Senators News: August 28th

Jarrod Maidens talked about recovering from his concussion and the comment that stood out to me was this:

I’m blessed to be part of the Ottawa organization and their doctors. Being a new draft pick, I was amazed at how great they were to me.

The article doesn’t add specifics to this, so I’m not sure if the organisation was great in being supportive, providing better medical treatment, or both, but either way it’s a compliment.

Nichols describes Corey Pronman‘s Sens prospect list without (sadly) providing any commentary save this (so one over Travis Yost who offered none):

Given the attrition rate and the volatility that so frequently accompanies goaltending prospects, it should be noted that Pronman has been rather hard on goaltending prospects in the past (see his 2012 Lehner assessment). So it is more than a little encouraging to see a third-party evaluator like Pronman, give Lehner his due.

I have two thoughts related to this: 1) Pronman’s views on goaltending are well outside the norm for scouts (as mentioned here with his rationale here), but 2) welcome to Corey to finally see what every other scout has seen for years.  If Pronman wasn’t able to acknowledge Lehner as a solid prospect at this point he’d be suffering from serious blindness.  It’s interesting to me that the stats-savvy Pronman hasn’t found a way to deal with the difficulty in assessing goaltenders–presumably he thinks his position (essentially ignoring them) is founded in good math and that the scouting community is simply too old fashion at this point to join his kind of thinking.

Varada writes a superb article about Eugene Melnyk’s tenure with Ottawa along with some asides with how the NHL goes about looking for ownership.  It’s hard to pick out only one piece to illustrate what is a fantastic piece, but here’s one:

For every Ed Snider [Philadelphia owner since 1967] and Mike Ilitch [Detroit owner since 1982], there’s a “Boots” Del Biaggio [Nashville suitor in 2008], or Oren Koules and Len Barrie [joint owners of Tampa Bay 2007-10]. For every stable fortune, there’s a fortune balancing precariously on a bubble. And so goes the future of each franchise–all of their eggs in one basket, praying the real estate market doesn’t collapse, or the tech surge fade. In some cases, this arrangement ensures years of futility and wasted potential, such as with the Islanders, who are one of the league’s most storied franchises and whose fate is tied perpetually to owner Charles Wang like a drowning man to an anchor.

-Thanks to Amelia L for linking the site–it’s always appreciated.

-Try as I might I can’t ignore the Olympic roster speculation even though it’s completely meaningless at this stage.  Travis Yost worries about the potential inclusion of Chris Kunitz (the Rob Zamuner of his generation–yes kids, great minds thought the 1998 team needed Zamuner‘s penalty killing skills) and lifelong dud Jay Bouwmeester.  Let me put your minds at ease folks, there’s a regular season to be played and players like this are going to be dropped like lead balloons when the real roster gets put together.

-A little Elmira Jackals news: the team re-signed forward Jordan Pietrus, and (apparently) have signed blueliner and offensive dynamo Zach McCullough (his last three years playing in the CIS he produced 1 assist per season).  I’m suspicious that this is simply a tryout contract.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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Senators News: August 26th

-It continues to be slow in Sens land, with Travis Yost echoing the conventional wisdom that Jared Cowen wants a bridging (short-term) deal in the hopes of hitting a home run with the following contract.

Corey Pronman has updated his top-ten Sens prospects (changes from last year in brackets; n/a=not available, NR=not ranked):

1. Cody Ceci (2) – potential top-2
2. Robin Lehner (12) – above average starter
3. Mark Stone (4) – 2nd liner
4. Curtis Lazar (n/a) – 2nd liner
5. Jean-Gabriel Pageau (13) – NHL regular
6. Shane Prince (5) – 2nd liner
7. Mikael Wikstrand (NR) – potential top-4
8. Matt Puempel (9) – subpar 2nd liner
9. Stephane Da Costa (7) – sheltered scoring forward
10. Mike Hoffman (11) – sheltered 2nd liner
11. Jarrod Maidens (NR) – no specific NHL assessment given
12. Mark Borowiecki (14) – as above
13. Derek Grant (15) – 3rd liner
14. Troy Rutkowski (n/a) – no specific NHL assessment
15. Fredrik Claesson (NR) – no specific NHL assessment
Sleeper: Quentin Shore

A number of players from last year graduated while others on this list weren’t with the team when Pronman made his assessment, but Andre Petersson (10) is off the list, as is sleeper Robbie Baillargeon.  The analysis is pretty generic and while Pronman is well-thought of in the Sens community we have to keep in mind his assessments (as yet) don’t seem more or less on target than any others (he thought Ben Blood was a top-15 prospect last year, for instance).  I wish he’d address things like: was Wikstrand‘s breakout year a product of playing with locked out NHL players?  Why does he think Hoffman can produce as well (or better) at the NHL-level than the AHL-level,  justifying his 2nd line projection?  Was Pageau‘s late season performance an illusion or is it a sign of things to come and why?  What happened to his sleeper Baillargeon last season and is it a sign of struggles ahead?  Etc.  There are so many interesting questions when it comes to looking at prospects and they aren’t really tackled here.

-The overwhelming evidence that Melnyk’s financial problems were why Daniel Alfredsson left keeps on coming as Alfie‘s buddy Tony Rhodes says:

And they [Detroit] have a commitment from their owner to make it work, whereas I don’t know whether that is evident in Ottawa.

Ouch.  People trying to downplay the issue have grown desperate and are now resorting to saying it’s an old story to dismiss it.  Wait, so anything that’s a couple of months old gets to be ignored?  How does that work?  I guess we can all just assert something and dismiss arguments that we’re wrong because the story old.  The best part about all of this is that when it’s over (and Melnyk’s struggles are acknowledged) the people bending over backwards for Eugene are going to talk either as if they never believed him or that no one else could have known.  Hear no evil, see no evil, right?

-On the bizarre side of things, Travis’ Hockeybuzz account was hacked and much of his content was deleted.  The content has been restored, but I have to echo Corey Pronman‘s sentiments that:

It’s quite weird and too many elements. Waiting for inevitable Deadspin piece.

Indeed.  Could Eugene Melnyk’s CSI team have other instructions?  Time will tell.

-The city of Ottawa’s attempt to get permission for two casinos has been rejected by the finance committee, which illustrates Melnyk no longer has the financial wherewithal to grease the political process (something that seemed obvious when the city rejected his initial proposal).  Nichols points out the hilarity of Melnyk’s bravado in telling the committee to audit his team as he’s a man who has already been investigated for fraud.

-Sadly, Ilya Kovalchuk has also declared his support for Russia’s new anti-gay laws.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: August 24th

Travis Yost believes Paul MacLean is a Corsi guy:

He [MacLean] never mentioned the name, but that’s exactly what it is. Clearly the team prioritizes winning the shot-differential battle and sees the correlation between Corsi and possession-time, and tangentially, the correlation amongst Corsi, scoring chances, and goals. I mean, it’s all right in that very sentence. Not the first time he did it, either.

Whether MacLean specifically uses the term of not it’s pretty clear Travis is right he emphasizes puck possession and shot differential.

-Here’s my look at the Sens rookie tournament roster.

Jeremy Milks looks at re-signing priorities for the Sens and includes Chris Phillips on his list, saying:

Yet there doesn’t seem to be any signs of a big drop-off in play right now. He had a strong season last year

I’m not sure what Jeremy means by “strong season”–Phillips continued to be mediocre, so I’ll agree there was no drop off, but I’ve got no enthusiasm for retaining the aging fifth defenseman.

-Given all the Internet chatter about the Leafs inability to handle the cap, it’s funny to read this from Damien Cox who doesn’t understand all the fuss about resigning their outstanding RFA’s:

Seriously, if Nazem Kadri isn’t signed by Oct. 1, we can all get worked up about it then.

I always wonder with Cox if he’s trolling or if he’s actually trying to downplay sensationalism in sports coverage.  I think it’s the former, since a huge percentage of sports coverage is based on speculation about situations exactly like this one.

-Here’s a trip down memory lane: James Gordon going to bat for Brian Lee prior to the 2011-12 season.  It’s a good illustration that understanding and evaluating talent is not easy or in everyone’s wheelhouse.

Pavel Datsyuk unfortunately seems to support Russia’s insane anti-gay stance.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators Rookie Tournament Roster

The Sens have released their roster for the rookie tournament and here’s my look at who they’ve invited.  I’ve included where each player played last year in brackets, starred the free agent invites, and used italics for those who have participated in one of these tournaments for the Sens before:

Forwards (15)
Jakub Culek (QMJHL)
Vincent Dunn (QMJHL)
Derek Grant (AHL)
Wacey Hamilton (AHL)
Danny Hobbs (ECHL)*
Ludwig Karlsson (NCAA)
Darren Kramer (ECHL/AHL)
Curtis Lazar (OHL)
Jarrod Maidens (OHL – injured)
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (AHL)
Shane Prince (AHL)
Matt Puempel (OHL)
Buddy Robinson (NCAA)
Cole Schneider (AHL)
Mark Stone (AHL)

Defense (8)
Ben Blood (ECHL/AHL)
Cody Ceci (OHL)
Fredrik Claesson (AHL)
Ben Harpur (OHL)
Danny New (ECHL/AHL)*
Troy Rutkowski (WHL)
Michael Sdao (NCAA)
Chris Wideman (AHL)

Goaltenders (3)
Francois Brassard (QMJHL)
Chris Driedger (WHL)
Andrew Hammond (NCAA)

The Sens invited two free agents (this isn’t particularly unusual; they only had one at their last tournament).  Daniel New played for both Elmira and Binghamton last season, so only Danny Hobbs is unknown to fans.  Hobbs was a 2007 seventh round Ranger pick who went unsigned; after finishing his collegiate career at UMass he spent the past season playing for the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors (53-9-22-31).  As a forward there’s no chance he’s auditioning for Binghamton, but perhaps he’ll get a shot with Elmira for the upcoming season.

Ottawa did not have a rookie tournament last fall due to the lockout, so this is the first since 2011.  For those you remember, that tournament featured Mark Borowiecki‘s double knockdown fight as well as a dominating performance from Mika Zibanejad.  The tournaments aren’t harbingers of much, other than illustrating who isn’t ready to play pro and who is.  For my part, seeing the players I haven’t seen play before is always the best thing about the games, although in this case I want to see if Jakub Culek has evolved at all or if he’s still as weak a player as I’ve thought he was every season.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: August 21st

-As the Jared Cowen wait continues we have a flood of opinion pieces and in one of them Chris wonders which Sens prospect will surprise this year and suggests one of ten possibilities (so half of Binghamton’s upcoming roster–why stop there I wonder?).  Chris favours Mark Stone.  His list includes no off-the-radar names, but excludes Matt Puempel (first round pick), Buddy Robinson (the big NCAA free agent), and Andre Petersson among others.  Also not included is Eric Gryba who (let us recall) is on a two-way contract.  To me the main conclusion of this kind of speculation is that none of the players in his article are likely to make a big impact on the team.

The Sports Forecaster magazine (which I haven’t picked up yet) is predicting the Sens will win the Stanley Cup.  I don’t want to say too much about it until I’ve read their reasoning, but the Sens wouldn’t be my pick as things stand.

NHL.com is also talking Senators and Corey Masisak believes Craig Anderson is undervalued (!); he has Cory Conacher as overvalued and Patrick Wiercioch as his sleeper.  I guess Anderson didn’t do enough last year to accrue value for Masisak….

-In a turn for the funny, check out Ryan Classic and Bonk’s Mullet trip through memory lane for the Sens.

Travis Yost writes a long article about being a better hockey blogger.  Most of it is solid advice and a number of things stuck out to me: quality is not inherently tied to view counts–the platform is much more important (so an indifferent blogger on a well-established site will do much better than an unknown on their own); I largely agree with Travis that opinion-based blogs perform better, but good, hard team-related news is much harder to find;

Remember, simply saying something does not make it so

If only bloggers were punished for not following this truism (alas), many successful bloggers ignore this advice so I don’t believe it’s required for success; he’s right that traditional journalism is failing because it has become a shill for ownership (very much as actual news has become for governments and corporations); my favourite piece of advice:

you need to watch the games

Word to the wise, but as funny as it seems there are bloggers who will offer an opinion on a game they only saw some or a part of.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: August 19th

-I was on vacation this past week, but now that I’m back here’s the round-up of Sens news over the interim

-The Ottawa Citizen finally brought the hammer down on Eugene Melnyk’s finances, confirming Travis Yost‘s contentions for the past couple of months that the Sens’ owner is losing money (94 million), but James Gordon (who penned the piece) doesn’t delve too deeply into whether the loses are via team operations or Melnyk’s overall business dealings.  Travis pointed to a 2010 Business Journal article that mentioned the Sens were beginning to lose money then, which (again) doesn’t address the question of how soluble the team is as a franchise.  The Ottawa Sun, the last bastion of defending ownership at all costs, was on red alert denying Melnyk is in financial distress (which makes about as much sense as most things Melnyk says publically, ala continuing to blame J. P. Barry for Daniel Alfredsson‘s departure–opening up himself to potential legal action apparently).  If Melnyk’s liquidity was nothing to worry about there would be no internal budget or hand wringing for a casino.

-It continues to bemuse me how many bloggers are taking ownership’s position on their finances for whatever reason (eg, The Raaymaker went full back pedal after embarrassing himself attacking the idea)–I presume it’s all about maintaining what limited access they have with the team, but what a sad statement that is to their journalistic integrity.  If readership wanted softball, ownership and team friendly reporting they already have their local newspapers’ to turn too.

-Speaking of embarrassing, Melnyk threw Bryan Murray under the bus when addressing Alfredsson‘s departure by denying his “blank cheque” comment.  I don’t think we learned anything new from either Alfie‘s press conference or comments other than Melnyk’s, but why the owner continues to operate on Rob Ford levels of stupidity remains a mystery.

-Nothing else has come down the pipe over the past week, although former B-Sen Chris Holt was released from his KHL team and is the kind of guy the Sens might look to have as their third goaltender in Binghamton.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: August 11th

-Details of Stephane Da Costa‘s contract are finally available and the expected two-way deal represents a slight raise for the Frenchmen (825k/90k for this upcoming season).

Eugene Melnyk confirmed my contention that Daniel Alfredsson left the team due to financial issues that would prevent the team from becoming a better Cup contender (by adding talent), debunking the theory of Elliotte Friedman and others than it was related to pride.  Melnyk also discussed the kind of handcuffs he’s imposed on Bryan Murray:

If Bryan Murray came to me and he said, ‘You know, Eugene, if we can just get one more goal-scorer, or somebody that can play on our power play, if I can only get one guy and it’s going to cost us X for the balance of the year, because he’s becoming a UFA anyway,’ we absolutely would.

So anyone dreaming of Murray doing more than he has in free agency or via trade should throw those hopes away–short-term help is all the team can add (likely at the deadline).  Travis Yost continues to look into Eugene’s financial workings where the evidence that the Sens are propping up his other businesses seems to be mounting.

-Speaking of Travis, he looks at Jared Cowen comparable’s and believes Karl Alzner and Marco Scandella are the appropriate ones (I think Alzner is right on target).  I believe the contract will be signed in the near future and given the Sens budget I’d have to guess it will be a short-term deal.

Jared Crozier speculates on how many roster spots are available for prospects to push for and concludes there aren’t many.  There’s nothing new here and Jared doesn’t speculate on who will fill those spots (to my mind the only real competition is on the blueline between Eric Gryba and Mark Borowiecki, with Gryba having a substantial edge).  The real competition remains in the AHL where Binghamton is glutted with forwards (as I addressed earlier this week).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)