegan Kanzig (Taylor Cammarata takes second in that category).  Oliver Bjorkstrand tumbled down to near the bottom of this round.

Fourth Round (minus THN)
McK/ISS: 5

Felix Gerard, Tobias Lindberg, and Stephon Williams were the unranked players taken.  Highest riser was Ryan Segalla (David Pope was the next highest).  Ryan Fitzgerald was finally taken at the back end of the round.

Fifth Round (minus McK and THW)
RLR: 7
HP: 6

Kristers Gudlevskis, Evan Campbell, Terrance Amorosa, Fabrice Herzog, and Matej Paulovic were unranked players taken.  Highest riser was Tucker Poolman (Blake Heinrich is the next highest).  Eric Roy tumbled down to the middle of this round.

Sixth Round
RLR: 1

A bucket-load of unranked players were taken here (10): Joshua Brown, Ben Storm, Emil Pettersson, Tim Harrison, Chris Leblanc, Merrick Madsen, Alan Quine, Santeri Saari, Mike Williamson, and Anton Blidh.  Highest riser was Zach Leslie (Tommy Veilleux was the next highest).  Blaine Byron fell to the back end of this round.

Seventh Round
FC: 5
RLR: 3
HP/CP: 2

Another pile of unranked players were taken (12): Aleksi Makela, Wade Murphy, Joel Vermin, Brenden Kichton, David Drake, Jedd Soleway, John Gilmour, Hampus Melen, Janne Juvonen, Emil Galimov, Anthony Brodeur, and Mitchell Dempsey.  No real high risers in the seventh round, but Greg Chase came close to falling out of the draft.

All Rounds (I’ve excluded TSN, THN, McK, and THW because they didn’t predict the entire draft)
HP: 66 (31%)
EOTS: 64 (30%)
FC: 62 (29%)
RLR: 58 (27%)
ISS: 54 (25%)
CP: 50 (23%)

Congratulations to HP which (in the four years I’ve done this) has never been ahead in this category (usually middle of the pack).  These are actually good numbers, although the bulk of them (as one would expect) are generated from the first two rounds.  Here’s the listed players taken in the draft irrespective of which round they were taken in (again, only using those who predicted the entire draft):
EOTS/HP: 146/211 (69%)
FC: 145/211 (68%)
RLR: 143/211 (67%)
ISS: 138/211 (65%)
CP: 135/211 (63%)

I managed to keep my streak of being first, albeit tied with HP.  The total represents a 6% drop from last year (but on par with 2011).  Excluding CP (who was not included in creating my raw numbers), ISS lagged behind everyone else for the second year in a row.  So who fell out of the draft?  Here’s a look at the top players who didn’t get picked:

89 Lucas Wallmark
97 Stephen Harper
102 Kurt Etchegary

CS NA Forwards
68 Alex Coulombe
72 Kurt Etchegary
76 Spenser Jensen

CS Europe Forwards
16 Lucas Wallmark
27 Victor Ohman
29 Fabio Hogger

CS NA Goaltenders
10 Austin Lotz
11 Michael Giugovaz
15 Shane Starrett

CS Europe Goaltenders
2 Ebbe Sionas
3 Luka Gracnar
5 Ivan Bocharov

58 Rinat Valiev
67 Sergey Stetsenko
68 Evan Allen

50 Lucas Wallmark
60 Kayle Doetzel
78 Stephen Harper

65 Viktor Arvidsson
81 Brendan Harms
90 Jamien Yakubowski

53 Pavel Koledov
72 Greg Betzold
79 Juuso Ikonen

46 Juuso Ikonen
55 Viktor Arvidsson
56 Sergei Tolchinsky

McK (152 picks)
80 Amil Krupic
87 Lucas Wallmark
88 Austin Lotz

THW (120 picks)
67 Lucas Wallmark
83 Kurt Etchegary
85 Roberts Lipsbergs

THN (100 picks)
71 Lucas Wallmark
85 Filip Sandberg
89 Kurt Etchegary

All of TSN’s picks were taken, which is no surprise given that only 80 were selected.  The most prominent name not taken is Lucas Wallmark and perhaps the reason he was left behind is his skating (RLR considered him the slowest player in the draft).  Kurt Etchegary also appears regularly above, but injury seems the main reason behind him not being selected.  CS’ European goaltending rankings continue to be largely ignored.  A lot of overage players were picked this year (the most since I’ve been doing this), which is either a comment on the quality of the first-timers or (more likely) that NHL teams prefer a safer bet with later picks.  There was also a significant uptick in the number of unranked/not ranked players taken (32 this year, as opposed to 23 in 2012).  Here’s the range of players picked by nationality (not league):
Canada 96
United States 57
Sweden 23
Finland 11
Russia 8
Czech Republic/Switzerland 4
Austria/Denmark/Slovakia 2
Latvia/Norway 1

In terms of highly ranked players from last year (link above) who went undrafted, Anton Slepyshev (3-88 Edmonton), Patrik Bartosak (5-146 LA), and Henri Ikonen (6-154 TB) were selected this time around (Andrei Makarov was signed by Buffalo as a free agent), while the other 13 players were not.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)