Senators News: August 7th

-Negotiations have begun with Jared Cowen and I don’t think his agent’s opening offer is anything to get too excited aboutLyle Richardson is probably spot on that the Sens want Cowen on a short-term, bridging contract for not much more than they are paying Patrick Wiercioch.

Bruce Garrioch confirms the obvious that the team is trying to move Jim O’Brien.  Not surprisingly, it’s proving difficult to move a player with a one-way contract who hasn’t established himself as an NHL-regular.  It took waivers to move Kaspars Daugavins and that may be the same fate for the 2007 first-rounder.

-The specifics of Stephane Da Costa‘s deal have not yet been revealed (nor has the team announced the signing).  There’s nothing to read into the delay–it’s simply a product of it being the middle of summer.

Varada does an excellent job of explaining how the economics of an NHL franchise works and how raw press releases about team losses are (largely) meaningless.  Among many things he points out are that pure hockey revenue (which the league refuses to fully define) don’t represent the true earnings of a hockey franchise.  It’s worth reading the article in full and I highly recommend it.

-Speaking of finances, Travis Yost continues to shark through the web of Eugene Melnyk’s finances where he finds yet more questions.  For those who haven’t kept on top of Travis’ posts I think they work quite well in conjunction with Varada’s above.

Nichols sums up the public perception of Daniel Alfredsson‘s departure without (sadly) offering his own view.  For me the economic answer is the only one that makes sense.

-Former B-Sen and Elmira Jackal Dustin Gazley has signed an AHL-deal with Hershey.  The move is not a surprise as there’s no room for veteran additions in Binghamton.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Projecting the Binghamton Senators Lineup (13-14)

With the last of Ottawa’s Binghamton-eligible RFA’s signed I thought it was time to look at their potential lineup, which despite its size is actually smaller (by one player) than last season, but that was a lockout impacted number.  I’ve included the position breakdown along with how they came to the organisation (players in green were free agent prospect signings while those in red are veteran signees), their ages (as of today), how many pro season they’ve played, and how many NHL games they’ve played where applicable (I’ve organised them by experience).

Forwards (16)*
David Dziurzynski (LW/C) (23, BCHL FA 2010, 3 years, 12 NHL games)
Mike Hoffman (C/LW) (23, 5-130/09, 3 years, 4 NHL games)
Corey Cowick (LW) (24, 6-160/09, 3 years)
Stephane Da Costa (CR) (24, NCAA FA 2011, 2 years, 35 NHL games)
Derek Grant (C/LW) (23, 4-119/08, 2 years, 5 NHL games)
Andre Petersson (RW/LW) (22, 4-109/08, 2 years, 1 NHL game)
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (CR) (20, 4-96/11, 1 year, 9 NHL games)
Mark Stone (RW) (21, 6-178/10, 1 year, 4 NHL games)
Wacey Hamilton (CL) (22, WHL FA 2011, 2 years)
Cole Schneider (LW) (22, NCAA FA 2012, 1 year)
Darren Kramer (LW) (21, 6-156/11, 1 year)
Shane Prince (C/LW) (20, 2-61/11, 1 year)
Ludwig Karlsson (LW) (22, NCAA FA 2013, rookie)
Buddy Robinson (RW) (21, NCAA FA 2013, rookie)
Jakub Culek (C/LW) (20, 3-76/10, rookie)
Matt Puempel (LW) (20, 1-24/11, rookie)
*Cory Conacher is eligible, but I don’t believe he’ll ever suit up in Binghamton

Of the players who play both center and wing Grant will definitely remain a pivot, but if Pageau stays in the NHL it’s not entirely clear to me who all four centers will be.  The team will also have to move someone to their off-wing to fill out the right side of their lineup.  Assuming all players are healthy both Culek and Hamilton are the most likely players destined for demotion, albeit the team’s shortage at center could benefit both.  Here’s a rough lineup (minus Pageau, who if he winds up in Binghamton likely gets the second line center spot):
Hoffman-Da Costa-Stone
This leaves newly signed Karlsson as a scratch (along with the aforementioned Culek and Kramer as spare parts), Cowick on the fourth line and Dziurzynski playing the off-wing, but it’s difficult to see anything else if the roster remains intact.  The B-Sens are thin on the right side so any idea that Petersson (who barely played last year due to injury) might be traded seems unlikely unless it’s for another right-winger.  The exact rotation above could shift around, but I think the basic framework of the top-six and bottom-six makes sense.

Defensemen (9)
Tyler Eckford (LD) (27, FA 2012, 5 years, 7 NHL games)
Eric Gryba (RD) (25, 3-68/06, 3 years, 33 NHL games)
Mark Borowiecki (LD) (24, 5-139/08, 2 years, 8 NHL games)
Fredrik Claesson (LD) (20, 5-126/11, 1 year)
Ben Blood (LD) (24, 4-120/07, 1 year)
Chris Wideman (RD) (23, 4-100/09, 1 year)
Michael Sdao (LD) (24, 7-191/09, rookie)
Troy Rutkowski (RD) (21, WHL FA 2013, rookie)
Cody Ceci (RD) (19, 1-15/12, rookie)

A glut of defensemen is not a problem for the organisation, especially as Blood is likely destined for Elmira, while Gryba may well stay in Ottawa as the spare blueliner.  That leaves seven defensemen and I’d guess Wideman, Sdao, and Rutkowski will battle it out for the bottom-pairing (so Eckford, Borowiecki, Claesson, and Ceci are your top-four).

Goaltenders (2)*
Nathan Lawson (29, FA 2012, 6 years, 10 NHL games)
Andrew Hammond (25, NCAA FA 2013, rookie)
*Robin Lehner is eligible, but his spot in Ottawa is cemented

This is the simplest part of the lineup to look at: Lawson will start and Hammond will back-up.  Presumably a third goaltender will be added on an ECHL-deal who can be called up if there’s an injury or if Hammond struggles.

The Sens could stick with this group, but I believe at least one forward will be moved from the roster–likely without a player coming back in return, but if one does it will either be a prospect not playing in the AHL or else at a different position.  I continue to think that Culek is the most disposable player, but it’s hard to imagine he would garner much interest (although future considerations remains a possible return).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: August 3rd

-The Sens have re-signed Stephane Da Costa yesterday, although the official contract details are still pending.  It’s a one-year deal and there’s no reason to doubt Nichols assumption that it’s a two-way contract.  I have to echo Nichols’ comments in reaction to it as they are spot on:

HIs AHL production has been good, but not overwhelming. This is now a player who turned 24 in early July, and by and large if you’re not a dominant AHL forward by that age your chance of making it as a top-six forward in the NHL is small.  The Senators organization does not lack depth or prospects, so health permitting, Da Costa desperately needs a strong offseason to show that he’s serious about his future and working himself back in the mix for a promotion. Otherwise, it won’t be surprising to see him follow Nikita Filatov’s path to Europe where the allure of a higher base salary may be too difficult to pass up.

The other element the signing re-emphasizes is the glut of forwards the Sens will have in Binghamton.  Ottawa was willing to have two prospects (Louie Caporusso and Darren Kramer) spend a lot of time in the ECHL, but even Kramer didn’t hit 20 the game mark with Elmira, so I continue to believe that a small move will happen before the AHL season begins.

Mark Borowiecki talked about his failed transition to the NHL this past season:

I think I have my defensive side down, but I think the big thing now is having more confidence with the puck. I know what I can do and I’m sure management knows, too.  Obviously the game is different up here. It’s a bit quicker and there’s more structure, but you have to stick to your strengths and try to play your game. For me, it’s just a matter of time and sorting a few things out. But I hope it’s sooner rather than later. I’m working real hard on the things I need to work on this summer and hoping to make a good showing and we’ll see what happens. It’s not really for me to decide. If I stick, I stick. If I don’t, (Binghamton coach) Luke (Richardson’s) done a great job down there. It’s a pretty positive environment to play in. But no one comes into training camp thinking they’re going to go down. It’s always a goal to make the team, and you never know.

The main issue for Borowiecki at the next level is confidence with the puck.  I don’t think this coming season will see him in Ottawa (barring injuries), but his one-way contract for the following season is an indication that the organisation expects him to be ready then.

Adnan makes the case that Chris Neil is an integral part of the Sens:

That’s judging by the net effect of scoring and preventing goals. That’s not what hockey what is about. Hockey is about how much you want to score and prevent goals. So what if Neil could be easily replaced in hockey matters if he decided to retire tomorrow? So what if he has questionable decision making and doesn’t have the highest intelligence on the ice? Hockey is a business but it is also entertainment. If we as fans are more entertained with Chris Neil than someone that can better help the team win, then maybe it is okay. Chris Neil is not the best option for the Ottawa Senators in winning games. At his cost, he is easily replaceable and bettered in things that matter for winning hockey games. He does have intangibles for sure. But those intangibles aren’t hidden traits that help the Senators win games. The intangibles are reasons why Joe from Arnprior will call the local radio station after a 3-2 loss in which Jason Spezza scored two goals but missed the open net late in the third period. Thus it was still Spezza‘s fault. The Senators may have lost, but they had Chris Neil and he tried his very best. Certainly more than anyone else. That’s good enough for Joe and many other Senators fans.

This is pretty funny and encapsulates not just the attitudes of those matching his hypothetical Sens fan, but also (seemingly) most of the journalists who cover the team.

-I have no idea why teams continue to give Jay Bouwmeester fat, long-term contracts.  Just like every other organisation he plays with, the Blues will wind up regretting the deal.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)