-Ottawa fell to Toronto 3-2 in pre-season action in a game I thought was pretty entertaining (TSN broadcasts are so much better than the alternatives). As always, we must remind ourselves that pre-season action only matters for prospects and bubble guys and is an awful way to project into the regular season, so keep that in mind. The best Sens line of the night was the midget-trio of Andre Petersson, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Shane Prince. Petersson had the most chances of the trio and scored on a wicked backhand (tying the game 2-2), but JGP was the best of the trio. Pageau went after Nazem Kadri, who spent the game running around at Sens players until injuring his hand blocking a shot (I thought his worst offense was running Fredrik Claesson), which ultimately resulted in a Kadri powerplay goal. Speaking of the popular, hardworking Claesson, he scored the first goal of the game with Jonathan Bernier deflecting his shot into the net. Mika Zibanejad played a strong game, his best moment came walking around the pylon known as Dion Phaneuf. The first line was mediocre at best, with Bobby Ryan the best and Milan Michalek still shaking off the rust. Craig Anderson was average, while Nathan Lawson (left hung out to dry a few times in the third) was excellent. Patrick Wiercioch had a strong game and Erik Karlsson seems to have his speed and mobility back. Other notes: Chris Wideman‘s ill-advised pinch led to the Leafs second goal; Matt Kassian fought Jamie Devane after the latter let up on Derek Grant who had his head down–since the hit was fine I assume Kassian just wanted to get his fight in. In the post-game Paul MacLean thought JGP and Wiercioch were the best players.
-During the broadcast Ray Ferraro guessed that the NHL’s ridiculous “tuck” rule might be a forerunner to advertising on the jersey’s, but I’m not so sure (Ferraro, like the rest of us, thinks the rule is absurd).
-After the game Erik Karlsson said this about JGP: He’s here to stay.
–Nichols peaks behind ESPN’s paywall to look at Corey Pronman’s organisational prospect rankings:
Unlike his organization prospect rankings that were made available on Hockey Prospectus earlier this summer, Pronman opted to lump organizations into six tiers (note: I’ll put the number of teams fitting each tier in parathenses): The Top Tier (3); Up-and-Comers (10); Staying Power (2); Middle of the Road (5); Need a Little Extra (7); and Trouble on the Way? (3)
The Sens fit into the Up-and-Comers tier which includes teams that are not the very best regarding young talent, but they are just a step below. They have enough young high-end players to spark an organizational turnaround, and that has already started for some.
Pronman, who had rated Ottawa’s current group of prospects –defined as a player who has 25 or fewer regular season games played during the last NHL season, or 50 or fewer career NHL regular season games played – as the 19th best in the NHL earlier this summer, gave the Senators a more favorable rating here.
Mika Zibanejad was a top pick a couple of seasons ago and is trending toward being a top-line, do-it-all type of player. He has the skill, hockey sense and grit to be a great player for quite a while. Jared Cowen hasn’t put it all together yet, but the new extension Ottawa gave him is a testament to its belief in his physical tools. On the prospect front, Cody Ceci is a very gifted offensive player from the back end, Robin Lehner is an elite goaltending prospect, Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a very strong first pro season, while Curtis Lazar and Mark Stone are notably above-average prospects. The Sens also have a few other high-risk/high-reward prospects in their organization. The trade of Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen was a blow to their young core, but the reward of getting Bobby Ryan in return was deemed to be worth it.
This is reasonable enough. Nichols then looks at a second paywall article where ESPN attempted to project success three years down the line (with a fairly involved method–check it out via the link above). The Sens wind up eighth because:
The Senators would be higher if it weren’t for a surprising 6.0 given to the management team. That low score has to do more with Eugene Melnyk than it does Paul MacLean
This, as much as anything, illustrates how across the league Melnyk’s antics are believed to hurt the team. I have my doubts this sentiment will be discussed by the local media.
–Mark Parisi offers up five thoughts and I just want to talk about the first on his list:
I’m probably talking out of my ass here, but I think it’s probably much harder to trade in the NHL than we think it is–especially when you’re talking about kids who can’t crack your own lineup. If I’m Jay Feaster of the Calgary Flames and Bryan Murray calls me to talk about Stephane Da Costa, my first question is, “I have Sean Monahan and Max Reinhart in my system right now. Why would I give up anything for a guy so similar to what I already have?” What’s Murray going to answer? “Uh… prospects?” Thanks, but no thanks, Bryan.
The Sens aren’t going to ask for bodies back if they move prospects–they’ll want picks–Ottawa has enough prospects.
–Varada takes a look at EA Sports NHL 2014 with a focus on my favourite way to play the game: GM mode.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)